1 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
2 Rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord is the Maker of them all.
3 The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
4 Humility is the fear of the Lord;
its wages are riches and honor and life.
5 In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls,
but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.
6 Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
7 The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is slave to the lender.
8 Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity,
and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.
9 The generous will themselves be blessed,
for they share their food with the poor.
10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;
quarrels and insults are ended.
11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
will have the king for a friend.
12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.
13 The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside!
I’ll be killed in the public square!”
14 The mouth of an adulterous woman is a deep pit;
a man who is under the Lord’s wrath falls into it.
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.
16 One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth
and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.
Thirty Sayings of the Wise
17 Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise;
apply your heart to what I teach,
18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart
and have all of them ready on your lips.
19 So that your trust may be in the Lord,
I teach you today, even you.
20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you,
sayings of counsel and knowledge,
21 teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth,
so that you bring back truthful reports
to those you serve?
22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor
and do not crush the needy in court,
23 for the Lord will take up their case
and will exact life for life.
24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways
and get yourself ensnared.
26 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge
or puts up security for debts;
27 if you lack the means to pay,
your very bed will be snatched from under you.
28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
set up by your ancestors.
29 Do you see someone skilled in their work?
They will serve before kings;
they will not serve before officials of low rank.
Most of us don’t know or have any connection to a modern-day King.
While there are still some royal Kings in the world, we’ve adapted our language concerning leaders and heads of state to reflect different titles over the centuries. But regardless of the language, the truth within this Proverb is still just as potent today as it was when it was written.
In Proverbs 22, we see two verses that guide us on how the average man can be friends with royalty and recognized before great leaders.
If you’re wondering, “yes, how do I get that?” King Solomon has a few simple recommendations for you (V11, 29):
- Love purity of heart.
- Be gracious in speech.
- Be skillful in work.
The three critical steps to being brought before and befriending kings are right there. Seems doable, right?
We can easily read through that list and say, “Check, check, check. Show me to the palace, please.” But don’t move too fast. Look closely at each of those characteristics.
Love purity of heart. Can you say that with confidence? Do you deeply desire, fight to protect, and sacrifice consistently for a pure and holy heart? Do you mind your thoughts, your desires, your intentions with vigilance?
Are you gracious in speech, speaking life over others, encouraging them, supporting them, talking less about yourself and more about the value, significance, and worth of those around you?
Are you skilled in work? Not like passable or even proficient, but are you tapped out as being the best you can be in the things that God has given you to carry?
Odds are, if each of us digs into these characteristics, we’ll start to see some gaps. In some way, we each miss the mark on one or more of the three simple things we need to do to be friends with kings.
Here’s the best news. Jesus is the King of Kings. And instead of us having to do things perfectly right to get into his presence, He came into our world. Into our mess. Even into the darkest place of all: our hearts. He changed everything, and by His power, the very same power that raised Him from the dead, we can seek to love purity, be gracious, and do our best work.
When we do this through the righteousness of Jesus, He opens doors no man could open. Not because we need to be around more famous or influential people. But because God is always at work accomplishing His eternal plan of glorifying His name, and He often uses people to do that. You have a King as a friend, King Jesus, and through Him, you can live a transformed life that shakes the world around you.
God, thank You for drawing near when I was desperate for Your presence. Thank You for stepping off Your throne so that I could be welcomed back into Your Kingdom as a loved Son and friend of the King of Kings.