1 These are more proverbs of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah:
2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
3 As the heavens are high and the earth is deep,
so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.
4 Remove the dross from the silver,
and a silversmith can produce a vessel;
5 remove wicked officials from the king’s presence,
and his throne will be established through righteousness.
6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,
and do not claim a place among his great men;
7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,”
than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.
What you have seen with your eyes
8 do not bring[a] hastily to court,
for what will you do in the end
if your neighbor puts you to shame?
9 If you take your neighbor to court,
do not betray another’s confidence,
10 or the one who hears it may shame you
and the charge against you will stand.
11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver
is a ruling rightly given.
12 Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold
is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear.
13 Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time
is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him;
he refreshes the spirit of his master.
14 Like clouds and wind without rain
is one who boasts of gifts never given.
15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,
and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
16 If you find honey, eat just enough—
too much of it, and you will vomit.
17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—
too much of you, and they will hate you.
18 Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow
is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor.
19 Like a broken tooth or a lame foot
is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.
20 Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day,
or like vinegar poured on a wound,
is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.
23 Like a north wind that brings unexpected rain
is a sly tongue—which provokes a horrified look.
24 Better to live on a corner of the roof
than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
25 Like cold water to a weary soul
is good news from a distant land.
26 Like a muddied spring or a polluted well
are the righteous who give way to the wicked.
27 It is not good to eat too much honey,
nor is it honorable to search out matters that are too deep.
28 Like a city whose walls are broken through
is a person who lacks self-control.
We live in a world that thrives on instant gratification.
The 10-minute oil changes, microwavable meals, and speed dates of 20 years ago pale in comparison with today’s desire to achieve instant fame via social media. Thirty-year-old billionaires and 18-year-old celebrities are celebrated, while the idea of waiting patiently and building influence over time has disappeared.
But the teacher (or teachers, in this case) call us to more. Using a variety of illustrations, we are encouraged to demonstrate patience and self-control to gain influence over time. To let recognition come to us, rather than seeking it out.
- Don’t risk humiliation through self-promotion, but wait for your leader to recognize you and to raise you up.
- Don’t race to a confrontation without all the facts, or you may be put to shame when you’re proven wrong.
- A ruler can be persuaded through patience and a gentle word. A person who lacks self-control is compared to a city whose walls have been broken down. (That may not mean much to us in a day of sprawling metro areas that bleed into one suburb after another, but in the teacher’s day, a city whose walls were broken down was simply waiting to be conquered.)
Self-control, dignity, and patience are not celebrated qualities in a world whose eyes are constantly searching for the next wild endeavor or celebrity who will “tell it like it really is.” But reflect back on Proverbs 15 for a moment,
“The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” Proverbs 15:3
Remember that God’s opinion concerns us, not the world’s. We are after His heart, not popularity for vanity’s sake.
The Old Testament is filled with the history of God’s people, some good and some bad. It’s a rich story of empires rising and falling, of cities being built, broken, and conquered. The book of Nehemiah tells the story of Jerusalem, which needed major repairs on the walls surrounding it after being defeated and nearly destroyed. When Nehemiah heard that the walls were broken down and the gates were burnt, he sat down and wept.
Why? Why was a wall worth crying over?
Because a city with no walls was at the mercy of anything and anyone who came against it.
Such as it is with a person who lacks self-control. Without the necessary patience and dignity to still your tongue and calm your emotions, you will be at the whim of whoever and whatever seeks to manipulate you. Whatever trust and influence you gain with the people around you will be spent on frivolous worries and lost; your passions will overcome you.
This is not the life we were made to live. We aren’t called to be conquered cities, but men of self-control and dignity who build influence over time and who use that influence to point the world to the all-encompassing glory of God and the life that comes only through His son, Jesus. It is not a warrior-king on horseback, ripping through his enemies who we seek to emulate. It is Jesus, the one who turned the other cheek and called us friends even when we called Him enemy.
God, help me to find my satisfaction in You alone. Give me a heart like Yours that seeks gentleness and self-control. Let me not see my worth in the eyes of the world but in Yours. I pray You would give me the strength to shed the impurities of my soul that strive and struggle for rewards of this world. I want to keep my actual reward front and center – my relationship with You. Amen