1 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes
will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
2 When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
when the wicked rule, the people groan.
3 A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
4 By justice a king gives a country stability,
but those who are greedy for[a] bribes tear it down.
5 Those who flatter their neighbors
are spreading nets for their feet.
6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin,
but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.
7 The righteous care about justice for the poor,
but the wicked have no such concern.
8 Mockers stir up a city,
but the wise turn away anger.
9 If a wise person goes to court with a fool,
the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.
10 The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity
and seek to kill the upright.
11 Fools give full vent to their rage,
but the wise bring calm in the end.
12 If a ruler listens to lies,
all his officials become wicked.
13 The poor and the oppressor have this in common:
The Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.
14 If a king judges the poor with fairness,
his throne will be established forever.
15 A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom,
but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.
16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin,
but the righteous will see their downfall.
17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace;
they will bring you the delights you desire.
18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.
19 Servants cannot be corrected by mere words;
though they understand, they will not respond.
20 Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for them.
21 A servant pampered from youth
will turn out to be insolent.
22 An angry person stirs up conflict,
and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.
23 Pride brings a person low,
but the lowly in spirit gain honor.
24 The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies;
they are put under oath and dare not testify.
25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
26 Many seek an audience with a ruler,
but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.
27 The righteous detest the dishonest;
the wicked detest the upright.
In 1936, engineers completed one of the boldest feats of human ingenuity in history near the Western Coast of the United States. To this day, it is still widely considered to be one of, if not, the most impressive U.S. public works projects ever.
The Hoover Dam, located just 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, is a sight to behold.
The Dam is 726 feet tall, making it more than 100 feet taller than the Washington Monument in D.C. It is 45 feet thick at the top, but nearly 660 feet thick at the bottom, making it nearly the length of two football fields.
The amount of concrete used to build the Dam could create a two-lane highway from Seattle, Washington, to Miami, Florida.
The Dam holds back 45,000 lbs of water pressure per square foot at its most vital point. If it ever were to break or rupture, roughly 3.5 trillion gallons of water would let loose and total catastrophe would ensue.
The Hoover Dam holding back the Colorado River is undoubtedly impressive. In many ways, it shows us the power that comes through restraint, which is one of the central themes of Proverbs 29.
Like a dam holding back a mighty river, the Scripture says that a wise man holds back his spirit (or, in other references, his wrath, frustration, aggression).
We often associate wrath as a negative emotion, and in many ways, it can be. We read in verse 8 that “scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath.” Then later in the text, we see again that “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.”
When we read verses like these, we quickly jump to the first and easiest conclusion: don’t be angry. Don’t experience wrath. But that’s not always the best or healthiest answer.
God’s character includes wrath. It has righteous jealousy and holy anger. As such, we who are made in His image are prone to these emotions from time to time. Eradicating anger is like telling a river not to run downhill. It’s fighting the inevitable.
Instead of abolishing our emotions, what if we took a different approach? What if we built a Holy dam on the river of our emotions that, like the Hoover Dam, released what was appropriate at the proper time and in the adequate quantity?
“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”
What if we bought into this verse and set out to build a Spirit-operated filter in our souls, one that sifted the emotions that pass through and righteously filtered the feelings that are honoring to God from those that are not?
Like the Hoover Dam, we too would become weighty and impressive, not just for the mechanics of our engineering, but rather for our restraint. Our ability to hold back, to temper, to “rule our flesh and spirit” so that what we let through our lives is a holy and pure offering to a most-deserving God.
God, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now dwells in me. Through His power, help me begin to filter my emotions in such a way that holds back that which is not pleasing to You.