Today’s selections from Solomon’s sayings:
“By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures.”
(Proverbs 24:3-4 NIV)
In Proverbs 9:1, Solomon personified wisdom as the one who started a house and saw it through to completion, with no detail overlooked. In Proverbs 14:1, Solomon speaks of an actual person who builds up the people living in the house (the household, the family), contrasting it with those who tear down the people living in the household.
In this saying, Solomon focuses not on the building process, nor on the people living in the house, but on the structure itself, focusing on what the structure signifies or stands for. The house is a sign of security, prosperity, and wellness, where the people inside can grow and learn, where wisdom is passed down from generation to generation.
As we look at our houses, what do they tell us about our choices? Are we creating a place where wisdom is present, where those inside are encouraged, loved, where they feel secure and can continue growing in wisdom? Or have our houses become focused on our comfort, convenience, and entertainment? Whatever environment we choose to create will encourage that type of behavior. May we be wise in our choices.
“The wise prevail through great power,
and those who have knowledge muster their strength.
Surely you need guidance to wage war,
and victory is won through many advisers.”
(Proverbs 24:5-6 NIV)
Solomon is saying that wars (battles) are not won by military strength alone. Wisdom, knowledge, and the counsel of many is required for victory.
Solomon’s insights and wisdom carry over into our civilian (non-military) lives as well. Everyone fights battles of some kind – it’s part of the curse of living in a fallen world. Some battle physical issues, like their health or their weight. Others battle emotional issues, like depression or anxiety or anger. Some battle relational issues, like picking healthy friendships, or having friends at all. Others battle financial issues, like making wise choices with the money God provides, or how to make ends meet when overwhelming financial crises hit.
Whether the battle is military or civilian in nature, Solomon’s advice still stands: we need good information and wise counsel to win the battles we face. Sometimes the hardest step is the first one – to admit that we can’t tackle the issue on our own, swallow our pride, and ask for help from the Lord, and from those we trust.
“Eat honey, my son, for it is good;
honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.
Know also that wisdom is like honey for you:
If you find it, there is a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.”
Proverbs 24:13-14 NIV)
Solomon uses honey as a reminder of the goodness of wisdom in our lives. Wisdom, like honey, is sweet, but must be tasted and swallowed fir its medicinal properties to take effect. To simply let honey (or wisdom) sit on the shelf does the person no good. Only when either are ingested (taken in, eaten, swallowed) can they be put to use and benefit us.
“Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
or the Lord will see and disapprove
and turn his wrath away from them.”
(Proverbs 24:17-18 NIV)
We need to be careful with our understanding of this saying, and hear what Solomon is telling us. Solomon is referring to personal enemies here, not national enemies such as other nations or kings or rulers.
Solomon is likely reminding us of what God said to the Israelites in Leviticus 19:17-18, where God told them not to hate their fellow Israelites, nor bear a grudge against them. This referred to both outward, spoken hatred as well as inward, unspoken distrust and loathing. Instead, God instructed them to love their neighbor as they would take care of themselves.
Hmmm… sound familiar? Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 22:34-40, and referred to this same principle in numerous other passages.
So why does Solomon tell us to not celebrate outwardly or gloat inwardly when our personal enemies fall or stumble? Because he understands God’s nature, and God’s promise that He will look after the downtrodden and defeated, and will turn His discipline away from them if they are overwhelmed.
If others who claim to follow Christ have done us wrong, and have stumbled or fallen and are facing God’s discipline, it should break our hearts. We should weep over their calamities, for their judgment could just as well be ours for our own sins and shortcomings. We are all sinners, and all must answer to God for our actions or lack thereof.
May we learn to live humbly in God’s grace and mercy, and extend the same to others.