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Nuggets from the Proverbs of Solomon

After the death of Solomon’s father, David, God asked how best He could assist the heir to realise his most desired ambition. Of all the human needs, Solomon asked the Lord to bless him with nothing else than wisdom.

The Almighty then endowed Solomon with abundant wisdom, which ultimately gained him respect, wealth and power. We can get some cues from his words of wisdom.

In Proverbs 3:13-14 he teaches us: “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gets understanding, for the gain from it is better than gain from silver and its profit better than gold.” He went on to say: “The wise will inherit honour, but fools get disgrace” (3:35). The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight (4:7). Keep hold of instruction, do not let go; guard her, for she is your life (4:11).

Of what not to do, he advised: “There are six things which the Lord hates, seven which are an abomination to him: Haughty (arrogant) eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers (5:16-19).

Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety (11:14). On the subject of giving, he advises us: “One man gives freely, yet grows all the richer; and another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. A liberal man will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” (11:24-25). Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid (12:11). He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthiness pursuits has no sense (12:11). The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advise. The annoyance of a fool is known at once, but the prudent man ignores an insult. He who speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. There is one whose reckless words are like swords thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (12:15-18).

A wise man conceals his knowledge but fools proclaim their foolishness (12:25). One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth (13:7). He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (13:20).

Wisdom of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down (14:1). Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge (14:7). A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool throws off restraint and is careless. A man of quick temper acts foolishly, but a man of discretion is patient (14:16).

The poor is disliked even by his neighbour, but the rich has many friends (14:20). In a multitude of people is the glory of a King, but without people a prince is ruined (14:29). A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (15:1). A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken (15:13). Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted ox and hatred with it (15:17). Without counsel plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed (15:22).

A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps (16:9). He who gives heed to the word will prosper, happy is he who trusts in the Lord (16:20). A slave who deals wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully, and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers (17:2). A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool (17:10). If a man returns evil for good, evil will not depart for his house (17:13).

A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him (17:25). Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent (17:28). A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion (18:1).

An intelligent mind acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge (18:15). He who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him (18:17). There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is friend who sticks closer than a brother (18:24). Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend (19:4). Many seek the favour of a generous man, and every one is a friend to a man who gives gifts (19:6). Discipline your son while there is hope; do not set your heart on his destruction (19:18).

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established (19:21). If one curses his father or mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness (20:20). An inheritance gotten hastily in the beginning will in the end not be blessed (20:21). The glory of young men is their strength, but the beauty of old men is their grey hair (20:29).

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (21:3). He who closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself cry out and not be heard (21:13). Precious treasure remains in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it (20:20). He who keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble (21:23). Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him (22:15).

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words (23:9). A wise man is mightier than a strong man and a man of knowledge than he who has strength (24:5). Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great; for it is better to be told, “Come up here”, than to be put lower in the presence of the prince (25:6-7). Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give (25:14). If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you be sated with it and vomit it. Let not your foot be seldom in your neighbour’s house, lest he become weary of you and hate you (25:16-17).

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you (25:21). Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool that repeats his folly (26:11). He who meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears (26:17). For lack of wood the fire goes out; and where there is no whisperer, quarrelling ceases (26:20).

Don’t boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth (27:1). Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips (27:2). Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (27:7). A poor man who oppresses the poor is like a hailstorm that leaves no food (28:3). If one turns away his ear from hearing the laws, even his prayer is an abomination (28:9). He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy (28:13). He who rebukes a man will afterwards find more favour than one who flatters with his tongue (28:23).

He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck will suddenly be broken beyond healing (29:1). If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet (29:9). Many seek the favour of a ruler, but from the Lord a man gets justice (29:26). Food for thought?

Prosper Tingini is the president of the Children of God Missionary Assembly. Registration in progress for those who wish to undertake Bible Studies or train as Ministers of Religion. Contact 0771 260 195 or email: ptingini@gmail.com

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