Proverbs 15
June 2021

$$^{1}$$A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. A soft answer can diffuse a volatile situation, and speaking harshly leads to anger.

$$^{2}$$The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools poor out folly. Knowledge is to be commended. If someone speaks a lot of folly, they are a fool. Folly is “foolishness or a lack of good sense” - it’ll take discernment to judge a lack of good sense. Find someone who commends acquiring knowledge, and learning.

$$^{3}$$The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. Don’t mistake God’s patience for indifference, know that your good works and faithfulness are seen.

$$^{4}$$A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. Yet again, this book teaches that our words are powerful and have great consequence. A gentle tongue, a soft answer, guarded words preserver life, good fruit, fountain of life, now a tree of life. It is unequivocal, as is the inverse.

$$^{5}$$A fool despises his father’s instruction but whoever heeds reproof is prudent. I just had a thought that people younger than 10 would have a difficult time heeding or despising, and are too young to be considered wise or foolish. They are children. When proverbs refers to parents and children, I reckon its probably referring to either adult children and maybe teenagers. I have young kids so I’m predisposed to see parenting advice in that context.

$$^{7}$$The lips of the wise spread knowledge, not so the hearts of fools. What you say is important..

$$^{8}$$The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayers of the upright are acceptable to him. Integrity matters, and it seems that God is more concerned with motivation than impact. Better to pray quietly and honestly than to hypocritically do good works in public.

$$^{11}$$Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord, how much more the hearts of the children of man! I am guessing that Sheol and Abaddon are some reference to a hellish place - if God can perceive what happens in a completely godless place that is far from him, it is going to be trivial to perceive the thoughts and motivations of your heart. He can read us like an open book.

$$^{12}$$A scoffer does not like to be reproved, he will not go to the wise. Reproof is almost as strong of a theme as words. Reproof is part of growing up and becoming wise. You must be reproved if you are to learn and become wise. If I do not reprove my children then I am negligent. If you want to avoid reproof or do not accept it then you are a fool.

But remember, these are proverbs - they are generally true, most of the time. There will be situations where you parent gives bad advice and you’d be wise to ignore it. But its the exception, not the rule. If everyone else is the problem, then the problem is certainly you.

$$^{13}$$A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow the spirit is crushed. This proverb connections emotions, spirit and the physical body. It says they are linked. If you are happy then you will look happy, and vice versa. If you carry around stress and tension then it’s going to change how you look. Don’t be sad indefinitely, it will crush you.

Grieve, and grow, and move on.

$$^{14}$$The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly. This isn’t talking about the consequences of your words, it says that if you have understanding then your heart will desire knowledge. If you feed on folly, which is like consuming things that are foolish, then you are a fool.

$$^{15}$$All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast. A pessimist and an optimist could experience the same event and become respectively more pessimistic and more optimistic. As much as you are able, choose to have a cheerful heart. If you are afflicted, then don’t give up hope. Affliction doesn’t mean you did something wrong or lack wisdom.

$$^{16}$$Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble with it. So the fear of the Lord leads to the avoidance of trouble.. and it is better to live peaceably than deal with trouble.

$$^{17}$$Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it. Better to eat only garnishes, or bait, with people who love you than fine dining with people who do not.

$$^{18}$$A hot-tempered man stirs up strife but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. Don’t lose your temper. Blessed are the peace-makers..

$$^{22}$$Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. You’re not supposed to know everything and be completely independent. You are supposed to ask for help, weigh the advice, and deliberately look for wise people to be friends with.

$$^{23}$$To make an apt1 answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is! It is fun to say something apt? It is a blessing to receive a bit of well-timed advice.

Proverbs talks a lot about words and mouths. For most of history, books have been rare and literacy was not widespread. Therefore most knowledge transfer would occur by speaking. Maybe it still does today because it feels like it requires less effort than reading. I think the same principles can be applied to reading and writing as for hearing and speaking.

$$^{25}$$The Lord tears down the house of the proud but maintains the widow’s boundaries. The boundaries are the edges of the land owned by the widow. God really doesn’t like proud people, and is soft-hearted towards the vulnerable.

$$^{27}$$He who is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live. Don’t be a fool, don’t be bribed - directly or indirectly. Love life, look after your family, and hate bribes. Loving one thing means you hate other things. If you’re building a business, design for Segregation of Duties.

$$^{28}$$The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. It is good, and Godly, to think about your answer before you say it.

$$^{33}$$The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor. Ok great - I have a definition for what “fear of the Lord” means. (And it’s a reliable definition too.) I still don’t understand why this is what it means, but at least I know what it means. They why question is less foundational that the what.

Learn humility, despise pride. Seek wisdom.

1. Apt: Appropriate or suitable in the circumstances.