“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17 NKJV). Bringing up a child to study the Bible, and so to be able to access its riches, is one of the many privileges God gives us as parents.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17 NKJV). Bringing up a child to study the Bible, and so to be able to access its riches, is one of the many privileges God gives us as parents. Many sources are available to help a parent teach Scriptural principles to children, such as church programs, entertaining videos, computer games, and musical CD’s. These are all good for assisting a parent with spiritual education. However, these resources should not be relied upon to educate your child.
It is a parent’s responsibility, first of all, to have God’s Word in his or her own heart, then to teach it to the children in the natural course of daily life (Deut 6:6-7). The purpose of this material is to start Scripture-based dialog between a caring Christian adult and a child. Such discussions will help a child to capture the parent’s love of the Bible as God’s revelation of Himself, and will help prepare the child’s heart for God’s call to faith in Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit. If the child is a believer, studying God’s word aids spiritual growth.
This book is intended to be a starting point for biblical discussions between a parent and child, a grandparent and grandchild, or other combinations of caring adults and the children they love. It is to be used with joy as you discover together the truth of God’s word. It should be used to stimulate a special time of shared insight.
This is not a workbook or a textbook. It is a guide to help your family talk of God’s Word “as you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deut 6:7).
Get comfortable on the sofa, the park bench, the porch swing, or the floor. You get the idea. Eliminate distractions. The TV and the radio are turned off, of course. A telephone caller understands that you will have to call back later because you are having a special time set aside for your child. What child would not love having this kind of attention? One of you should pray, thanking God for this special time together and for the amazing gift of His Word.
This is difficult, but do not preach. This is not the time for that. This is a time for discussion and discovery. A one-sided sermon is certain to foster dread in the child! Talk with your child, not to your child. Go slowly. Only cover a question or two per day if necessary to accommodate short attention spans.
Look your child in the eye. Let him or her know you are focused on the discussion at hand and you care to listen. Patiently explain the “big” words.
Remember the joy!
King Solomon ruled over the people of Israel about three thousand years ago. Although Solomon did make mistakes, God has a place of honor for him in the Bible. Solomon prayed to God for an understanding heart, and the Bible tells us that God was delighted to give him wisdom (1 Kgs 3:8-13). Solomon did not ask for riches, but God generously gave him riches (1 Kgs 3:13). Solomon had greater riches and wisdom than any other king on earth (I Kgs 10:23).
People of the surrounding nations knew about Solomon’s great riches, knowledge, and wisdom, and came from far and wide to hear him speak (1 Kgs 4:34). The Bible says Solomon spoke three thousand proverbs, knew over one thousand songs, and knew a lot of information about plants and animals (1 Kgs 4:32-33). In addition, God gave Solomon honor, and said that there would not be another king like him all his days (1 Kgs 3:13). The proverbs we study in this book are some of King Solomon’s many proverbs.1
God gave us the book of proverbs, “a collection of wise sayings and instructions for living a useful and effective life.”2 They help us as we think about hard things that are part of life.3 Proverbs teach successful living for an individual and a community.4 The proverbs are a style of literature, called “wisdom literature,” which was popular in Solomon’s area during his lifetime.5 Wisdom literature had been popular for several hundred years by his time.6 A proverb may give a command or a suggestion, and it may give a reason to follow the teaching.7 In some proverbs, the meaning is so clear that it is not necessary for the writer to give a reason to follow the advice.8 The purpose of a proverb is to teach.9
The proverbs are a form of Hebrew poetry that uses words in a dramatic way to teach us an important point and to help us remember by its word pictures and interesting word patterns.10 Proverbs have power because they sound good and create pictures in the mind, making them easy to remember.11 This form of poetry is useful because it leaves the meaning somewhat open to the reader. The reader may first see one meaning in a proverb, and then later realize that the author may have had something more general to say about life, or something spiritual to say about our relationship with God.12 A proverb will generally be true for a person living at any time in history dealing with the same types of problems and opportunities.13
Several wise people contributed proverbs to the book of Proverbs in the Bible, but the section of proverbs we study in this discussion guide, Prov 10:1-22:16 are from Solomon.14 His proverbs contain practical advice for every-day life.15 In order to correctly understand his proverbs, each verse should be read as a whole.16
“Fear of the Lord” means that we understand God has power over us and over the world. We understand that we can make Him angry, and that God’s anger is powerful. Having a proper fear of the Lord means that we respect God’s power and anger.17 Fear of the Lord make us want to learn from the Bible how to please Him. We want to tell Him we think He is wonderful by worshiping Him.
A person who fears the Lord is thinking about God in the correct way. That person’s behavior should then show that he respects the power of God. God loves us, but we disappoint him and make him angry when we do not obey him Disobeying God is called “sin.” God wants the best for us, and sin spoils life for us. Understanding God’s best desire for us leads us away from sin. Respecting God’s power and his anger, which we call “fear of the Lord,” actually helps us to have a better life. It help us be less afraid of normally frightening things because we know that He is more powerful than the scariest thing we can think of.18
The fear of the LORD prolongs days,
But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence,
And His children will have a place of refuge.
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
To turn one away from the snares of death.
Better is a little with the fear of the LORD,
Than great treasure with trouble.
The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom,
And before honor is humility.
In mercy and truth
Atonement is provided for iniquity;
And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.
The fear of the LORD leads to life,
And he who has it will abide in satisfaction;
He will not be visited with evil.
By humility and the fear of the LORD
Are riches and honor and life.
1. After reading some proverbs of Solomon on the last page, what do you think are some good things that are likely to be true for a person who fears the Lord?
2. Read Prov 10:27. Why do you think that a person who fears the Lord may live for a longer time than a wicked person may live? What day-to-day choices might be involved with that?
3. Do you see a verse that tells us a person’s family may benefit from his or her fear of the Lord? Can you think of a way that your parent’s fear of the Lord could protect you from harm?
4. Look again at the same passage (Prov 14:26-27). Think about a beautiful water fountain you have seen at a park. Did it bring you happiness? Did it make you feel peaceful? Did you ever get to play in a fountain or sprinkler to cool off on a hot summer day? Do you drink cool water from a fountain at school or church to refresh you and keep you alive? How could fear of the Lord be like a fountain of life?
5. Explore with Me: Thinking about the fountain of life, read John 4:1-42. How does this passage remind you of the fountain of life?
6. Read Prov 15:16. It seems that great treasure would be a good thing. What are some ways it could possibly bring trouble? (Remember that King Solomon was richer than any other king, so he really knew what he was talking about!) What does this verse tell us is better than great treasure?
7. Explore with Me: Read Matt 6:19-21. What does it say about treasure trouble? What is better than earthly treasures? How do you think you could get treasures into heaven?
God is very much concerned about your “heart condition.” If a person has a medical problem with his heart, we might say that the person has heart disease, a heart problem, or a heart condition. Actually, we all have a heart problem. I am not talking about the physical structure in your chest that pumps your blood. I am talking about a part of you that makes you “tick” in a different way. I’m talking about the “I-love-you-with-all-my-heart” heart. Proverbs has many verses that talk about a spiritual heart that has feelings and leads you to decisions. This particular heart is where love can grow and God can work to make you His and then make you more like Jesus. Sadly, a person’s heart can be a diseased, dirty mess where bad feelings and evil plans grow – the types of things that spoil your life.
In order for God to work in your heart, your heart must be clean. The Bible has a lot to say about ways to take care of your spiritual heart so that it can function in the way God intends. He cares about your heart because He wants to be in charge there. Let’s look at some heart care verses from Proverbs.
Those who are of a perverse heart are an abomination to the LORD,
But the blameless in their ways are His delight.
Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,
But a good word makes it glad.
The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy.
Even in laughter the heart may sorrow,
And the end of mirth may be grief.
A sound heart is life to the body,
But envy is rottenness to the bones.
Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD;
Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.
Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty,
And before honor is humility.
Who can say, "I have made my heart clean,
I am pure from my sin"?
1. Read Prov 11:20. A person with a perverse heart is thinking in a bad way. His or her thoughts are turned around the wrong direction and are displeasing to God. In fact, this verse says that God detests that kind of heart. What kind of heart makes God happy?
2. Explore with Me: See 1 Cor 13:4-7. These verses show some differences between a heart that loves and a heart that is perverse. What are some differences?
3. Read Prov 12:25. Anxiety in your heart means that you are worrying about things that may or may not happen. How would that be bad for your heart? What is something that your heart feels anxious about today? Can you think of a time that a “good word” made your heart glad? Say a “good word” to the person who is with you now.
4. Explore with Me: Read Phil 4:6-7. What do these verses say about an anxious heart? What should we do when we are anxious?
5. Read Prov 14:13. How could your heart be happy and sad at the same time? This type of emotion is called “bittersweet.” Maybe you were happy about getting a new puppy, but you were sad because you missed your old dog. Maybe you were happy about starting kindergarten, but you missed your family while you were separated from them. What bittersweet time can you think of?
6. Read Prov 20:9. Remembering our lesson on the fear of the Lord, do you recall what “sin” is? How would sin be bad for your heart? Do you think God wants sin in your heart? Can you make your own heart clean?
7. Explore with Me: Read 1 John 1:5-10. Who cleans sin from your heart? How do you get Jesus to clean your heart for you?
King Solomon is qualified to write about wisdom. Solomon asked God for a heart that understands the difference between good and evil. Solomon’s request pleased God, and God gave him a wise and understanding heart (1 Kgs 3:9-13). Solomon was the wisest of all the kings of the earth (1 Kgs 10:23).
Wisdom is described in the last paragraph. A wise person has the ability to understand the difference between good and evil. As you know, something may appear to be good although it is actually bad. Good appearances can trap us into believing that a thing is good, and that very thing might end up hurting or destroying us. A wise person sees consequences ahead of time.
Just as Solomon prayed for God to give him an understanding heart, Jas 1:5 says that a person who lacks wisdom may ask God for it. God will give it generously, and will not make that person feel embarrassed about asking for it. People who do not know God have their own type of wisdom, but that wisdom does not work for your good. God wants you to have His wisdom that is found in His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:18-31).
When pride comes, then comes shame;
But with the humble is wisdom.
A man will be commended according to his wisdom,
But he who is of a perverse heart will be despised.
By pride comes nothing but strife,
But with the well-advised is wisdom.
A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it,
But knowledge is easy to him who understands.
Go from the presence of a foolish man,
When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.
The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way,
But the folly of fools is deceit.
The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom,
And before honor is humility.
How much better to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding,
But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.
1. Read Prov 11:2. If you have humility in your heart, you will show respect for other people because you know that you are not more important than they are. Having a humble heart shows that you are thinking correctly about yourself. Humility leads to wisdom. True humility pleases God. Pride is the opposite of humility. A proud heart is twisted. It makes you think you are more important than other people. Pride is a sin that leads you away from God. What are some ways that pride could embarrass you and cause pain for God?
2. Read Prov 12:8. In our last question we focused on the fact that the attitude of one’s heart affects his relationship with God. For this verse, think about how your wisdom or your pride affects your relationships with people. What is the out come of wisdom? What is the outcome of pride?
3. Read Prov 14:6-8. What do these verses say about a fool? What do they advise you to do when a person is acting in a foolish way? Why would that be a good idea? What could be the outcome of hanging around a foolish person?
4. Read Prov 15:33. The fear of the Lord goes together with wisdom.19 If you have wisdom, you should also have the fear of the Lord. What goes along with humility? What might come to you together with foolishness?
5. According to Prov 16:16, what could possibly be better than having gold? How can you improve on having silver? Do you agree that this could be true?
6. In Prov 17:24, what can be “seen” by a person with understanding? What does a foolish person look toward? What do you think that means?
7. Explore with Me: Read Heb 12:1-2. Where should our eyes be looking? Why should we look toward Him? Where is He now? If we cannot actually see Him, how is it possible to fix our eyes on Him?
God designed the family. He made man and woman in His image and joined them together as a team (Gen 1:26; 2:21-24), as a husband and wife. He gave them children (Gen 4:1-2). Children live in a family for their growing years. God provides for a child’s food, shelter, and clothing through parents. Parents provide training for children so that they will know how to live among other people, and so that they will grow to be independent adults. In some families, grandparents or other relatives are in the home or nearby so that they can also help a child understand this huge world in which we live. These are very important functions of a family.
There is a more important work that parents should perform. Parents are responsible for providing the foundation of a child’s love and trust in God. Parents should teach their children about Gods faithfulness and His Word, the Bible (Ps 71:18, Deut 6:4-7). Children also have a responsibility to the family. Children are to give respect to their father and mother (Exod 20:12, Matt 15:3-6). Your experiences in your family should lead you to the time when you will leave your parents to start your own family that will honor God (Gen 2:24).
A wise son makes a glad father,
But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.
A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish man despises his mother.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the LORD.
Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the LORD.
He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother
Is a son who causes shame and brings reproach.
The righteous man walks in his integrity;
His children are blessed after him.
Even a child is known by his deeds,
Whether what he does is pure and right.
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
1. Read Prov 10:1. What is a possible result for your family if you are wise? What might happen if you are foolish? What is an example of your actions that make your parents glad? What could you do that would make them sad?
2. Read Prov 15:20. It is similar to 10:1. What is the difference in the verse between a wise child and a foolish man? If you have despised your parent, you have shown that you do not love your parent, and you have treated them as though they are worthless to you. You would have caused them deep sadness and embarrassment. Think about what you know about sin. Would treating your parents this way be a sin against God?
3. Explore with Me: Read Exod 20:12 in the Old Testament. What does God say in the Ten Commandments about treatment of parents? Read Matt 15:3-6 in the New Testament. Who is speaking in these verses? Do you get the idea that the way we treat our parents is important to God? Does your responsibility to bring your parents honor rather than grief ever end? What if you are fifty years old and your parents are seventy-five? Would your responsibility to honor your parents end then?
4. Read Prov 18:22 and Prov 19:14. It is important to God for a person to be married to a “prudent” (wise) husband or wife. In the last lesson, we saw that wisdom and the fear of the Lord go together. What do these verses say about the type of person you should marry? If you understand that your husband or wife is a gift from the Lord, how will that affect your attitude toward that person?
5. Read 2 Cor 6:14-18. Being yoked to a person means that you join in a relationship. Marriage is certainly being yoked together as partners. These verses have pairs of words that show the differences between those who fear the Lord and those who do not. What are some of these differences? Why would it be important to God that you marry a righteous person? Why would it be important to Him that you would not be joined to a wicked person? How will this affect your choices about people you will date and about the person you will marry?
6. Read Prov 20:7. If your parent walks in integrity, he would be living with a truthful heart. This way of living pleases God. How does your parent’s way of living affect you? How will your way of living affect your children?
7. Read Prov 20:11. God knows what is in your heart, but people cannot see what is in your heart (1 Sam 16:7). What can people see that makes them form opinions about you? What kinds of deeds show that your heart is pure and right? How old do you need to be to do good deeds?
Many people in our world today are looking for the easiest possible lifestyle. It is considered desirable to do as little work as one can get by with, and then play, play, play. Everyone needs playtime. It is a good part of life. However, too much play can cross over to sin if personal responsibilities are not met. Work is a way we participate in life with others. We do our share to make the world a better place. A person may work to make money to provide shelter, clothing, and food for his or her family. Some adults work at home to take care of children or parents. Some people have enough money and work for no pay as a volunteer in order to serve others. A child’s work is to go to school, do homework, and share some responsibility at home. Sound familiar?
The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the importance of working well in order to have a full life. A lazy person may think he has a good life, but he does not. He hurts himself and others. His life is out of balance. He does not honor God. We need to balance play and work. They are both gifts from God (Eccl 5:19, 1 Tim 6:17).
As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
So is the lazy man to those who send him.
The hand of the diligent will rule,
But the lazy man will be put to forced labor.
Commit your works to the LORD,
And your thoughts will be established.
The person who labors, labors for himself,
For his hungry mouth drives him on.
He who is slothful in his work
Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.
Laziness casts one into a deep sleep,
And an idle person will suffer hunger.
Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty;
Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty,
But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
1. Read Prov 10:26. When have you had vinegar on your teeth or smoke in your eyes? Was that annoying? These are interesting word pictures to describe a lazy person. Some people have problems and cannot work. What might keep a person from being able to work? A lazy person can work but chooses not to work. This displeases God and it displeases people. What types of things would a lazy person do on his job to annoy his boss? How would a lazy person’s behavior affect other people?
2. Read Prov 16:3. If you are working as though you are giving your work to God, how will that affect the way you work? Would this be true only for big work in your life, or is it only true for small work? What are some examples of “big” work you may do in your life that you can give to God? What is some “small” work that you can give to Him?
3. Explore with Me: Read Eccl 9:10. King Solomon also wrote this verse. What does it say about how we should work?
4. Read Prov 16:26. How does a person’s hungry mouth cause his work? Do you work for your food, or does someone else do that for you? Have you thanked that person lately? When are some times that other people have worked to feed your hungry mouth? When might you work to feed others?
5. Read Prov 18:9. A “slothful” worker is a lazy person. How do you think a slothful person could destroy himself or others?
6. Read Prov 19:15 and Prov 20:13. What do these verses say about sleep? What is a reasonable amount of sleep for a person your age? Your parents have probably set a proper “bedtime” for you. Are you obedient and cooperative with this bedtime? What are some possible outcomes if you sleep too much?
7. Explore with Me: Read Col 3:23-24. Who benefits from your work? Who rewards you? Read the verses a second time. Which work are we supposed to do as for the Lord?
Mercy is treating someone with love and kindness when they do not deserve it. Mercy started with God. God described Himself to Moses as merciful (Exod 34:6). King David (Solomon’s father) wrote a song praising God for His mercy which “endures forever” (1 Chr 16:34). David also gave us a word picture of God’s mercy following him around for the rest of his life (Ps 23:6). The prophet Jeremiah describes God’s mercy as “new every morning” (Lam 3:23). Mercy starts with God, and His mercy never ends.
One example of God’s mercy is our very lives. We deserve death because we have offended our Holy God with our sin (Rom 6:23). However, He chooses to show mercy by giving life with Him forever to those who trust in His Son, Jesus (Eph 2:1-10, John 3:16).
God wants you to show His mercy to others. You may give clothing or food to a person who has none. You can help a person who is sick or hurting in body or mind. It is important that when you show mercy, you are doing it out of love and not in order to get something back from the person, or to impress someone.
A righteous man regards the life of his animal,
But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
He who despises his neighbor sins;
But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.
Do they not go astray who devise evil?
But mercy and truth belong to those who devise good.
He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker,
But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.
He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker;
He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD,
And He will pay back what he has given.
Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor
Will also cry himself and not be heard.
He who has a generous eye will be blessed,
For he gives of his bread to the poor.
1. Read Prov 12:10. How will a righteous man treat his animals? How will he then treat people? Why could a wicked person not show mercy?
2. Read Prov 14:21. What type of behavior does this verse name as a sin? What does it say will make you (and God) happy?
3. Explore with Me: Read Luke 10:25-37. According to this teaching, who are you responsible to love? Who are the bad neighbors in the parable of the Good Samaritan? The people who were expected to show love did not. Who did show that he loved his neighbor? Who are your neighbors? How can you show God’s love to them?
4. Read Prov 14:22. If you “devise” something, you make plans to cause something to happen. What happens to a person who causes evil things? What is the reward for a person who devises good things?
5. Read back through all the verses on the previous page. What do you learn about how God expects you to show His love and mercy to the poor?
6. Explore with Me: Read Mic 6:8. What three things are listed in this verse which God has shown us are good? How would those three things “look” in the life of a person who fears the Lord?
7. Look back at Prov 14:22. Discuss with your family the ways in which your family shows mercy to others. If your family does not already have a plan for showing God’s mercy, will you work together to “devise” a plan for the good of someone else? Is there a person or group or church in your area with an established mercy ministry who needs your help? What can you personally do to help?
God cares for us by providing everything we need. Our needs include food, clothing, and shelter. We can trust Him to provide for us. Jesus taught in a clear way that God’s creation does not worry about these basic necessities, and we should not worry about them (Matt 6:25-34). If God takes care of the plants and animals he will certainly take care of us.
God provides work for people to earn money for these necessities. If you are a child, someone else earns money to take care of you. People who cannot work at all, or who are not working temporarily, can get help from family members, government programs or church ministries.
Everything you have is a gift from God. Whether you have a lot or have a little, everything is from Him. God expects your family to generously, cheerfully give to the work of the church and the care of His people (2 Cor 9:7-12). He expects you to earn your money honestly, spend it wisely, share it generously, and think about it properly. Your money is a tool for honoring God, and should not be worshiped in place of God. It is He, and not your money, who takes care of you.
He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like foliage.
There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing;
And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.
Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished,
But he who gathers by labor will increase.
Better is a little with righteousness,
Than vast revenues without justice.
How much better to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
The rich man's wealth is his strong city,
And like a high wall in his own esteem.
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold.
The rich and the poor have this in common,
The LORD is the maker of them all.
By humility and the fear of the LORD
Are riches and honor and life.
1. Explore with Me: Read 1 Tim 6:10. What is the root of a plant? What does it do for the plant? Does this verse say that money is bad? What is the “root of all kinds of evil”? Knowing that loving money is the “root of all kinds of evil,” what ways can you think of that would make loving money a root for evil things? This verse tells about bad outcomes for some people who have loved money. What were those bad consequences?
2. In 1 Tim 6:10, we saw the love of money growing into a terrible thing. Read Prov 11:28. Who will grow beautifully? What happens to a person who trusts in his money to take care of him, rather than trusting in God? What does it mean for a person to “fall” in this way?
3. Read Prov 13:7. This verse would not make sense to many people. How is it possible for a rich man to be poor? How can a poor man be rich? Is a rich man always “poor”? Is a poor man always “rich”? In addition to money, what makes a person rich or poor? Does this verse make sense to you?
4. Read Prov 18:11 while thinking about a person who trusts in his money rather than trusting in God. What kind of word picture does this verse paint for you about that person’s attitude about money? How could riches seem like a strong city and a high wall to that man or woman? Would riches really be protection for that person, or would it only seem that way? What could happen to tear down that kind of strong city or high wall? What or who could a person trust that could never be torn down?
6. Read Prov 16:16 with Prov 22:1-2. Name four things that are better than gold, silver, and great riches. These four things cannot be seen or held in your hand. How are those four things better than gold or silver or dollar bills, which can be held in your hand and traded for things that are beautiful to your eyes?
7. From Prov 22:4, what are the sources of riches, honor, and life? What is your part in your riches, honor, and life? What is God’s part? What do you need to say to God about this?
There are many ways in life that we interact with other people. We buy items from shopkeepers in the neighborhood, and we exchange information on the Internet with people we have never seen. We hear information and pass it along to our friends and family. Someone may ask us to perform work. We may be asked by a boss, a customer, a teacher, a friend, or a family member to complete a task. Often that person will never know whether we did that work correctly or whether we did it at all. All of these situations are built on trusting that we are dealing with each other in an honest manner. Honesty and fairness are basic daily expectations we should share with others.
However, there are times when we all fall short of this ideal situation. Sometimes people cheat to make extra money they did not earn. Sometimes people lie to cover up a mistake or to hide the fact that they neglected responsibility. The fact is that anytime we do not deal honestly with another person, we sin. The other person may never know about our sin, but God, who “sees in secret” (Matt 6:4) will know and be offended. Be a trustworthy person and honor God in all of your business and personal relationships.
He who walks with integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will become known.
Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD,
But a just weight is His delight.
The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.
Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD,
But those who deal truthfully are His delight.
He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house,
But he who hates bribes will live.
Better is a little with righteousness,
Than vast revenues without justice.
Honest weights and scales are the LORD's;
All the weights in the bag are His work.
A wicked man accepts a bribe behind the back
To pervert the ways of justice.
1. Read Prov 10:9. Remember talking about walking with integrity? It means showing with your life that you are telling the truth to God and to other people. If you walk with integrity, then you will “walk securely.” How would a secure walk be different from a perverse (turned a wrong direction) walk? What will be known about a perverse person, and who would know about it?
2. Read Prov 11:1 and Prov 16:11. Back when Solomon wrote these verses, businessmen had scales and weights to measure their goods. Some had scales and weights that showed the wrong weight in order to cheat customers. Read the two verses again. How are these two verses similar? How are they different? What do they both tell us about God? Why would God care about a businessman’s weights and scales? How would honest weights and scales delight the Lord? Why would they belong to Him? How would they be His work?
3. In Prov 11:3, who is guided and who is destroyed? Why? Why is an honest person called “upright?” Why is a perverse person called “unfaithful?” To whom would he be unfaithful? Why would it matter?
4. Read Prov 12:22. This verse describes two types of behavior that come from a person’s heart. What are the two ways of behaving? How does God feel about each kind of behavior?
6. If you bribe someone, you are paying him or her to twist the truth around until it becomes a lie. What are some reasons why one person would bribe another? Read Prov 15:27 and Prov 17:23. Why would a wicked person need to hide the bribe behind his or her back? How would a bribe make God angry? Why would it be useless to try to hide this sin?
7. Explore with Me: Read Phil 4:8. Talk about why this is a good verse to look at during a discussion about honesty. Do you think this would be a good verse to memorize so that you will have it in your brain when your brain is going the wrong direction? If the verse seems too long, start by trying to remember to think about things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. Tuck that away in your brain. You will need it often!
Words are more than alphabet letters arranged on a page. Words are more than sounds that pour from your mouth. Words are tools to let another person know what you are thinking or feeling. Words can express your love to God or to a special person. Your words can make someone feel better when the day is not going well. However, your words can wound a dear friend if you tell his secret or smear her reputation. Careless words can murder a friendship or destroy a family.
In the book of Proverbs, you may read about the mouth, the lips, the tongue, or speech, which are all just different ways of talking about words. Many verses in the book of Proverbs remind us to use our words wisely, honestly, calmly, and kindly. One verse even tells the shocking truth that at times your best move will be to shut your lips (Prov 17:28). Keeping your mouth shut at the proper time can be difficult, but knowing that bit of wisdom can save you a lot of trouble!
A talebearer reveals secrets,
But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.
There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise promotes health.
A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
The heart of the wise teaches his mouth,
And adds learning to his lips.
Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
An evildoer gives heed to false lips;
A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.
He who answers a matter before he hears it,
It is folly and shame to him.
Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles.
1. Prov 11:13. How does this verse describe a person who tells a secret? How does it describe a person who keeps a secret? What usually happens when a “secret” passes from person to person? What should you do if someone tells you a “secret”?
2. Read Prov 12:18. What is something bad that could happen because of your words? How would “piercings of a sword” hurt? Has anyone ever hurt you that badly with words? Do you need to apologize to someone for hurting him or her with words? Do you need to confess this sin to God? Now for the good part! What good can come from your words? Read Prov 16:24. Say something “sweet” to the person with you!
3. Read Prov 15:1. If an angry person confronts you, what is the best way to handle that? Is that what you naturally feel like doing, or is that difficult? Why is this a better idea than answering with a shout or a sarcastic remark?
5. Read Prov 17:4. This verse is a bit surprising. What words name a person who listens to destructive talk? Why is the listener called these two words? Do you find yourself listening “eagerly” to gossip? How should you react?
6. Read Prov 18:13. What should adults and children do before they give an answer to someone? If you get this out of order and tell what you think before you hear someone’s statement or question, how are you and the other person affected?
7. Read Prov 21:23. This verse tells you something specific you can do to save yourself a lot of trouble in life. What is it? What are some ways you can work on improving in this area?
Friends are a major influence in your life. You spend much of your time with your friends. Without realizing it, you can be affected by your friends’ opinions of you and of the world. This influence could be something basically harmless. Your friend may want you to come along to hear a new musician. Your friend could see a funny movie and suggest that you would enjoy it. Your friends might have an all-night party where everyone takes turns telling stories. These are a few examples of actual ways friends behave.
When you think about it, these three examples are illustrations of ways that friends could be a good influence or a bad influence. These examples show the reason God wants you to choose friends who have values and opinions that honor Him. Friends will make mistakes, as we all do, but God-honoring friends are less likely to lead you away from God than friends who do not give Him a place of honor in their lives.
Jesus set an example that we are not to isolate ourselves from people who are different from us. In fact, He told us to be salt and light among all people (Matt 5:13-16). However, choose carefully your closest friends.
The righteous should choose his friends carefully,
For the way of the wicked leads them astray.
He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will be destroyed.
The poor man is hated even by his own neighbor,
But the rich has many friends.
He who covers a transgression seeks love,
But he who repeats a matter separates friends.
A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.
A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a castle.
A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Wealth makes many friends,
But the poor is separated from his friend.
2. Explore with Me: Review 2 Cor 6:14-18. How do these verses affect your thinking about your true friends?
3. Read Prov 14:20 and Prov 19:4. How are these verses similar? What do they say about people’s hearts? What truth do they teach about choosing friends? Do you ever have these wrong motives for the friends you choose and reject?
4. Read Prov 17:9 and Prov 18:19. Tell how these verses describe the consequences of using unwise words against a friend. If you have spoiled a friendship by offending someone, what can you do to correct that situation?
5. Read Prov 17:17. Do you have friends that you love “at all times”? Who loves you at all times? Why do you think God encourages us to form healthy friendships? What does this verse say is a good reason to have a close friend? If a friend loves at all times – even in the bad times – what might that mean for you? What might it mean for your friends?
6. Read Prov 18:24. If you care about having good friends, what action should you take? How is a good friend described? What friends does your family have that seem like members of your family? What is special about those friends?
7. Explore with Me: Read John 15:9-17. Who is speaking? Who wants to be your best friend? Read through the verses again and find details about His amazing love.
Are you ready to explore the wisdom of Solomon on your own? The section we have been looking at is Prov 10:1 -- 22:16. Read through the passage in your own Bible and pick out the verses talking about anger. Sometimes a different word is used for anger, such as wrath or rage or quick temper. What important lessons about anger can you learn from these verses? Can you make up some questions of your own about ways in which anger can destroy you and others? What can you do about the problem of anger? I know you will see some important truths about this subject.
Take several days to think about those verses, and then try another topic. Some other good verses to look for are those talking about righteousness, wickedness, knowledge, foolishness, men, women, children, correction, and the king. What other topics get your attention as you read through the verses? These verses have been written and saved for thousands of years so that we can learn important lessons about ourselves and about God. Open your Bible every day to explore some more!
Clifford, Richard J. Proverbs: A Commentary. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999.
Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989.
McKane, William. Proverbs: A New Approach. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975.
Radmacher, Earl D., Ronald B. Allen, H. Wayne House, eds. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999.
Ross, Allen P. “Proverbs.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, Psalms – Song of Songs, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, 883- . Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991.
Ross, Allen P. “Proverbs.” In NIV Bible Commentary, Vol. 1, Old Testament, eds. Kenneth Barker and John R. Kohlenberger III, 938- . Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.
Whybray, R. N. New Century Bible Commentary, Proverbs. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1994.
1 Allen P. Ross, “Proverbs,” in NIV Bible Commentary, vol. 1, Old Testament, eds. Kenneth Barker and John R. Kohlenberger III (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 938.
3 Allen P. Ross, “Proverbs,”in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 5, Psalms – Song of Songs, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 883.
4 William McKane, Proverbs: A New Approach (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975), 11.
5 Ross, “Proverbs,” Expositor’s Commentary, 885.
6 Richard J. Clifford, Proverbs: A Commentary (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999), 8.
7 Ross, “Proverbs, Expositor’s Commentary, 888-89.
8 Clifford, 11.
9 Ross, “Proverbs,” Expositor’s Commentary, 888.
10 Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald B. Allen, H. Wayne House, eds., Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999), 745.
11 R. N. Whybray, New Century Bible Commentary, Proverbs (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1994), 13-14.
12 Ibid., 13.
13 Ross, “Proverbs,” Expositor’s Commentary, 889.
14 Ross, “Proverbs,” NIV Commentary, 938.
15 Elwell, Walter A, ed., Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989), 417.
16 Ibid., 417.
17 Radmacher, 767.
19 Ibid., 762.