Proverbs of the Wise II
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles to the book of Proverbs. I would like to remind you that as we have been studying the book of Proverbs, we have been following the analysis of the book. Without reviewing the whole outline, you will recall that we suggested to you that the book of Proverbs, after the introduction, falls naturally into divisions of subject matter related to the people who are responsible for the Proverbs which were presented.

For example, in the first ten chapters of the book of Proverbs, we had a series of thirteen lectures on wisdom which Solomon delivered to his sons. They were of a very private and personal nature. Then in the second division of the book of Proverbs, which began with chapter 10 and continued through chapter 22, verse 16, we had Proverbs related to various things which were presented by Solomon himself, and therefore we referred to them as The Personal Proverbs of Solomon .

In our last lesson we began a discussion of the new section of the book of Proverbs, which begins with chapter 22, verse 17 and goes all the way through chapter 24. This particular section is known as The Word of the Wise , as is indicated to you in verse 17 of chapter 22:

Proverbs 22:

17 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.

This section can be divided into two sections because you will recognize, if you turn to chapter 24, verse 23, another statement:

Proverbs 24:

23 These things also belong to the wise…

In order to separate them in your thinking we have suggested to you two divisions which we are considering— The Words to the Wise I and The Words of the Wise II . In considering the introduction to The Words of the Wise I , we thought with you about what is found in Chapter 22, verses 17-21, where there was an appeal to listen carefully to what the wise had to say. We pointed out to you that the words the wise referred to a special group of people on an equality with the prophets and the priests. It might be easier for you to assimilate what we say by referring to this group of people as the wise men . These wise men presented, in the introductory portion of this section of the book of Proverbs, several truths which resulted in your being able to have your trust completely, wholly in the Lord. That is summed up in the first part of verse 19:

Proverbs 22:

19 That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.

Our trust should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the Word of the Lord. The first section of the words of the wise after the introduction begins with chapter 22, verse 22, and concludes with chapter 23, verse 11:

Proverbs 22:

22 Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
23 For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:
25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.
26 Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.
27 If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?
28 Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Proverbs 23:

1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:
2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.
3 Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.
4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
5 Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.
6 Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:
7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
8 The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.
9 Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.
10 Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:
11 For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.

We bring our reading to a conclusion with verse 11 because it does represent the things which we wish to consider. We have suggested that this portion of the Word of God that we have read in your hearing might be described in the words some things to avoid , for the book of Proverbs is a very practical book. It never leaves us to wonder what steps should be taken next.

The individual described in chapter 22, verse 19, who, being indoctrinated in the Word of God, is resting completely in the Lord should avoid certain things with which he will come in contact while he is making his pilgrim journey. These things will be temptations for individuals who are indoctrinated in the Word of God because they will represent natural acts on the part of individuals who are unconcerned about the Word of God, and if we do not have the Word of God as our norm—as the basis for all of the things that we do—we may find ourselves talked into doing a lot of things that are contrary to the Word of God, breaking our fellowship with Him.

As I have often suggested to you, this kind of broken fellowship is the most dangerous. Fellowship broken because of overt sin is not so dangerous. Yes, any broken fellowship is dangerous, but I say when it is broken by overt sin, it is not so dangerous because the Spirit-controlled child of God soon becomes conscious that the fellowship is broken and restores that fellowship by the confession of his sin; but individuals who do not avoid the things which we are going to suggest now because they do not realize they are contradictory to the plan and the purpose of God can break their fellowship and not be at first conscious of it, missing a great deal of blessing while they are walking in the flesh instead of the Spirit.

Avoid Exploitation of the Poor

The first thing that we would call to your attention which should be avoided, we have described in the words The Exploitation of the Poor . Poor people are being exploited on every hand and, sad to say, some believers are guilty of that exploitation—I hope in ignorance. The exhortation is presented in verse 22:

Proverbs 22:

22 Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
23 For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.

When the injunction is given, “Rob not the poor,” the suggestion is not that you are warned against taking a pistol and holding up a poor man. That would be a rather foolish thing to do anyway. He doesn't have anything on him that you could possibly want. The robbing of the poor that is spoken of here is related to taking advantage of poor people because they are poor and robbing them of their rights, sometimes through means which are perfectly legal and legitimate. Notice the statement, “neither oppress the afflicted in the gate,” in the last part of verse 22.

If we were reading that in everyday language, we might read: “Do not take advantage of the poor man in the courtroom,” because the gate is where all of the legal transactions of the day were carried forth. An individual well taught, well fixed, as we would say today, in material goods, but covetous could take advantage of the poor because of his ignorance and lack of representation. He could exploit him for his own ends. We are warned against it and for a very good reason. In verse 23, you will discover that if you attempt to exploit the poor, though he might not have any representation in the human sense, the Lord immediately becomes your adversary, for we read in verse 23:

Proverbs 22:

23 For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.

If we make the attempt to exploit the poor, then we can expect to have to deal with God. If you think some of these things are not occurring today, I beg of you just to notice in your newspapers from time to time how many individuals are robbed of what is rightfully theirs by intricacies of wise men for which they themselves are no match.

Every Old Testament proverb has a New Testament counterpart which emphasizes the truth which needs to be brought to our attention, so we would ask you to turn to the book of Romans, chapter 12, and notice in the middle of a number of exhortations for believers a suggestion that should be followed for every believer. Notice verse 16:

Romans 12:

16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

We are interested primarily in the statement in the middle of the verse: “…Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate…” The suggestion is that every believer should have on his heart the interest of those who are less fortunate than he. If you are smart enough to rob somebody of what is rightfully theirs, God suggested this passage in the Romans' letter that you forget about your ability along this line and use your ability for those who are less fortunate than you are.

Avoid Evil Companions

Another thing which we are to avoid is stated in Proverbs, chapter 22, verses 24-25:

Proverbs 22:

24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:
25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.

We express this thing to avoid in the words evil companions . Avoid evil companions. The song that is sometimes sung, Yield Not To Temptation , which has in it a line, “shun evil companions, dark compassions subdue,” has its foundation in the Word of God. It is wise to shun evil companions. In this instance the exhortation is:

Proverbs 22:

24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:

This is interesting. If we were to read in this passage of Scripture that you were to make no friendships with an adulterer or an adulteress, you would not think that too far fetched, and you would not think that an unusual request because such people can lead you into sins which are devastating. How interesting it is that we are told here that we should shun individuals who have not learned to control their tempers, that we should not make friendships, be close companions, of people who have ungovernable tempers.

There is a real reason for that. God has said in His Word that the individual who controls his spirit—speaking of his temper—is a man who can control a whole city without any effort at all. In this very text itself there are some suggestions as to the seriousness of what we are talking about because the word angry , which describes the individual with whom we should have no relationship, comes from the Hebrew word af . It describes a horse with flaring nostrils. An individual who has been stirred up in anger until his nostrils are expanded and, figuratively speaking, he is breathing fire, is the individual who is described as an angry man.

This is not a man who has a little tiff with somebody. This is an individual who is eaten up with the very anger of his spirit. You will notice another word to describe this man. He is a furiousman. The word furious comes from the Hebrew word chemah , which elsewhere is translated by the word poison . What an apt selection of words it turns out to be because the individual who is eaten up with anger is indeed an individual who is filled with poison. If you make friends with such an individual as that, the poison that has entered into his own soul may well enter yours. To say the least, you will be providing a snare for your soul. Notice verse 25 again:

Proverbs 22:

25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.

Children sometimes are spoken of with some sense of disgust by their parents because of the temper tantrums which they throw so often. Many, many times when I have been conferring with individuals about the temper tantrums of their children, I have discovered in consultation that there is a real reason for it. The parents themselves have not learned to control their tempers; the parents themselves have not learned to control their spirits. No, they don't fall down on the floor and beat their head against the floor and kick their feet up and down like their children do, but they do express their anger and their wrath. Their children, who are a mystery to them, really shouldn't be a mystery at all. Their children have been poisoned by the anger of their parents and caught in the same sad snare in which they are caught.

This passage of Scripture, too, has a New Testament counterpart. Will you turn to I Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 33:

I Corinthians 15:

33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

What was our Old Testament proverb? “Make not friends with the angry man, lest thou learn his ways.” I think one of the modern translations presents it very well when it says, “Evil companionships corrupt good morals.” Let that sink in for a moment. Isn't it an interesting thing that the statement, “Evil companionships corrupt good morals,” is preceded by the words be not deceived ? Isn't that interesting?

The Holy Spirit thought it was necessary to put it there because there are always those individuals who feel, even though a certain thing has entrapped many people, that they themselves are an exception. It will not entrap them. It is amazing how many people know what has caused the downfall of other individuals and yet feel they are different, that somehow, some way they can escape that snare into which everyone else has fallen. There are some individuals who, in the light of this passage of Scripture of which we are thinking, will be quick to say, “I can associate with anybody with whom I wish to associate, and they can do anything they want to do, and it will have absolutely no effect on me. It might affect some people, but I am different. It won't affect me.” God said, “Don't be deceived.” Here is a principle: Evil companionships corrupt morals, so avoid them, and in this instance, avoid keeping company with the angry, furious man. Someone may get killed someday, and you may be involved in the murder.

Avoid Co-signing Notes

As we go back to the book of Proverbs, let me suggest yet another thing which we are to avoid that is brought to our attention in verses 26-27:

Proverbs 22:

26 Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.
27 If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?

I have expressed what you have read in those two verses in modern terminology—avoid co-signing notes . I want to ask this question to provoke your thinking. How many of you have co-signed a note with someone? Think about it. How many of you are on somebody's note? The book of Proverbs says that this is something to avoid:

Proverbs 22:

26 Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.

The phrase, “strike hands” is a phrase that simply means to clasp hands as an indication that you have made an agreement and the seal is given with a clasped hand. To become a surety for a debt is to sign the note and say that if the note is not paid, you, as an individual, will pay the note.

The danger of such a thing and the reason that you are encouraged to avoid it is found in verse 27:

Proverbs 22:

27 If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?

If this phrase, “thy bed,” is examined in the light of Levitical regulation, it indicates the same thing that we would be talking about today if we were talking about a homestead. Individuals are willing to lose almost anything and everything that they have except their home because they have a responsibility to their families. They want to keep a roof over their heads. God said, “Don't become a co-signer on a note. You have no right to deprive your family of what is rightfully theirs.”

We are not going to take the time to review the verses, but perhaps you recall in the book of Proverbs itself that this has been brought up before, and there it was brought up in the light of the fact that the reason that many people co-sign notes is related to the flesh. It is related to pride. They don't want to tell the individual who comes to them and asks them to co-sign a note that they don't want to do it because the individual will think ill of them. Because of their pride, they foolishly co-sign notes and risk losing all that they have.

In all honesty, we must recognize that there is one qualification to consider for the co-signing of notes which is not completely ruled out. If you will notice the statement of verse 27:

Proverbs 22:

27 If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?

Notice the first part of that verse: “If thou hast nothing to pay…” The suggestion is, if you do have some extra money whereby you can co-sign a note with an individual without jeopardizing the family interest, you are at liberty to do so; but if your co-signing a note for an individual is going to jeopardize the welfare of your family, you are told to avoid it. Sometimes individuals, out of what they think is Christian love, become very impractical. That is the reason there is a need for a portion of the Word of God such as the book of Proverbs. Christians, even though they are filled with the love of God, have no right to act in an impractical fashion—hence, the warning that is brought to our attention at the moment.

Avoid Socialism

Look at another suggestion which you and I as believers, grounded in the Word of God, should avoid. Notice verse 28:

Proverbs 22:

28 Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.

Look at chapter 23, verse 10:

Proverbs 23:

10 Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:
11 For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.

Notice the phrase twice mentioned, “Remove not the old landmark…” I have described this injunction as something to be avoided by the one word socialism . I have used that word socialism to describe this one thing because that is exactly what it has reference to. The first time that landmark is mentioned in the Word of God is in Deuteronomy, chapter 19, verse 14, where all of the land of Canaan was apportioned among the tribes of Israel. Landmarks were set up to designate the boundaries of each individual portion, and God gave strict orders that those landmarks should never be removed. If, as we learned from our study of the book of Ruth, the individuals lost control of their possessions, it could always be regained with a redemption price, whether the individual that had it wanted to release it or not. In the Year of Jubilee, the land reverted to the individual who owned it originally, regardless of what the other people might have thought.

The reason for all of this is: God is very much interested in individual ownership and individual responsibility. In Israel's day and in our day there was a movement for collective ownership of all property. God kept it under control through the Law of the Kinsman Redeemer and the Year of Jubilee. God says here in the book of Proverbs:

Proverbs 22:

28 Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.

I use the word socialism in a very broad sense to describe this thing which is to be avoided because God has established a principle here and the principle is that individual ownership of property should never be obliterated. If you are lending your support in this day in which we live to any of the so-called socialistic programs which tend to remove the old landmarks, you are entering into something that God has very definitely told you to avoid. You will recall that we read in the latter part of the paragraph in verses 10-11 of Proverbs, chapter 23, that you will have God to deal with if you fail to remember His Word.

This, too, has a New Testament counterpart, and I would like for you to turn to II Thessalonians, chapter 3, and notice how in the very days in which the Church was established, Satan attempted to promote socialism in the sense that I am thinking about. Of course, you know that earlier than this, in the Acts of the Apostles, some well-meaning individuals misinterpreted the implications of Christian love just as many individuals in the Jesus movement in our day interpret the implications of Christian love and decided that Christian love demanded that individual ownership of all property be forfeited and all individuals have all things in common. That practice soon fell into oblivion because it was not of God, and that which is not of God always comes to an end. Sometimes we become a bit impatient waiting for that which is not of God to come to an end, and we try to pass judgment upon that which is of God and of that which is not, and we find ourselves in dire straits. This thing of having all things in common, the Church maintaining a socialistic program, is condemned in God's Word from a church standpoint, even from a national standpoint.

Notice in II Thessalonians, chapter 3, what the Apostle has to say concerning the example which he set for all individuals concerned. Notice the paragraph which begins with verse 6:

II Thessalonians 3:

6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

Let us pause there and notice the word disorderly . This verse of Scripture has been used for a basis to suggest that we withdraw fellowship from people who are doing a great many things with which we personally cannot agree. Notice what I say: We might make such an application but that is not the interpretation, for this disorderliness that is spoken of here is something that many of us just smile upon or shrug our shoulders about. Notice verse 7:

II Thessalonians 3:

7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;

There is that word disorderly again. What kind of disorderliness was it that the Apostle Paul avoided? Look at verse 8:

II Thessalonians 3:

8 Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:
9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

Paul was saying: “When I was in your midst, I worked every day. I didn't need to because if I minister to you in spiritual things, you have the responsibility to minister to me in fleshly things, but I wanted to set you an example.” Notice verse 10:

II Thessalonians 3:

10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

Notice the word disorderly again. What is it? The failure to work for a living, the failure to earn money to buy bread, the refusal to make your own way in the world. This is disorderliness, and it is condemned by God and no Christian should support by vote or any other means any of the so-called welfare programs of our world and of our nation.

Before somebody gets terribly unhappy with me and begins palaver about Christian love, let me remind you that where there are individuals who are unable to provide for themselves, you as an individual have a responsibility to provide for them; but God's Word condemns the present trend in our nation which is making us a nation of freeloaders without any real responsibility whatsoever. God's Word says that it is disorderliness. Look at verse 12:

II Thessalonians 3:

12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing [don't be weary in helping those that really need help].
14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

I wonder if we were as conscientious about obeying God's command against the support of socialistic programs as we are conscientious about obeying His commands about other things if our society would be in the sad situation in which it is today?

We have a number of other things in this chapter which we are instructed to avoid, but we will look at them at another time, the Lord willing.


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