By Randy Dillon
Following the large section of proverbs attributed to Solomon, the reader comes to another portion of scripture also written by Solomon, but somewhat different than the previous writings. Recall that the first Nine chapters are sage advice for young men chiefly being trained for civil service in Jewish government. Chapters 10-24 are more general in nature and appeal to the citizens at large. The above chapters 25-29 are a continuation of Solomon’s writings which were copied out in the reign of King Hezekiah probably by some of his advisors who were sorting through historical archives. These four chapters of wisdom are mostly directed at people who would be leaders of the nation; not just civil servants, but religious leaders, military leaders, diplomats and community leaders. Many of these are like those in the preceding chapters. They continue the themes which lead one to mature wisdom in all aspects of life. However, in these wise sayings there seem to be less contrasting statements (“this is good, BUT that is bad” type of grammatical structure) and more of the expansive type of sayings (“this is true, and this follows or is like that”.)
Many of the proverbs in chapters 25-29 concern speech and personal interactions which are wise, especially for those in leadership positions. One commentator, reviewing all of Proverbs, finds four “tongues” that are cited and developed in this book. They are (1) a “controlled” tongue (those that think before speaking, know when to be silent and when to give wise advice; (2) a “caring” tongue (those that speak the truth but in an encouraging manner); (3) a “conniving” tongue (those who speak with evil motives, gossip, slander and twisted truth); and (4) a “careless” tongue (those who lie, curse, are quickly angered in conversation and are rebellious and destructive.) Obviously, the first two are righteous in their orientation while the last two are evil and subversive.
Some are so well known that they have become a common part of our interpersonal conversation, or have found repetition in the New Testament, such as these:
25:21-22 “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.” (Compare Matthew 5:44 and Romans 12:20)
25:24 “It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.”
27:1 “Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Compare James 4: 13-16; Matthew 6:34)
27:17 “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
28:27 “He that giveth unto the poor shalt not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.” (Compare Luke 6:38)
29:2 “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
Take the time to consider these and other proverbs in these chapters and take the time to meditate upon them in an introspective manner to determine how they man be of value in your leadership and everyday life.