In this our final section of Proverbs chapter 3, four proverbs are listed in verses 28-32 concerning wisdom and discretion.
1. "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. 28 Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and tomorrow, I will give; when thou hast it by thee." (vs. 27-28) When one is due good in our hand, there is great wisdom in rewarding that good. The good may be money owed or a word of thanks. The greater thought is that when we owe someone, there is wisdom in paying the good due to them promptly. Verse 28 teaches there is folly in procrastinating due obligations whether they are financial or otherwise. When we owe something to another, make it good as soon as possible.
2. "Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee." (vs. 29) How foolish it is to deal rudely or improperly against one’s neighbor. The mutual security of a neighborhood rests upon the trust and reliance of neighbors. When neighbors plot against each other, all security and peace evaporate. Devising evil against a neighbor has a nasty way or returning itself.
3. "Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm." (vs. 30) Picking a fight with a stranger for no cause is folly. He very well may whip you. In the preceding verse, the admonition was to avoid fighting with neighbors. Here, the advice is to avoid getting into a fight with a stranger. The greater truth is to avoid strife altogether. There is great wisdom therein. The applications of this wisdom are many in modern culture whether it is squabbling with a next-door neighbor or exhibiting road rage in traffic. Both are foolish.
4. "Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. 32 For the froward is an abomination to the LORD: but His secret is with the righteous." (vs. 31-32) The words translated as oppressor have the sense of a ‘tough guy’ or a ‘fighter.’ The world often creates the image of a ‘tough guy’ in a positive way. Yet, God says to avoid such an image or such a way of life. Profound is the wisdom thereof. Tough guys usually have been hardened by sin and in due season are destroyed by their own sin. Wise is the avoidance thereof. (vs. 32) The word translated as froward has the sense of one who is ‘crooked,’ perverse,’ or ‘devious.’ It is apparent that the term is used in apposition to that of the oppressor (i.e., tough guy) in the preceding verse. The greater thought likely is an outlaw—one with no morals, scruples, or integrity. Though the world glamorizes and even emulates such characters, the Bible says that these are an abomination to God. Rather, God shares the secrets of His wisdom with the righteous. The word so translated refers to one upright in his living. Such a one is in stark contrast to the tough-guy outlaw described above. The word translated as secret has the sense of ‘counsels’ or ‘special advice.’ God gives special wisdom to those who are upright in their living.
Chapter three concludes with several contrasts, demonstrating how God deals with the ungodly versus the godly.
(1) "The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just." (vs. 33) There is a general curse of God against wickedness. Of interest is the word translated as the house. It can also refer to one’s household. Sad is the truth that the sin of the parents and its trouble are often passed on to the children. In contrast, God blesses the home of the just. The latter refers to those righteous of principle. A truth which runs throughout the Bible is that God blesses the righteous. Psalm 5:12 says, "For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield." God's curse or blessing extends to our very homes and families.
(2) "Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly." (vs. 34) Though men may foolishly scorn the things of God, God will have the last laugh. For it is He who will scorn the scorners. He will mock when their trouble comes. Implicit is a pride of spirit in a scorner. However, in contrast, God gives grace, to the humble of spirit. Truly, God exalts the humble and degrades the proud.
(3) "The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools." This magnificent chapter ends by summarizing the wisdom of the wise and the folly of fools. Implicit in the category of the wise are those upright and humble of life. On the other hands, fools are the summation of the tough-guy outlaw, who are proud and scornful. For those who promote such folly, only shame awaits. If not in this life, it will be certain when they stand before God.
May God's blessing rest upon you and your family as you continue to walk in His wisdom. Try your best to meditate upon these words of wisdom from the Lord.
Your Friend and His,