Proverbs 22
Proverbs 22 Kingcomments Bible Studies

A Name and Favor Are Better Than Wealth

“A [good] name” or reputation is preferable to “great wealth”. The real value of a person is not in what he possesses, but in what he is. A person gains a good name through his pleasant dealings with others. This can only ultimately be worked by the Spirit of God. One who has a good name has received it because he seeks the other person’s welfare, pays true attention and shows respect and compassion. With a good name, wealth is dwarfed. Wealth dissipates; a good name remains.

To a good name is inextricably connected “favor”. He who has a good name is in favor with God and people. Because of his qualities and selfless actions, people think favorably of him. People value his company, not because of his possessions, but because of who he is. This is worth more than silver and gold. Any person with a healthy sensibility will recognize this.

A good name is not the same as being popular. A person is popular because he is liked by man without God. He may give a lot of money to ‘charities’, to which publicity is also given. Or he may be the comedian who makes others laugh and for a moment lets them forget the unpleasant feeling they have. Of such popularity the Lord Jesus says: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you” (Lk 6:26). These people are ultimately only concerned with their own honor and not the honor of God. He who is out to please people – himself or others – is not a slave of Christ (Gal 1:10).

In our Western, modern, pleasure-seeking culture, character and reputation have no meaning. Only what a person performs matters, not how a person lives. A person can live in the most heinous sins and still be praised as a hero and adored as an idol. True value, however, should not be seen in what one performs, but in what he or she really is. A good name is a treasure whose value is not affected by the delusion of the day or the statue of the material world before which materialistic man kneels.

The Lord Jesus when He was on earth did not have wealth, but He did have a good Name. “Your oils have a pleasing fragrance, Your name is [like] purified oil” (Song 1:3), that is, in all that He is and does, He spreads a beneficial fragrance (Acts 10:38).

The LORD Is the Maker of All

The point is not that God made people rich or poor, but that He made both those who are rich and those who are poor (Job 31:13; 15). They come into the world the same way and that is naked; they leave the world the same way and that is without being able to take anything of their possessions with them (1Tim 6:7). In the life in between, rich and poor “have a common bond”, literally “meet together”, both in daily life and in the church, and always in God’s direct presence. In God’s presence there is no distinction. All are sinners and all can be saved.

We can deal well with all social differences only if we all remember that God made us. He makes no distinctions and does not favor some over others precisely because they are “all the work of His hands” (Job 34:19). He lets us be severely warned through the apostle James in His Word that in the church we are not to distinguish between the rich and the poor (Jam 2:1-9).

At the same time, the verse makes it clear that God also has everything to do with what we possess. Not only are we His making, but He also knows how we deal with our wealth or poverty and how we as rich and poor live and deal with each other.

To Escape From Evil or to Perish

“The prudent sees the evil” because he is informed by the Word of God and his fellowship with Him. The prudent is not a clairvoyant. He who has understanding of God’s Word sees in it the full extent of evil in the world. God’s people are also given instructions in it as to how to escape it (Isa 26:20-21).

Noah was warned of the flood and “in reverence he prepared an ark for the salvation of his household” (Heb 11:7). Because he had reverence for what God had made known to him, he built the ark as a hiding place against “the evil”, the judgment, of the flood. Thus he was spared from evil and did not perish.

“The naive” are blind to the evil about to come upon them, even though they are warned about it. The naive is an imprudent, a reckless person, one who refuses to see that the warning concerns a real danger. He continues his self-willed path without hiding. He is like someone who simply walks through a meadow during a thunderstorm, blind to the danger of being struck by lightning.

Evil can mean death, but also all kinds of disasters that can strike a person in his life. The prudent, through the teaching of wisdom, knows where the dangers and pitfalls are in his life and is therefore wary of them. He will notice impending evil in time and avoid or defuse it. He does this by hiding with God in time, by seeking refuge with Him.

We can think of an attractive proposal made to us, from which there is a great temptation to lead us astray. Then we must immediately take refuge with God, because only then can we say “no” to the temptation. The naive fall into it because they are inattentive, uncritical and gullible. They are not equipped to survive in this world to avoid blunders that get them into trouble.

We can also apply this verse to the gospel. The gospel provides the escape route to the hiding place against the wrath of God. The jailer saw the danger of judgment and saved his life by believing the gospel (Acts 16:25-34).

The Reward of Humility

Where there is “the fear of the LORD”, there is “humility”. These two spiritual qualifications belong together; they cannot exist without each other. Reverence for the LORD will result in a humble mind toward Him and toward men. The spiritual strength for a humble attitude toward Him and men is found only in the reverent fellowship with Him. From the latter everything flows.

How special then is it that He rewards humility. This is how He is. The Lord Jesus is the personification of this verse. He said of Himself that He is “humble in heart” and that we can learn this from Him if we take His yoke upon us (Mt 11:29). If we are humble, it is only because we have learned that from Him. When God sees characteristics of His Son in His own, it rejoices His heart. He rewards that with “riches, honor and life”.

These three rewards are not to be understood so much in an earthly perspective, in money and prestige among men and long life, but must be viewed more in the spiritual sense. He who fears God in humility gains understanding of spiritual riches, he is honored by God and will enjoy true life for all eternity.

Thorns and Snares in the Way

The perverse finds himself on a way where there are “thorns [and] snares”. The thorns cause him to suffer injuries each time, and the snares cause him to get stuck each time. The injuries are spiritual in nature. He is shunned and despised by the people. The snares are also of a spiritual nature. His perverse way causes him problems in which he becomes more and more trapped, with no chance to free himself from them. Yet he does not realize that he is on the wrong way because he is perverse and does not want to bow down to God. As a result, he continues on this way that ends in death and the judgment of God.

Opposed to him who is perverse is “he who guards himself”. Such a person keeps far from the way of the perverse. As a result, he avoids the painful thorns and the suffocating snares. He wants to live his life in fellowship with God, because that is truly life. It does not mean that he cannot suffer spiritual injuries and have problems, but he knows Him Who cares for him and sustains him.

Advice For Training Up

This verse is one of the best known verses of this book. It is an encouragement to parents to give their child a proper upbringing or exercise or training. The word “train” has the idea of “consecrate”, like a house or temple are consecrated. The young man must be consecrated to God.

The training up must be in accordance with “the way he should go”, with his way that is, he must be brought up in accordance with his personal qualities and abilities. These must be shaped in such a way that he becomes useful to God. The wise parent will discern the natural abilities of the individual child and train him up in them. A child who has no aptitude for music at all should not be forced to learn to play a musical instrument. There must be an understanding of the individuality of the child to which the parents must adjust the upbringing. They should not demand impossible things, but always give him assignments appropriate to his gender, age, (mental) bearing and abilities.

As a matter of fact, it seems that it is primarily about the direction of the way the child should go rather than what he can and cannot do. It is about the way “he should go”, about his way of life and the purpose of his life. His life way is determined not so much by his aptitude and abilities, but by the choices he makes. Parents must teach him to make the right choices, choices that will bring and keep him on a path of dedication to God (cf. Gen 18:19). In the book of Proverbs, there are only two ways a child can go, which is either the way of the wise and the righteous, or the way of the fool and the wicked.

The child must be taught to dedicate his life to the Lord. If he has learned from his parents in his youth to make his choices accordingly, he will do the same when he grows old. We do say: learning young is done old. The choices made for the Lord in the young years have proven its blessing time and again. A person never wants to give that up when he has grown old. Incidentally, the fact that he has grown old is evidence of God’s blessing, for reaching an old age is one of the blessings associated with trust in God.

This verse is a general principle, not one that is always true in all cases. There are parents who have trained up their children in this way, yet one or some of their children have departed from the way of life to the glory of the Lord. This verse applies to children who have chosen the way of wisdom as a result of their upbringing. Unfortunately, there are also children who despite the training up by their parents still choose to go the way of the fool. For this they are fully responsible themselves. It will aggravate their punishment associated with going their own way. They have known better, but have deliberately turned away from the way of life.

To Borrow, to Sow Iniquity and to Be Generous

It is a common fact that “the rich rules over the poor” (Pro 22:7). A rich person has power through his money. Poor people depend on the goodness of a rich person. Ruling does not have to be ruling with harshness. It is about the fact that he who has money has power and he who does not have money is powerless. It is not a command for the rich to rule over the poor, but an observation. Poverty makes people dependent on others.

In practice, this is expressed when a poor person has to borrow money. By borrowing money from a rich person, “the lender”, he becomes his slave. The rich person now has actual power over the poor person, because the poor person owes him a debt and is obliged to pay it back. If he defaults, the lender can start using him as a slave in order to recover the lent money that way.

Pro 22:8 connects to Pro 22:7. It may be that the rich person of Pro 22:7 is misusing the blessing God has given him in his wealth to make the poor dependent on him and subject to him. By behaving in this way, he “sows iniquity”. According to the law of reaping what you sow (Gal 6:7; cf. Job 4:8; Hos 10:13), he will “reap vanity”. Any abuse, whether of power, money or anything else God has given, will be punished by God.

God will cause “the rod of his fury” to perish, that is, he will destroy the power of the wrongdoers. The rod, the symbol of the oppressive method he used, will perish with him. This is an encouragement to the oppressed.

Pro 22:9 is the flip side of both the previous verses. There is a reward for “he who is generous”, that is he who is generous and gives to the poor. That reward involves being blessed by God. This is not about a rich person who gives of his wealth, but one who shares with others what he has. He does not lend, as the rich person does (Pro 22:7), but gives away of his own bread to the poor. He shares it with them without any demand for a return.

This is giving in imitation of God, Who also gave without any demand for a return, with His Son as the supreme Gift. One who gives in this way is therefore blessed by Him.

The expression “he who is generous” is literally “he who has a good (or “abundant” or “generous”) eye”. It indicates that a person sees need in others and unasked helps in that need by giving of his own property to the needy or distressed person. This person has a benevolent mind and a concern for the poor. He is a giver after the heart of God in whom He rejoices (cf. 2Cor 9:7; Lk 14:12-14).

Drive Out the Scoffer

If “a scoffer” appears anywhere in a company, he causes contention. Disrupting order is in his blood; he is incapable of orderly thinking and thoughtful discussion. Contributing to the solution of a problem is completely beyond his will and ability. What he is only good at, and what he is intent on, is ridiculing everything and everyone, thus antagonizing others in any company. He creates an atmosphere of contention.

With a scoffer you should not argue. The only appropriate measure to silence him is to put him outside the door and deny him further access. Then he can no longer assert his evil influence, and weak members of God’s people are no longer in danger of his overthrowing their faith. Maintaining the scoffer in the company puts disgrace on the whole company. If he is sent away, both the dispute and the disgrace cease (cf. Tit 3:10; Gen 21:9-10; Gal 4:28-31).

Purity and Grace

“Purity of heart” and “graciousness of speech” belong together. A person has a pure heart only if he has been born again, if he has been converted to God. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). He who loves purity of heart stands in connection with God through faith, by which the heart is cleansed (Acts 15:9). He has fellowship with Him.

Where there is love for purity of heart, there is also love for kind, gracious words. The words a person uses and the way he says something indicate the state of his heart, what his heart is set on. Heart and words characterized by purity and graciousness find a warm welcome with a king. A good king appreciates this and will make grateful use of such a person in his reign. He will make him his confidant, his friend, with whom he can share governmental affairs.

The Lord Jesus is pre-eminently the King Who values purity of heart and gracious words. They are His characteristics. With those in whom He observes them, He has a special bond of confidentiality. To them He makes His thoughts known and thereby gives them the ability to make them known to His own.

The LORD Preserves and Overthrows

“The eyes of the LORD” indicate His omniscience, that He sees and sees through everything. He sees the enemy’s frantic efforts to banish the “knowledge” concerning Him from the world. However, He sees to it that the knowledge concerning Him is not lost, but He preserves that knowledge by always giving people who acknowledge Him. Despite all attempts over the centuries to eradicate the Bible and the believers, there has always been knowledge of God on earth through Bibles and people whom He has preserved and who have passed on the knowledge of Him.

“The treacherous man” acts and speaks against the knowledge of God. He ignores God and pretends that He does not exist. Or he claims to have the true knowledge of God and drags others into that path of apostasy. A treacherous man is someone who has heard of it but becomes apostate. All his affairs are brought to ruin by God, both his methods of treacherousness and himself and all who follow him. He himself is overthrown, thrown into destruction, while everything he tried to destroy triumphs and endures forever (Psa 119:152).

An Excuse of the Sluggard Not to Work

A sluggard comes up with the most absurd excuses for not working. He ‘sees’ danger outside, but does not see the deadly danger of his laziness. The sluggard is too lazy to use his hands, but his brain works hard and brings forth the most nonsensical thoughts. The sluggard has a strong working imagination. He envisions it: if he were to go across the street to work, it would be his death, because “there is a lion outside”. He is the only one who sees this lion, because all the other people are on their way to work.

That his excuse is nonsensical and laughable does not bother the sluggard. Any claim that there is no lion is firmly rejected by him. He has ‘seen’ the lion; therefore, you cannot get him to go out. A sluggard is a foolish prophet, he prophesies about a vision that only he himself has seen and in which he passionately believes.

Benaiah, one of David’s heroes, was of a different caliber. He went down in a pit to find a real lion, not to be killed, but to kill the lion and thereby eliminate a danger (2Sam 23:20).

The Mouth Is a Deep Pit

This is the first time that sexual sin is mentioned in this section of the book (Proverbs 10:1-22:16), whereas in the first section (Proverbs 1-9), it is mentioned frequently and emphatically. “An adulteress” is literally “strange woman” i.e. every woman outside one’s own wife. No one should allow in his heart thoughts of sexual intercourse with a strange woman (Mt 5:28). Here we are specifically talking about a woman who is out to entice someone into adultery.

It is striking that this sin always begins with the mouth, that is, with the seductive and enticing invitation to commit adultery (Pro 2:16; Pro 5:3; Pro 6:24; Pro 7:5; Pro 9:16-17). Her mouth, the words she speaks and the way she speaks to seduce someone is described as “a deep pit” (cf. Psa 5:9). Falling into a deep pit is reminiscent of a senseless animal falling into a deep pit dug to catch it. One who lets himself be caught by the words of an adulteress is like a senseless animal (cf. Pro 7:22).

Into this deep pit falls one “who is cursed of the LORD”. He who gives in to the temptation of a strange woman does so not because God has condemned him to do so, but because God’s anger is on him because of his sinful way. He has moved out of fellowship with God. He who lives in fellowship with God does not fall into that deep pit (cf. Ecc 7:26).

If someone falls into the deep pit of adultery, it is a result of living in sin. God’s anger does not bring him to a life in sin, but rests on him because of the life in sin. God gives such a person over to sin (Rom 1:24; Psa 81:11-12). No one is destined to fall into sin. We fall into the deep pit because we choose to go down a path that is full of deep potholes. The mouth of the strange woman is one of them.

She will not be able to draw those who stay away from her into the deep pit with her words. The pit is like the snare of a poacher – it is virtually impossible to free yourself from it once you are in it. Therefore, if someone succumbs to the seductive words of an adulterous woman, it is both a sin and his punishment.

The Rod Keeps Foolishness at a Distance

Children are naturally capable of foolish actions. Parents must be mindful that their children are capable of the craziest things and the worst sins. The foolishness does not come from outside, but from within and is ‘ingrained’. Every child is born in sin and it is in him (Psa 51:5). That sinful nature is imparted to him by his parents. Parents who do not consider their children capable of the worst follies are fools themselves.

The most loving care neither prevents this folly nor can correct it. A child can be so foolish that, for example, he does dangerous things, makes wrong purchases, chooses wrong friends, visits wrong places, steals and lies and cheats, reads bad literature, watches porn. He needs to be warned about all such follies. But mere talk will not get you there. Discipline is necessary to correct these natural, sinful tendencies and make him mature and wise.

A child does not fall directly into the hands of an adulteress. He must learn at an early age to clean his room when his parents tell him to. If he does not listen, he must feel. Then the rod should come out and he should get a few taps on his behind (and not be flogged in temper!). “The rod” is necessary to bring it out and use it when appropriate.

Eli spared his sons the rod of admonition, he did not even rebuke them, and they perished (1Sam 3:13). It is better to listen to God’s Word than to a government that goes against God’s Word by forbidding corporal punishment (Acts 5:29). Just look at the development of youth raised without discipline.

To Make More and Come to Poverty

The first line of verse is not easy to understand for the meaning is that the poor makes more for himself because of the oppression. How can a poor person when he is oppressed and he is deprived of his possessions become richer? The most obvious explanation is that it is about spiritual wealth. Whoever oppresses a poor person wants to disadvantage him and make him unhappy. But if the poor puts his trust in God, the oppression works to make him experience closer fellowship with God, and that is true wealth.

The second line of verse states the opposite. He who gives to a rich person, for example, in order to gain his favor and get something done from him, “[will] only [come to] poverty”. Such a person makes himself a slave to people. He will also be severely disappointed in his expectations based on what he has given to the rich person. He has lost what he gave to the rich man and will not get what he expected. His spiritual poverty is great.

In both cases, these are actions that work the opposite of their meant purpose. The oppression a poor person undergoes makes him spiritually rich; it drives him out to God. Difficulties shape a character. Giving something to a rich person to get something done from him proves independence from God. Whoever does that ends up in poverty both spiritually and materially.

Words of Truth Are Excellent Things

In Pro 22:17 a new collection of proverbs begins, the fourth part of the book. From Proverbs 10:1 onward, Solomon passed on more general observations to his son and left their application to him. He has done so through verses of two lines with only in a few cases a clear interrelationship. Now he again proceeds to address and instruct his son directly, as he did in Proverbs 1-9. He again switches his style of address. We also see that, as in Proverbs 1-9, several verses belong together, rather than separate verses of two lines as in the previous section.

Pro 22:17-21 form an introduction. In them Solomon urges his son to devote himself to studying “the words of the wise”. Then his spiritual life will have a firm foundation. He will also be able to give wise counsel to those who seek advice from him. Knowledge is given to us to serve others with, that others may learn from what we have learned. In this way, we may serve our generation according to the will of God. We must remember that the knowledge we gain may be brilliant, but it is powerless knowledge if we do not first and foremost apply it in our own lives (cf. Ezra 7:10).

“Tend your ear” (Pro 22:17) goes beyond just listening or paying attention to. It has to do with bowing down in an attitude of humility. Willingness to learn is shown in the humble mind a person displays. Those who are humble can listen to the teaching that is in the words of wise men.

Young people often believe that they already know everything. He who knows that he needs education and is also willing to commit himself to it, acknowledges his lack of knowledge and the need that he needs others to teach him. He will turn his heart to the knowledge that the wisdom teacher has. He will absorb into his heart the knowledge that the latter imparts to him.

The word “for” with which Pro 22:18 begins indicates that now follows the motivation of the call of Pro 22:17. “It will be pleasant” if the son keeps the words of wise men “within” him, that is, in his heart. It is about stockpiling knowledge in the innermost being. If it is there, that knowledge can also always be on the lips, words of knowledge can always be spoken. “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Mt 12:34).

In Pro 22:19, the purpose of the call of Pro 22:17 is given. This is evident from the words “so that” with which the verse begins. That purpose is to trust in the LORD and not in one’s own understanding or abilities. That is a matter for “today”, for the present, and thus for every day, for every day is the present. It is also emphatically for the son personally – and for each person personally – for “I have taught you ..., even you”.

What Solomon has told and written to his son, he unreservedly calls “excellent things” (Pro 22:20). Are we also so convinced of this? Whether the truths of God’s Word are “excellent things” for us as well is apparent from the time we spend reading and examining God’s Word. This also determines what we tell and write of it to our children. The counsel and knowledge we pass on will also become “excellent things” for them if they see in our lives that they are such things for us.

The father passes on to his son “words of truth” with the “certainty” of their “correctness” (Pro 22:21). This applies to the gospel and everything else that should give direction to our lives. The Word of God has come to us “with full conviction” (1Thes 1:5) because they are words of truth. There is no doubt about their certainty.

The father does not relativize, contrary to what is often done with the Bible today. Statements of God can no longer be considered “correct” because for many it is nothing more than an opinion. You cannot say: ‘This is what Scripture says’, but you must say: I think or believe that Scripture says this or that. Simple, clear statements are presented as vague and difficult to explain. When God’s Word says that women should be silent in the church (1Cor 14:34), contemporary interpreters argue that you shouldn’t read it that way.

The Word of God is the only reliable touchstone given to us. The form in which the words in God’s Word are given to us is also reliable. It is the model, the example, to which we must direct ourselves and arrange our life (Rom 6:14; 2Tim 1:13).

If we are convinced of the truthfulness of the words the wise man has made known to us, and those words are within us, we will speak correctly to those who have sent us somewhere for a particular task. We can be trusted. We are reliable in reporting and will not paint a more beautiful or worse picture than the reality is.

The Lord Jesus sent us into the world with a mission. We can carry out that mission well only if we are completely convinced of His Word and pass it on, either as gospel to unbelievers or as teaching in local churches. With the words we have spoken in His command, we can come back to Him and say that we have done what He has commanded us to do.

The LORD Will Punish Robbing and Crushing

After the impressive, introductory words of this new section in Proverbs, we might expect a series of new, unknown proverbs. This is not the case. They are often issues that have been addressed in other terms before, such as the inhumane practice of oppressing the poor and afflicted.

“The poor” is easy prey for predatory folks (Pro 22:22). The little that the poor has, he cannot protect. He is defenseless when violence is used against him. False charges can easily be brought against “the afflicted at the gate”. The gate is the place where justice is spoken (Rth 4:1-2; 2Sam 15:2; 2Sam 19:8; Job 5:4; Amos 5:15). He has no one to stand up for him.

The warning of Pro 22:22 is justified in Pro 22:23. He who robs the poor and crushes the afflicted in the gate will have to deal with the LORD. People may trample on the right of the afflicted because they cannot defend themselves, but let them count on One Who will plead their case, and that is the LORD (cf. Psa 72:4; Jer 50:34). And those who rob the poor precisely because he is poor will be judged by the LORD with the same judgment with which they judged. He will rob the robbers of their life.

Bad Company Corrupts Good Morals

The son is again warned about wrong company (Pro 1:10-19), this time about a man who is “[given] to anger” and is “hot-tempered” (Pro 22:24). The issue here is not a necessary association, but a friendly one. At work or at school, we do have to associate with such people. We cannot escape that form of association. But we can stay away from those hot-tempered people in our private life. “A man [given] to anger” is literally “a master of anger”. “A hot-tempered man” shows the same character.

Pro 22:25 gives the motivation for Pro 22:24. The saying “bad company corrupts good morals” (1Cor 15:33) applies here. Earlier, the father has talked about what dealing with different people does to his son (Pro 13:20). More than superficial intercourse with someone changes a person. If they are good persons, you change for the better. If they are bad persons, you change for the worse.

Hot-tempered people ignite in anger at the slightest thing. If they feel wronged by even the slightest thing, they loudly express their displeasure. You can adopt this hot-temperedness just like that. Through your dealings with hot-tempered people, you become accustomed to their hot-temperedness. You dull in your feelings of rejection of these bad traits and begin to accept and even understand them.

As a result, you draw a snare on yourself. That is, you unconsciously begin to behave the same way, quickly coming to words and/or actions that are sinful and deserve punishment.

Do Not Become a Guarantor for Debts

The warning about becoming guarantor for one’s debts and give pledges, or confirm it, as it literally says, with striking hand, has also been done before (Pro 22:26; Pro 6:1-5; Pro 11:15; Pro 17:18; Pro 20:16). That it is warned about repeatedly indicates that it is a great danger. It connects to the wrong friendships of the two previous verses. One who becomes guarantor grossly overestimates himself, for he does not know what the other intends, nor does he know whether he can fulfill his obligations as guarantor.

Here it seems to be about a situation where he becomes guarantor for a debt that he cannot meet if the other person defaults. We can possibly conclude this from Pro 22:27, where the motivation is given for the warning of Pro 22:26. If the one for whom he has become guarantor cannot pay his debt, he must pay that debt. But he cannot either. Then the creditor comes and takes away his last possession, his bed. Then he has nothing at all to rest on (cf. Exo 22:26). Spiritually applied, he will have no rest anymore.

Do Not Move the Ancient Boundaries

The boundary has also been mentioned before (Pro 15:25). Now something is said about it in connection with the division of land that has been established from ancient times. It is about “the ancient boundaries”. That refers to the boundaries originally boundaries marked by the “fathers”, thus marking the individual pieces of land assigned to each tribe in the land. Moses speaks of boundary marks even before the people are in the land. He says that when the people come into the land, they must not move their neighbor’s boundary mark (Deu 19:14; Deu 27:17; Isa 5:8; Hos 5:10).

This had to be said because someone, driven by covetousness, could have the audacity to move the boundary mark that marked the separation between his land and that of his neighbor. By placing this boundary mark a little further on his neighbor’s land, he appropriated a piece of land that belonged to his neighbor. His neighbor’s land became smaller and his own larger. This was land grabbing. Moreover, it was a disrespectful act toward one’s ancestors.

A clear example of land grabbing is what Ahab did with Naboth’s land that bordered his own (1Kgs 21:1-2). Naboth would not sell it for any price, so much did he value his land as family property. He speaks to Ahab of “the inheritance of my fathers” (1Kgs 21:3). However, to Ahab did not mean anything, and he robbed it from Naboth by having him, on the advice of his deeply depraved, wicked wife Jezebel, stoned to death.

Modern forms of boundary-moving are the equating of husband and wife, even though God clearly made them different and gave them a different position in life. Boundary-moving is also the equating of unmarried cohabitation with marriage, as well as the equating of marriage between two men or two women with marriage as God has instituted between one man and one woman.

He Who Is Skilled in His Work

Solomon asks his son if he does “see a man skilled in his work”. That seems to indicate that such people are sparse. You really have to search for them. It is someone who is active and diligent as well as skilled. He uses his time and talents optimally, with great commitment and also with wisdom. He will end up in the right environment, where his skill and expertise are valued, that is that “he will stand before kings”.

“He will not stand before obscure men.” The point is not about him feeling too good for those people, but those people maintain a depraved lifestyle. His skills would only strengthen them more in their depravity. He is a noble man with a noble profession and a noble mind, none of which is present in this company of low standing. Therefore, he does not belong there.

Kings gladly avail themselves of his services, for such people make an essential contribution to the glory and spread of their empire. Joseph and Daniel are examples of people who were skillful in their work and stood before kings at their service. It is to be wished that we as believers can also be used in this way by the Lord Jesus. Then, when we come to Him, He will say to us: “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:21; 23). Do we still see people who are skilled in the Lord’s work? Are we ourselves?

© 2023 Author G. de Koning

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Proverbs 21
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