Proverbs 22
Sermon Bible
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.

Proverbs 22:2

The text reminds us that all mankind are alike in their origin. Moreover, the souls of all alike are equally precious in His sight, who is no respecter of persons; so precious that for all alike He has shed His own blood; and all shall stand before Him at last as equal, to be judged alike. How is it, then, that He allows this strange disparity at present to divide them, placing, as it would seem, both the one class and the other in a situation of great temptation, from the very fact of the one's want and the other's superfluity? All that we can do is reverently to adore these traces of wisdom and goodness which God has allowed to be visible, and such traces are not wanting in this strange phenomenon of rich and poor.

I. The poverty of the poor is a blessing to themselves. (1) They are, by their very situation, under the especial care of the Good Shepherd. (2) Their poverty is a great assistance to them in keeping their hearts humble.

II. The poverty of the poor is a blessing to the rich. (1) They teach the rich sympathy. (2) They arc an outward visible sign; established on earth by God Himself to teach the rich the nothingness of all worldly goods.

III. If the poor are to fulfil for us either of these great purposes for which God has ordained that they shall always exist amongst us, we must diligently cherish towards them a kind and friendly spirit.

A. C. Tait, Lessons for School Life, p. 142.

I. "The Lord is the Maker of them all." The God who creates light and darkness has created the happy and the wretched; there is no escape from this, if we believe in God at all. He cannot have created the human race and then have left it alone to rush into a social chaos and confusion of itself. There is not a smile on any face, but the light of God is reflected in it; there is not a sigh or a tear but is noted in His book. There is a great mystery in evil and suffering, but not, therefore, a great injustice. Signs enough break through the darkness that encompasses us to prove that God is full of love, and the more we live to Him shall we discern them. If the Divine providence looked only to the present life, then bodily want must be an absolute evil; but since there are two lives—since there is a short life and also an eternal; since there are two parts of human nature, the perishing body and the immortal soul—it is impossible for us to judge of the real character or temper of bodily suffering till we can know how it affects the higher part of us and our everlasting interests. Meantime, we believe that the hand of God is upon all them for good that seek Him; though He gives grief, yet will He have compassion, according to the multitude of His mercies.

II. Read by the light of the gospel, the text puts on another meaning. The rich and poor are brethren. The feelings and interests which they have in common are far more weighty than those outward circumstances that divide them. In the pages of the New Testament we read a recognition of the rights of the poor. Rich and poor are equal when they stand at the foot of the Redeemer's Cross, craving pardon for their sins; seeking His righteousness to cover their uncleanness. They are equal when they come before God to worship. They are equal when both shall stand before the judgment-seat of the Lord, to give an account of all things done in the body.

Archbishop Thomson, Penny Pulpit, No. 3,253.

References: Proverbs 22:2.—C. Kingsley, All Saints' Day and Other Sermons, p. 397; W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 2nd series, p. 200; R. Harvey, Christian World Pulpit, vol. i., p. 532.

Proverbs 22:3One main element of safety is a just estimate of danger. He who foresees the evil hides himself until it pass; and he who so hides himself escapes the storm which lays lofty rashness low.

I. In the ordinary business of life there are evils which may be foreseen by the prudent, and places of shelter in which he may safely lie. A disciple who has his heart in heaven should beware of fretting because his hands are full all day long with earthly business. Labour, when the Lord appoints it for His people, is a strong wall built round them to keep dangerous enemies out.

II. Evils lie before us in the region of practical morality—evils for which the prudent keep a sharp look-out. A strong tower of defence, from which all the fiery darts of the wicked will harmlessly rebound, is that name of the Lord into which the righteous run. All the power of the world and its god can neither drive a refugee forth from that hiding-place, nor hurt him within it.

III. But the greatest evils lie in the world to come, and only the eye of faith can foresee them. To be caught by death unready and placed before the judgment-seat without a plea, and then cast out for ever, are evils so great that in their presence all others disappear like stars in the glare of day. But great though they are, the prudent may foresee, and the trustful prevent them. There is a refuge, but its gate opens into time. If the prudent do not enter now, the simple will knock in vain at the closed door when he has passed on into eternity without any part in Christ.

W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 2nd series, p. 205.

Reference: Proverbs 22:4.— J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 2nd series, p. 64.

Proverbs 22:6It is well to remember the general truth that all life can be trained. Dead substances cannot be trained. The higher you rise in the scale of life the more wide is the scope and the possibility of training. (2) Children are not only capable of training, but they will be trained in spite of us. And if we do not take them in hand, and with a very definite end in view, which we pursue with inflexible purpose and unflagging constancy—an end not lower than heaven, not narrower than eternity, and not meaner than their salvation—another process will assuredly be going on which will ere long fill us with dismay. We must know that children are always at school, even when they seem to be away from it. What is meant by training up a child in the way he should go? It may be said to consist in four things—true teaching, discipline, example, and prayer.

I. True teaching, or, if you will, the teaching of the truth which concerns it, in its relations to God and man. Store children's minds with truth. Let them know all that it is right to do, both with respect to God and man, that they be not destroyed for lack of knowledge.

II. Example. To tell a child what is to be done is a very valuable thing, but to show how it is done is far more valuable. The precept is then seen to be more than a merely cold and perhaps impracticable injunction. The power of one's example is the power of character.

III. Prayer. You are not left to this work alone. There is none in which you may more certainly calculate on the help of God, if you seek it, than in the endeavour to guide your children in the way that leads to heaven. He Himself is concerned for the welfare of your children. They are His gifts to you, and are meant to be, not curses, but blessings. He may seem for a season to delay His answers, but even while He delays He may be, in fact, working out the very results you have so earnestly sought.

E. Mellor, The Hem of Christ's Garment, p. 52.

References: Proverbs 22:6.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 248; E. Blencowe, Plain Sermons to a Country Congregation, 2nd series, p. 268; W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 2nd series, p. 209; C. J. Vaughan, Memorials of Harrow Sundays, p. 210.

Proverbs 22:7Consider the reasons of this alleged superiority, why it should be "more blessed to give than to receive," why "the rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender."

I. The first reason is found in the resemblance which is thus acquired to our Redeemer and Creator. Might it not almost be said of the Creator that He gives everything and receives nothing; that He is always the lender and never the borrower? Or, again, if our thoughts be turned on the "one Mediator between God and man," was not the whole of Christ's vicarious obedience one continued course of giving rather than receiving? If it be the very summit of Christian perfection to be conformed to the image of the Redeemer, is there not more of this conformity in giving than receiving?

II. The giver or the lender has necessarily an advantage over the receiver or the borrower, and the having this advantage quite explains how the one is "servant to the other."

III. We find another proof of this position in what we may call the reflex character of benevolence, which causes whatever is bestowed to return to us tenfold. If God hath determined, out of His infinite lovingkindness, that not even a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple shall lose, though it could not claim, a reward, it must necessarily be more blessed to be the lender than the borrower, inasmuch as whatever is bestowed, whether it be time, or counsel, or wealth, or labour, or experience, shall come back to ourselves abundantly multiplied.

H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2,338.

References: Proverbs 22:7.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 2nd series, p. 225. Proverbs 22:7-16.—R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. iii., p. 40. Proverbs 22:11.—J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 1st series, p. 16. Proverbs 22:17-29.—R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. iii., p. 53. Proverbs 22:13.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii., No. 1670. Proverbs 22:22, Proverbs 22:23.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 2nd series, p. 244.

Proverbs 22:28It cannot but be perplexing in the extreme, to devout and moderately thoughtful minds, to find how constantly we catch new theories of what we had once felt to be fixed and immutable truth. Men extinguish the fair lights which the Divine hand has kindled, and set up lurid flames and beacons of their own. But as surely as you follow the one, so surely shall you find yourself among the breakers,—the breakers of controversy, doubt, and haply of despair; while, following the other, the voyage shall be prosperous and serene, under the command of the great Pilot who "holds the winds in His fist, and the waters in the hollow of His hand."

I. "Our fathers trusted in Thee and were helped." Apostles, fathers, and old sires, who held fast the form of sound words, have set their sign upon the landmark which they believed to be of God. We are not going to lay down the rule that you and I are bound to believe everything that our fathers believed, or that a man's creed and faith is to be hereditary, and handed down unchanged to his posterity. But, when we recollect the firmness with which the old men clung to the broad doctrines of the gospel, and the strength they gathered, and the rest and peace and joy of soul they drank from them as from a crystal spring, these memories ought to check that mania for fashionable doubting which is so rife amongst us now, and lead us to cherish with some reverence the intimations of the past.

II. We live in a novelty-loving age, and men make novelties in creeds, just as they would make new things in dress. But while, in one grand sense, it is true that when we pass beyond these lower scenes old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, it is also true in another, and perhaps a subtler, sense, that new things shall pass away, and all things shall become old. The novelty of the regenerated life shall be evolved out of the antiquity of the old landmarks. "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? "Forsake not your first love. Take the quiet place of the disciple at the feet of Him who is the Light of the world.

A. Mursell, Lights and Landmarks, p. 1.

Proverbs 22:29(with Romans 12:8; 1 Samuel 2:30)

I. The Bible always recognises a basis of character which is found in the natural endowments of a man. The Bible does not glorify men because of beauty and strength, because of great mental parts, powers of reason or imagination; but it never hesitates to speak of these as parts of the perfectness of life, as conditions and qualities which by proper use and right direction may be turned to the good of men and the glory of God.

II. According to the teaching of the Bible, there must be the diligent use of these natural powers. Simply for man to possess certain capacities and faculties, physical and mental, is not sufficient. He has to discipline and practise, develop and perfect, them. The stigma of folly and the terror of ruin alike are declared against that man who is careless and uncertain, who heeds not the opportunities which are presented to him, and lets the precious moments of life fly by while his powers are undisciplined and his God is unserved.

III. The diligence of life must, according to the Scripture ideal, be accompanied by the virtues and purities of a moral self-restraint.

IV. The ideal man of the Scriptures is to be inspired by a sense of the Divine presence and power.

L. D. Bevan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiii., p. 168.

References: Proverbs 22:29,—Preacher's Monthly,vol. ii., p. 468. Proverbs 23:1-3.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 2nd series, p. 237. Proverbs 23:1-11.—R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. iii., p. 70.

The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.
He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.
He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.
The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.
The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.
The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?
Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:
Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.
Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.
If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?
Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
William Robertson Nicoll's Sermon Bible

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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