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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 22

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Verse 1

A Name and Favor Are Better Than Wealth

“A [good] name” or reputation is to be more desired than “great wealth”. The real value of a person is not what he possesses, but what he is. One gets a good name by his kind dealings with others. That definitely can only be worked by the Spirit. Whoever has a good name, has received it because he seeks the wellbeing of the other, pays real attention and shows respect and compassion. With a good name, wealth does not matter. Wealth dissipates, a good name remains.

“Favor” is inseparably connected to a good name. He who has a good name, is favored by God and men. Due to his characteristics and selfless performance, people think highly of him. People appreciate his company, not because of his possessions, but because of who he is. This is more valuable than silver and gold. Everyone with a good empathy will admit that.

A good name is not the same as being popular. One is popular, because he is loved by man without God. He may contribute a lot of money to ‘charities’, by giving it adequate publicity. Or he may be a comedian who makes others laugh and makes them to forget the miserable feelings that they may have, for a moment. Regarding such popularity, the Lord Jesus says: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you” (Luke 6:26). With these people it is ultimately only about their own honor and not about the honor of God. He who seeks to please men – himself or others – is not a bondservant of Christ (Galatians 1:10).

In our Western, modern, hedonistic, pleasure-seeking culture, character and reputation are not considered as meaningful. Only what someone achieves, is considered, not how he lives. One may live in the most abominable sins and still be called a hero and be worshiped as an idol. Real value, however, should be seen, not in what one achieves, but in what he or she really is. A good name is a treasure of which the value is not influenced by the delusion of the day or the stature of the material world for which the materialistic man bows down.

The Lord Jesus had no wealth when He was on earth, but He had a good Name. His “Name is like oils with a pleasing fragrance” (Song of Solomon 1:3), which means that He spreads a beneficial aroma in everything that He does (Acts 10:38).

Verse 2

The LORD Is the Maker of All

It is not about God making people rich or poor, but that He has made both men who are rich and those who are poor (Job 31:13; Job 31:15). They all come the very same way in the world, which is naked; they leave the world in the same way, which is without taking any possession along with them (1 Timothy 6:7). In the life in between, rich and poor “meet” one another, in both daily life and in the church, and always in God’s direct presence. In God’s presence there is no difference. All are sinners and all can be saved.

We can only deal well with all social differences when we all consider that God has made us. He makes no difference and does not prefer the one to the other, precisely because they are “all the work of His hands” (Job 34:19). He urgently warns us by the apostle James in His Word that in the church we should not make a difference between the rich and the poor (James 2:1-1 Samuel :).

At the same time the verse makes clear that God has also everything to do with what we possess. We are not only His creation, He also knows how we deal with our wealth or poverty and how we as rich and poor live and deal with one another.

Verse 3

To Escape From Evil or to Be Killed

“The prudent sees the evil” because he lets himself to be instructed by the Word of God and his relationship with Him. A prudent is not a clairvoyant. He who has understanding of God’s Word, sees that the evil comes to the full development in the world. God’s people are also given instructions how to escape from it (Isaiah 26:20-Ecclesiastes :).

Noah was warned about the Flood and “in reverence he prepared an ark for the salvation of his household” (Hebrews 11:7). Because he respected God for what God had revealed to him, he built the ark as a shelter against “the evil”, the judgment, of the Flood. In this way he was saved from the evil and was not killed.

“The naive” are blind to the evil that is about to happen to them, even though they are warned about it. A naive is a careless person, a reckless person: somebody who refuses to see that the warning is about a real danger. He continues his stubbornness without sheltering himself. He is like someone who in a thunderstorm with thunderbolts, just keeps walking through a meadow, blind to the danger that he could be struck down.

The evil can imply death, but also all kinds of disasters can strike one in his life. The prudent knows by the teaching of wisdom where the dangers and traps are in his life and therefore he is alert. He will notice the threatening evil on time and will avoid it or eliminate it. He does that by hiding himself on time and seeking refuge with God.

We can think about an attractive proposal that is being offered to us, from which a great temptation is emanated, in order to lead us on the wrong way. Then we should directly take our refuge in God, for only then we can say ‘no’ to the temptation. The naive will be harmed because they are careless, uncritical and gullible. They are not equipped to survive in this world and in that way to prevent blunders that bring them into troubles.

We can also apply this verse to the gospel. The gospel offers the way of escape to the hiding place against the wrath of God. The prison guard saw the danger of the judgment and saved his life by believing the gospel (Acts 16:25-Nahum :).

Verse 4

The Reward of Humility

Where “the fear of the LORD” is, there is “humility”. These two spiritual qualifications belong together, they are inseparable. Respect for the LORD will lead to a humble mind towards Him and toward men. The spiritual power for a humble attitude towards Him and men can only be found in the respectful relationship with Him. Everything comes forth from the latter.

How special is it then that He rewards humility. But that’s the way He is. The Lord Jesus is the incarnation of this verse. He said of Himself that He is “humble in heart” and that we can learn that from Him if we take His yoke upon ourselves (Matthew 11:29). If we are humble it is only because we have learnt that from Him. When God sees the attributes of His Son in His own, it pleases His heart. He rewards it with “riches, honor and life”.

These three rewards are not so much to be understood in earthly perspective, in money and appearance among men and a long life, but are rather to be considered in the spiritual sense. Whoever fears God in humility, receives understanding in spiritual riches; he will be honored by God and will enjoy the real life forever.

Verse 5

Thorns and Snares in the Way

The perverse are in a way where there are “thorns and snares”. Due to the thorns he gets injured again and again and due to the snares he gets stuck again and again. The injuries are spiritual. He is avoided and despised by people. The snares are also spiritual. His perverse way delivers him problems in which he gets more and more stuck, without any chance for him to get out of it. Still he does not realize that he is in the wrong way, because he is perverse and does not want to bow to God. Therefore he goes forth in this way which ends in death and the judgment of God.

The opposite of he who is perverse is “he who guards himself”. Such a person will be far from the perverse. In this way he avoids the painful thorns and the suffocating snares. He wants to live his life in fellowship with God, for that is a real life. It does not mean that he cannot get injured and doesn’t have problems, but he knows Him Who takes care of him and helps him.

Verse 6

Counsel For Training

This verse is one of the most familiar verses of this book. It is an exhortation for parents to give their child a good education or training. The word “train up” has the idea of ‘dedicate’, like a house or temple is dedicated. The young man has to be dedicated to God.

The training should be according to “the way he should go”, which means that he should be trained up according to his qualities and capabilities. They should be shaped in such a way that he becomes useful for God. The wise parent will discern the natural ability of the individual child and train him in it. A child that doesn’t have any gift for music, must not be forced to learn to play a musical instrument. The identity of the child must therefore be recognized, so that the parents can adjust the education to it. They should not allow themselves to demand impossible things, but continually give him orders that suit his gender, age, (spiritual) capacity and abilities.

By the way, it seems that in the first place it is about the direction of the way which the child should go and not so much what he is able or not able to. It is about “the way he should go”, about his way of life and the purpose of his life. The way he should go is not so much determined by his gift and capacities, but by the choices that he makes. Parents should teach him to make good choices, choices that bring him and protect him in a way of devotion to God (cf. Genesis 18:19). In the book of Proverbs there are only two ways that a child can go, which is 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 learnt from his parents at a young age to adjust his choices to that, he will do it also when he is old. We sometimes say: Old habits die hard. The choices we have made for the Lord at a young age have proven again and again how blissful that is. One will never give them up when he becomes old. Besides, the fact that he has become old, is a proof of the blessing of God, for reaching an old age is one of the blessings that are related to trusting in God.

In this verse it is about a general principle, not about a principle that is true in all cases. There are parents who have trained up their children in this way, though one child or some children still have deviated from a way of life to the honor of the Lord. This verse is applied to children that because of their training have chosen for the way of wisdom. Unfortunately, there are also children who despite the training of their parents still choose for the way of the fool. They are fully responsible themselves for that. It will make their punishment heavier which is related to going their own way. They had known better, but have consciously deviated from the way of life.

Verses 7-9

To Borrow, to Sow Iniquity and to Be Generous

It is generally known that “the rich rules over the poor” (Proverbs 22:7). A rich man has power because of his money. Poor people are dependent on the favor of the rich man. Ruling doesn’t necessarily go together with harshness. It is about the fact that he who has money, has the power and he who does not have money, is powerless. It is not an order for the rich to rule over the poor, but an observation. Poverty makes people dependent on others.

In practice it is expressed when a poor man has to borrow money. By borrowing money from the rich man, he becomes “the lender’s” slave. The rich man now actually has power over the poor, because the poor owes a debt to him and is obligated to pay it back. If he defaults, the lender can use him as a slave to get the money back that he has lent.

Proverbs 22:8 is connected to Proverbs 22:7. The rich of Proverbs 22:7 may misuse the blessing that God has given him, by making the poor to be dependent on him and make them to submit themselves to him. By doing so he sows iniquity. But according to the law of reaping what one sows (Galatians 6:7; cf. Job 4:8; Hosea 10:13), he will “reap vanity”. Any misuse, whether it is of power or something else that God has given, shall be punished by God.

God will make “the rod of his fury” perish, which means that He will destroy the power of those who sow iniquity. The rod, the symbol of the suppressive method which he has used, will perish with him. This is an encouragement for those who are being suppressed.

Proverbs 22:9 is the flip side of both of the previous verses. There is a reward for “he who is generous”, which is he who is charitable and gives to the poor. That reward implies being blessed by God. It is here not about the rich who gives from his wealth, but about someone who shares with others what he has. He does not lend, like the rich does (Proverbs 22:7), but shares his own bread with the poor. He shares with them, without any demand of compensation.

This way of giving is the example of God, Who also gave without any demand of compensation, with His Son as the highest Gift. One who gives like that will therefore be blessed by Him.

The expression, ‘he who is generous’, is literally ‘he who has a good (or ‘bountiful’ or ‘charitable) eye’. It indicates that one sees the need of others and helps unsolicited by giving his own property to the needy one or the one who suffers hardship. This person has a benevolent attitude and concern about the poor. He is a giver like God has meant him to be and in whom He delights (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:7; Luke 14:12-2 Chronicles :).

Verse 10

Drive Out the Scoffer

If “a scoffer” appears somewhere in a group of people, he causes quarrels. He is a professional trouble maker, for he is not able to think orderly and discuss thoughtfully. It is completely out of his will and capability to deliver a contribution to the solution of a problem. The only thing he can do well and what he seeks, is to ridicule everything and everyone, which makes him to be hated by others in any company wherein he finds himself. He ruins the atmosphere.

One should not get into discussion with a scoffer. The only suitable measure to silence him is to put him outside the door and to refuse further access for him to come in. Then he will not be able to take control anymore, so that he cannot bring down the faith of the weak members of God’s people anymore. The maintaining of the scoffer puts a shame on the whole company. If he is sent away, then both the dispute and shame will stop (cf. Titus 3:10; Genesis 21:9-2 Samuel :; Galatians 4:28-Obadiah :).

Verse 11

Purity and Grace

“Purity of heart” and “graciousness of speech” go hand in hand. Only when someone is born again, when he has converted to God, he can have a pure heart. “Blessed are those who are pure of heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). He who loves purity of heart is related with God by faith, through which the heart has been purified (Acts 15:9). He is in fellowship with Him.

Wherever there is purity of heart, there is also love for kind, gracious speech. The words that one uses and the way he says something, indicate what his heart is set upon; what his heart goes out to. The heart and the words that are characterized by purity and kindness are warmly welcomed by a king. A good king can appreciate that and will gratefully use such a person in his government. He will take him as a confidant, a friend, someone with whom he can share government matters.

The Lord Jesus is especially the King Who appreciates purity of heart and graciousness of speech. These are His features. With those in whom He observes these features, He has a special relationship of confidence. To them He reveals His thoughts and gives them thereby the ability so that they can tell them to those who are His own.

Verse 12

The LORD Preserves and Overthrows

“The eyes of the LORD” indicate His omniscience, that He sees and sees through everything. He sees the desperate attempts of the enemy to eliminate the “knowledge” about Him all over the world. However, He makes sure that the knowledge about Him will not disappear, but He preserves this knowledge by always giving people who acknowledge Him. Despite all the attempts through the ages, in order to eliminate the Bible and the believers, there has always been the knowledge of God on the earth through Bibles and people whom He has preserved and whom have passed on the knowledge about Him.

“The treacherous man” acts and speaks against the knowledge of God. He does not consider God and acts as if He does not exist. Or he claims that he has the true knowledge of God and drags others with him in the way of apostasy. A treacherous man is someone who has actually heard about the knowledge of God, but becomes apostate. All of his words are overthrown by God, all of his methods of unfaithfulness, both he himself and all who follow him. He himself is being overthrown, while everything he tried to destroy will triumph and last forever (Psalms 119:152).

Verse 13

An Excuse of the Sluggard Not to Work

A sluggard makes up the most ridiculous excuses not to work. He ‘sees’ dangers outside, but does not see the lethal danger of his laziness. The sluggard is too lazy to use his hands, but his brains do work hard. They produce the most absurd thoughts. The sluggard has a strongly working imagination. He would not dare to walk over the street to work. That might kill him, for “there is a lion outside”. He is the only one who sees this lion, for all other people are on the way to go to their work.

That his excuse is absurd and ridiculous does not bother the sluggard. Any claim that there is no lion, is firmly being rejected by him. He has ‘seen’ a lion, so that is enough reason for him not to go outside. A sluggard is a foolish prophet; he prophesies about a vision that only he himself has seen and in which he firmly believes.

Benaiah, one of the heroes of David, was of another kind. He went down to a real lion in a pit, not to be killed, but to kill the lion and in that way to eliminate a danger (2 Samuel 23:20).

Verse 14

The Mouth Is a Deep Pit

This is the first time in the section of this book (Proverbs 10:1-22:16) where sexual sin is being dealt with, while on the contrary, in the first section (Proverbs 1-9) it is often and emphatically dealt with. “The adulteress” is the woman apart from one’s own wife. Nobody should allow himself in his heart to have thoughts about sexual contact with an adulteress (Matthew 5:28). Here it is specifically about women who seek to seduce a person to commit fornication or adultery.

It is remarkable that this sin always starts with the mouth, which means with the seducing and seductive invitation for fornication or adultery (Proverbs 2:16; Proverbs 5:3Proverbs 6:24; Proverbs 7:5Proverbs 9:16-Esther :). Her mouth, the words that she speaks and the way that she speaks to seduce a person, is described as “a deep pit” (cf. Psalms 5:9). To fall in a deep pit makes us think of a stupid animal that falls into a deep pit which was dug to catch him. He who allows himself to be caught by the words of a harlot, is like a stupid animal (cf. Proverbs 7:22).

Into this deep pit someone falls “who is cursed of the LORD”. He who gives in to the temptation of an adulteress, doesn’t do that because God has sentenced him to it, but because God’s wrath is upon him due to his sinful way. He has stepped outside the fellowship with God. He who lives in fellowship with God, will not fall into that deep pit (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:26).

When someone falls in the deep pit of fornication, it is a result of a life in sin. God’s wrath will not lead him to a life in sin, but it will be upon him because of a life in sin. God will give such a person over to sin (Romans 1:24; Psalms 81:11-2 Kings :). Nobody is destined to fall into sin. We fall into the deep pit because we choose for a way that’s full of deep pits. The mouth of the adulteress is one of them.

He who avoids her, will not be dragged into the deep pit by her with her words. The pit is as the trap of a poacher – it is almost impossible for someone to free himself from it, once he is caught in it. Therefore, if someone gives in to the seducing words of an adulteress, it is both a sin and his punishment.

Verse 15

The Rod Keeps Foolishness at a Distance

Children can naturally do foolish things. Parents must take into account that their children are able to do the craziest things and commit the worst sins. The foolishness does not come from the outside but from the inside and is ‘ingrained’ in human nature. Every child is born in sin, which is in it (Psalms 51:5). This sinful nature has been passed on by its parents. Parents, who do not consider their child is able to do the worst foolish things, are foolish themselves.

The most loving care does not prevent this foolishness, nor can it correct it. A young man can be such a fool that he does dangerous things, buys wrong things, chooses wrong friends, attends wrong occasions, steals and lies and deceives, reads wrong reading materials, watches pornography, etc. He must certainly be warned about such foolish things. But with only talking, one will not succeed. Discipline is necessary to correct these natural, sinful tendencies and to make the young man to become mature and wise.

A young man will not directly fall into the hands of a harlot. He should be taught at a young age already to clean up his room when his parents tell him to do so. If he does not listen, he should be punished. Then the rod must be used and he should get some slaps on his butt (but not be flogged by losing your temper!). ‘The big stick in reserve’ is necessary to use it in cases that arise.

Eli spared his sons from the rod of discipline; he did not even have an angry look at them, and they got killed (1 Samuel 3:13). It is better to obey God’s Word than a government that contradicts God’s Word by prohibiting corporal punishment (Acts 5:29). Just take a look at the development of the youth that is raised without discipline.

Verse 16

To Make More and Come to Poverty

The first line of the verse is not easy to understand. How can a poor make more for himself when he is being oppressed and robbed from his property? The most obvious explanation is that it is about spiritual wealth. He who oppresses the poor, seeks to harm him and make him unhappy. But when the poor puts his confidence in God, the oppression will cause him to have a closer fellowship with God, which is true wealth.

The second line of the verse shows the opposite. He who gives to the rich, for example, in order to get in favor with him and to get something done for him, “[will] only [come to] poverty”. Such a person makes himself to be a slave of men. He will therefore get very disappointed in his expectations, based on what he has given to the rich. He loses what he has given to the rich and will not receive what he expects. His spiritual lack is great.

In both cases it is about actions that result in the opposite of the intended purpose. The oppression that the poor undergoes, makes him rich, it draws him to God. Hardships shape a character. Giving something to the rich, in order to get something back from him, shows independence of God. Whoever does that will end up in poverty, both spiritually and materially.

Verses 17-21

Words of Truth Are Excellent Things

In Proverbs 22:17 a new collection of proverbs begins, which is the fourth part of the book. From Proverbs 10:1 Solomon has passed on more general observations to his son and leaves their application to him. He did that by using verses of two lines with a clear cohesion in a few cases only. Now he proceeds with directly addressing and admonishing his son, as he did in Proverbs 1-9. He changes his way of addressing. We also see here that there are more verses that correspond with each other; there are no more separate verses of two lines, as in the previous part.

The Proverbs 22:17-Ecclesiastes : are an introduction. Solomon exhorts his son to dedicate himself to studying “the words of the wise”. In that way his spiritual life will get a strong basis. He will also be able to give wise counsel to those who ask him for advice. Knowledge is given to us, in order for us to serve with it, so that others may learn from what we have learnt. In that way we can serve our generation according to the will of God. We should thereby consider that the knowledge we gain might be very brilliant, but yet powerless if we do not apply them first ourselves, especially in our own lives (cf. Ezra 7:10).

“Incline your ear” (Proverbs 22:17) goes further than only listening or paying attention to. It has to do with bowing down in an attitude of humility. The willingness to learn is shown in the humble mind that one shows. He who is humble, can listen to the teaching which contains the words of the wise.

Young people often think that they know everything. One who realizes his need for teaching and is also willing to make efforts to get it, acknowledges his lack of knowledge and the necessity that he needs others to teach him. He will focus his heart on the knowledge that the teacher of wisdom has. He will accept and save the knowledge that this teacher passes on to him within his heart.

The word “for” with which Proverbs 22:18 begins, indicates that now the motive of the appeal of Proverbs 22:17 follows. “It will be pleasant” if the son will keep the words of the wise within him. It is about starting a provision of knowledge within the heart. When this knowledge is present, it can also be ready on the lips; words of knowledge can continually be spoken. “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:34).

In Proverbs 22:19, the goal of the appeal of Proverbs 22:17 is given. That appears from the word “so” with which the verse begins. That goal is confidence in the LORD and not in one’s own understanding or capabilities. That is a matter of “today”, and therefore of every day, for every day is today. It is also emphatically addressed personally to the son – thus to everyone personally – because it is taught “you … even you!”.

Without reservation, Solomon calls what he has told and written to his son “excellent things” (Proverbs 22:20). Are we also convinced in such a way about that? Whether the truths of God’s Word are also ‘excellent things’ to us, appears from the time that we spend on the reading and examining of God’s Word. That also determines what we tell and write to our children about it. The counsels and knowledge that we pass on, will also become ‘excellent things’ when they see in our lives that they are also like that to us.

The father passes on “words of truth” with the conviction of the “certainty” of it (Proverbs 22:21). This applies to the gospel and to everything that should give guidance in our lives. The Word of God has come to us “with full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5) because words of truth, of which there is no doubt about its certainty, have been spoken to us.

The father does not relativize, in contrast to what is often done with the Bible today. Statements from God cannot be considered ‘right’ anymore, for according to many, it is not more than an opinion. One is not allowed to say: ‘This is what the Scripture says’, but one should say: ‘I think that the Scripture says this or that’. Simple, clear statements are presented as vague or difficult to be explained. If God’s Word says that women are to be silent in the church (1 Corinthians 14:34), today interpreters say that it should not be read in such a way.

The Word of God is the only reliable touch stone that has been given to us. Also the form in which the words in God’s Word have been given to us, is reliable. It is the model, the example, to which we should focus and adjust our lives accordingly (Romans 6:14; 2 Timothy 1:13).

When we are convinced about the reliability of the words that the wise has taught us, and these words are in us, we shall speak words of truth to those who have sent us to somewhere with a certain assignment. People can rely on us. We are faithful in our reporting and we shall not give a better or worse picture than the reality.

The Lord Jesus has sent us into the world with an assignment. The only way for us to carry out that assignment well, is when we are fully convinced about His Word and pass it on, whether it is passing on the gospel to the unbelievers or teaching the local churches. With the words that we have spoken in His assignment, we can go back to Him and say that we have done what He has commanded us to do.

Verses 22-23

The LORD Will Punish Robbing and Crushing

After the impressive introductory words of this new section in Proverbs we may expect a series of new, unknown proverbs. But that is not the case. It is often about matters that have earlier been dealt with in other words, such as the inhuman practices of suppressing the poor and miserable ones.

“The poor” is an easy prey for greedy people (Proverbs 22:22). The poor cannot protect the little bit that he has. He is helpless when violence is used against him. “The poor” can be falsely accused “at the gate”. The gate is the place of justice (Ruth 4:1-Exodus :; 2 Samuel 15:2; 2 Samuel 19:8; Job 5:4; Amos 5:15). He has no one to defend him.

The warning of Proverbs 22:22 is motivated in Proverbs 22:23. He who robs the poor and crushes him at the gate, will have to deal with the LORD. People may ignore the right of the poor, because they are not able to defend themselves, but they can be sure that there is Someone Who will plead their case, which is the LORD (cf. Psalms 72:4; Jeremiah 50:34). And he who robs the poor, just because he is poor, will be judged by the LORD with the same judgment by which they have judged. He will take the life of the robbers.

Verses 24-25

Bad Company Corrupts Good Morals

The son is warned again about bad company (Proverbs 1:10-Psalms :), this time about someone “[given] to anger” and “hot-tempered” (Proverbs 22:24). It is here not about a necessary, but about a social relationship. At our work or at school we must associate with such people. We cannot withdraw ourselves from that kind of association. But we can keep distance from those hot-tempered people in our private lives. “A man [given] to anger” is literally ‘a man of heat’. “A hot-tempered man” shows the same character.

Proverbs 22:25 gives the motivation for Proverbs 22:24. The proverb ‘bad company corrupts good morals’ indicates what it means. The father had already mentioned earlier what the contact with different people does do with his son (Proverbs 13:20). More than superficial contact with someone changes a person. If it is good people, you change for the good. If it is bad people, you change for the bad.

Angry and hot-tempered people get angry at the slightest thing. Any which way they feel to be hurt, will make them to proclaim their dissatisfaction. One can easily copy this hot-temperedness. Through the company with angry and hot-tempered people, one can get used to their hot-temperedness. He gets numb in his feelings because of the rejection by these bad characteristics and starts to accept them and even sympathize with them.

In this way he will find a snare for himself. That means that he will unconsciously behave like that, which makes him speak words and or commit deeds that deserve to be punished. “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Verses 26-27

Do Not Become a Guarantor for Debts

The warning against becoming a guarantor for someone’s debts and confirming it by giving pledges has already been dealt with earlier (Proverbs 22:26; Proverbs 6:1-Deuteronomy :; Proverbs 11:15Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 20:16). That it has been dealt with repetitively indicates that there is a great danger in doing it. It corresponds with the bad friendships of the two previous verses. He who becomes a guarantor, grossly overestimates himself, for he doesn’t know about the intentions of the other person, and he also doesn’t know whether he is able to fulfill his obligations as a guarantor.

Here it seems to be the case that he becomes a guarantor for a debt which he cannot meet when the other person defaults. We may possibly conclude that from Proverbs 22:27, where the motivation is given for the warning of Proverbs 22:26. When the person for whom he has become guarantor cannot pay his debt, he will have to pay it. But he cannot either. Then the creditor comes and takes his last possession, his bed, away. Then he has nothing at all anymore to rest on (cf. Exodus 22:26). The spiritual application is that he will have no rest anymore.

Verse 28

Do Not Move the Ancient Boundaries

The boundary (stone) has also already been dealt with (Proverbs 15:25). Now something is said in the context of the distribution of land which has been fixed in the past. It is about “the ancient boundary”. That refers to the boundary (stones) which were originally fixed by the “fathers”, by which piece of land was marked and given to each tribe in the country (Joshua 15-19). Moses already speaks about it even before the people arrived in the land, so that when the people came into the land, they should not move the boundary of their neighbor (Deuteronomy 19:14; Deuteronomy 27:17; Isaiah 5:8; Hosea 5:10).

This had to be said because there might have been somebody, driven by greed, who would have the nerve to move the boundary which marked the separation between his land and that of his neighbor. By moving this boundary stone somewhat further on the land of his neighbor he appropriated a piece of land which was his neighbor’s. The land of his neighbor became smaller and his became larger. This was a matter of land grabbing. Besides, it was a disrespectful act toward his ancestors.

A clear example of land grabbing is what Ahab did with the land of Naboth which bordered his land (1 Kings 21:1-Song of Solomon :). Naboth absolutely did not want to sell his land by any means, because he appreciated his land so much as a family property. He speaks to Ahab about “the inheritance of my fathers” (1 Kings 21:3). Ahab, however, did not respect it, but robbed it from Naboth, by having him stoned at the advice of his thoroughly corrupted wife Jezebel.

Modern forms of moving boundaries are the equation of man and woman, while God has clearly made them differently and has given them a different position in life. Moving boundaries is also the equation of cohabitation with a marriage, as well as the equation of marriage between two men or two women with the marriage as God has instituted, which is between a man and a woman.

Verse 29

He Who Is Skilled in His Work

Solomon is asking his son whether he has seen a man “skilled in his work”. It seems to indicate that such people are very rare. One has to look for them. It is someone who is active and diligent and also capable. He uses his time and talents optimally, with great effort and with wisdom. He will end up in the right environment, where his skill and expertise will be appreciated, which is “standing before kings”.

He will not stand before “obscure men”. It is not about putting himself above those men, but those men are living a corrupted standard of life. His skills would only reinforce them in their corruptness. He is a noble man with a noble profession and a noble mind, which is absolutely not to be found in the company of such a low kind.

Kings eagerly make use of his services, for such people do deliver an essential contribution to the glory and advancement of their kingdom. Joseph and Daniel are examples of people who were skilled in their work and were standing before kings. It is to be desired that we as believers can also be used by the Lord Jesus in such a way. Then He will say to us, when we come to Him: “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” (Matthew 25:21; Matthew 25:23). Do we still see people who are skilled in the work of the Lord? Are we ourselves like that?

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Proverbs 22". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/proverbs-22.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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