The Book of Proverbs ~ Introduction ~ Chapter 22:1-3 ~ How the Wise Discipline Themselves to Follow God in Everything ~ The Rich and Poor are Alike. The Prudent and Naive Differ.

Vol. 17, No. 42 – October 21, 2018

10 21 18 - Prov 22 vs 1-3The Book of Proverbs
Chapter 22

Returning back to our study of the Book of Proverbs, we once again note the basic outline of the book.

Solomon I:

Collection I, chapters 1-9

Collection II, chapters 10:1-22:16

Collection III, chapters 22:17-24:22

Collection IV, chapters 24:23-24:34

Solomon II:

Collection V, chapters 25-29

The Sayings of Agur Son of Jakeh:

Collection VI, chapter 30

The Sayings of Lemuel:

Collection VII, chapter 31

As you can see, there are four main authors and seven “collections” or mini books within the overall book. The reason we say four authors is because Solomon II is a collection of couplets or sayings thought to have originally been authored by Solomon but collected and edited by King Hezekiah’s men, “i.e., the “Men of Hezekiah.” Therefore, they get credit for authorship.

In this round of studying the Book of Proverbs, we are going to continue in Collection II that ends half-way through Chapter 22 in vs. 16, and at least study through to Collection IV that includes Chapter 24:23-34.

A more detailed outline of the sections we will study in this round are highlighted in bold below:

  1. Collection 2: Solomon’s couplets expressing wisdom, Prov 10:1 – 22:16.
  2. The marks of wise living, Prov 10 – 15.
  3. How to please God, Prov 16:1 – 22:16.
  4. Trusting God, Prov 16.
  5. Peacemakers and trouble-makers, Prov 17.
  6. Friendship and folly, Prov 18.
  7. Further advice for pleasing God, Prov 19:1 – 22:16.

III. Collection 3: Thirty sayings of the wise, Prov 22:17 – 24:22.

  1. Introduction to the 30 sayings, Prov 22:17-21.
  2. The 30 sayings, Prov 22:22 – 24:22.
  3. Collection 4: Six more sayings of the wise, Prov 24:23-34.

In Chapter 22, we will conclude the proverbs encouraging godly living, Prov 16:1-22:16, and begin the proverbs concerning various practices, Prov 22:17-24:34, in Collections 3-4.

Specifically, we will see:

  1. How the wise discipline themselves to follow God in everything, vs. 1-16.
  2. Wisdom tells us when to speak and when to be silent, vs. 17-21.
  3. The wise ones care for and protect the poor, vs. 22-29.

We begin with, “How the wise discipline themselves to follow God in everything,” vs. 1-16.

Here we see that the theme of the Lord’s sovereignty over kingdoms and peoples, which we previously studied in Prov 21:30-31, that paves the way for a description of the theme regarding our Lord’s sovereignty over wealth in the first sub-unit vs. 1-9; the final unit of Collection II. Every verse, except the partial sub-unit of vs. 5-6, contains terms pertaining to wealth. As such, this section teaches that the Lord pays back virtue but punishes immorality. In the light of God’s moral administration, this section aims to moderate the rich, to console the poor, to warn the oppressor, and to comfort the oppressed, cf. vs. 7.

Vs. 1, is an introduction to the whole section that speaks of the need for moral instruction in connection with wealth, which is expanded in vs. 10-16, of which vs. 15-16, function as a conclusion to the theme. We also see the emphasis on moral instruction when connecting vs. 6-7, with vs. 15-16, that draws the unit and the Collection to its conclusion. Vs. 6, calls for correcting youth’s innate depravity as soon as possible, and vs. 15, calls for discipline, (chapter 5 similarly mixed the call for moral instruction with the lesson).

From a literary perspective, the key root word “rich,” ASHIR, is found in vs. 1a, 2a, 4a, 7a, 16b that encompasses the whole section, cf. vs. 1 and 16. In addition, the catchword “the Lord” is used in vs. 2, 4, 12, and 14 that punctuates the section, as does the refrain “gives,” NATHAN and “poor,” DAL, concluding the verse of each half, vs. 9, 16. In addition, vs. 15-16, function as a conclusion to the whole section.

The first sub-section, vs. 1-9, consists of an introduction asserting the priority of a good name compared to wealth, vs. 1. In support of this, the following verses combine the Lord’s sovereignty, vs. 2, with human accountability, vs. 3-4, with the assertion of the Lord’s retribution, vs. 7-9. In the middle of all of this, we see the importance of education, vs. 5-6. Throughout we see the assertion of equality between the rich and poor before the Lord, especially in heaven, vs. 2-4, and their inequality on earth, vs. 7-9. Each, in its own way, seeks to heal the natural social rupture between the classes that destroy the community’s peace.

The second sub-section, vs. 10-16, consists of three proverb pairs:

1.) The introduction, regarding the king’s friends, vs. 10-11, that indirectly motivates the youth to accept the parent’s teaching by commanding rulers to evict mockers and by asserting the pure and understanding have the king for a friend.

2.) The body, containing warnings against the deceptive speech of the sluggard vs. 12, and the unfaithful wife, vs. 13-14, with the warnings against easy money and easy sex by asserting the Lord unfailingly protects the moral order upheld by the ideal king, vs. 12a, through frustrating treacherous words, vs. 12b.

3.) The conclusion, pertaining to wealth and moral instruction, vs. 15-16, implicitly instructs the father to drive folly, such as laziness and promiscuity, from the son’s depraved nature.

1. How the wise discipline themselves to follow God in everything, vs. 1-16.

Vs. 1

Prov 22:1, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.”

The key words here are “good name,” SHEM, and “desired,” BACHAR. In Hebrew, it reads from right to left: שֵׁם בָּחַר. The Noun SHEM simply means, “name,” but has the connotation here of “reputation, held in high regard or high esteem by others.”

The Verb BACHAR is used for “to be desired” but in its root form means, “to choose or select.” It is in the Niphal stem that typically is a simple passive meaning something that is received, but here it is in the reflexive use for “to be desired.” It speaks of an action that goes back to the main object. Therefore, this person is not choosing or selecting their name or what their reputation is, instead it is something that is given to them as a result of their Divine Good Production. It is something that we all should desire or seek after. With the play on word of “chosen or selected,” it is a choice name meaning one that is venerated or held with esteem or in high regard. It also gives imagery of being chosen into the family of God, held in high regard or esteem by the Lord, and therefore something we should strive for as we “walk worthy of our calling / election,” as we noted recently in Eph 1:4; 3:15; 4:1.

Eph 1:4, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”

Eph 3:15, “From whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”

Eph 4:1, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”

So, this is speaking about having a good reputation, because it is “better than,” (TOB), all the “great wealth” (RAB OSHER) in the world, measured here by silver (KESEPH, “silver, money”) and gold (ZAHAB), as the parallelism shows.

Having a “good name” is the result of a life that gains the approval of others, rather than one that seeks its own fame, cf. Prov 25:6-7.

Prov 25:6-7, “Do not claim honor in the presence of the king, and do not stand in the place of great men; 7For it is better that it be said to you, “Come up here,” Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen.”

In these words of wisdom, we see that the choice between pursuing worldly wealth, which provides a certain type of fame, and doing that which elicits a gracious, (“favor,” CHEN, “grace or favor”), response from others, is an easy one for the wise person, because he realizes the TRUE value and worth of each.

Although only the second line actually uses the words “better than,” “more desirable” in the first half, it also shows that each line contains a “greater than” type of saying, cf. Prov 15:16f; 16:32. Therefore, having a good reputation in the world is far better than having great riches in the world.

What is in a good name? A good name represents a person’s good character and his memory in others, cf. Prov 10:7; 18:10; 21:24, and depends upon his own wisdom in the application of God’s Word in his life, Prov 3:1-4.

Prov 3:1-4, “My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2For length of days and years of life, And peace they will add to you. 3Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man.”

At the same time, other passages tell us that wisdom is a co-referential term for a “good name,” as having priority to riches, Prov 2:1-6; 3:14; 8:10-11, 19; 16:16.

Prov 3:14, “For its (wisdom leading to a good reputation) profit is better than the profit of silver, and its gain than fine gold.

Prov 8:10-11, “Take my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choicest gold. 11For wisdom is better than jewels; and all desirable things cannot compare with her.”

In addition, according to Prov 13:15a, social favor is affected through good insight, “Good understanding produces favor,” cf. Prov 11:27; 12:8; 18:3. In sum, a good name is the outward expression of the person’s inner wisdom.

Prov 11:27, “He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, but he who searches after evil, it will come to him.”

Prov 12:8, “A man will be praised according to his insight, but one of perverse mind will be despised.”

In this positive comparison, material wealth is esteemed as good but the social quality of a good reputation is far better, cf. Eccl 7:1; Sir. 41:11-13.

Eccl 7:1, “A good name is better than a good olive oil (ointment), and the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.”

Sirach 41:11-13 (KJV Apocrypha), “The mourning of men is about their bodies: but an ill name of sinners shall be blotted out. 12Have regard to your name; for that shall continue with you above a thousand great treasures of gold. 13A good life has but few days: but a good name endures forever.”

Wealth can be obtained apart from virtue, Prov 11:16, 28, but not a good name. And yet, wisdom gives both, Prov 3:14. Moreover, wealth can pass away unexpectedly and quickly, Prov 23:4-5, but a good name endures, Prov 10:7; cf. 2 Sam 18:18; Luke 7:4-5; Acts 9:36-39. And, the value of this social favor can be gauged by considering the value of gold.

As we will see, the rest of this section defines a good name as being generous to the poor, not striving to become rich at their expense, vs. 2, 4, 7, 9, 16.

These proverbs present the argument that one can either become a student of wisdom and be a gracious member of adult society or an example of folly and a curse to society.

Vs. 2

Prov 22:2, “The rich and the poor have a common bond, The LORD is the maker of them all.”

Reputation is to be preferred above riches, as noted in vs. 1, but there is to be no preferences or preferential treatment between the rich and poor. To make this point, this proverb asserts the Lord’s sovereignty over both the rich and poor. It means that rich and poor have a common Maker / Creator / God and so, a common humanity and value. Although the wealthy and the poor may appear far removed from each other in society, they have the same God. Therefore, there should be no preferences in our behaviors between the rich and poor. To make such distinctions is to dishonor God, the “Maker of them all,” cf. Prov 14:31; 17:5; 29:13; Job 34:19.

Job 34:19, “Who shows no partiality to princes nor regards the rich above the poor, for they all are the work of His hands?”

In addition, we see that neither the wealthy nor the poor are anything other than human, which should humble the wealthy, who are inclined to glory in their riches, cf. Prov 18:1, and should encourage the poor, who are sometimes treated as less than human.

At the same time, the rich should not look down on or despise the poor, nor should the poor envy or despise the wealthy. They will each give an account to the same Maker for their own attitudes and deeds, cf. Rom 14:4.

Rom 14:4, “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

Therefore, we are to treat one another, not according to the flesh, but according to being fellow members of the human race who have the same Maker and so, a common humanity and value, 1 Sam 2:7-8; Prov 29:13; 2 Cor 5:16. 

1 Sam 2:7-8, “The LORD makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts. 8He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor; for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and He set the world on them.”

Prov 29:13, “The poor man and the oppressor have this in common: The LORD gives light to the eyes of both.” 

2 Cor 5:16, “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.”

Therefore, we are to treat everyone, rich or poor, slave or free, male or female, Jew or Gentile the same with brotherly love, because we are one in God, and for believers, one in Christ, Rom 3:22; Gal 3:28; 1 Cor 12:13; Col 3:11; with Lev 19:18; Mat 19:19; Rom 13:8-10.

Vs. 3 

Prov 22:3, “The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it.”

This verse is identical to Prov 27:12, which precedes a specific example of someone who fails to consider the consequences of foolish decisions and actions.

Prov 27:12, “A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naive proceed and pay the penalty.”

The theme of human accountability bind vs. 3-4 together as a proverb pair, along with several nuances of the Hebrew language. Together they protect vs. 2 from misinterpretation. God does creates both rich and poor yet, human folly leads to impoverishment, vs. 3, while prudence, humility, and the fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and life, vs. 4.

The prudent,” is the Hebrew Adjective ARUM, ‏עָרוּם used as a Noun here that means, “crafty, shrewd, sensible, or prudent.” Outside of Proverbs it is used negatively for scheming sinners, but in Proverbs it is used positively for “sensible or prudent,” cf. Prov 12:16, 23; 13:16; 14:8, 15, 18; 27:12.

The naïve,” is the Hebrew Adjective PETHI, פֶּתִי also used as a Noun that means, “inexperienced, simple, foolish, simplemindedness.” We have seen this word throughout Proverbs. It refers to a person who is naïve concerning the complexities and challenges of life, inexperienced, lacking insight, and those who are just outright foolish in their thinking and behavior. In Ezek. 45:20, it refers to being deficient in observing or understanding God’s Word.

Pay the penalty,” is the Hebrew Verb ANASH עָנַשׁ in the Passive Niphal stem that means “to receive a fine or to be punished.” This tells us that the wise man will be able to avoid the loss of goods, while the simple man will lose his money. If the naive do not learn and develop moral astuteness when scoffers are fined, Prov 21:11, they too will suffer a painful financial loss.

A distinctive characteristic of the prudent, as seen throughout Proverbs, is his ability with keen moral discernment, Prov 13:16; 14:8, 18, to choose his steps cautiously, Prov 14:15, including taking cover to avoid evil and its consequences. He protects himself by not participating in evil and by taking preventative action against receiving a punitive judgment.

Prov 13:16, “Every prudent man acts with knowledge, But a fool displays folly.”

Prov 14:8, “The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way, But the foolishness of fools is deceit.” 

Prov 14:18, “The naive inherit foolishness, But the sensible are crowned with knowledge.”

By hiding himself from evil, the shrewd protects himself from serious loss, which the gullible could have avoided had they too hidden themselves from evil.

The prudent, by faith, discern the connection between generosity and enrichment and between tyranny and impoverishment. The naïve fail to see these connections and so act impulsively without regard to moral law, cf. Prov 7:21-23, and take no precaution to find cover / salvation while they can, Prov 1:32; cf. Isa 26:11.

Prov 1:32, “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.”

Those who are prudent and wise look ahead for potential problems or risks because they want to avoid the negative consequences if they can. When life is flashing red lights and warning signs that say, “Danger Ahead,” they pay attention. Wise men sometimes avoid a painful future by altering the decisions they make today. They do not want to be hurt or make costly mistakes, so they change their course. Wisdom soberly looks ahead before making decisions. As the sayings go, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” “Haste makes waste!” “Hindsight sees 20-20.” Cf. Eph 5:15.

Eph 5:15-17, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Foresight is the viewpoint of the prudent and with God’s blessing many problems can be avoided. Yet, the naïve or foolish, the hasty one, is nearsighted. They carelessly live for the now and confidently rush head long with little regard to the risk of their actions. Caught up and overwhelmed in the moment, they fail to protect their future. The warnings they ignored, materialize into trouble that punishes them often and severely.

“A prudent man foresees the evil. It is the foolish general that marches on, with a grand display of bravery, to the annihilation of his army. It’s the wise general that sees a battle and its consequences and determines to withdraw to fight another time under different circumstances. The enemy, his own men, and his heart may call him a coward, but he knows discretion is better than valor. He wants the odds in his favor before fighting. This is what Sam Houston did when he led the Texas Army to the banks of the San Jacinto River.

After the Alamo had fallen, General Sam Houston led the 800 man Texas army for five weeks, waiting for the odds to be in his favor to attack the army of Mexico. He was pressured by his leaders to attack, yet, he waited, not revealing his plans to anyone. Finally, on April 21, 1836, the odds were in his favor. Approximately, 1500 Mexican soldiers were encamped with their backs to the flooded San Jacinto River. Houston attacked with such surprise and swiftness, the army of Mexico did not know what hit them. Nine Texans were killed and thirty were wounded. On the Mexican side, 630 were killed and 730 were taken prisoner. The result was Texas won its independence from Mexico. Houston won the battle on his own terms. Those who thought he was a coward, realized his wisdom in his victory.” (Mattoon’s Treasures from Proverbs).

Therefore, those who are shrewd can avoid the dangers of life. The prudent know where the dangers and pitfalls are in life; they are wary. They are the product of training in wisdom and discipline. Yet, the naïve person is unwary, uncritical, and gullible; he is not equipped to survive in this world and so blunders into all kinds of trouble. The failure of the naïve to spot danger arises from their arrogant refusal to submit to God and His Word. In God’s exceeding love, He faithfully warns us of the terrible consequences of refusing to obey Him and receive the grace He offers through Christ Jesus. The man with God’s wisdom in his soul, sees the evil coming and hides himself in the refuge God has provided, cf. Isa 32:2; Psa 32:7.

Psa 32:7, “You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.”

But, the simple harden their hearts and refuse to heed the warning of imminent danger, thus ensuring their own self-induced misery, Cf. Eph 3:17-19.

Therefore, in our next verse, we see the reward for the wisdom of submitting to the Lord.

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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
# 18-110 – 18-112

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If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.

Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:

“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”

If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!

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