Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established. — Proverbs 15:22
As I stood nervously outside the door of our state assemblywoman’s office, the leader of my advocacy team nudged me and gave a last-minute reminder: “We’ve traveled all the way to our state capitol to have a few moments to speak with our elected representative about the importance of education. Don’t make her feel like you are wasting her time — choose your words wisely, and speak from your heart about the needs of our college district.” The assemblywoman’s door opened, and our group of five entered her office for a half-hour meeting. The minutes flew by as we shared our concerns about some upcoming legislation she had to vote on and she asked us about the needs of our local community college district.
When our advocacy team discussed our experience afterward, we were elated with how well the meeting had gone. We had prepared for several days prior to our visit, and we felt that our preparation had paid off. We thought that our well-chosen words had an impact, and we were proud that we could play a part and have a voice in our state’s political process. In short, we had experienced a Proverbs 15:22 moment: we had been among the “multitude of counsellors” for our assemblywoman.
Solomon recognized the importance of consulting with knowledgeable people, and that there is gain in combining expertise, experience, and perspectives. This is true at both an individual and a corporate level. However, this is especially true in spiritual matters. When we face a spiritual dilemma, seeking the advice of godly people can be helpful. Similarly, we want to be godly ourselves so that we might be able to help others.
Riding the Amtrak train home from our state capitol, I realized that as Christians, we have many opportunities to speak up for the Lord and for our Christian faith, and we should take these opportunities more seriously than giving input to a political representative. Every conversation we have — whether with a state assemblywoman, a coworker, a young child, or a stranger on the street — is fraught with importance when we consider that souls are at stake, and we want them to make decisions that lead to eternal life. We want to speak words that will help them make right decisions.
Continuing Solomon’s proverbs with his practical and wise advice, today’s text is the last of the grouping (chapters 10-15) where most of the verses show a contrast between the righteous and the wicked. Although there are several themes in this chapter, a major one is the importance of good words.
In verse 4, a “wholesome tongue” could also be translated as “healing words.” Perverseness has been defined as “viciousness” and as “deliberate lying.” The word disperse in verse 7 means “diffuse” and also “to winnow” and “to search out, to investigate.” Solomon was showing that wise people discern between the beneficial and the meaningless or unnecessary; they only say what is edifying and helpful.
Not many of the proverbs specifically address worship, but verse 8 makes a strong statement. In this usage, “sacrifice” refers to all the ceremonies of the Law. Abomination means “abhorrent, disgusting.” The writer wanted his readers to understand that the attitude of a person’s heart needed to be right when he brought his offerings to God.
The proverbs in verses 13 and 15 are both antithetical — each line gives a contrast to the other. In verse 13 the “merry heart” is mentioned first, while in verse 15 the “merry heart” is in the second phrase. Both illustrate the same point — what a person experiences impacts how he feels, but cheerfulness will help even in bad situations.
At the time these proverbs were given, a “dinner of herbs” (verse 17) meant the food of the poor. A “stalled ox” was an animal that had been specially fed and fattened, and was considered the most sumptuous fare. These opposites show the benefits of love over hatred.
Verse 24 has a three-part contrast. “The way” (or practices) of the wise is compared by implication with the practices of a foolish person. One way is above, the other is below. Finally, life and death are contrasted.
In Solomon’s time, some people defrauded others by relocating a property boundary landmark. God was especially concerned about the widows, who had little defense in that culture (verse 25). Verse 27 warns against greed and bribes. Political corruption is implied, and Solomon said it would bring sorrow.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The sayings of the way of wisdom
A. The 375 proverbs of Solomon
1. The contrast of wisdom and folly in life (10:1 — 15:33)
May God help us to speak words that give life and are good counsel to all who hear them.