A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. — Proverbs 22:1
Bill Gaither, an American singer and songwriter of Southern Gospel and contemporary Christian music, tells a story which illustrates the importance of maintaining a good name. Bill and his wife, Gloria, wanted to build a home in the area where he grew up. They spotted a parcel of land on the outskirts of town, and found out the owner was a ninety-two-year-old retired banker. This gentleman owned a great deal of property in the area, but it was well known that he refused to sell any of it.
In spite of that fact, Bill and Gloria decided to visit the man in person, hoping to convince him to let them purchase a part of his holdings. The farmer listened politely to their request, and then responded the same way he always did: he was not interested in selling. However, after making that statement, he paused and then asked the Gaithers, “What did you say your name was?” Bill responded, “Gaither.” The farmer stared at him for a moment, and then asked, “Any relation to Grover Gaither?” Bill answered yes, that Grover was his grandfather. Nodding thoughtfully, the farmer commented, “Grover Gaither was the best worker I ever had on my farm. Full day’s work for a day’s pay. So honest…” He looked at Bill and Gloria again, “So, what piece of ground did you say you were interested in?” Just a few days later, the purchase agreement was finalized — the farmer sold the Gaithers the fifteen acres they wanted, and for substantially less than market value! In the following years, Bill and Gloria often told their children that they had the privilege of growing up on that beautiful, lush piece of property because of the good name of a great-grandfather they had never met.
What do people think when they hear your name? Are their recollections and impressions of you positive? Are qualities of graciousness, godliness, diligence, or kindness what come to mind? Today’s focus verse lets us know that if we are wise, we will not ignore these questions. Our names matter!
A good name is far more than just a unique identifier with a combination of syllables that sounds sophisticated, impressive, or classy. It is more than a parental choice to name us after a distinguished ancestor or beloved family member. Solomon used the phrase “a good name” to denote a good reputation, which was of far more value than great riches. Winning the respect and approval of others requires careful rule of our conduct, making sure that it is consistently righteous and above reproach. That is the only way we will have the positive regard and trust of others.
If we are Christians, we represent our Father to others who are watching our lives. We want to make sure that we maintain a good name that will be a credit to the God we love!
Today’s text continues a section of Proverbs which began with chapter 10. This segment of the book is comprised primarily of stand-alone verses which impart common sense instruction and spiritual wisdom related to everyday matters. Many of these maxims have a parallel construction in which the second part of the verse further explains or repeats the first. The topics addressed in this text include God’s control, pride, diligence, violence, pleasure seeking, lying, covetousness, the training of children, generosity, and oppression of the poor.
The “corner of the housetop” mentioned in verse 9 refers to the Hebrew custom of building a small room on the house rooftop to accommodate guests. It was generally less commodious than the area below used by the family, and could only be accessed by a ladder. The contentious woman of this verse is also alluded to in verse 19.
The “scorner” referred to in verse 24 is one who is proud and arrogant, and whose unrestrained and contemptuous words prove his corrupt nature.
Proverbs 22:6 is a familiar Scripture which alludes to child-rearing. The verb translated train up indicates the earliest instruction given to a child in his formative years, and has the sense of restricting or narrowing forward movement into a prescribed path. This type of restraint directs the child into the manner of living which is intended for him. The writer likely had moral training primarily in mind, as the same word train is used elsewhere in Scripture with the sense of “dedicating.” While this verse offers reassurance to godly parents who are striving to teach their children the ways of God, it is not a guarantee of salvation; every individual has been given a free will and must approach God as a matter of personal choice in order to obtain salvation.
The Hebrew people took the discipline and instruction of children very seriously. Verse 15 of the same chapter is another admonition to parents who seek to train their children correctly. Like many of Solomon’s proverbs, this one begins with an observation: he noted that foolishness (related to folly) is an integral part of every child’s heart. The Hebrew word translated as foolishness is ivveleth, and it includes the thought of stubbornness. The “rod of correction,” symbolic of parental restraint or discipline, is necessary for a child’s proper moral development (see also Proverbs 13:24). This verse is not a license for physical mistreatment of a child, but rather, it points out that a lack of discipline hinders the child’s moral development. It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children have a clear understanding of right and wrong, and loving discipline is a key factor in developing that understanding.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The sayings of the way of wisdom
A. The 375 proverbs of Solomon
2. The call of submission to God (16:1 — 22:16)
A good reputation and the loving approval of others are far more important than other measures of success.