1 Be not envious of evil men,
nor desire to be with them,
2 for their hearts devise violence,
and their lips talk of trouble.
3 By wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established;
4 by knowledge the rooms are filled
with all precious and pleasant riches.
5 A wise man is full of strength,
and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
6 for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
7 Wisdom is too high for a fool;
in the gate he does not open his mouth.
8 Whoever plans to do evil
will be called a schemer.
9 The devising of folly is sin,
and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.
10 If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small.
11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
12 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?
13 My son, eat honey, for it is good,
and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, there will be a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.
15 Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous;
do no violence to his home;
16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
18 lest the Lord see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him.
19 Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
and be not envious of the wicked,
20 for the evil man has no future;
the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
21 My son, fear the Lord and the king,
and do not join with those who do otherwise,
22 for disaster will arise suddenly from them,
and who knows the ruin that will come from them both? – Proverbs 24:1-22 ESV
If one had to choose a summary statement for this section of Solomon’s book, verses 3-7 would work well. In them, Solomon provides a fitting synopsis for his collection of 36 wise sayings and clearly articulates the primary message he is attempting to convey.
A house is built by wisdom
and becomes strong through good sense.
Through knowledge its rooms are filled
with all sorts of precious riches and valuables. – Proverbs 24:3-4 NLT
Solomon was a highly successful king who ruled over a prosperous kingdom but he was also a father who cared deeply for his children, of which he had many. With 700 wives and 300 concubines, Solomon had no shortage of progeny. Kids would have been everywhere and it seems that he took a keen interest in their education and preparation for life beyond the palace. Solomon took his role as a powerful potentate seriously but he also placed a high priority on parenting. And in a patriarchal society, he took a special interest in raising up sons who would live wise and godly lives.
In Solomon’s day, there would have been very few books on the topic of parenting. Today, they’re everywhere. You can even attend any of a number of seminars on the topic or watch countless YouTube videos on the subject. You can get parenting advice, both good and bad, from all kinds of people. They’ll tell you about the importance of communication, the need for consistent discipline, the danger of a home without rules, and the damage that can be done if your home is too strict.
Everyone has opinions. Everyone is ready to give their advice. But there are few who truly know the secret to having a healthy, thriving family – except Solomon. The Hebrew word he used for “house” in verse four can also be translated as “family” and is probably best seen as a metaphor for establishing a strong, vibrant home life, not building a structure.
We all know that a well-built house is no guarantee of a healthy, whole family. There are many beautiful homes in the best of neighborhoods filled with children who despise their parents. Those same houses are occupied by husbands and wives who no longer love one another and where domestic bliss is nowhere to be found.
No, Solomon is not giving us construction tips, but the key to a healthy family. And this advice applies not only to our biological family but to our spiritual family as well. The church, the body of Christ, is also a family. As believers, we are all members of the family of God and are His children. And just like our biological family, the family of God can become dysfunctional and unhealthy if we ignore the counsel of Solomon.
He tells us a home or a family is built on wisdom. This should remind us of Solomon’s advice found in the very first chapter of his book: “Start with God – the first step in learning is bowing down to God” (Proverbs 1:7 MSG).
This is a paraphrase from The Message, but it paints a very accurate description of what it means to “fear the Lord.” To fear the Lord is to recognize that He is God and we are not. It is to understand that He is the sole source of all wisdom, not us. It is to humble ourselves under His mighty power, recognizing our own weakness. The key to gaining wisdom is to start with God. It is focusing all of our attention on Him and making Him the center of our lives. This is true when it comes to our homes or families. He has to be number one. Not our kids. Not our careers. Not our marriages. Not our own selfish wills and self-centered desires. We must start with God. Our homes must be built on Him. He must be the foundation on which we construct our families. Marriage is difficult. Raising kids is a real challenge. Having a healthy family in the world in which we live is next to impossible – unless you do it with God’s help. Only He can give us the wisdom we need, the good sense we require, the knowledge life demands, and the outcome we desire.
Solomon wanted his sons to grow up to be wise and he knew that godliness was a prerequisite for both goodness and greatness.
The wise are mightier than the strong,
and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger.
So don’t go to war without wise guidance;
victory depends on having many advisers. – Proverbs 24:5-6 NLT
If they were going to be successful in life, they would have to make God their highest priority. God can’t be an add-on or an afterthought. He would need to be the focus of their lives and their families. Solomon desperately desired that his sons would make God’s Word a daily part of our lives and the manual by which they parented their own children. The truths he was sharing were meant to be passed on – from generation to generation. These wise sayings were timeless and worthy of obeying and repeating.
Don’t envy evil people
or desire their company.
For their hearts plot violence,
and their words always stir up trouble. – Proverbs 24:1-2 NLT
A person who plans evil
will get a reputation as a troublemaker.
The schemes of a fool are sinful;
everyone detests a mocker. – Proverbs 24:8-9 NLT
Yes, Solomon wanted his sons to implement these timeless truths but he also longed to see them propagated through the future generations of his descendants. Solomon understood that godly wisdom was to be passed on to others. It must be modeled. And, like so much in life, wisdom is better caught than taught. Children must see that their parents not only believe in God but that they obey Him. They must see that their parent’s faith is real and that it manifests itself in real life.
Solomon tells us that if we begin with God and constantly turn to God, He will give us wisdom, good sense, and knowledge. And as a result, our homes will be filled with “all sorts of precious riches and valuables” (Proverbs 24:4 NLT). But to enjoy all the benefits that wisdom has to offer, it must be sought after and consumed.
My child, eat honey, for it is good,
and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste.
In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul.
If you find it, you will have a bright future,
and your hopes will not be cut short. – Proverbs 24:13-14 NLT
His promise of a bright future is a guarantee of financial success, but a reminder that living God’s way produces treasures that are priceless and not of this world. In comparison, Solomon states that “evil people have no future” (Proverbs 24:20 NLT). Their prosperity is temporary while their long-term prospects are bleak.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve. – Proverbs 24:12 NLT
Solomon promotes a godly lifestyle. He encourages his sons to seek the way of the wise. Yes, they may find themselves the envy of all those around them and even discover that they are under attack for their chosen way of life, but they must remain determined to pursue righteousness and not wickedness.
Don’t wait in ambush at the home of the godly,
and don’t raid the house where the godly live.
The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. – Proverbs 24:15-16 NLT
Solomon calmly and confidently tells his sons: “Don’t fret because of evildoers…” (Proverbs 24:19 NLT). Don’t let them distract you with their attacks. And don’t become jealous of their apparent success. No, when all is said and done, Solomon wanted his sons to live in a state of reverent fear of God. From Solomon’s perspective, there were only two entities in life that should instill a sense of fear and awe. One was God and the other was the king. They alone had the power to punish the wicked.
My child, fear the Lord and the king.
Don’t associate with rebels,
for disaster will hit them suddenly.
Who knows what punishment will come
from the Lord and the king? – Proverbs 24:21-22 NLT
For Solomon, there was no higher priority than to raise godly sons who would establish godly homes and raise godly children. And it all tied back to a warning that God had given when Solomon had dedicated the temple he had built in Jerusalem.
“As for you, if you will follow me with integrity and godliness, as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, then I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever. For I made this promise to your father, David: ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.’
“But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the commands and decrees I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, then I will uproot Israel from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make Israel an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations.” – 1 Kings 9:4-7 NLT
Solomon wasn’t simply interested in passing on helpful tips for living life. He was intent on securing the future of his home and family for generations to come. His greatest desire was that his future descendants would follow the Lord with integrity and godliness.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.