Proverbs 24:18

Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.
– Proverbs 24:18

Verse 18 provides a surprising explanation for the warning in verse 17. Gloating over the downfall of your adversaries is displeasing to the Lord. It doesn’t seem ultimate, divine judgment is in view, but rather the calamities that befall those who oppose you. Wisdom here seems to be along the lines of the words of Jesus when we warned about misinterpreting providential events in Luke 13:1-5. In other words, we don’t know the providence behind a calamity that comes on one. We should not assume such a calamity is a justification of ourselves and a condemnation of those we don’t get along with.

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Proverbs 24:17

Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:
– Proverbs 24:17

Verses 17-18 form a saying warning against taking pleasure in the adversities of your enemy. The word for enemy means a foe, or adversary. It is expressed in terms of a personal enemy. Falling and stumbling refer to falling down and tottering, but they figuratively express the experience of calamity or adversity. The word for rejoice means to brighten and the word for glad means to rejoice, or cheer up. The first part of this saying warns against gloating over your opponent, or taking delight in their downfalls. The traditional rabbinical teaching was to love your neighbor but hate your enemy (Matthew 5:43). Of course, Jesus corrected this wrong interpretation of the law (Matthew 5:44-48).

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Proverbs 24:16

For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
– Proverbs 24:16

Verse 16 continues from verse 15 and provides explanation for the warning in that verse. The warning was against plotting against the righteous. Falling seven times is a figure implying strength or resiliency. Such falling would seem to be final, but the righteous will not ultimately fall, but rise. The wicked’s plots may seem to succeed in the short term, but will ultimately fail. The success of the wicked will be short lived as they will finally fall into mischief, or evil. This contrast is consistently thematic throughout Proverbs (Proverbs 4:18-19; 10:28; 11:7, 23; 28:18).

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Proverbs 24:15

Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place:
– Proverbs 24:15

Verses 14-15 form the next saying, which speaks to the futility of plotting against the righteous. The dwelling of the righteous and his resting place are figures of the full life of the righteous. The plotting of the wicked is not just an effort to steal money or goods, but an attack on the whole way of life of the righteous. Lying in wait and spoiling reminds of the warnings earlier in the fatherly addresses (Proverbs 1:11; 7:12). This warning, though, is aimed at the wicked.

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Proverbs 24:14

So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.
– Proverbs 24:14

The figure of eating honey is now applied to the acquiring of wisdom. Just as honey is pleasant to the taste and wholesome to the body, getting wisdom is both pleasant and life-giving to the soul (Proverbs 2:1-5, 10; 3:13-18; 22:18). The last phrase highlights wisdom is its own reward and the benefit of wisdom extends beyond this life (Proverbs 8:35; 10:16; 11:7; 12:28; 14:32; 23:18). The word for reward means end or after part. It would be like us saying, “There’s a future in it.” Commentators vary on how much Proverbs speaks of the afterlife, but this verse at least alludes to it.

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Proverbs 24:13

My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste:
– Proverbs 24:13

Verses 13-14 form a saying on the pleasant benefits of wisdom. Verse 13 uses honey as a figure, which is obvious from the point of the whole saying and the comparison to wisdom in verse 14. Honey as a figure stands for pleasure (Psalm 119:103; Proverbs 16:24; Song of Solomon 4:11; 5:1; Ezekiel 3:3). Honey as a substance itself is sweet and enjoyable, and it can be abused. Wisdom warns of the necessity of moderation (Proverbs 25:16, 27). However, honey as a substance is not the point of this Proverb. As a figure of good pleasure, the saying urges its consumption.

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Proverbs 24:12

If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? And he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? And shall not he render to every man according to his works?
– Proverbs 24:12

Proverbs doesn’t often refer cases upward, but verses like this one bring us back to the deeply theological realities of wisdom. We know that justice, or righteousness, is the context of this saying. Walking wisdom means walking in the way of justice, and that may not be the way of momentary successes. If we consider proverbs such as Proverbs 18:16 and Proverbs 17:23, we righteousness is more important than wealth. Additionally, religious acts will not make up for the lack of doing righteousness (Proverbs 15:8; 16:6; 21:27; 28:9, 13). The first phrase is a feigned ignorance and the rest of the verse dismisses this with the sovereign omniscience of Yahweh. Wisdom understands Yahweh knows us inside and out (Proverbs 5:3, 11, 21; 16:2; 17:3; 20:12; 21:2), and shall reward us according the reality of ways (Proverbs 3:32-33; 11:4, 19, 21; 12:14; 15:9; 16:4; 17:5; 19:5; 28:20).

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Proverbs 24:11

If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and that are ready to be slain;
– Proverbs 24:11

These next two verses illustrate the failure of verse 10 and end with God’s sovereign judgment as strong incentive to live righteously. Commentators vary on the specific application of those who are drawn unto death and ready to be slain. At least, the phrases refer to those in mortal dangers, and most likely due to some form of unjust oppression. The word for deliver means rescue and the condemnation here is failure to rescue. The general tenor comports with the teaching of wisdom, which requires eschewing the way of the wicked and doing righteousness (Proverbs 31:8-9).

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Proverbs 24:10

If thou faint in the day of adversity, they strength is small.
– Proverbs 24:10

Verses 10-12 form the next saying, which deals with perseverance in the face of difficulty. The word for faint means to slacken and the word for adversity means to tighten. There may be a play on the words there. Adversities are all sorts of distresses and troubles. Wisdom knows adversities test and reveal character, as the second phrase shows the faint has small strength. Wisdom requires us to quit the way and counsels of foolishness and to act wisely in the time of trouble (Proverbs 31:8-9).

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