Proverbs 24:21

My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:
– Proverbs 24:21

Verses 21-22 form the last saying in this set of the “Words of the Wise.” The last saying teaches fear, or respect, of authority. We reverence the civil authority as God’s appointed authority (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:17). The word for meddle means to braid. The word for given to change means to alter. Wisdom teaches not to be mixed up with rebels and agitators. Peter gave similar warning (1 Peter 4:15). This saying starts with the fear of Yahweh, which is the beginning of wisdom and the ground for respect of authority.

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Proverbs 23:17

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.
– Proverbs 23:17

Verses 17 and 18 form a wise saying about the informed perspective of wisdom. The word for envy means jealousy when used in the negative sense. It’s not uncommon to be envious of sinners (Psalm 37:1; 73:3). Such envy is contrasted in this saying with the fear of the Lord, which we know is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). Wisdom teaches to not envy the momentarily prosperous (Proverbs 3:31; 24:1), but rather to understand wisdom that knows the fear of the Lord is better than momentary success (Proverbs 15:16; 28:14).

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Proverbs 22:19

That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
– Proverbs 22:19

This verse continues the benefits of the humble commitment to acquire wisdom. Growing in wisdom means a deepening trust in the Lord God. This gives us a view of the true nature of wisdom. Wisdom is not to grow our heads so we trust in our own intelligence. Acquiring true wisdom will mean fearing the Lord, forsaking your own inclinations, and faithfully clinging to him (Proverbs 3:5-7).

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Proverbs 22:4

By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honor, and life.
– Proverbs 22:4

The beginning by expresses a consequence. The condition is humility and fear of the Lord. The result, or reward, is riches, honor, and life. The word for humility means condescension, modesty, or meekness. The word is set opposite haughtiness in Proverbs 18:12. Pride brings destruction, but true honor is preceded by humility (Proverbs 11:2; 16:5, 18-19; 29:23). Fear and humility are the necessary conditions for acquiring wisdom (Proverbs 2:5; 8:13; 9:10). The rewards of wisdom are elsewhere expressed in these terms (Proverbs 3:16; 21:21).

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Proverbs 19:23

The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.
– Proverbs 19:23

Life in Proverbs has a range of meaning beyond mere physical life as opposed to death. Kidner points out the term often denotes fullness, or abundance, of life in terms of flourishing and harmonious home life (Proverbs 16:15; 15:27). Here it is life lived in the fear of the Lord, and so it is wisdom life, since wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). Other proverbs speak of wisdom in life tending to long life and peace (Proverbs 6:22; 10:27; 14:26-27). The life in this proverb is explained in the two lines that follow. The word for satisfied means full, or satiated. It speaks of having enough, or not being in want. The word for evil can mean moral evil in terms of wickedness done, or it can mean natural evil in terms of calamity, adversity, or natural disaster. Wisdom life in the fear of the Lord tends to having needs met and living in peace.

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Proverbs 16:6

By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
– Proverbs 16:6

The word for purged means covered, i.e., atonement. It is the word often used in the law for expiation of sin. At first blush, the first statement could seem to speak of a justification by works, but that would contradict other Scripture and miss the point of the proverb badly. The phrase mercy and truth is paralleled with the fear of the Lord. The first phrase is most often used of God and expresses his covenant faithfulness (Psalm 85:10). The second indicates the beginning of wisdom and so refers to the way of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). Both result in iniquity is purged and depart from evil. The point of the proverb is not the outward rites or works, but rather the inward truth and genuineness, as in Proverbs 15:8. The thought is similar with other proverbs (Proverbs 14:16, 27; 15:27).

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Proverbs 15:33

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility.
– Proverbs 15:33

Proverbs begins with the root issue of acquiring wisdom. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). There is no wisdom without the fear of the Lord. Fools do not want the fear of the Lord and therefore do not acquire wisdom, though they try to get it other ways (Proverbs 17:16). The word for instruction means discipline, or training. So the fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of the way of wisdom, but it is the whole course. Acquiring wisdom requires humility, and that is the only way to the honor wisdom brings (Proverbs 3:16). The contrast is pride that refuses reproofs and goes on to destruction (Proverbs 18:12; 29:23).

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Proverbs 15:16

Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.
– Proverbs 15:16

This is one of those proverbs that refute the notion the blessing and prosperity of wisdom is material. It is better to have wisdom than not (Proverbs 3:14; 8:11, 19; 16:16), and it is better to have the fear of the Lord, a meager supper, righteousness, a humble spirit, integrity, and uprightness than riches (Proverbs 15:17; 16:8, 19; 17:1; 19:1; 28:6). The word for trouble means tumult, confusion, and vexation. We might say it is a great grief or worry of mind. Material substance is not ultimate, and not to be preferred when it comes with trouble (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12).

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Proverbs 14:27

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
– Proverbs 14:27

Those who fear the Lord are in the way of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). The fountain refers to a naturally flowing water supply. It is a source that is perpetually fresh. So, the fear of the Lord gives life and refreshment continually to those who have it (Proverbs 22:4). Right fear will keep you from the snares of death (Proverbs 2:10-18; 22:5). Proverbs in this vein illustrate the spiritual nature of wisdom in Proverbs and the seriousness of the subject.

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