Proverbs 24:4

And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
– Proverbs 24:4

This verse completes the saying and the metaphor of house building. A house is not really beautiful and useful until furnished and lived in. God created the world through wisdom and furnished it for the life, learning, flourishing, and joy of man to bring glory to his Creator. We image God and walk in his way when we build through wisdom. Through wisdom we equip our families for this vocation, and wisdom is certainly not only about material possessions. Wealth laid up is symbolic of walking in wisdom (Proverbs 15:6; 21:20).

The word for knowledge means cunning, or understanding. It is one of words in Proverbs under the umbrella of wisdom. It refers to acquired knowledge. It can be used in the negative sense of a lack of knowledge, such as ignorance. The instruction and correction of wisdom gives knowledge (Proverbs 1:4; 2:6). Knowledge acquired is worth more than silver and gold stored (Proverbs 8:10).

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Proverbs 24:3

Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:
– Proverbs 24:3

Verses 3-4 form the next saying, which is a metaphor illustrating the positive, constructive power of wisdom. The imagery of wisdom building a house is elsewhere in the Proverbs and it provides an excellent illustration of lasting success (Proverbs 9:1; 14:1). The word for wisdom means skill, like that of a craftsman. This word functions like an umbrella term over other words that are more like components of the whole picture of wisdom. The word for understanding means intelligence, sense, or discernment. The word for builded means to build up and the word for established means to be made firm, or secure. Wisdom begins the building on a sure footing and completes the structure with lasting stability.

This saying also touches upon the ontological realities of vocation within the created cosmos. God has created and established with wisdom (Proverbs 3:19-20; 8:22-31). As image bearers of God, we are to build, or work, with wisdom. It is easy to see then why building, or working, with folly is destructive, because it gives false witness to the Creator, will not be established, and cannot stand. When we work and build with God-fearing wisdom, our work is established and we give faithful witness to the Creator and are walking in his way.

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Proverbs 24:2

For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.
– Proverbs 24:2

The warning of verse 1 is explained is this verse, which completes the saying. The warning against the company of evil men is not considered here in terms of the consequences of their behavior, but rather the deficiencies of their character. The word for studieth means to ponder, or meditate. The word for destruction means violence. Their heart, or mind, is fixed on violence and doing evil. Their speech comes from their heart, which is obsessed with mischief, or trouble. The energies of evil men are devoted to violence and trouble (Proverbs 6:14). They are not thinking, speaking, and doing wisdom. Wisdom is neither prized nor sought with them. If we are to seek wisdom (Proverbs 2:4), then we will not seek the company of evil men for they are bent away from it (Proverbs 2:12-15; 16:28-30).

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Proverbs 23:23

Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.
– Proverbs 23:23

This verse gives a fatherly saying that is be hearkened to. The word for truth means certainty, and so it points to reality, what is truly true. To buy and not sell means to labor to acquire wisdom and to retain it. The word for wisdom means skill, like that of a craftsman or tradesman, and can be put for shrewdness. The word for instruction means discipline, and can range from teaching to correcting, or even chastisement. The word for understanding means discernment and indicates the ability to distinguish between. The four words here represent the necessary equipment for going in the right way, or living a godly life. Proverbs consistently urges the necessity of seeking, cost of acquiring, and value of having wisdom (Proverbs 2:2-4; 4:5-7; 16:16).

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Proverbs 23:12

Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.
– Proverbs 23:12

The word for apply means to enter and signifies the deliberate pursuit of instruction and knowledge. The word for instruction means discipline. It is a holistic view of training, including both positive instruction and correction. The word for knowledge means understanding and positively refers to the truth about God. Wisdom teaches we have to lean into the instruction and correction of wisdom in order to acquire wisdom. Wisdom teaches us not to follow our hearts but rather to apply our hearts to seek out the wisdom of God (Proverbs 2:2-6; 5:1-2; 22:17).

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Proverbs 23:9

Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.
– Proverbs 23:9

Verse 9 stands alone, though it complements the pearls-before-swine aspect of the previous group. To speak … in the ears is to make a direct address. It refers to a direct word of reproof, counsel, or instruction. The word for fool is the most common in Proverbs and refers to a stupid and obstinate person. Their problem is not ignorance, or lack of information, but rather the hate and rejection of wisdom (Proverbs 1:22). Words of wisdom are lost on fools and gain only hatred for the speaker of them (Proverbs 9:7-8; 15:12).

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Proverbs 23:5

Wilt thou set thin eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.
– Proverbs 23:5

Verse 5 uncovers the folly of exhausting yourself to be rich. The flying eagle is a figure of the fleeting nature of wealth. The eagle can be seen for a little while, but soon flies away out of grasp and eventually out of sight. This proverb doesn’t highlight any specific means of losing wealth, but such instances are mentioned elsewhere in Proverbs. A greedy man is in a hurry to be rich and his haste will actually turn to poverty (Proverbs 21:5; 28:22). Lovers of pleasure and indulgence will spread their wealth thin and come to rags (Proverbs 5:7-10; 23:20-21). The slothful fool will have trouble acquiring wealth, but what he will equally have trouble keeping what he has acquired (Proverbs 24:30-31; 27:23-27). Further, foolish managers and risk takers will exhaust their stores (Proverbs 21:20; 17:18; 22:26-27). So, in one way or another, riches tend to vanish away and wisdom teaches us not to set our hearts on material wealth.

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Proverbs 23:4

Labor not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
– Proverbs 23:4

Verses 4 and 5 form the next saying, which is about the desire for wealth. The word for labor literally means to gasp and indicates being weary with toil, or exhausted. The word for rich means to accumulate and become wealthy. Wisdom warns against pursuing wealth as an object and expending much time and energy to acquire it. This warning is echoed in various ways throughout Scripture (Isaiah 55:1-3; John 6:27; 1 Timothy 6:8-10).

The word for wisdom means understanding and is often used positively in Proverbs. Here it is negative and qualified as “thine own.” Wisdom generally warns against our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). The warning in this saying speaks to stopping from our own understanding, which is tempted with riches as the solution for all our problems. Proverbs repeatedly teaches wisdom is better than riches and should be pursued as fools pursue wealth (Proverbs 2:4; 3:14-15; 8:18-19; 16:16).

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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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