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 24:7

Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.
– Proverbs 24:7

Commentators differ on whether verse 7 is its own saying, or if it is part of the saying before it or after it. It seems best to take it on its own as a saying, though connections can be made with the saying before and after. The word for wisdom here is the general term comprehending all aspects of wisdom—knowledge, understanding, discernment, etc. Being too high means it is above, or beyond, a fool. Though a fool may seek wisdom, he cannot find it, or even recognize it when it is before him (Proverbs 14:6; 17:24). The previous saying emphasized the necessity of wise counsel in making war, but this saying shows the fool unable to even speak to high matters. The image of the gate refers to the place of judgment in the city. It is where important matters were discussed and decided, as well the place of deciding legal matters. Wisdom requires opening one’s mouth to come to the defense of the oppressed and plead for judgment for them (Proverbs 31:8-9). Though fools are known for prating foolishness (Proverbs 15:2, 28), they have nothing to say when wisdom is needed.

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Proverbs 24:5

A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.
– Proverbs 24:5

Verses 5-6 form the next saying on the importance of wisdom. Obviously, an increase in wisdom does not mean an increase in muscular strength. The figure speaks of the value of wisdom in terms of perception, skill, and strategy. Wisdom makes the best use of the strength available, and also exploits the weaknesses of the opponent. Therefore, wisdom strengthens and is better than greater strength with less wisdom (Proverbs 8:14; 21:22; Ecclesiastes 7:19).

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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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