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Proverbs 19:1-14 (ESV)
19 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool. 2 Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. 3 When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.4 Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend. 5 A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape. 6 Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts. 7 All a poor man’s brothers hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him! He pursues them with words, but does not have them. 8 Whoever gets sense loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will discover good. 9 A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish. 10 It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury, much less for a slave to rule over princes. 11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. 12 A king’s wrath is like the growling of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass. 13 A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain. 14 House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.
One of the most helpful lessons from the book of Proverbs teaches us that life is more complicated and the answers are more subtle than we realize. Our sinful heart tries to reduce everything down to the size our small brains can handle. But the world is bigger and more complex than that! As we progress deeper into the book of Proverbs, God is helping us see that simplistic answers are stupid and dangerous, and we need to let God open our minds to a wider view of the world.
There are many examples of this in today’s reading. Verses 1, 4 & 6 show that integrity is better than wealth, but poverty will cause our friends to vanish (revealing that they were not true friends). In verses 2, 8, & 11, we also learn how trusting our feelings or emotions needs to be balanced by knowledge, or we will experience trouble. Verses 13 & 14 are famous teachings geared toward women. It is tempting for a wife to think that constant nagging will help her husband change. The truth is that this will wear out a marriage; the godly woman is careful to prayerfully choose the right time and situation to be a “mirror” for her husband.