Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
Proverbs 15:16-33 (ESV)
16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it. 17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it. 18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. 19 The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway. 20 A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother. 21 Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead. 22 Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. 23 To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is! 24 The path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath. 25 The Lord tears down the house of the proud but maintains the widow’s boundaries. 26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure. 27 Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live. 28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. 29 The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. 30 The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones. 31 The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. 32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. 33 The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
Verses 16 -17 are the famous teaching about the value of a simple life lived in the joy of the Lord. I taught on verses 22 & 32-33 in my June 12th sermon on “Wise Desires.” These are examples of the how when we think we know all the answers, and fail to listen and learn from others, we are actually being dumb. Verse 29 is very important, but easy to misunderstand. At first glance, it seems to say that we need to be good, or else God will not listen to our prayers. That’s a problem, because we are all bad, we are all sinners (see Romans 3:10 & 3:23). We have zero righteousness of our own. However, when we cry “have mercy on me God!” (like the sinner in Luke 18:13-14) and rely on Jesus’ righteousness, then God looks at us, but only sees Jesus’ perfect life, and gladly listens to our prayers. That’s what it means to pray “in Jesus’ name.” In means coming before God in prayer, saying “Lord, I’m a bad person, I don’t deserve to speak to you, but Jesus told me I could use his private line to your heart.” That’s the incredible grace Jesus gives us! We unholy people can have an intimate conversation with a holy God.