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Proverbs 17:1-14 (ESV)
17 Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife. 2 A servant who deals wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers. 3 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts. 4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue. 5 Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished. 6 Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers. 7 Fine speech is not becoming to a fool; still less is false speech to a prince. 8 A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it; wherever he turns he prospers. 9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. 10 A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool. 11 An evil man seeks only rebellion, and a cruel messenger will be sent against him. 12 Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly. 13 If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house. 14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water,so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
This section has some important insights as in verse 9 where love rather than retribution should be our response to wrongdoing. But two verses, 1 and 5, offer important ideas for us to remember as followers of Christ. Many previous Proverbs talk of poverty as the result of foolishness and sloth (see 14:24 and 10:4 respectively). While that is true, it is not the whole story. Verse 1 shows that sometimes life is better lived in poverty if there is peace, rather than having tremendous wealth filled with misery. We see this played out in the lives of wealthy movie stars and professional athletes who live miserable and destructive lives. In addition, verse 5 forces us to remember that God made everyone, even the poor. When we mock and ridicule the poor we are mocking and ridiculing their maker… God! No matter the reason why people are poor they are created and loved by God. Life is not simplistic and if we truly desire to be wise we should let all of the Proverbs guide and enrich us rather than just the few that seem to fit into our own understanding of the world.