As we read through Proverbs 23 today, you’ll find the next 12 sayings of the wise from our list of 30. Interesting though in this chapter is that many of them involve this idea of restraint: do not, let not, be not. So, the wise don’t just know what to do, but they are keenly aware of what not to do as well. There is much wisdom to be found following in their footsteps.
Today, I’ll pick up right where we left off in our list of 30. We looked at the first 6 last time, so let’s jump right in at #7.
#7: Do not desire the pleasures of the rich.
This saying speaks to the addictive nature of these delicacies, and it warns us against gluttony. Too much of a good thing quickly becomes a bad thing, so be careful what you desire.
#8: Do not exhaust yourself in the pursuit of wealth.
Like everything else on this earth, riches are temporary. They come, and they go. This saying invites us to desire greater things, things that will last. Be content with what you have.
#9: Do not accept a meal from a tightwad.
Interesting saying here. Someone who is not generous and withholds the bounty that he has is not someone you want to “dine” with. He will be counting the cost to him, and you’ll be in his debt. Instead, choose to be generous yourself.
#10: Do not waste your wisdom on fools.
This is a hard one, because if you’re anything like me, you want to instruct those who need instruction. The fool, however, does not have ears to hear. Your words will be scorned and wasted.
#11: Do not take what isn’t yours.
Remember, God is the defender of the helpless, and He will one day make all things right. Do not be someone who takes advantage of those who appear unable to help or defend themselves. You will be found guilty.
#12: Listen to wisdom!
Here we have our first “do” instead of “do not.” These words come as music to my ears after all of the “do nots,”, don’t they? Basically, if you’re going to listen to anything, tune your ears to the sound of wisdom.
#13: Do not withhold discipline from a child.
As a newer mom, I find myself leaning into this one. Not long ago at one of my son’s doctor appointments, I was told to start finding other words to use with him besides the word “no.” I’m not entirely sure what was behind that instruction, but it felt weird to me and didn’t sit well. A child needs discipline. A child needs to be told “no” in order to set the appropriate boundaries in their life to keep them from harm. Discipline is meant to be good.
#14: Be wise.
Here we have another “to do” in our list of “do nots.” When we choose the way of wisdom, it brings delight to our Father in Heaven. It blesses Him to see us walking in wisdom and heeding His instruction.
#15: Do not envy sinners.
Sometimes, it seems like bad people get away with doing bad things, right? Meanwhile, here we are over here doing good and choosing right, and we don’t seem to be getting ahead at all. This wise saying reminds us to not envy those who “appear” to be getting away with wrongdoing. They aren’t getting away with anything, and your reward awaits you.
#16: Do not over indulge.
Again, too much of even a good thing quickly becomes a bad thing. Here, we are given specific instruction to avoid too much drink and too much food. Poverty and drowsiness awaits the drunkard and the glutton.
#17: Buy the truth, and do not sell it.
This saying combines both a “do” and a “do not.” The way of truth is worth far too much to put a price tag on it. When you get it, don’t lose it. Value it, because it will not only bless you, but it will bring blessing to those around you.
#18: Do not be seduced by the wayward woman.
This instruction is not just for men, but equally for women too. Avoid sexual temptation. Period. Playing with this type of fire will cause you to get burned.
#19: Avoid the vice of the drink.
I can’t tell you how much destruction I have seen around me as the direct result of “too much drink.” There is good reason why Scripture speaks about wine as much as it does. In and of itself, it’s not wrong. Too much of it is. The problem is that too many of us can’t control our desire for it; rather, it ends up controlling us. Avoid this vice. Choose the way of wisdom.