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Proverbs 17 Lesson: A Focus on Eternal Wisdom

Wisdom is the foundation for which a house is built and upon it hinges Christian growth. There is worldly wisdom and Godly wisdom, one temporal and one eternal. This article will focus on a few verses from Proverbs 17 in honor of July 17, focusing on several aspects of life such as conflict, servanthood, the heart, and children.

Proverbs 17 Lesson on Eternal Wisdom

"Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting--and conflict. A wise servant will rule over the master's disgraceful son and will share the inheritance of the master's children. Fire tests the impurity of silver and gold, but the LORD tests the heart. Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander. Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished. Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parent are the pride of their children. Eloquent words are not fitting for a fool; even less are lies fitting for a ruler" (Proverbs 17:1-7, NLT)

Contextual History on Proverbs 17

Proverbs 17 is believed by scholars to have been written by King Solomon, the successor to King David--his father. It was written roughly in 700 B.C, according to Brittanica, based on further scripture referencing King Hezekiah's men copying the proverbs of Solomon (Proverbs 25:1). Let's dive into breaking the devotional apart.

Proverbs 17 Lesson Continued: Breaking Apart the Text on Wisdom

Verse one opens with portraying a feast in a house. During this time in Israel, feasts would be made by an offerer and the family would take part. The meal would be ruined if there was a familial conflict. Much like today, social gatherings with family are often ruined when there is strife with family. I know personally, it is best to be distant and eat alone in peace than be among strife with no peace. Verse two portrays a wise servant holding a place of high respect in a household. Servants and "slaves" are used interchangeably in the Bible. Paul even describes being a "bond-servant" of Christ (Romans 1:1), relating to being owned by Christ. The context that the word "slave" or "servant" is used, however, signifies the nature of the circumstances surrounding it. For instance, to be a slave in the Bible meant you were under contract until your debt was fulfilled (there will be a future study on this in the future). Two examples of a servant who was held in high respect would be Abraham's servant and Joseph.

Verse three discusses testing impurities and removing them by fire and how God uses affliction to purify the heart of mankind. The common practice to remove impurities from gold and silver is by heating at a very high temperature that would separate the impure properties. This is still used at large today. God, likewise, still allows afflictions to produce endurance. Verse four opens with an image that is fitting of the nature of a criminal. It is also portraying that those who are in sin will usually flock to those who are indulged in similar sin or who live a nonrestrictive lifestyle. After all, misery loves company. If you pay close attention, you would notice that the false teachers even of today are always welcome to those who openly practice sin, with no mention of the gospel or conviction at all.

Verse five opens with a blatant reminder that those who laugh at poverty will eventually be met with it, as it is treating God's providence with contempt. Much the same as when Jesus told Peter that "those that take the sword will perish by it" (Matthew 26:52, NKJV), those that mock poverty will be overcome by it. Contrary to verse 5, Verse 6 tells of children being a reward, "a crowning glory", to grandparents as "every good and perfect gift comes from above" (James 1:17).

Verse seven portrays the simplemindedness of a fool that eloquent words supersede him. In most of King Solomon's writings, the "fool" is often depicted of a wicked man. The speech of such a man is often contradicted. It is a warning that anyone can become like this when discretion is not exercised.

Closing Thoughts for Building a Foundation on Eternal Wisdom

"Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;By knowledge, the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches" (Proverbs 24:3-6, NKJV).

Wisdom will far outlast every earthly gem. It is like a crown of glory for those that seek Godly wisdom. A house that is built on eternal wisdom will last and endure. Instead of pursuing endless riches, pursue wisdom which is a gift that keeps replenishing.

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