NEIGHBORLY ADVICE- PROV 25:1-10 9/25/2011
“Wisdom and Discernment”
Unifying principle: People need principles by which to conduct their
relationships in society.
I. THE SECOND WISE SAYINGS OF SOLOMON- PROV.
II. THE HIERACHY: GOD-KING-SUBJECTS- PROV. 25:2-7
III. TREATING ONE’S NEIGBOR JUSTLY- PROV. 25:8-10
Our lesson today is the last from the book of Proverbs, and again it is a very
powerful and practical lesson.
I have stated in my introductions before that the wisdom of this world goes
against the wisdom that is taught in the Bible especially in the Book of the
Wisdom is the ability to put into practice the knowledge that we have
received, and discernment is the ability to understand how to correctly
evaluate things in such a way that we can discern the right thing and the
wrong thing to do in any given situation.
God wants us to correctly and appropriately use the truths that are taught in
His Word on an every day basis.
Today’s lesson will teach us how to apply Godly wisdom in relationships
with our friends, families and neighbors and He wants us to know how to
handle conflicts if and when they should occur.
I. THE SECOND WISE SAYINGS OF SOLOMON PROV. 25:1
Prov. 25:1 THESE ARE also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of
Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.
1 Kings 4:32 tells us that Solomon “spoke” 3000 proverbs, about 500 of
which are contained in the Book of Proverbs, and some are found in other
places such as Ecclesiastes, but the majority of them have been lost over
The proverbs in our section today are a special group which the men or
(scribes) of godly King Hezekiah commissioned to be copied or transcribed
from one scroll to another. King Hezekiah may have ordered this work as
part of his effort to reestablish the worship of the true God after the evil
reign of King Ahaz (2 Kings 18-20)
Since Solomon reigned from 970 to 930B.C. we can date this collection of
proverbs to around 728 to 700 B.C during the reign of King Hezekiah about
2 Centuries after Solomon’s death.
The style and the content of these proverbs would suggest that they are royal
in origin and that they would have had special meaning for those who
attended at court.
*** The word proverb comes from the Heb “Mashal” which means to be
‘like’ or ‘ to be similar to’ and in the next few verses we will see what is
termed as “antithetic parallelism”. These are basically contrasting
statements which contain similarities or shared truths ***
II. THE HIERACHY: GOD-KING-SUBJECTS PROV. 25:2-7
Prov. 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of
kings is to search out a matter.
In His glory God is omnipotent (all-powerful) and omniscient (all-knowing),
and in His Sovereign right as Supreme Ruler He reserves the right to
conceal a matter.
God has the right to withhold from our understanding those things about
Himself, the Creation, Heaven, Hell, Eternity and all of His providential
dealings with Mankind, because the simple truth is that GOD IS GOD, AND
MAN IS MAN.
God does not use His supremacy as some sort of “Bully Pulpit” but He does
so because the entirety of His workings are simply beyond human
Furthermore what use would this knowledge be to us? 1 Cor 2:16…”for
who hath known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?”
Even if we had supreme knowledge, what use would it be to us? Rom 11:33
declares that ”…His ways are past finding out”, meaning that we wouldn’t
have the power or the ability to do anything with it because He would still be
On the other hand it is the honour of kings to search out a matter.
Rom 13:1 lets us know that we are to obey and honor those who have
Authority over us such as Kings, because “the powers that be are ordained
of God”. However those who are in Authority must provide leadership
God’s way, and rule with integrity. He must diligently search out the
scriptures and seek out godly counsel in order that he will gain the wisdom
to execute God’s will in terms of earthy Government.
And how we need such righteous Authority today? especially as we look
forward to another General Election in 2012. My prayer is that God will
raise up a new generation of truly righteous leaders, men and women who
above all see their positions of Authority as a Sacred Trust, and who will
commit to ruling righteously and doing things God’s way.
Prov. 14:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any
Prov. 25:3 The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the
heart of kings is unsearchable.
The word that connects verse 2 to this verse is “search” and in this verse we
will see contrasting statements that point to the same truth.
There are mysteries concerning the height of heaven and the depth of the
earth, and the extent of these mysteries are so vast that they are
unsearchable because they defy the limits of human understanding. God
simply reveals to us what we need to know.
In the same way that the king in verse 2 could never understand all that there
is to understand about God, regardless of how much he searched for that
understanding. The comparison made in this verse, is that the heart of kings
is unsearchable meaning that in the same way that God conceals knowledge
from men, Kings also conceal knowledge about themselves from their
subjects. As a general rule those in Authority conceal some things from us,
and other things they reveal to us on a need to know basis.
We may think that we know all that there is to know about those who have
Authority over us, such as Kings, Presidents and earthly rulers, but the truth
of the matter is that no-body knows what is truly in the heart of kings.
That’s why we are continually to pray for those in Authority, that God’s will
be done in their lives.
Prov. 25:4 Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come
forth a vessel for the refiner.
Prov. 25:5 Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne
shall be established in righteousness.
The connection in this verse is the word “dross” which in verse 4 means
“impurity” and in verse 5 refers to the “wicked”.
The wisdom of the proverb is that in order for silver to be refined they have
to firstly take away the dross meaning that that the silversmith has to turn
up the fire, so that the dross and the impurities can rise to the top and then he
has to skim them off in order to remove them, after this is done, the pure
silver is ready to be formed into an object of beauty or a tool for use.
Similarly the instruction to the king is that he must take away the wicked
meaning that he has to remove from his presence all wicked counselors,
ministers and evil- doers, in order for his throne to be established in
When a leader is surrounded by wicked influences and ungodly counselors
the inevitable result will be the demise and downfall of that society.
Prov. 29.2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but
when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
Today there is a special need to pray for our leaders, and ask the Lord to
give them personal revival and to surround them with men and women of
THE ONLY WAY OUT OF THE RECESSION IS REVIVAL! AND IT
BEGINS AT THE TOP!
Prov. 25:6 Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand
not in the place of great men:
In simple terms in verse 6 tells us what NOT TO DO and verse 7 tells us
what we SHOULD DO.
Since this was addressed to those at Court it would not have been unusual
for young Courtiers to seek to make a name for themselves, by gaining
proximity to the King.
People today are still impressed and obsessed with people who have power,
so much so, that many of us will do anything to be near to a celebrity, or to a
famous politician in the hopes that somehow we may find favor with that
person and be able to advance our situation in life.
When applying for jobs some of us will do a little “name dropping” in order
to embellish our reputation, and even in our Churches, people often compete
with each other or jockey for positions by bragging on their connections
with “Pastor So and So”.
In an age where self-promotion is encouraged and even celebrated the
wisdom of the proverb is that we are not to pretend to be something or
someone that we are not. We are to be humble, and we are to know our
We are told a better way in verse 7
Prov. 25:7 For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither;
than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince
whom thine eyes have seen.
The better way is the way of humility. It is better to be invited to come up
hither to a place of honor by the king, than to seize it for ourselves and then
to be publicly humiliated in the presence of the king.
Jesus taught the wisdom of this proverb in Luke 14:7-11 concluding that
“whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself
shall be exalted”
The carnal, self-exalting, and sometimes up in your face openness of today’s
society is not something that the Bible actually promotes. The Bible
promotes humility, wisdom, discernment and discretion.
I would often hear my parents say that “familiarity breeds contempt”, and
there is much truth to that statement, meaning that when we are too pushy or
too forceful or too familiar with people, the mutual respect goes out the
window. It takes time to get to know people, and sometimes we have to give
people a little time to get to know us, instead of forcing ourselves upon
God hates pride, and even if we are very qualified and very gifted, arrogance
and self-promotion is not God’s way.
God’s way is for us to be humble and faithful in whatever He has called us
to do, then when we have the right heart and mind attitude, God will place us
in positions where we will be noticed and He will do whatever is necessary
to bring us to the places of honor that He has destined for us.
Prov. 18:6 “a man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before
The next proverbs deal with
III. TREATING ONE’S NEIGHBOUR JUSTLY PROV. 25:8-10
Prov. 25:8 Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do
in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame.
In some Bible translations such as the NIV, a better rendering of this verse is
What you have seen with your eyes
Prov. 25:8 do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end
if your neighbor puts you to shame.
Moving from matters in the Royal Court Solomon now addresses our
neighborly interactions and stresses the use of wisdom, discernment and
discretion in how we handle every day situations that may end up in the
What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily to court is a
warning against jumping to conclusions and rushing into taking legal actions
hastily, without considering all the facts, and taking into account the
evidence of other witnesses.
Some today have the mindset that “perception is reality” meaning that how
they see a situation justifies the situation, and the problem with that view of
life is that your perception of a situation, may not be the reality of the
situation. As mere human beings we have to accept the fact that sometimes
we are wrong and sometimes we make mistakes, we have to accept that
sometimes our perception of things was wrong and that perhaps things did
not occur exactly as we thought that they did.
The wisdom of the proverb is that in the end your neighbor puts you to
shame. Frivolous lawsuits are costly and embarrassing to the one who
initiated the action, especially if the outcome turns out to be fruitless.
Paul warned against this in 1 Cor 6:6 Instead one believer goes to court
against another believer, and this happens in front of unbelievers.
What a terrible witness to the unbelieving world! The best way for
Christians to settle disagreements is to be prayerful, to work towards peace
and reconciliation and sometimes to suffer the loss, knowing that in the end
the justice of God will prevail.
If legal action does need to be taken, it should be entered into soberly and
prayerfully and hopefully only as a last resort.
Prov. 25:9 Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself, and discover
not a secret to another.
Here we have another example where the wisdom of the proverbs is in
dramatic opposition to the wisdom of the “lets have our day” and “lets have
our say” and “lets tell it all” mentality of the world.
To debate thy cause means to adopt the Christian way of settling
differences or disputes between individuals by using discretion and
discernment, always with a view towards reconciliation and restoration of
the relationship, and we do this by going directly to our neighbor himself.
When a friend takes us into his or her confidence, we should not betray that
person by using speech that would assassinate that person’s character, or by
launching into a “tell all” verbal attack by exposing secret and confidential
details about that person.
The gift of friendship is very precious, if and when disagreements or
disputes arise either between friends, or between neighbors and close
associates, the Biblical way of handling the matter is to follow the directives
set forth in
Matt 18:15 “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell
him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast
gained thy brother. 16. but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or
two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be
established. 17. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church:
but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man
and a publican”
As I mentioned previously in this lesson, when disagreements or conflicts
arise between Christians, restoration instead of retaliation should be the
first order of the day!
Prov. 25:10 Lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy
turn not away.
The final verse in our lesson today warns us of the outcome for the person
who blindly rushes to bring accusations against another person either in the
judicial court, or in the court of public opinion.
I am reminded of the old saying “If you live in a glass house don’t throw
stones” meaning that those who like to bring damaging accusations against
other people, should be mindful that those same accusations or even worse
may be made against them.
Again the wisdom of the proverb cautions us to use wisdom, discretion and
discernment especially when speaking about another person, or when we
disclose sensitive and confidential details about that person.
WE only get one chance to make a first impression, and a good reputation
can be permanently damaged by false accusations and ugly rumors.
If the allegations are false, you will be put to shame and quickly gain a
reputation for being a gossip, a trouble- maker and a busy-body and this
infamy will not turn away, meaning that this image of you will forever be
etched upon people’s hearts and minds.
Today our lesson focus has been Wisdom and Discernment, and I’ll review
the lesson by doing a simple recap of the powerful truths contained in the
Our lesson today taught us that God is God and Man is Man, there are limits
to our knowledge and that even Kings have to seek Him for wisdom,
direction and discernment.
We saw the necessity for those in Authority, and indeed for all of us to
distance ourselves from wicked and ungodly influences.
We saw the danger of pride, and self-exaltation and were encouraged to be
humble and submissive, allowing God himself to exalt us in due season.
We also learned to use caution and not to rush into hasty judgments or to
defame the character of other people with whom we may have a connection.
We also learned the importance of using wisdom, discernment and acting
wisely and with integrity with regard to our relationships with others and
with those who may have offended us.
This wisdom comes from above, and it comes first and foremost by
recognizing that we are all sinners, and that we all need to come to a saving
knowledge of Jesus Christ in order that our sins can be forgiven,. Then as we
grow in grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit we will be
empowered on a daily basis to live out the wisdom that is taught in the book