The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother. 2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death. 3 The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. 4 Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. 5 He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son. (Prov. 10:1-5 NIV)
The first nine chapters introduce us to the idea of wisdom and we are encouraged to seek wisdom, to guard our hearts and minds with wisdom, to fear the Lord and follow the path of the wise. We have also been warned about woman folly and the dreadful consequences of following her call.
Now the Teacher is ready to teach us wisdom.
The majority of the proverbs in this chapter have a poetic structure. The proverb has two lines and the second line is antithetical to the first line. That is, the second line stands in contrast to the first line. We see a clear example of this in v1:
The wise son brings joy to his father,
The foolish son brings grief to his mother.
We need to be careful not to overanalyse the words, because these proverbs come in the form of poetry. I think it would be a vexatious question to ask why the wise son is linked with the father and the foolish son with the mother. The point is that a son is never completely independent of his parents. The wise son will bring joy to the parents and a foolish son will bring grief to his parents. In the first line the father represents the parents and in the second line the mother represents the parents.
The contrast is between the foolish son and the wise son. The foolish son is simple, ignorant, rebellious and hasn’t learned, or has learned but has either forgotten or rejected wisdom. This is tantamount to rejecting the Lord; the most foolish thing a person can do.
The effect of wisdom on a wise son is not only to him personally but also makes the parents glad. What parent has not rejoiced when they witness their children growing in spiritual knowledge and understanding? But equally when children do not heed the gospel, they have rejected the greatest words of wisdom and it brings grief to the parents. There are of course many things they will do and achieve in life that will make you glad, but underneath there is that sadness that they do not know the Lord. We need to continue to pray that wisdom will bear fruit to the salvation of their souls.
2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value,
but righteousness delivers from death.
The proverb shines a light into our working life. We should not seek to become rich by ill-gotten gain. This can refer to stolen goods, to goods acquired by deceptive means, or forbidden goods acquired either to gain wealth or pleasure or both. There is no doubt some value in this kind of wealth, but there is no lasting value. We can be sure about the lasting value because of the assurance that we have a Sovereign God watching over every event.
Righteousness has a lasting value – it delivers from death.
3 The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry,
but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.
The positive statement comes first in this proverb. It describes a general principle that the Lord looks after His own. God is not bound by this but it is an observation of the dealings of God with humanity. This should be seen in contrast to the wicked. The inner purpose, passion and direction of the wicked will not, ultimately be attained.
4 Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth.
Laziness is not a wise way to live. The person who fears the Lord will avoid laziness. Laziness brings all kinds of poverty. If we are lazy parents, we produce a poverty in our children. If we are lazy spouses we impoverish our relationship. If we are a lazy friend, then that too affects our relationships. Laziness at work can leave us unemployed or failing to advance the way we should.
The opposite is that if we are diligent in all these areas already mentioned we can bring wealth in every aspect of our lives.
5 He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,
but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
Again, we have the emphasis on diligence. When opportunity presents itself, such as harvest time, it is the wise person who reaps at the time of harvest. This also applies to every area of life. When opportunity arises, to speak, to help out, to mend or to replace, it is the wise person who responds to the opportunities that are presented. The person who sleeps in the moment of opportunity behaves disgracefully.
As we continue to look at these Proverbs, we will note how practical that they are. For that reason we may dismiss them as not that spiritual. That would be a mistake, because spirituality is very practical in its outworking. Remember it is because we fear the Lord that we will endeavour to do these things in a wise way.
Lord, help us employ and use the gifts and talents that You have given us. Help us to serve in the fear of the Lord and always seek to work for Your glory in whatever our hand finds to do, because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.