26 The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked, but gracious words are pure in his sight. 27 The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live. 28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. 29 The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. 30 Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. 31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. 32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. 33 Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honour. (Prov. 15:26-33 NIV)
26 The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked,
but gracious words are pure in his sight.
We should be in no doubt about the fact that the Lord listens in on our conversations. The words that we use and how we use them are important to God. The Lord detests the plans and thoughts of the wicked. Their thoughts are intended to harm. God despises their actions, their words and even their very thoughts. Their entire way of reasoning is not in accord with God’s way. Gracious words are pure and pleasant in the sight of God. We have received grace from God. This should encourage us to show grace to others. We did not deserve the grace of God. We should therefore be generous in being gracious to those around us. God notices and this is pure in His sight.
27 The greedy bring ruin to their households,
but the one who hates bribes will live.
Greed can incite a lot of crimes and sins. Greed is destructive to the person who is greedy and to their household. They elevate getting whatever they crave above all other things. The acquisition of their goal comes before family, friends and certainly before God. The idea behind the word translated greedy is of illicit gain. The greedy will use violence, deceit and lies to gain what they desire. The person who refuses to be bought by a bribe will live. The law of God denounced the giving and receiving of bribes. A bribe is a way of getting what you want by other than lawful means. The transaction would not appear to be just and upright and so a bribe is offered to ensure that it goes through.
28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,
but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.
The point to notice here is that the righteous person doesn’t instantly and automatically know what the right thing is to do. They have to weigh their answers. They have to think carefully and reason and assess what the likely outcome is of what they are going to say. Does anything need to be said at all? Many battles are not worth fighting and we don’t have to respond to every comment. Pondering the answer suggests control. When an answer springs to mind we need to ask ourselves what drives this response. Could it be pride, jealousy, or a desire to score a point? Many people react to every single statement that anyone makes to them. They are keen to defend their reputation, keen to not let any person get away with making any remark that might offend them, no matter how slight or insignificant the remark. The extreme of that is the evil person who just gushes out whatever comes into their head to say, irrespective of what the consequences might be.
29 The LORD is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
God is always near to everyone so in what sense is the Lord far from the wicked? This means they are spiritually estranged from God. They are spiritually and morally at a distance from God because they do not regard God or His word. The righteous on their own account would be estranged from God but they are brought near and are as near as Christ is to God. God hears the prayer of the righteous through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
30 Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart,
and good news gives health to the bones.
The brightness of the presence of a joyful person brings joy to your heart. When a person tells you about good news that they have received you can smile and enjoy their joy. Our middle daughter has always enjoyed Christmas. We have videos of the children opening their presents and especially our middle daughter used to just scream with delight. Even today looking back on those videos we can smile as we enjoy her joy again. On a number of occasions during lockdown several people have told me about something that they have read and they just had to phone someone to tell them about it. Joy is contagious! There is something about joy that we just have to share. Receiving good news, even someone else’s good news gives us a sense of wellbeing. It is one of the things that teach us that we never intended to be alone but to be part of a community.
31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.
Teachability is something that we should preserve in our lives. The longer that we are in the church the harder it can be to maintain that humble teachable spirit. When we are teachable, we are more inclined to pay attention to life-giving correction. Each person who lives like this will feel at home among the wise.
32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves,
but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.
Those who wilfully ignore the instruction of the word of God will find that they do themselves harm. It is not a happy way of life to ignore God’s instruction. People may feel that they are emancipated and have their freedom of choice that they will not allow anyone to dictate to them how they live, but to disobey God is to go against how we were designed to live. People are proud and they don’t want to take instruction from anyone else. In contrast the one who heeds the correction of the word of God gains in understanding. In growing in understanding they know not to despise themselves by neglecting what God has said.
33 Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD,
and humility comes before honour.
Wisdom teaches us to fear the Lord. The fear of the Lord brings us into a living relationship with God. When we are in God’s presence, we realise that we need to humble ourselves before God. When we humble ourselves before God, God will bless us and the honour we receive comes from the blessed life that God gives us.
Lord teach us to live in the fear of the Lord, and teach us to stay living in the fear of the Lord. Lord, as we see in the wisdom of Your word, we need to be humble before You. Lord continue to teach us wisdom and help us to walk in Your way, because we ask this in the name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.