22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. 23 The wicked accept bribes in secret to pervert the course of justice. 24 A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. 25 A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the mother who bore him. 26 If imposing a fine on the innocent is not good, surely to flog honest officials is not right. 27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. 28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. (Prov. 17:22-28 NIV)
22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Not everyone has a cheerful disposition. Some people are quite melancholy in their mood. But whatever type of person you are it is good to enjoy cheerful times. If your personality type is prone to feeling melancholy, then it is good to seek out the company of people who are more cheerful. The presence of a cheerful person helps to cheer you up. Most children tend to be cheerful, and it is good to have them around. When we have had the grandchildren stay with us for a few stays, we end up exhausted but cheered up as well. When you know that they will be coming soon you forget how exhausting it is going to be because you know that there will be fun, and this kind of cheerfulness is good medicine. In contrast when there is trouble in our lives that leaves us feeling crushed this can make us feel physically weary and dried up like a stick. Those times come and we have little control over the trials that come our way.
23 The wicked accept bribes in secret to pervert the course of justice.
Without justice a society cannot function properly. When someone accepts a bribe with the intention of perverting the course of justice that is only the beginning of the wrong. Lies will be told and the victim in the court case will not receive justice.
24 A discerning person keeps wisdom in view,
but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.
Wisdom is needed every day and the discerning person draws on wisdom every day to help them live the godly life. Wisdom is learned from God’s word and it is worked into our lives by living according to that word. By contrast the fool will never settle on anything. The next fad to come along will occupy him for a little time. He will flit to and fro from one idea to the next. The ‘ends of the earth’ is a metaphorical way of referring to all the far-flung fancies of a restless mind.
25 A foolish son brings grief to his father
and bitterness to the mother who bore him.
A foolish child brings grief and bitterness to their parents. To see a child turn their back on the gospel is a sad sight.
26 If imposing a fine on the innocent is not good,
surely to flog honest officials is not right.
It is grievous when innocent people are made to suffer or have fines imposed upon them for something they didn’t do. Also flogging honest officials is an injustice. Many officials today get metaphorically flogged by the media. Our political structures seem to promote this verbal abuse. As soon as the government says something, the opposition will have an immediate response to say why it is wrong, and this doesn’t change whichever political party is in government. If the government publishes a report that they have commissioned, the opposition will have ridiculed the report even before it can have been read. There is an element here of flogging officials.
27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
Again, in this proverb the Teacher urges us to be restrained in the words we use and how we use them. When we see how much damage can be caused by the words we say, or the words we write it should teach us to be careful and measured in what we say. Quickly uttered words tend to keep company with quick tempered individuals.
28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
and discerning if they hold their tongues.
The words we speak and the way we say them tells a lot about the kind of person that we are. Once a fool opens his mouth you are left in no doubt about the kind of person that he is. It is good to spend time reflecting on what we are going to say and even reflecting on whether it needs to be said.
Lord help us to keep the principles of Your word ever in our hearts and minds so that we might live to please You. Hear our prayer as we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.