Solomon continues to point out the vast difference between “the wise” and “the foolish.” God gives true wisdom. Following His ways is the path to life.
I’m still struggling with how to break down these proverbs. I want them to have some underlying theme that ties them together. But they cover a broad range of topics. There are also some repeats. I KNOW the Holy Spirit didn’t do this to increase His “word count.” He stressed some essential ideas by putting them in more than once. Since He stressed those points we should probably pay close attention to them.
Solomon addresses anger in many different places. I remember sharing my struggle with it in response to an earlier proverb. I was curious how many times anger was addressed in Proverbs. Of course I Googled that question. I found a bible study site that lets you search for topics in Proverbs. They list 35 specific places in Proverbs where anger is addressed. Three of those places are two verses in length. Two verses are repeated, making their list 37 verses long. And they use the Good News Translation for at least verse 14:29. I don’t think this is a translation I will choose for my study times.
Anger is a BIG issue with God. That is probably why He mentions it MULTIPLE times. Proverbs is not the only place where anger is mentioned. God does not say that anger itself is a sin though. Ephesians 4:26 says “Be angry and sin not; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” This means it is possible to be angry without it resulting in sin. SURPRISE! God Himself says several times that He was angry. We KNOW HE didn’t sin; therefore it is not the anger itself that is a sin. It’s what we do with it. Jesus demonstrated this when he cleared the temple with a whip. GotQuestions.org addresses Jesus’ anger and God’s anger pretty well.
Anger arising from a just cause, especially a godly one, requires a carefully reasoned approach to remedy the situation. Jesus took the time to step aside and braid a whip before addressing the thing that brought Him anger. I wonder if He thought about how to use it to inflict a fear response or if He intended it to inflict physical pain. Did He actually strike people with it or snap it in their direction? I would think that He showed restraint to those who got the message easily but didn’t leave ANY doubt about the job being completed FULLY. Those who didn’t scatter in the beginning probably found the sting of the rope as their final motivator.
I find that I have a harder time with my anger when I’m tired. Today I verbally snapped at someone when I truly shouldn’t have. It was during a phone call and I don’t know how to raise that person again so I can apologize. I did make an attempt to do so. Even though I have been very frustrated with the company she represents, but that’s not a license to be short with her.
I know I’ve barely scratched the surface regarding anger but I think it’s time to move on. Moving on we are going to walk two different paths. I have a feeling I did this before too but since the Holy Spirit repeated it I can too.
One thing I notice about the “wrong” path is that it covers a ‘multitude of sins.’ Not “covers” as in hides but “covers” as in includes. I guess that’s why it’s called a broad path. I’m going to try making a list of the ones Solomon includes.
First we see the “hot temper.” This person is quick to strike out at anyone he/she believes has done them wrong. Katie Kaboom comes to mind. One moment everything is fine, the next you better duck and cover. Some hot tempers are expressed verbally while others respond physically. Both are dangerous and damaging.
The second attitude we see on this path is laziness. This isn’t someone taking a day off but someone who is habitually lazy. My mother told a story about one of my uncles. He refused to crawl. It was too much work. My grandma would lay him on a blanket in the floor and put a toy at the other side of it. Instead of crawling to get it, he would pull the toy to him by bunching up the blanket. I don’t know if I would call this lazy or inventive. I wonder why my grandmother didn’t put the toy just off the blanket or remove the blanket all together. A lazy person will do the least amount of work possible. Often times they will expend more energy in figuring out how to avoid work than it would take to actually do the task. Getting someone else to do it for them is a favorite tactic. This ‘extra work’ would be the “hedge of thorns” from verse 19.
Third on this path is the man who “despises his mother” (verse 20b). This person rejects all correction with an arrogant attitude. “Mother knows best, NOT” would be their moto. Actually, the word “despise” speaks of an even stronger attitude. It brings the word “hatred” and “disgust” to mind. This man would treat his/her mother with contempt, probably to her face. They would probably be quite abusive, at least verbally, to her. I have a cousin who I believe fits this description, but I’m NOT mentioning names. It hurts my heart just hearing about the things that are said and done in this relationship, especially being that I know the love the mother has for her son.
Next up we have those who LOVE to tempt fate or get into trouble. With children this can kind of attitude can grow out of boredom or as a way to get noticed by their parents. My husband and his brother, lacking anything better to do, took a parachute and tried jumping off the barn roof. Needless to say, it didn’t work. They were very fortunate that they didn’t get hurt. Most people learn to avoid wildly dangerous activities, or to do the dangerous ones with as much protection as possible. Firemen don’t lack sense when they run into a burning building. They make the danger as safe as possible and KNOW when to stay out if the danger is too high. The one who lacks sense is forever testing the limits of his/her life. He/she is testing how fast his/her ‘guardian angel’ can fly. Not even Jesus was willing to do this. When Satan told Him to throw Himself down from a high place, He did NOT take the bait!
The last attitude we see highlighted is arrogance. This person doesn’t see the need for help or advice. He/she knows everything and no one can tell them different. It doesn’t matter if someone has more experience in doing the task being undertaken. They can’t possible understand THIS special task; or so the arrogant person believes. This circles back to the verse 21 where it says “Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense.” Disaster waits in the wings for both!
So what’s on the narrow road? One thing I can tell you is that it is not so strict that no one can walk it. The main “toll” for this “highway” is belief and reliance on God. A personal relationship with Him is required for this trip. This person is “slow to anger.” He/she doesn’t have a short fuse and is concerned with solving the problem instead of stirring up trouble or ‘getting even.’ He/she seeks and willingly accepts sound advice. He/she works diligently at whatever task he/she is assigned or undertakes. They don’t try and find ‘short cuts’ in life, especially those that would take advantage of another or put them in danger of sin. This person is a joy to their parents and they bring honor to them with their actions. This person is also willing to help others along the way. They graciously share what they have learned from the Lord and ask Him to lead them in when, where, and what to speak. Their greatest joy is helping someone else find and join this special road. For he/she KNOWS well that “The path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath” (verse 24).
This is the path I pray I’m walking. I know I get side tracked and step off in a ‘puddle’ at times. But because of having the “toll” paid for me by Jesus, I KNOW He is there beside me to bring me back onto the path He prepared for me. He NEVER throws me off His path when I mess up. He loves me right back into order, using loving discipline where needed. I’m VERY grateful for His unfailing love.
Father God, first of all, forgive me please for my attitude today. I know I was wrong in how I spoke to the person on the phone. I know that agency has been nothing but trouble this year, but it wasn’t fair to take that out on her. I’m sorry and would like an opportunity to apologize to her. I will leave that in Your hands as I don’t know exactly who it was that I was talking to.
Second, Father God, help me ‘stay out of the ditches’ along Your Highway. Thank You for letting me on it in the first place. I didn’t earn that spot. Jesus bought it for me. THANK YOU! Thank You for the lessons along the way that have brought me closer and closer to You. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit, who leads and guides me every day. I am lost without Him!
Teach me Your ways O Lord. Every day and every step of the way. I am Yours! Have Your own way in my life.