Today’s reading could be summed up in two phrases: “anti-evil” and “pro-wisdom.” Solomon advises not to envy wicked people, and don’t even be around them. He discusses the rewards of wisdom and the penalties of evil.
As we read about the “it’s good for you” qualities of wisdom, we might start feeling about it like kids sometime feel about vegetables or a difficult to take medicine. Solomon puts wisdom in the proper perspective when he compares it to the sweetness of honey (vv 13-14). Wisdom is good in the sense that it is “sweet to the soul.” It’s not a dose of essential, tasteless, spiritual “vitamins,” but rather it is the honey of life.
Probably my favorite proverb of today’s reading is v. 26: “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” Consider how refreshing, welcome, and appreciated a kiss on the lips can be. What a great verbal image for an honest answer! It is a kiss not just for the receiver, but the giver as well. An honest answer rewards both parties in a graceful way.
Although written by a king, many of the proverbs recognize the importance of diligence and hard work. Solomon ends with a story of what the fields and vineyards of the lazy and those who lack judgment. The story highlights that there is effort involved in establishing the foundations to provide for a family. If this is not done due to poor judgment or laziness, the result will be evident for all to see. Solomon cites a priority of concerns, instructing that one should not focus on personal comfort until first attending to an income stream (v. 27). He closes by admonishing us with how easy it is for poverty to creep into our lives. It is our action (or inaction) that may sometimes invite the bandit of poverty to come upon us.