Proverbs 17


‘Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife. A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son and will share the inheritance as one of the family.’ Proverbs 17:1-2

Survival Of The Wisest

Solomon is basically saying that anyone who operates with skill and success can overcome disadvantages such as being poor or being a slave.

‘The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.’ Proverbs 17:3

We can find out the value of gold and silver, but only God can determine the true quality of our hearts. What does it take to melt gold or silver? It takes intense heat to remove all the impurities.

Trials in our Christian life do the same thing, they purify our hearts. In the tense heat of the moment we find out what we’re really like, we can lose our temper or say the wrong thing, James 1:2-4 / 1 Peter 1:7.

‘A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.’ Proverbs 17:4

Gossiping has always been a problem in every community, Ephesians 4:29. The reason for this? There are always those willing to listen.

‘Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.’ Proverbs 17:5

There are always people who will turn themselves into this type of ‘monster’. They actually enjoy the weaknesses and problems of others. Why do people like to make fun of others? They think they are better and it makes them feel good, Luke 18:31-33.

‘Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.’ Proverbs 17:6

The ideal family is one of harmony and mutual admiration, there is no ‘generation gap’ here.

‘Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool—how much worse lying lips to a ruler!’ Proverbs 17:7

There are some things that do not belong together, but when they are together something is amiss!

‘A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it; they think success will come at every turn.’ Proverbs 17:8

Unfortunately, a bribe is a powerful and effective tool. The wise person mustn’t close their eyes to the sad ability of its usage in government and business, in all areas of life.

To charm literally means, ‘stone of favour’. In other words, this is the person’s ‘lucky charm’, their ‘ace in the hole’, that they will use to get their way.

Is Solomon teaching us that bribery is alright? Not at all, there are numerous passages which teach against offering and receiving a bribe, Exodus 23:8 / Matthew 28:11-15.

‘Whoever would foster love covers over an offence, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.’ Proverbs 17:9

Tolerance and sensitivity, as well as being forgiving, are the pillars of every true friendship. We should be willing to forgive those who sin against us, Ephesians 4:32.

Can a marriage survive if couples aren’t willing to forgive each other? Some people bring up the past all the time, all this does is bring about destruction.

‘A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool.’ Proverbs 17:10

A rebuke is to use only words and a hundred blows are speaking about physical force.

‘Evildoers foster rebellion against God; the messenger of death will be sent against them.’ Proverbs 17:11

Solomon says that evildoers will find evil, it will come to them, Matthew 26:52 / Galatians 6:7-8.

‘Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly.’ Proverbs 17:12

Solomon is teaching us that there is great danger in the presence of a fool.

‘Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good.’ Proverbs 17:13

We do truly reap what you have sown, Proverbs 13:21 / Galatians 6:7-8. David especially experienced the second part of this verse, 1 Samuel 25:21.

‘Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so, drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.’ Proverbs 17:14

This is good advice concerning quarrels, stop them before they start! If not the ‘dam will break’ and irreparable damage will be done.

‘Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—the LORD detests them both.’ Proverbs 17:15

The background to this verse is legal proceedings, God hates injustice of any kind, Proverbs 6:16-19 / Isaiah 10:1-3.

‘Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?’ Proverbs 17:16

A university student has their tuition money in their hand but it will do no good if they lack the ability and discipline to learn how to use it wisely.

‘A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.’ Proverbs 17:17

Are friends and brothers a parallel here? If so, real friendship has a strong and enduring quality, even during crises, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. What is the greatest evidence of friendship? Loyalty and sacrifice, John 15:13.

‘One who has no sense shakes hands in pledge and puts up security for a neighbour. Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin; whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.’ Proverbs 17:18-19

This is all about common sense, the person who builds their gate is a sign of someone who is proud and relies on their own strength, Ephesians 6:10.

‘One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper; one whose tongue is perverse falls into trouble.’ Proverbs 17:20

Solomon is saying that there is nothing pure in people with corrupt hearts, they make everything dirty.

‘To have a fool for a child brings grief; there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool.’ Proverbs 17:21

This verse along with Proverbs 17:6 gives the two sides of parenthood, joy and sorrow.

‘A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. The wicked accept bribes in secret to pervert the course of justice.’ Proverbs 17:22-23

There’s nothing like hanging around with people who make us laugh, they make us feel good. On the other hand, when we spend time with others who are always, complaining and moaning about something, this can become disheartening.

Solomon says that anyone who accepts a bribe, Proverbs 17:8, or accepts a bribe is wicked, especially if the bribe is used to pervert the course of justice.

‘A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.’ Proverbs 17:24

Solomon here is speaking about how wisdom comes to the person who is able to concentrate and stay focused. They are able to give their attention to the task.

Is there anything wrong with having dreams and expectations? No, as long as we don’t try and put them before God, 1 John 5:14.

‘A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the mother who bore him.’ Proverbs 17:25

The idea behind this verse is that the parents of the child may wish they had never brought their child into the world.

‘If imposing a fine on the innocent is not good, surely to flog honest officials is not right.’ Proverbs 17:26

The lesson here is very clear, we must never condemn an innocent person, Matthew 27:19 / Revelation 6:10-11.

‘The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.’ Proverbs 17:27-28

Once again, we’re reminded to think before we speak! An even-tempered person is a composed, controlled person who is able to deal with emotional issues. Intelligence is like a river; the deeper it flows the less noise it makes.

This is ironic humour. Even fools can come across as wise if they will remain quiet. The lesson I simple enough, do not talk so much.

What are the benefits of saying nothing? Sometimes we have nothing worthwhile to say, but the real benefits are that we can listen and learn. This helps to make us wise.

‘My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.’ James 1:19

Go To Proverbs 18


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."