Proverbs 20


‘Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise. A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion; those who anger him forfeit their lives.’ Proverbs 20:1-2

From Drunkards To Gossipers

Is drinking wine or beer sinful? Yes/No Why? When does it become sinful? It becomes sinful when it leads to drunkenness. It’s not wise to get drunk because we cannot act wisely when we are drunk. Drunkenness is a symptom of overindulgence and a loss of self-discipline.

The roar of a lion is very frightening to people, likewise, those who are drunk are very frightening to people. The normal use of wine on festal occasions was accepted, Proverbs 3:9-10 / Psalm 104:14-15.

But there were constant warnings concerning its use, Amos 6:6 / Hosea 7:5 / Ephesians 5:18. Wisdom teachers know of its dangers, Proverbs 23:29-30.

‘It is to one’s honour to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. Sluggards do not plough in season; so, at harvest time they look but find nothing.’ Proverbs 20:3-4

It is a characteristic of the sluggard that they don’t work when they are supposed to, but they look for a harvest of crops anyway. They know what they want but lack the energy and planning in order to obtain it.

What kind of people would you call a sluggard in today’s society? Someone at college who doesn’t study but still wants the certificate. Someone who wants a new car but doesn’t save up for it.

‘The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.’ Proverbs 20:5

Deepwater isn’t easily seen or grasped but those who draw it out, have the ability to do so.

‘Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?’ Proverbs 20:6

True friendship is rare but many people have many superficial friends.

‘The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.’ Proverbs 20:7

Children will be blessed if their parents live godly lives because they receive the benefits of their parent’s characters.

‘When a king sits on his throne to judge, he winnows out all evil with his eyes.’ Proverbs 20:8

Those in authority sift out the evidence of the legal cases before them in order to make the right judgment.

‘Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin?’ Proverbs 20:9

The answer to these questions is simply, no one, Romans 3:23 / 1 John 1:8.

‘Differing weights and differing measures—the LORD detests them both. Even small children are known by their actions, so is their conduct really pure and upright?’ Proverbs 20:10-11

Verbal professions and external appearances are not decisive. Performance is essential and this again is a very good verse for us to put into practice today.

‘Ears that hear and eyes that see—the LORD has made them both. Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.’ Proverbs 20:12-13

When we use our ears and eyes properly, we have the necessities of life. Wisdom teachers were early risers and were concerned about sleeping too much.

‘It’s no good, it’s no good!’ says the buyer—then goes off and boasts about the purchase. Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.’ Proverbs 20:14-15

Here again, we’re reminded that wisdom is worth more than any wealth, Proverbs 3:15-16.

‘Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger; hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.’ Proverbs 20:16

This could have two meanings.

1. The lender is advised to be stricter with forgiveness than with Israelites, Exodus 22:26-27 / Deuteronomy 15:1-3.

2. If you are dealing with a person who is a bad credit risk, particularly if they are liable for debts of forgiveness, get security for yourself, i.e. take their garments.

‘Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel.’ Proverbs 20:17

The satisfaction of dishonesty may be sweet for a while, but it does not last.

‘Plans are established by seeking advice; so, if you wage war, obtain guidance.’ Proverbs 20:18

No one should try to conduct a military campaign by themselves, they need the counsel and guidance of others.

‘A gossip betrays a confidence; so, avoid anyone who talks too much.’ Proverbs 20:19

The tale-bearer will not keep confidences, so do not associate with him.

‘If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.’ Proverbs 20:20

Interestingly, this says nothing about legal punishment and the person who curses their parents will bring an appropriate punishment upon themselves, Exodus 21:17 / Leviticus 20:9.

‘An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end. Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.’ Proverbs 20:21-22

This is simply saying that personal retaliation is not up to man, Romans 12:17.

‘The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him. A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way?’ Proverbs 20:23-24

Different weights refer to cheating and dishonesty. We may never understand why someone would want to cheat on us but the point is, God does, so we shouldn’t worry about finding out why but just trust God to take care of it.

‘It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows.’ Proverbs 20:25

We should count the cost before we commit ourselves or our property to God. Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 / Deuteronomy 23:21-23 / Matthew 5:33-37. In Judges 11 Jephthah made a rash vow when he told God he would sacrifice as a burnt offering the first thing which came out of his house which turned out to be his daughter, Judges 11:30-40.

‘A wise king winnows out the wicked; he drives the threshing wheel over them. The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.’ Proverbs 20:26-27

There are a couple of meanings in these verses.

1. Man is made in God’s image and functions like Him.

2. Nothing is hidden from divine scrutiny.

‘Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure.’ Proverbs 20:28

The king needs the support of the people and he himself must manifest these same qualities.

‘The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendour of the old.’ Proverbs 20:29

Young men are generally stronger than older men but the beauty of old age is, unfortunately, a lost element today.

‘Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.’ Proverbs 20:30

This is simply saying that corporal punishment is good for our character.

‘No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.’ Hebrews 12:11

Go To Proverbs 21


"Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."