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There is, within every man, a deep desire to do what is right, a longing to navigate all of life’s adventures with a clear understanding of what is at stake and the best path forward towards victory. Aboard a vessel thrown among the waves of sin, every man encounters an absence within themselves that can only be filled through the deposit of wisdom. 

Living well, as it turns out, is no easy feat. 

The book of Proverbs enters our lives as a gift, given freely by our Heavenly Father through Solomon, Lemuel, Agur, and the men of Hezekiah. Its pages contain God’s divine wisdom translated through story, illustration, admonishment, and encouragement. Proverbs is, in its way, a map, reaching out to us from 500 years before the likes of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle as if to say, 

Follow me, and live well.” 

As human beings, not one of us could hope to take hold of that calling to perfection, and so the book before you now is not one of condemnation or judgment. Instead, this collection of ancient Proverbs and current reflections is built to remind you that through the righteous life, sacrifice, and resurrection of Jesus, you have been given the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, by which you may pursue His wisdom perfected. 






About this devotional

There is, within every man, a deep desire to do what is right, a longing to navigate all of life’s adventures with a clear understanding of what is at stake and the best path forward towards victory. Aboard a vessel thrown among the waves of sin, every man encounters an absence within themselves that can only be filled through the deposit of wisdom. 

Living well, as it turns out, is no easy feat. 

The book of Proverbs enters our lives as a gift, given freely by our Heavenly Father through Solomon, Lemuel, Agur, and the men of Hezekiah. Its pages contain God’s divine wisdom translated through story, illustration, admonishment, and encouragement. Proverbs is, in its way, a map, reaching out to us from 500 years before the likes of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle as if to say, 

Follow me, and live well.” 

As human beings, not one of us could hope to take hold of that calling to perfection, and so the book before you now is not one of condemnation or judgment. Instead, this collection of ancient Proverbs and current reflections is built to remind you that through the righteous life, sacrifice, and resurrection of Jesus, you have been given the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, by which you may pursue His wisdom perfected. 

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The PROVERBS for Men

31-day devotional with Fight Club


Day 02


The Way of God

Day 03


The Father’s Delight

Day 04


It's Simple Really

Day 05


Proximity Matters

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

for gaining wisdom and instruction;
    for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
    doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
    the sayings and riddles of the wise.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head
    and a chain to adorn your neck.

10 My son, if sinful men entice you,
    do not give in to them.
11 If they say, “Come along with us;
    let’s lie in wait for innocent blood,
    let’s ambush some harmless soul;
12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave,
    and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we will get all sorts of valuable things
    and fill our houses with plunder;
14 cast lots with us;
    we will all share the loot”—
15 my son, do not go along with them,
    do not set foot on their paths;
16 for their feet rush into evil,
    they are swift to shed blood.
17 How useless to spread a net
    where every bird can see it!
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;
    they ambush only themselves!
19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
    it takes away the life of those who get it.

20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
    she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall[d] she cries out,
    at the city gate she makes her speech:

22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
    How long will mockers delight in mockery
    and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
    Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
    I will make known to you my teachings.
24 But since you refuse to listen when I call
    and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
    and do not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
    I will mock when calamity overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
    when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
    when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
    they will look for me but will not find me,
29 since they hated knowledge
    and did not choose to fear the Lord.
30 Since they would not accept my advice
    and spurned my rebuke,
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways
    and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
    and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
    and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

Provbers 1


The book of Proverbs candidly opens with your reason for being here, a set of explanations of the outcomes that await you if you stay the course and root this wisdom deep in your heart.

You will:

Gain wisdom and instruction for understanding words of insight.
Receive instructions for prudent behavior, a how-to guide for doing what is just and fair.
Learn to give prudence to those who look to you for it.
Learn to listen.
Deepen your ability to understand Proverbs and Parables.

And yet, even with all those promised benefits, Solomon immediately pivots, personifying Wisdom as a woman with a warning. Pay close attention and watch as Lady Wisdom echoes Solomon’s declaration at the start of the book. See how she gets right to the heart of the matter:

How commonly do we as men wait to seek the wisdom of God until something has gone wrong?

“How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?” she asks, warning us that the time to ask for forgiveness and guidance has passed us time and time again.

Our preoccupation with going our own way while things are good is nothing new to Wisdom. She’s seen it billions of times, and the consequences have been dire. Those who do not choose to fear the Lord have been met with silence when “calamity overtakes you like a storm.”

This way of living, where one could find themselves thrashed about by whatever circumstance comes their way, is not the way God desires His sons to live. Today, Wisdom is eagerly pointing us to a life built soundly on the advice of the Lord.

The way forward? Repent of your wandering and ask earnestly for God’s guidance. You are not too far gone, and no mistake is unredeemable through the power of God. Heed Wisdom’s call today, and let today be your first step lit by the lantern of God’s divine wisdom.

Lord, I’m grateful for this wake-up call today. I’m thankful that You are kind enough to remind me to leave my old ways behind. I’m grateful that You invite me to ask for Your thoughts and teachings and that You promise to give them freely. I don’t want to make my way through life confident in Christ but arrogant in my abilities, eventually crumbling under the weight of circumstance. Today, I choose to fear the Lord, to marvel at Your surpassing knowledge, and I ask You to light my path.

My son, if you accept my words
    and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
    and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
    and understanding will guard you.

12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
    from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
    to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
    and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
    and who are devious in their ways.

16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
    from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
17 who has left the partner of her youth
    and ignored the covenant she made before God.[a]
18 Surely her house leads down to death
    and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
19 None who go to her return
    or attain the paths of life.

20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will live in the land,
    and the blameless will remain in it;
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
    and the unfaithful will be torn from it.

Proverbs 2


How beautiful is it that the second Proverb opens with, “My son.”

It’s a simple reminder that the wisdom we pursue is not cold or distant but instead the familial advice of a loving father. God’s wisdom is divine, and His purpose is perfect. This, of course, cannot always be said about our fathers here on Earth, and that’s ok because through the grace of God, we who have put our faith in Jesus now have access to the kind of instruction that is not always given by fallible men.

Take, for example, “the shortcut.”

There was a time, a time before Google Maps, before Apple Maps drove you into a lake, or before you printed off directions from MapQuest and followed them in reverse to get home. There was a time before all of this when you would hear your dad say the most terrifying words imaginable:

“I know a shortcut.”

The “secret back way,” the “way no one else knows…” every dad seemed to have one, and all of them never quite worked the way they were supposed to.

Directions are like that, though. They can be rendered useful or not based on unpredictable circumstances like traffic or construction.

But not God’s directions.

In Proverbs 2, we see clear directions towards living a life full of knowledge that glorifies God with our choices and protects us from falling into the pits that so easily take us off course. Here God implores us to take total stock of the people we have allowed to speak direction over our lives. Have we handed over the steering wheel to anyone who does not have God’s intention at heart? Have we surrendered the wayfinding of our days to men or women whose end goals are their own objectives?

God’s gift to us is the understanding of right and wrong that we will need to walk justly before Him and to turn away from those who would try to distract us. Have we heeded the warnings that gift has thrown our way about certain relationships? Have we paid attention to the small voice of wisdom longing to guide us towards a Spirit-led life? As Jesus-followers, we are called to be light in the lives of people who are wandering, but there is a difference between walking alongside someone and letting them lead the way.

Thank God that He freely gives us this wisdom. Because of Him, we are not left to wander through life trusting in our ability to make the right decisions. God will lead us every day.

Lord, today I humble myself before You. You say that You will give wisdom if I ask for it, so I ask for it now. I need Your understanding every day. Please help me to see where You want me to go, the choices You want me to make, and protect my way that I might be found faithful.

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
    and bring you peace and prosperity.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
    in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
    and nourishment to your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
    and your vats will brim over with new wine.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    as a father the son he delights in.

13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
    those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
    and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
    and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
    those who hold her fast will be blessed.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
    by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
    and the clouds let drop the dew.

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
    and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
    or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side
    and will keep your foot from being snared.

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
    when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
    “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
    when you already have it with you.
29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
    who lives trustfully near you.
30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
    when they have done you no harm.

31 Do not envy the violent
    or choose any of their ways.

32 For the Lord detests the perverse
    but takes the upright into his confidence.
33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
    but he blesses the home of the righteous.
34 He mocks proud mockers
    but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.
35 The wise inherit honor,
    but fools get only shame.

Proverbs 3


What is the end goal of this exercise? Why put in the time to read these Proverbs, reflect on them, and share those reflections with other men in your life? Let’s look at what God is offering for His sons if we keep His teachings close, and heed his Words:

“Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and men.”

A good name in the sight of God… what could be more beautiful? When each of us and all that we own is destined to return to dust, what could be more important than the quality of our name in standing with God?

And so, with our goal in mind, how do we achieve it? How do we move through life, learning from our mistakes and becoming more and more like the One we seek to honor?

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
Proverbs 3:11-12

Discipline. There may not be a word that evokes a wider variety of responses based on our individual experiences with it.

For some of us, just reading the words sends a shiver down our spine. For others, it elicits that feeling in your stomach that comes with shame, and still, others of us reflect on our own experience as the giverof discipline now that we are working to raise children of our own. Most, if not all, of the varying reactions to the word discipline, can be traced back to the actions of an authority figure in our lives: a parent, a teacher, a mentor—someone who proved to us that discipline was a punishment reserved for mistakes or an empty threat to be ignored.

But not with God.

God is our perfect Father. He is not swayed to emotional outbursts or responses born out of revenge, selfishness, or exhaustion. His discipline is a result of His Love and Holiness. He created you, and He loves you, and because of that, He won’t settle for you making the kind of mistakes that would separate you from Him.

Proverbs 3 illuminates this graciousness of God’s character. Look at how enamored God is with you as His son, how He longs for you to soak up all of the wisdom He is offering. Your heavenly Father knows that gaining that understanding is the way towards the life He is showing you, one that far surpasses anything you could create for yourself. His hand of discipline is always there, leading you back towards this life when you stray. Thank God that it is.

Lord, thank You for Your discipline. Please help me to say that daily and to mean it. Teach me to see the pathways I have chosen to walk that lead me away from You and to find joy in Your hand guiding me back. Teach me the lessons of wisdom from these wanderings, that I may see them coming in the future and choose the God-path instead.

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
    pay attention and gain understanding.
I give you sound learning,
    so do not forsake my teaching.
For I too was a son to my father,
    still tender, and cherished by my mother.
Then he taught me, and he said to me,
    “Take hold of my words with all your heart;
    keep my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
    love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get[a] wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have,[b] get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
    embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
    and present you with a glorious crown.”

10 Listen, my son, accept what I say,
    and the years of your life will be many.
11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom
    and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
    when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
    guard it well, for it is your life.
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
    or walk in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
    turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot rest until they do evil;
    they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness
    and drink the wine of violence.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
    they do not know what makes them stumble.

20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4


Four days into the book of Proverbs and we are starting to see how clear a picture Solomon is trying to paint us. There is almost nothing more worthwhile in this world than the pursuit of wisdom. Wisdom protects us from the attacks of the enemy; it guides us away from the schemes of men and leads us to the place where righteousness and holiness are found. Simply said, wisdom is the key to a fruitful and purposeful life.

So, how do we start? What is the first step down this beautiful path that we all desire? Again, Solomon resorts to brevity to drive his point home.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.

That’s it. If you long for wisdom, then begin accumulating it. Are you frustrated by his answer? Don’t be; there are steps to take, namely one. Look at these first four Proverbs, at how often we are commanded to LISTEN. See how we are told that the Lord gives us wisdom FREELY. Each command promises that if we pay attention to the Lord, the understanding will be there for our benefit.

It’s simple; save one question.

What are you willing to sacrifice to obey that command?

We live in a time where almost anything you need, you can buy and have shipped to your house in less than seven days. The idea of sacrificing one thing to gain another is almost foreign to us. And now more than ever, we give our attention away at an unprecedented rate and dangerously cheap. Our heads are turned by every tweet, every headline, each voice clambering to be just a bit louder than the one before. But are they leading us to wisdom?

Are you willing to sacrifice the fraudulent voices of pleasure in order to hear from God?

Choosing to tune them out and wholly listen to God is not a passive action, for the Lord has made one thing evident in these first four Proverbs: Wisdom comes only from His mouth and His mouth alone.

So, are you willing to pay the cost asked of you to hear Him? Are you up to the challenge to lay aside the things you would rather hear, the things that line up with your opinions or your desires? Are you willing to trade something that might sound good for the things of God that are best?

Lord, tune my ears to what You have for me. Help me set aside the “wisdom” the world is peddling and subscribe wholeheartedly to focusing my attention on Your Word and Your Holy Spirit.

My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
    turn your ear to my words of insight,
that you may maintain discretion
    and your lips may preserve knowledge.
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
    and her speech is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is bitter as gall,
    sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
    her steps lead straight to the grave.
She gives no thought to the way of life;
    her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.

Now then, my sons, listen to me;
    do not turn aside from what I say.
Keep to a path far from her,
    do not go near the door of her house,
lest you lose your honor to others
    and your dignity[a] to one who is cruel,
10 lest strangers feast on your wealth
    and your toil enrich the house of another.
11 At the end of your life you will groan,
    when your flesh and body are spent.
12 You will say, “How I hated discipline!
    How my heart spurned correction!
13 I would not obey my teachers
    or turn my ear to my instructors.
14 And I was soon in serious trouble
    in the assembly of God’s people.”

15 Drink water from your own cistern,
    running water from your own well.
16 Should your springs overflow in the streets,
    your streams of water in the public squares?
17 Let them be yours alone,
    never to be shared with strangers.
18 May your fountain be blessed,
    and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
    may her breasts satisfy you always,
    may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife?
    Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?

21 For your ways are in full view of the Lord,
    and he examines all your paths.
22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them;
    the cords of their sins hold them fast.
23 For lack of discipline they will die,
    led astray by their own great folly.

Proverbs 5


It felt like quicksand would be a bigger problem in day-to-day life. 

Everything from movies, to books, to school, made it seem like the knowledge to keep still and wait for help rather than thrashing around in a pit of sinking sand was going to come in handy a few times a year. We can’t account for everyone reading this, but at least around here, we have yet to put this valuable survival skill into practice.

Interestingly, though, while we seemed to have all been trained at one point or another in escaping a slow and gritty demise, very few of us could identify quicksand if we stumbled upon it. All these years later, we have to ask, wouldn’t teaching us to avoid it be just as important as escaping it?

In the first four Proverbs, we were introduced to wisdom personified through Lady Wisdom, a walking, talking, personification of the beauty and guidance God offers us through His freely available understanding. Proverbs 5 introduces a new character in the story. Foolishness arrives on the scene, coupled with a warning: Keep a path far from her.

You see, Foolishness is out to destroy you. Like the enemy, she is constantly on the prowl working to seduce you away from the things of God, from Wisdom, and much like the quicksand traps of our cinematic childhood, you can get stuck before you even know it.

Look at verses 8-9, a dire warning against any proximity to this adulterous woman. Just wandering close to her door due to curiosity or intrigue can cause you to forsake your dignity and lose all that God has meant for you.

The lie is that we can dip our toes into ruin and somehow stop ourselves from drowning in it. 

Avoiding the quicksand of temptation is critical. It requires us to walk with our eyes up and to be attentive to what is happening around us, lest a lack of discipline leads us down the path of destruction.

If you find yourself at the door of Foolishness today, remember back to Proverbs one and rejoice. Let today be a reminder to turn from that wicked door and run towards Wisdom. All God is asking of you is to repent, acknowledge your sin, and ask forgiveness, and then He will pour out His blessed thoughts upon you and make His ways your ways. The cost is too great to wait lest you walk even one more step towards the snares of wickedness.

Lord, today we remember the times we have grown curious of sin and wandered close to the door of temptation, of the times we walked through that door. We ask for Your forgiveness and purification that Your thoughts and ways would transform our own.

My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
    if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,
you have been trapped by what you said,
    ensnared by the words of your mouth.
So do this, my son, to free yourself,
    since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:
Go—to the point of exhaustion—[a]
    and give your neighbor no rest!
Allow no sleep to your eyes,
    no slumber to your eyelids.
Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
    like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

Go to the ant, you sluggard;
    consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
    no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
    and gathers its food at harvest.

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
    When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 and poverty will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man.

12 A troublemaker and a villain,
    who goes about with a corrupt mouth,
13     who winks maliciously with his eye,
    signals with his feet
    and motions with his fingers,
14     who plots evil with deceit in his heart—
    he always stirs up conflict.
15 Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant;
    he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.

16 There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
17         haughty eyes,
        a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,
18         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19         a false witness who pours out lies
        and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Warning Against Adultery

20 My son, keep your father’s command
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
21 Bind them always on your heart;
    fasten them around your neck.
22 When you walk, they will guide you;
    when you sleep, they will watch over you;
    when you awake, they will speak to you.
23 For this command is a lamp,
    this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
    are the way to life,
24 keeping you from your neighbor’s wife,
    from the smooth talk of a wayward woman.

25 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty
    or let her captivate you with her eyes.

26 For a prostitute can be had for a loaf of bread,
    but another man’s wife preys on your very life.
27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap
    without his clothes being burned?
28 Can a man walk on hot coals
    without his feet being scorched?
29 So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife;
    no one who touches her will go unpunished.

30 People do not despise a thief if he steals
    to satisfy his hunger when he is starving.
31 Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold,
    though it costs him all the wealth of his house.
32 But a man who commits adultery has no sense;
    whoever does so destroys himself.
33 Blows and disgrace are his lot,
    and his shame will never be wiped away.

34 For jealousy arouses a husband’s fury,
    and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.
35 He will not accept any compensation;
    he will refuse a bribe, however great it is.

Proverbs 6


The Sixth Proverb has a lot going on. There are warnings against taking on a friend’s debt, what to do if such debt traps you, a few words on the value of hard work, and the dangers of laziness. Proverbs Six also contains:

  • A list of seven things the Lord hates.
  • The destiny of a wicked man.
  • An alarm against adultery.

So, where do we even start? What throughline connects all of the wisdom presented to us by Solomon?

Let’s look at verses 20-24:

My son, keep your Father’s command

    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

Bind them always on your heart;

    fasten them around your neck.

When you walk, they will guide you;

    when you sleep, they will watch over you;

    when you awake, they will speak to you.

For this command is a lamp,

    this teaching is a light,

and correction and instruction

    are the way to life,

keeping you from your neighbor’s wife,

    from the smooth talk of a wayward woman.

While this section of Scripture focuses on Solomon’s warning against adultery, there is a field guide tucked in here to help you avoid the rest of the snares listed in the text. Back in Proverbs Four, we counted all of the times we had already been instructed to LISTEN, and now we realize the importance of keeping what we have heard at the forefront of our minds. How do we avoid falling into the trap of debt? How do we climb our way out of such a misguided trap once we’ve fallen in? How do we internalize the discipline of hard work and fight against the natural urge to give in to laziness? How do we move through life without succumbing to the temptations that would lead us to the seven things the Lord hates? How do we even elude the seduction of sexual sin?

The answer is the same across the board.

We keep the teachings that have been handed down close and let them illuminate the paths we choose of correction and instruction. You may not have grown up in a home where God’s Word was taught, you may not have even had a parent who taught you to live morally, but here’s the good news: in your hands right now is all the wisdom your Heavenly Father wants to impart on you to live a whole and honorable life. Pay careful attention to it, and don’t be persuaded to give even a fraction of it away. Solomon says it this way,

“Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?”

Sins like adultery, lying, pride, wickedness, scheming, fomenting conflict, and violence are too costly to leave unattended. Their danger requires a prompt response when we realize we have given in to our sinful nature.

Whichever section of Proverbs Six lands heaviest on your heart today, pay attention to that and thank God that He has met you once again right where you need Him most. Heed His wisdom today, and ask His help to make the necessary changes, admissions, and amends as your heart becomes more and more like your Heavenly Father’s.

Lord God, thank You. Thank You that You have not left me on my own to live a life according to my desires and decisions. Thank You for once again pouring Your wisdom out freely like You said You would. You know the ways I run from You the most. Help me to see those traps before I find myself in them, and by Your power, to avoid them.

My son, keep my words
    and store up my commands within you.
Keep my commands and you will live;
    guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
    and to insight, “You are my relative.”
They will keep you from the adulterous woman,
    from the wayward woman with her seductive words.

At the window of my house
    I looked down through the lattice.
I saw among the simple,
    I noticed among the young men,
    a youth who had no sense.
He was going down the street near her corner,
    walking along in the direction of her house
at twilight, as the day was fading,
    as the dark of night set in.

10 Then out came a woman to meet him,
    dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.
11 (She is unruly and defiant,
    her feet never stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the squares,
    at every corner she lurks.)
13 She took hold of him and kissed him
    and with a brazen face she said:

14 “Today I fulfilled my vows,
    and I have food from my fellowship offering at home.
15 So I came out to meet you;
    I looked for you and have found you!
16 I have covered my bed
    with colored linens from Egypt.
17 I have perfumed my bed
    with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
18 Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning;
    let’s enjoy ourselves with love!
19 My husband is not at home;
    he has gone on a long journey.
20 He took his purse filled with money
    and will not be home till full moon.”

21 With persuasive words she led him astray;
    she seduced him with her smooth talk.
22 All at once he followed her
    like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer[a] stepping into a noose[b]
23     till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
    little knowing it will cost him his life.

24 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
    pay attention to what I say.
25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways
    or stray into her paths.
26 Many are the victims she has brought down;
    her slain are a mighty throng.
27 Her house is a highway to the grave,
    leading down to the chambers of death.

Proverbs 7


Are you paying attention?

Perhaps the question is familiar. Maybe you’re prone to daydreaming or even zoning out in the middle of a conversation. A lapse in focus can usually be harmless, but in the wrong circumstance, even a momentary failure to see what is happening can be disastrous.

The ‘woman’ pictured in Proverbs 7 represents the temptation of lust which, of course, manifests itself in more than just adultery. Solomon mentions the roaming adulteress because it was most likely the taboo, relatable example of the day. In our day, you will most likely find this temptation luring online or through a co-worker before you’d ever come across a modern-day Delilah.

The author, in poetic fashion, describes the process of pursuing what is initially enticing as a lethal trap. It may be why, later on in Scripture, the author of James writes, “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.” (Jas. 1:14-16).

Translation: sin, especially sexual sin, feels exciting to our flesh at the outset and can be overpowering if we are not focused on its eventual result: death.

Ben Stuart calls it “paddling downstream.” If you are at the outset of sexual sin, the place where you can feel the temptation gaining ground in your mind, allow your mind to take you past the momentary pleasure to the eventual outcome. There, you’ll see the shame and guilt that we’ve all experienced after such a lapse in judgment. When you do, you can harness that realization to stop you from giving in to the temptation in the first place.

Healthy desires may lead you to fantasize, but each of us has to be on guard against allowing that fantasy to lead us to do something we will regret. While they are alluring and convincing, there is only shame and frustration after the fact.

So often, we have been told that sexual sin is unavoidable as men, but that is not the way of God. Equip yourself by memorizing His truth, surrounding yourself with godly men, and preparing yourself in advance. The best defense, in this case, is an offense. If you are on His path, you will not be on sin’s path. Live so aggressively for the Kingdom that your defenses never take a hit. Do not let your heart turn to ‘her ways.’ Notice that it is a matter of allowing and that the ways are plural. There is more than one way to destruction, but they all begin with the belief in the lie, “It’s worth it.”

Father, keep us from the path that leads to death. Use the men in our lives to keep us on course. Use Your Word to remind us of what is good. And may we be so intensely passionate about Your mission that we see worldly pleasures as trivial and sin as an undesirable distraction. Amen.

Does not wisdom call out?
    Does not understanding raise her voice?
At the highest point along the way,
    where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
beside the gate leading into the city,
    at the entrance, she cries aloud:
“To you, O people, I call out;
    I raise my voice to all mankind.
You who are simple, gain prudence;
    you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.[a]
Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;
    I open my lips to speak what is right.
My mouth speaks what is true,
    for my lips detest wickedness.
All the words of my mouth are just;
    none of them is crooked or perverse.
To the discerning all of them are right;
    they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,
    knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
    and nothing you desire can compare with her.

12 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
    I possess knowledge and discretion.
13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
    I hate pride and arrogance,
    evil behavior and perverse speech.
14 Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
    I have insight, I have power.
15 By me kings reign
    and rulers issue decrees that are just;
16 by me princes govern,
    and nobles—all who rule on earth.[b]
17 I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me find me.
18 With me are riches and honor,
    enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than fine gold;
    what I yield surpasses choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
    along the paths of justice,
21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me
    and making their treasuries full.

22 “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,[c][d]
    before his deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago,
    at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,
    when there were no springs overflowing with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
    before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the world or its fields
    or any of the dust of the earth.
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
    when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
    and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
    so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30     Then I was constantly[e] at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
    rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
    and delighting in mankind.

32 “Now then, my children, listen to me;
    blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
    do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
    watching daily at my doors,
    waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
    and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
    all who hate me love death.”

Proverbs 8


Written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus, the poem, “The New Colossus,” was once memorized by schoolchildren across the United States. Not unlike the Gettysburg address, boys and girls would stand and recite the famous Statue of Liberty’s poem until at least the final stanza made its way into the cultural zeitgeist of America:

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Like the original colossus before her, the Statue of Liberty has towered as a declaration of welcome, a larger-than-life symbol that what you were about to enter was different than what you previously knew.

Proverbs 8 tells a similar story, one of Wisdom’s position at the entrance to a city with a message to convey. But while the Colossus at Rhodes and the Statue of Liberty were imagined with human minds and constructed with human hands, Lady Wisdom’s beginning is of a much more ancient origin, brought forth by much more powerful hands.

Why does this matter to us? Why does Solomon transition immediately from warning us about the disadvantages of sexual sin into the tremendous, divine history of Wisdom? Perhaps it is because we are fickle creatures, too easily swayed by the allure of the new and now. We fall in love easily and out even more quickly. We know it, and God certainly knows it. Our attention must then be called entirely to something far more ever-lasting than ourselves.

The Colossus at Rhodes was a marvel of the world and yet only stood for 54 years. The Statue of Liberty has only endured for 135 years. Wisdom was brought forth by the Lord as one of His first works, formed before the creation of the watery depths that would eventually take shape and become the Earth. She was there before the mountains settled and before the hills emerged. She was before we were, constantly at God’s side, rejoicing in His presence and eventually delighting in His creation, Humanity.

No human mind imagined this Wisdom who is calling out to us today, and she certainly was not created by human hands.

So when you read her words today, when the ancient path to a God-fearing and prosperous life is laid out in front of you on the page, heed her call. Rejoice that God is sharing this eternity-old wisdom with you freely, that he is doting on you as a devoted Father who wants nothing more than to bless His child.

Lord God, Ancient of Days, thank You. Thank You that You see me, know me, and still love me so thoroughly that You are giving me the wisdom to live a life worthy of being called Yours. I bless Your Name, God, You who deserve all my affection and attention. Please return my eyes to You and my feet to Your path when I am prone to wander. Help me to turn away from the cries for attention thrown by the wind of a desperate and dying world. 

Wisdom has built her house;
    she has set up[a] its seven pillars.
She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;
    she has also set her table.
She has sent out her servants, and she calls
    from the highest point of the city,
    “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
    “Come, eat my food
    and drink the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways and you will live;
    walk in the way of insight.”

Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
    whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
    rebuke the wise and they will love you.
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
    teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For through wisdom[b] your days will be many,
    and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
    if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

13 Folly is an unruly woman;
    she is simple and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house,
    on a seat at the highest point of the city,
15 calling out to those who pass by,
    who go straight on their way,
16     “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
17     “Stolen water is sweet;
    food eaten in secret is delicious!”
18 But little do they know that the dead are there,
    that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.

Proverbs 9


Life is full of prerequisites. Before you can drive a car, you have to have a driver’s license. Before you can have a driver’s license, you have to pass a driving test. Before taking your driving test, you have to reach a certain age.

There is a consistent theme through the book of Proverbs, found here in Proverbs 9: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, with the Hebrew word תְּחִלָּה translating to “beginning,” or “first.”

The prerequisite for wisdom is the fear of the Lord. 

When was the last time you sat in awe of something? It doesn’t happen often. We travel thousands of miles in soaring metal tubes and talk to one another instantly no matter how great the distance, and we easily take these things for granted. Perhaps it’s easier to discover awe standing atop the Grand Canyon, or at the base of a mountain, or even in the center of Times Square for the first time, but how quickly does even that sensation become average?

We need to reclaim that feeling of wonder. To be entirely overcome by how small you are compared to the mighty thing before you. This feeling is as close a translation to what Proverbs calls “fear.”

So, let’s drill down on this. What does it look like for the foundation of your life to be the fear of the Lord? 

It means your first thought in the morning is of God. “I am standing in awe of the Lord of Hosts.

It means that when you face something difficult, you marvel that on your side is the Rock of Ages.

It means seeing the people around you as woven creations, formed by the same Maker who knit the fabric of time.

Once our lives are rooted in this fear of the Lord, then we’ve met the prerequisite for wisdom because it colors everything. 

  • How would carrying this wonder affect your decision-making?
  • How would being grounded in the Word affect your thoughts?
  • How actively would you then pursue peace?
  • How quickly would you exchange your selfish ways for the generous ways of God?

Consider these questions, and ask God to reveal to you where you have lost the sense of awe and wonder that being in a relationship with Him should bring.

God, I struggle to express the feeling it is to be in Your presence with words. Thank You that You give me an eternity to try. I humbly praise You for how You are in the big picture and the details. Give me eyes to see how You’re working and the perspective needed to realize the gift it is to be woven into Your story and be a piece of Your creation. Help me today to catch the wonder and awe of You. Amen. 

The proverbs of Solomon:

A wise son brings joy to his father,
    but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.

Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value,
    but righteousness delivers from death.

The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry,
    but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

Lazy hands make for poverty,
    but diligent hands bring wealth.

He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,
    but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

Blessings crown the head of the righteous,
    but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.[a]

The name of the righteous is used in blessings,[b]
    but the name of the wicked will rot.

The wise in heart accept commands,
    but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
    but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief,
    and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
    but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

12 Hatred stirs up conflict,
    but love covers over all wrongs.

13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,
    but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.

14 The wise store up knowledge,
    but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
    but poverty is the ruin of the poor.

16 The wages of the righteous is life,
    but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.

17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
    but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips
    and spreads slander is a fool.

19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
    but the prudent hold their tongues.

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
    but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,
    but fools die for lack of sense.

22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,
    without painful toil for it.

23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes,
    but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.

24 What the wicked dread will overtake them;
    what the righteous desire will be granted.

25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
    but the righteous stand firm forever.

26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
    so are sluggards to those who send them.

27 The fear of the Lord adds length to life,
    but the years of the wicked are cut short.

28 The prospect of the righteous is joy,
    but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.

29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless,
    but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

30 The righteous will never be uprooted,
    but the wicked will not remain in the land.

31 From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom,
    but a perverse tongue will be silenced.

32 The lips of the righteous know what finds favor,
    but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

Proverbs 10


“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

What a joke.  

Words matter.

Since the beginning, they have been the tools by which the Great Designer sculpted the Universe and the mechanism by which the deceiver divided creation from Creator. Throughout human history, words have cemented promises of peace and cast entire nations into conflict. It is our words that remain long after we are dust, echoing in the promise and pain we leave behind.

Words matter. 

As our tenth set of Proverbs pivots away from the history of Wisdom herself, its focus settles securely on the personal responsibility we carry daily. After all, what use is it to gain wisdom but hide it from our actions?

Sixteen times in the NIV translation of Proverbs 10, the writer drives the point home, and he will continue to do so for the remainder of the book, explicitly stating in Proverbs 18:

“The Tongue has the power of life and death…”

Think back on your own life. Go as far back or as recently as you want. How many times has the impetus of either a personal celebration or disappointment been the words of another? How often was it something you chose to say that you wish you hadn’t? Examine the conflict in your family or at work. How did words play a part in defusing the situation or blowing it up to an unmanageable state?

The truth is found repeatedly in the text of Proverbs 10; you can bring honor or ruin to yourself and the people around you through your words. 

Perhaps this feels too much, that if you have that kind of power in your mouth, there is far too great a responsibility on you—one you could never hold up. If that thought has occurred to you, you are both correct and fortunate, for there is good news. Look at how Proverbs 10 ends with a promise.

“From the mouth of righteous comes the fruit of wisdom…”

That word “comes,” נוּב can translate to “bringeth forth” – literally, “germinates” as like a plant. You have spent the last nine days asking God for the wisdom to live a life that honors Him, wisdom that He says He will freely give to you. You are investing in a God-fearing life, and that investment brings change to every part of your life, including your words. Thank God for His wisdom today, for His gift. Begin to be patient and particular with your language, inviting the Holy One into even the smallest of comments, and watch how you and the world around you begin to flourish with new life.

God, bless my words today. Help me build others up and not tear them down as I speak. You gave me great power, and I want to honor you with it. Thank You for Your Word that stands infallible. I pray that I would know Your Word, and that it would flow as I engage others. Thank You for the honor it is to be Your child. Amen.

The Lord detests dishonest scales,
    but accurate weights find favor with him.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
    but with humility comes wisdom.

The integrity of the upright guides them,
    but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,
    but righteousness delivers from death.

The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,
    but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.

The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
    but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.

Hopes placed in mortals die with them;
    all the promise of[a] their power comes to nothing.

The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
    and it falls on the wicked instead.

With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
    but through knowledge the righteous escape.

10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
    when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
    but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.

12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
    but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.

13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
    but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,
    but victory is won through many advisers.

15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer,
    but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.

16 A kindhearted woman gains honor,
    but ruthless men gain only wealth.

17 Those who are kind benefit themselves,
    but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.

18 A wicked person earns deceptive wages,
    but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.

19 Truly the righteous attain life,
    but whoever pursues evil finds death.

20 The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse,
    but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
    but those who are righteous will go free.

22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
    is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
    but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
    another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

25 A generous person will prosper;
    whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

26 People curse the one who hoards grain,
    but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.

27 Whoever seeks good finds favor,
    but evil comes to one who searches for it.

28 Those who trust in their riches will fall,
    but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind,
    and the fool will be servant to the wise.

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
    and the one who is wise saves lives.

31 If the righteous receive their due on earth,
    how much more the ungodly and the sinner!

Proverbs 11


“As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself. Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.”

-Nelson Mandela

Integrity is an attractive attribute. Most of us hold on to the definition that insinuates a moral commitment, or strength of character that one either has or does not, a kind of pure determination to do what is right and just no matter the circumstance. Integrity at that point becomes an ingrained attribute, one either genetically passed on or instilled through teaching.

There is a second definition that is usually reserved for the description of a vessel or territory, one that lists integrity as a state of being whole and undivided. Taken to its most absolute conclusion, this idea yields a troubling finding for men who daily fall short of perfection: a thing may lose its integrity if a piece of it is removed.

However, this is not news to those of us journeying through the Proverbs.

We recognize that complete and unbroken faithfulness to the wisdom and ways of God is something we have all forsaken at times, handed over for less valuable conquests, which in time returned nothing but emptiness.

Proverbs 11 addresses this issue head-on and presents us with an opportunity to dig deeper and discover the trustworthy source of integrity we can return to daily. 

Notice how often in the text Solomon draws a direct line from the righteous to their hope, between those who find favor and the source of that blessing. Similarly, he points out the causes of destruction people bring upon themselves. Integrity has a source, and so does ruin.

We have all had moments where we stood among difficulty and held firm, and we have all given in to the temptation to grab what was easy and immoral. The beauty of Proverbs 11 is that integrity ceases to be about our ability to grit our teeth and fend off the urges of sin by our strength.

Remember 2 Corinthians 5:21:

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Through Christ’s sacrifice, we have become the very righteousness of God, and it is that righteousness that delivers us from the attacks of the enemy and completes within us a state of integrity so long as we depend on Him. Break that connection, pursue wealth and power through unjust ways, put your hope in riches, or give in to perversions of the flesh, and the integrity is broken. Thank God then that we have a Savior who restores us and makes all things new.

Examine your own life. Where have you surrendered the complete integrity of wisdom to claim an easier prize? Where have you given in when tempted by lesser rewards? Forgiveness is waiting in repentance, and the path towards a righteous life is before you.

God, I praise You for Your sacrifice. I fully acknowledge my brokenness and the reality that alone, I stand no chance of being good enough to stand before You. But, Jesus. Because of Him, I am allowed to turn from my sinful ways and live a life according to Your calling. I pray for You to break my heart for what breaks Yours. Reveal the things within me that are not of You and help me shed them off. I want to live a life of purity and integrity, in fullness, the way You created. Amen. 

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
    but whoever hates correction is stupid.

Good people obtain favor from the Lord,
    but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.

No one can be established through wickedness,
    but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,
    but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

The plans of the righteous are just,
    but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
    but the speech of the upright rescues them.

The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
    but the house of the righteous stands firm.

A person is praised according to their prudence,
    and one with a warped mind is despised.

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
    than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals,
    but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

11 Those who work their land will have abundant food,
    but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

12 The wicked desire the stronghold of evildoers,
    but the root of the righteous endures.

13 Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk,
    and so the innocent escape trouble.

14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
    and the work of their hands brings them reward.

15 The way of fools seems right to them,
    but the wise listen to advice.

16 Fools show their annoyance at once,
    but the prudent overlook an insult.

17 An honest witness tells the truth,
    but a false witness tells lies.

18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
    but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

19 Truthful lips endure forever,
    but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil,
    but those who promote peace have joy.

21 No harm overtakes the righteous,
    but the wicked have their fill of trouble.

22 The Lord detests lying lips,
    but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves,
    but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.

24 Diligent hands will rule,
    but laziness ends in forced labor.

25 Anxiety weighs down the heart,
    but a kind word cheers it up.

26 The righteous choose their friends carefully,
    but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

27 The lazy do not roast[a] any game,
    but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.

28 In the way of righteousness there is life;
    along that path is immortality.

Proverbs 12


In 1990, the Survey Center on American Life asked over two thousand men to report their number of close friends, not counting relatives. In that study, 40% answered that they had ten or more. Fast forward to 2021, and the percentage of men answering the same question with the same answer is down to 15%. The number responding that they had five close friends is down from 68% to 40%, and the group answering that they have no close friends has increased from 3% to 15%.

By and large, the number of lonely men in the world today is increasing, and here’s the danger in that: living a life pleasing to God and abiding by His wisdom is not a solo venture.

Proverbs 12 pays special attention to the qualities of a man, which result in the favor of the Lord and a prudent life. For 11 Proverbs, we’ve turned these qualities inwards, a mirror against which we can view our own lives to measure them truly. And yet…

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

-African Proverb

As men dedicated to living a life that not only starts well but finishes well, longevity can be a daunting or impossible task. Who could stand the test of time? How many men who stood for Godliness eventually succumb to the ways of living that Proverbs describes as clearly leading to demise? Research enough of these tragedies, or experience them yourself, and here is what you will find: lonely men, lacking Christ-centered community, are likely targets for deceit.

The truth is this: friendships can be challenging to establish and hard to maintain. They require vulnerability and a willingness to be honest about your needs, desires, and worries. The level of intimacy necessary to spur one another on in faithful pursuit of a wisdom-filled life is even more so. Perhaps that’s why Solomon warns us to choose our friends carefully at the end of Proverbs 12.

What would your response to that survey mentioned earlier be? If you answered ten or more, can you use Proverbs 12 as a checklist and know that the men you surround yourself with are leading you towards a God-honoring life? Are there relationships you need to adjust? This can be a difficult task, but remember that those men will play a massive part in shaping the direction of your days.

If your answer is less than five, or even zero, take heart. Knowing the importance of this kind of community can be the first step towards forming it. Who in your world can you begin to cultivate a Jesus-centered friendship with? Who are you reaching out to weekly? Who are you praying for daily? This is the heartbeat of what we call Fight Clubs at Passion City Church. It’s where a small group of men walk alongside each other and help each other live lives after God’s own heart. Ask God to lead you to this kind of community, and be open to the men He wants to bring into your life. The friendships we need most aren’t always the ones we see coming.

Father, lead me toward lasting, sharpening friendships. Surround me with men who love You so that I might be a godly influence to those who don’t. Use the men in my life to keep me on Your path. Amen.

A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,
    but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.

From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things,
    but the unfaithful have an appetite for violence.

Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
    but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

A sluggard’s appetite is never filled,
    but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

The righteous hate what is false,
    but the wicked make themselves a stench
    and bring shame on themselves.

Righteousness guards the person of integrity,
    but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
    another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

A person’s riches may ransom their life,
    but the poor cannot respond to threatening rebukes.

The light of the righteous shines brightly,
    but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.

10 Where there is strife, there is pride,
    but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

11 Dishonest money dwindles away,
    but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

13 Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it,
    but whoever respects a command is rewarded.

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
    turning a person from the snares of death.

15 Good judgment wins favor,
    but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction.[a]

16 All who are prudent act with[b] knowledge,
    but fools expose their folly.

17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
    but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.

18 Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame,
    but whoever heeds correction is honored.

19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
    but fools detest turning from evil.

20 Walk with the wise and become wise,
    for a companion of fools suffers harm.

21 Trouble pursues the sinner,
    but the righteous are rewarded with good things.

22 A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children,
    but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.

23 An unplowed field produces food for the poor,
    but injustice sweeps it away.

24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
    but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content,
    but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

Proverbs 13


Scripture is a guide to life. Because it lays out God’s intended design for His creation, it is a field guide on how we can live our best life. In turn, the more we live our lives in a way that corresponds to Scripture, the more fulfilling our lives will be.

There is no promise of an easier life, as followers of Jesus, nor a safer or more affluent life, but we do live a better life. The best life lived matches up with God’s design for human flourishing. Here’s the tension many of us feel; that flourishing may be vastly different than what we often have in mind. For example, ‘blessed,’ in God’s economy, means rich relationship. It means living purposefully. It means a wealth of resources in Heaven.

Proverbs 13 teaches us that righteousness generally results in satisfaction and fruitfulness, while wickedness results in want and hurt. Deep down, we know this is true. We have seen plenty of prideful people progress toward their fall; we’ve witnessed the Proverb’s accuracy play out in devastating ways, and yet how quickly we can be convinced to forget it.

In the moment of temptation, a gentle whisper sneaks a thought into our minds, 

“Surely, this won’t be true for me.”

When the opportunity to live against our design arises, we cease to think long-term. When we lie, we believe that momentarily the truth will stay hidden. When we cheat, we imagine no one will notice the cut corner. When we wrongfully sexually fantasize, we think that, as long as it’s not publicized, it will not hurt anyone.

We love to believe good actions will bring good consequences, but we convince ourselves that the opposite truth will not apply.

Men, God has our best in mind. We can strive constantly, but contentment cannot be found in a particular income, job, or person. A life immersed in and corresponding to design is the only complete life. What is your design? That you live in a relationship with God through the work of His Son, Jesus, according to the wisdom we have been studying. It keeps others’ current and eternal well-being in mind; it is a life lived on purpose, for the glorification of God, and not yourself.

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40 NIV

Father, I believe that Your design for my life leads to blessing in the most crucial moments. I want to be content in my circumstance, not constantly striving to find myself in a different one. I long to live how I am supposed to live so that I will be a student of Your Word. Thank You for revealing the secrets to human flourishing to us. Thank You that a life lived following You is a blessed life. Amen.

The wise woman builds her house,
    but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

Whoever fears the Lord walks uprightly,
    but those who despise him are devious in their ways.

A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride,
    but the lips of the wise protect them.

Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,
    but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.

An honest witness does not deceive,
    but a false witness pours out lies.

The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none,
    but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

Stay away from a fool,
    for you will not find knowledge on their lips.

The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,
    but the folly of fools is deception.

Fools mock at making amends for sin,
    but goodwill is found among the upright.

10 Each heart knows its own bitterness,
    and no one else can share its joy.

11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
    but the tent of the upright will flourish.

12 There is a way that appears to be right,
    but in the end it leads to death.

13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,
    and rejoicing may end in grief.

14 The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways,
    and the good rewarded for theirs.

15 The simple believe anything,
    but the prudent give thought to their steps.

16 The wise fear the Lord and shun evil,
    but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.

17 A quick-tempered person does foolish things,
    and the one who devises evil schemes is hated.

18 The simple inherit folly,
    but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

19 Evildoers will bow down in the presence of the good,
    and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.

20 The poor are shunned even by their neighbors,
    but the rich have many friends.

21 It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor,
    but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.

22 Do not those who plot evil go astray?
    But those who plan what is good find[a] love and faithfulness.

23 All hard work brings a profit,
    but mere talk leads only to poverty.

24 The wealth of the wise is their crown,
    but the folly of fools yields folly.

25 A truthful witness saves lives,
    but a false witness is deceitful.

26 Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress,
    and for their children it will be a refuge.

27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
    turning a person from the snares of death.

28 A large population is a king’s glory,
    but without subjects a prince is ruined.

29 Whoever is patient has great understanding,
    but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.

30 A heart at peace gives life to the body,
    but envy rots the bones.

31 Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
    but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down,
    but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God.

33 Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning
    and even among fools she lets herself be known.[b]

34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
    but sin condemns any people.

35 A king delights in a wise servant,
    but a shameful servant arouses his fury.

Proverbs 14


“But it is better to learn wisdom late than never learn it at all.”

-Sherlock Holmes

The great detectives of literature all have one thing in common, one attribute that unites them as they move from mystery to mystery, from the theft of magnificent jewels to murders on a snow-capped train. These men and women parse out what is critical from what is conjecture. Their keen sense of focus informs their reasoning, and their reason informs their deduction.

Not so much with us. How often do you find yourself wrapped up in the wrong point of a story? Or how easy is it for you to become fixated on the tiniest detail of an undertaking, only to find yourself blowing by the main thrust of the whole endeavor?

Put another way, how many times do you end up at Home Depot per project?

These great sleuths that we spent our childhoods admiring had a method of evaluating a problem and coming to the proper conclusion. But here’s the caveat: they aren’t real people. We who are living and moving through real life have a reality we need to face about our ability to reason.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, 

but its end is the way to death.”

Our method of evaluation may be and usually is faulty. What is wrong may seem right, and the pathways leading to death are typically illuminated by crooked lights designed to entice your soul.

This is a truth all people acknowledge to some extent. If a person shows any discipline whatsoever, they see the truth in this Proverb.

Thinking of ‘right’ as ‘preferred’ helps to reveal the relatability behind this teaching. It is preferable to avoid exercise, but that way’s end is an unhealthy lifestyle. Getting revenge is preferable, but that way’s end is more troublesome. It is preferable to ignore yard work, but that way’s end is more work. It is preferable to flee from loving people selflessly, but that ends with broken relationships. Our method for evaluation is flawed.

Our natural senses cannot be trusted; we need a guide.

Thankfully, a guide is present in the book of Proverbs and the Scriptures as a whole. God lays out the best way to live life, which corresponds to His design for human flourishing. The more we live our lives in a way that matches this design, the better our lives are.

The ‘way’ that seems right may not only be misleading but so misleading that it goes entirely against God’s way. The ‘flesh’ is mentioned in Scripture (Rom. 8) and is probably best described by Dr. Victor Anderson of Dallas Theological Seminary as “A package of desires that goes against God’s design.” The flesh is present, working in our minds, as long as we are in our unrestored, earthly bodies. And it will, so long as we are alive, lead us away from God. This ‘way’ seems fitting because the flesh is convincing, but the ‘end’ is the way that leads to death.

The solution to the problem is a guide, someone whose senses can be trusted and whose wisdom is unimpeachable. Thankfully, we follow a Savior who is ‘The Truth.’ His Word and His way are reliable and trustworthy. How often do you immerse yourself in the Scriptures and work to emulate the behavior of Jesus? How has studying Proverbs changed the way you face intersections in your life? What are the areas of life that trigger your impulsiveness? Ask God to continue to reveal these areas and meet you in those moments with His wisdom.

Father, my feelings and inclinations have led me down the wrong path countless times. I need Your truth to inform my decisions. Please help me understand my blind spots and lead me back to Your Word when I face temptation and decisions. Amen.

1A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.

The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
    but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
    keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
    but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

A fool spurns a parent’s discipline,
    but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

The house of the righteous contains great treasure,
    but the income of the wicked brings ruin.

The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
    but the hearts of fools are not upright.

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

The Lord detests the way of the wicked,
    but he loves those who pursue righteousness.

10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path;
    the one who hates correction will die.

11 Death and Destruction[a] lie open before the Lord
    how much more do human hearts!

12 Mockers resent correction,
    so they avoid the wise.

13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
    but heartache crushes the spirit.

14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge,
    but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched,
    but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.

16 Better a little with the fear of the Lord
    than great wealth with turmoil.

17 Better a small serving of vegetables with love
    than a fattened calf with hatred.

18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict,
    but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.

19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns,
    but the path of the upright is a highway.

20 A wise son brings joy to his father,
    but a foolish man despises his mother.

21 Folly brings joy to one who has no sense,
    but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course.

22 Plans fail for lack of counsel,
    but with many advisers they succeed.

23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
    and how good is a timely word!

24 The path of life leads upward for the prudent
    to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead.

25 The Lord tears down the house of the proud,
    but he sets the widow’s boundary stones in place.

26 The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked,
    but gracious words are pure in his sight.

27 The greedy bring ruin to their households,
    but the one who hates bribes will live.

28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,
    but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

29 The Lord is far from the wicked,
    but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

30 Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart,
    and good news gives health to the bones.

31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction
    will be at home among the wise.

32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves,
    but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.

33 Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord,
    and humility comes before honor.

Proverbs 15


Imagine it… you’re on hold. You’ve been on hold. You’ve been on hold before this hold after you pushed all the buttons to get through the automated directory…

Then someone answers.

Who do they meet when they do? What kind of language do they hear coming over the phone? How do you feel when that conversation ends?

Our days are full of interpersonal interactions. At home, at work, over the phone and in person, over text messages, and on social media, we build our public-facing résumés day in and day out through the way we speak to other people… and God sees it all.

Proverbs 15 is a resounding commentary on how we as Christians should carry ourselves through these interactions. Over and over again, Solomon makes clear how seriously the Lord considers the direction of our hearts and the holiness of our dialogue. This section of Scripture should land heavily on all of us. No one carries themselves perfectly when it comes to the words that come out of our mouths. We all fall short in this area. We are prone to gossip, judge, stir up controversy, and compare ourselves to others. We mock, we taunt, we condemn, and we slander.

God sees it all, and the World listens. 

A mark of the godly person is their wisdom in considering their words, not only when one is treated fairly but all the more so when one is mistreated. But, man is notorious for doing the opposite. We sputter and spew language freely, often offensively and without much thought.

If we are going to be men on mission for God, ambassadors of His reconciliation here on Earth, this cannot be overlooked. We cannot be Christians who profess our love for God with our mouths and then turn and “gush evil” with those same mouths (or thumbs).

So what guidance can we glean for how we are supposed to act when that natural desire towards rage or anger rises in us?

The Hebrew word, ‘rahd,’ describes a child in the Scriptures. While the term ‘soft’ is used in many translations, it can be reasonably translated as ‘gentle’ or ‘mild,’ which gives readers the idea of how a person should speak in a tense moment of conflict. It is as if the author is encouraging readers to have the patience they would have toward a child, toward all people.

Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You have been given these gifts through the Holy Spirit. Ask God for the wisdom to use them, to let them change the way you act and the way you speak. As you do, watch as the world around you sees Jesus through the way you live.

God, You show us Your character in the person of Jesus. He never lashed out, misspoke, or poured out evil words, even though He was mistreated and wrongfully accused. If wisdom looks like patience in moments of conflict, then I desire this kind of patience. Remind me of the diffusing power of a kind-hearted answer in the tensest of situations. Please remind me of this priceless wisdom when I feel tempted to lash out, be sarcastic, or hurl insults. Amen

To humans belong the plans of the heart,
    but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.

All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
    but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans.

The Lord works out everything to its proper end—
    even the wicked for a day of disaster.

The Lord detests all the proud of heart.
    Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
    through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.

When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way,
    he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

Better a little with righteousness
    than much gain with injustice.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle,
    and his mouth does not betray justice.

11 Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord;
    all the weights in the bag are of his making.

12 Kings detest wrongdoing,
    for a throne is established through righteousness.

13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
    they value the one who speaks what is right.

14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
    but the wise will appease it.

15 When a king’s face brightens, it means life;
    his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,
    to get insight rather than silver!

17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;
    those who guard their ways preserve their lives.

18 Pride goes before destruction,
    a haughty spirit before a fall.

19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed
    than to share plunder with the proud.

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,[a]
    and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning,
    and gracious words promote instruction.[b]

22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent,
    but folly brings punishment to fools.

23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
    and their lips promote instruction.[c]

24 Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

25 There is a way that appears to be right,
    but in the end it leads to death.

26 The appetite of laborers works for them;
    their hunger drives them on.

27 A scoundrel plots evil,
    and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.

28 A perverse person stirs up conflict,
    and a gossip separates close friends.

29 A violent person entices their neighbor
    and leads them down a path that is not good.

30 Whoever winks with their eye is plotting perversity;
    whoever purses their lips is bent on evil.

31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
    it is attained in the way of righteousness.

32 Better a patient person than a warrior,
    one with self-control than one who takes a city.

33 The lot is cast into the lap,
    but its every decision is from the Lord.

Proverbs 16


Sixteen days into a book for men, we’re just now focusing on work. Perhaps there is something to that. Long before you can ever truly be effective in your job, you need to set your heart into a posture that honors God, ask Him to repair the broken relationships in your life, change the way you speak, and hone your attention on His glory instead of your own.

We were all designed to work. From Adam’s hands to yours, all of us were intended to cultivate, curate, and create in some form or fashion. Your work is important to God. He cares about what you are doing, how you do it, and most importantly, why you are doing it.

Proverbs 16 begins with a promise that, should you do your work for the glory of God, your plans will be “established.” 

This word – in Hebrew, ‘galal’ – is used to describe how the moon was set in place by God or how a tree is firmly rooted into the ground beneath it. How reaffirming is that imagery?! If you live your life with the mission statement: “My work is for God, not for man,” your welfare and functioning will be as consistent as the moon’s reliability and as steady as a firmly rooted tree.

As with all of Scripture, this is not a guarantee that your life will be without setback or difficulty, but it is a promise that God will be with you when the struggles come.

Proverbs 16 is a beautiful reminder that our work and plans are only sacred when we commit them to the Lord. Solomon tells us that the Lord is the only one who can work everything out to its proper end. He encourages us that the Lord can take pleasure in the way we go about our lives and warns us against allowing our pride to fool us into taking matters into our own hands.

It’s that feeling of trying to work your way into a conversation that wasn’t for you or sacrificing a bit of integrity so that you can position yourself where God has not. It’s taking the easy way out of a difficult conversation, going along with gossip or slander, cheating, stealing, or lying.

“Better is a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.”

Do your best not to confuse your calling with your current assignment. You were made to honor and glorify God; that is the calling on your life. You do this every day through your thoughts, your actions, how you treat others, and even how you work. Whether it is your dream job or a temp job, your current assignment is an opportunity to live out that calling. Whatever you have been given today, do it to the best of your abilities and let God work out what comes next.

God, You know better than I do just what I desire. I may think it is one thing, but Your knowledge of me is so deep that You can provide what I am truly after. Help my ambitions to correspond with Yours so that I might be genuinely content. I commit my work to You today so that we might walk in step. I work for You, not for man. Amen.

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.

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
    but the Lord tests the heart.

A wicked person listens to deceitful lips;
    a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.

Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
    whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
    and parents are the pride of their children.

Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool—
    how much worse lying lips to a ruler!

A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it;
    they think success will come at every turn.

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,
    but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

10 A rebuke impresses a discerning person
    more than a hundred lashes a fool.

11 Evildoers foster rebellion against God;
    the messenger of death will be sent against them.

12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs
    than a fool bent on folly.

13 Evil will never leave the house
    of one who pays back evil for good.

14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
    so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

15 Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—
    the Lord detests them both.

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

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

18 One who has no sense shakes hands in pledge
    and puts up security for a neighbor.

19 Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin;
    whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.

20 One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper;
    one whose tongue is perverse falls into trouble.

21 To have a fool for a child brings grief;
    there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool.

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.

Proverbs 17


Time after time in the Old Testament, “testing” is likened to the refinement of precious metals, the extracting of impurities through intense heat. Here in Proverbs 17, Solomon makes a note that just as with silver or gold, our human hearts also need to be, and will be, tested by the Lord.

Heat, pressure, hammer, and fire were and still can be the tools used to separate the pure, refined metal from the cloud of dross that would otherwise dirty the precious metals, making them not only weaker than their perfect counterparts but considerably less valuable. No one batted an eye at this process, and no one asked themselves if it was worth all of the trouble.

Refinement was necessary. Testing was critical. 

Remember back to Proverbs 12:1 for a moment; Solomon went straight to the heart:

“Whoever loves disciple loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.”

Sanctification is a word that you may hear around Jesus followers. It can be defined literally as “the action or process of being freed from sin or purified.” In other words, as you pursue Jesus in your life, He will make you more and more like Him. The impurities, the dross in your own life, has to be taken away so that you can more clearly reflect the heart and character of God to the world around you.

To be more like Jesus is an outcome we all desire. It’s something we pray for and sing about. It’s at the heart of most messages we listen to, and it’s scrawled across the pages of our journals. Jesus, we want to be more like you.

And yet…

Are we willing to go through the process? Are we willing to endure the refinement and embrace the testing? 

Reading the rest of Proverbs 17 plays out like an either/or list, a series of blessings or follies that result from our obedience or obstinance in the face of rebuke and refinement. When someone approaches you with a wise word of counsel, if a trusted leader has a rebuke, or if a friend has the courage to approach you with a concern, do you listen? Are you willing to pray about their comment and see if God is trying to work something out in your character through it? This is not easy; it is at times a crucible, but if we surround ourselves with godly men who have permission to speak into our lives, we need to be open and welcoming to what God might say through them.

Show yourself grace today. Don’t beat yourself up for the times you have failed at this in the past. You have the opportunity right now to invite this kind of wisdom and feedback from a few trusted men. Pray about who they are in your life, and then reach out. Let Jesus use them to make you look more and more like Him, and in time He may use you to do the same in someone else’s life.

God, I acknowledge my imperfections. As a sinful creation, there are foreign pieces within my soul. These impurities keep me from the fullness You have created me for, so I ask that You help me get rid of them. Help me to shed the things that I don’t even recognize are there. Help me find others who are willing to help in that process, and help me to have the courage to let them in and see the mess. I desire to be more like You. Amen.

An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends
    and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.

Fools find no pleasure in understanding
    but delight in airing their own opinions.

When wickedness comes, so does contempt,
    and with shame comes reproach.

The words of the mouth are deep waters,
    but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.

It is not good to be partial to the wicked
    and so deprive the innocent of justice.

The lips of fools bring them strife,
    and their mouths invite a beating.

The mouths of fools are their undoing,
    and their lips are a snare to their very lives.

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
    they go down to the inmost parts.

One who is slack in his work
    is brother to one who destroys.

10 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
    the righteous run to it and are safe.

11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;
    they imagine it a wall too high to scale.

12 Before a downfall the heart is haughty,
    but humility comes before honor.

13 To answer before listening—
    that is folly and shame.

14 The human spirit can endure in sickness,
    but a crushed spirit who can bear?

15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
    for the ears of the wise seek it out.

16 A gift opens the way
    and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.

17 In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right,
    until someone comes forward and cross-examines.

18 Casting the lot settles disputes
    and keeps strong opponents apart.

19 A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city;
    disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.

20 From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled;
    with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.

21 The tongue has the power of life and death,
    and those who love it will eat its fruit.

22 He who finds a wife finds what is good
    and receives favor from the Lord.

23 The poor plead for mercy,
    but the rich answer harshly.

24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18


You don’t have to live very long in this world to figure out that life comes pre-packed with storms… health challenges, broken relationships, careers derailed, financial hardship, grief, loss. Sometimes, it seems like life is stacked against us. Where do we turn in seasons like these? The answer, repeatedly, is God.

God is our refuge and strength,

    an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1

Some may read today’s passage and think, or hope, that running to Jesus will protect us from whatever peril has arrived at the door; that nothing bad will happen to those of us who have put our faith in Him. However, the reality of our situation is that we are all merely passing through a broken world. Whether or not you are a Christ-follower, we are all susceptible to immoral or seemingly unjust things happening to us.

One of the calls of Proverbs 18, especially in light of verse 10, is to run to Jesus—not to escape hardship, but as recognition that unto ourselves we are unable to sufficiently navigate life on our own. It’s only through God that we can find refuge from wickedness, contempt, and quarrels. Jesus is the One who protects us from the Enemy and places us above whatever he may do to try to discourage us or turn us away from God.

As the strength and security of God cover us, we find protection and certainty that allows us to continue to move forward in life no matter what is coming against us.

Today you can rest in the knowledge that when trial, temptation, and hardship come, you are safe, not safe from, safe to

  • love those who have wronged us
  • live generously amid scarcity
  • display joy in the valley of grief
  • maintain self-control when tempers flare
  • offer hope to the hopeless
  • walk with certainty when you are uncertain about what awaits around the corner
  • live as a victor rather than a victim

God always makes good on His promises. He will always be more than enough for all we need, our refuge and strength. He can give us all we need to move through life with a “safe to” attitude and posture.

Father, thank You for being our strong tower. Thank You that we can always find refuge in Your presence. Lord, we don’t want the things of this world to cause us to shrink back. We want to continue to take the ground You’ve already won for us. No matter what comes our way, we choose You alone to be our refuge. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear every reminder of Your goodness, grace, and mercy that strengthens and allows us to move into our day positioned to love, live generously and offer hope to the world around us. 

Better the poor whose walk is blameless
    than a fool whose lips are perverse.

Desire without knowledge is not good—
    how much more will hasty feet miss the way!

A person’s own folly leads to their ruin,
    yet their heart rages against the Lord.

Wealth attracts many friends,
    but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them.

A false witness will not go unpunished,
    and whoever pours out lies will not go free.

Many curry favor with a ruler,
    and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts.

The poor are shunned by all their relatives—
    how much more do their friends avoid them!
Though the poor pursue them with pleading,
    they are nowhere to be found.[a]

The one who gets wisdom loves life;
    the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.

A false witness will not go unpunished,
    and whoever pours out lies will perish.

10 It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury—
    how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!

11 A person’s wisdom yields patience;
    it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

12 A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion,
    but his favor is like dew on the grass.

13 A foolish child is a father’s ruin,
    and a quarrelsome wife is like
    the constant dripping of a leaky roof.

14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,
    but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

15 Laziness brings on deep sleep,
    and the shiftless go hungry.

16 Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life,
    but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die.

17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
    and he will reward them for what they have done.

18 Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
    do not be a willing party to their death.

19 A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
    rescue them, and you will have to do it again.

20 Listen to advice and accept discipline,
    and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

22 What a person desires is unfailing love[b];
    better to be poor than a liar.

23 The fear of the Lord leads to life;
    then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

24 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
    he will not even bring it back to his mouth!

25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence;
    rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge.

26 Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother
    is a child who brings shame and disgrace.

27 Stop listening to instruction, my son,
    and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

28 A corrupt witness mocks at justice,
    and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.

29 Penalties are prepared for mockers,
    and beatings for the backs of fools.

Proverbs 19


“Poverty with integrity is better than wealth gained deceitfully.”

Faithlife Study Bible 

Proverbs 19 opens with this simple truth. Quick question, do you believe it?

As men, we spend a lot of time thinking about wealth. How much, or little, do we have, how do we amass more, what amount do we need to retire, what will we leave for our children?

These are the questions that keep us awake at night, the ones that put a little more salt in our hair than pepper.

So, if allowed to solve even one of your provision-related difficulties, would you pause to reflect on the morality of what it would take? Would you seek the wisdom of God before taking a step?

Proverbs 19 is not an anti-wealth message; it’s a stern warning against compromising your integrity for the sake of gain. Look at the number of ways Solomon drives this point home: 

Better the poor whose walk is blameless

    than a fool whose lips are perverse.

Desire without knowledge is not good—

    how much more will hasty feet miss the way!

A person’s own folly leads to their ruin,

    yet their heart rages against the Lord.

A false witness will not go unpunished,

    and whoever pours out lies will not go free.

A foolish child is a father’s ruin,

    and a quarrelsome wife is like

    the constant dripping of a leaky roof.

Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life,

    but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die.

What a person desires is unfailing love;

    better to be poor than a liar.

Whoever robs their Father and drives out their mother

    is a child who brings shame and disgrace.

Stop listening to instruction, my son,

    and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

A corrupt witness mocks at justice,

    and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.

Solomon is relentless in his warning. Pursuing wealth in any form at the cost of following God’s wisdom leads to dire consequences. Deep down, we know this is true, but some of us have gone so long in the opposite direction that we have become numb to that internal alarm that triggers at the slightest compromise. No matter how far you’ve walked away from the wisdom of God, there is good news today. Reaching back to Proverbs One, we remember that our God is merciful and willing to pour His wisdom back out on you if you turn to Him, repent, and ask for His instruction.

Almighty God, how many times have I walked away from You because something caught my eye? Who could count but You? Thank You that today You have brought me a wake-up call. I want to repent for my choices to gain something that was not mine to gain and the ways by which I have ignored the wisdom of You, my Heavenly Father. Please return me to Your ways, and increase my sensitivity to anything seeking to pull me off Your path once more.

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.

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
    but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Sluggards do not plow in season;
    so at harvest time they look but find nothing.

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

Many claim to have unfailing love,
    but a faithful person who can find?

The righteous lead blameless lives;
    blessed are their children after them.

When a king sits on his throne to judge,
    he winnows out all evil with his eyes.

Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure;
    I am clean and without sin”?

10 Differing weights and differing measures—
    the Lord detests them both.

11 Even small children are known by their actions,
    so is their conduct really pure and upright?

12 Ears that hear and eyes that see—
    the Lord has made them both.

13 Do not love sleep or you will grow poor;
    stay awake and you will have food to spare.

14 “It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer—
    then goes off and boasts about the purchase.

15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance,
    but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.

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

17 Food gained by fraud tastes sweet,
    but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel.

18 Plans are established by seeking advice;
    so if you wage war, obtain guidance.

19 A gossip betrays a confidence;
    so avoid anyone who talks too much.

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

21 An inheritance claimed too soon
    will not be blessed at the end.

22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”
    Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you.

23 The Lord detests differing weights,
    and dishonest scales do not please him.

24 A person’s steps are directed by the Lord.
    How then can anyone understand their own way?

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

26 A wise king winnows out the wicked;
    he drives the threshing wheel over them.

27 The human spirit is[a] the lamp of the Lord
    that sheds light on one’s inmost being.

28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe;
    through love his throne is made secure.

29 The glory of young men is their strength,
    gray hair the splendor of the old.

30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil,
    and beatings purge the inmost being.

Proverbs 20


The Proverbs offer us both practical and profound wisdom. Too often, we settle on the surface, reading these words as poetic couplets and not like the powerful, soul-strengthening, heart-enriching words of God crafted for you and me to become more like Him.

I know that language might make some of us uncomfortable. It’s easier to see the Proverbs like a business manual or a well-written instruction book with helpful anecdotes and good-sounding advice. But they are more profound than that. And that level of depth is calling out to you and me today.

Here’s a question I want you to answer honestly: when’s the last time you went deep? 

This chapter tells us that “the spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all his innermost parts.”  

The word for Spirit in Hebrew means “breath.” It’s the same word used in Genesis 2 when “then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

So the Proverbs writer is saying that when we breathe—something we do without thinking—that the LORD is using our very breath like a lamp to search our innermost parts!

We are not meant to be surface dwellers. We are designed and intended for the deep, rich, and weighty things of God.

We see this earlier in chapter 20, where we read: “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

You have a purpose. It’s not a conditional phrase, as if some men have purpose and others don’t. No, the text says, “the purpose in a man’s heart…” That means there’s purpose in you. In me. But did you see what that purpose is compared to? Deep water.

So how do you go deep? How do you find the diving board of your own heart and get below the surface? You start by stopping. You embrace some silence, you get low and you look up.

None of those four things are natural or pragmatic according to the world. You will have to put up a fight if you want to go deep, but the reward for a man of faith is vast and eternal. As the writer says,

“Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?”

If you make the space, you’ll come to find that there’s more to explore with God.

God, You have created me on purpose and with purpose. You know me deeply, so please allow my heart to know You in the same manner. Take me deeper and grow my faith.

In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water
    that he channels toward all who please him.

A person may think their own ways are right,
    but the Lord weighs the heart.

To do what is right and just
    is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Haughty eyes and a proud heart—
    the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin.

The plans of the diligent lead to profit
    as surely as haste leads to poverty.

A fortune made by a lying tongue
    is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.[a]

The violence of the wicked will drag them away,
    for they refuse to do what is right.

The way of the guilty is devious,
    but the conduct of the innocent is upright.

Better to live on a corner of the roof
    than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

10 The wicked crave evil;
    their neighbors get no mercy from them.

11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom;
    by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge.

12 The Righteous One[b] takes note of the house of the wicked
    and brings the wicked to ruin.

13 Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor
    will also cry out and not be answered.

14 A gift given in secret soothes anger,
    and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.

15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous
    but terror to evildoers.

16 Whoever strays from the path of prudence
    comes to rest in the company of the dead.

17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor;
    whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.

18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous,
    and the unfaithful for the upright.

19 Better to live in a desert
    than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.

20 The wise store up choice food and olive oil,
    but fools gulp theirs down.

21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love
    finds life, prosperity[c] and honor.

22 One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty
    and pull down the stronghold in which they trust.

23 Those who guard their mouths and their tongues
    keep themselves from calamity.

24 The proud and arrogant person—“Mocker” is his name—
    behaves with insolent fury.

25 The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him,
    because his hands refuse to work.
26 All day long he craves for more,
    but the righteous give without sparing.

27 The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable—
    how much more so when brought with evil intent!

28 A false witness will perish,
    but a careful listener will testify successfully.

29 The wicked put up a bold front,
    but the upright give thought to their ways.

30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan
    that can succeed against the Lord.

31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
    but victory rests with the Lord.

Proverbs 21


Most of us were raised in a culture that celebrates following the rules. We’re told to color inside the lines, follow the leader, and mind our “pleases” and “thank yous.”

Being polite is beneficial. Being obedient is a trait worth ascribing to. But if we’re not careful, somewhere along the journey of growing into manhood, we begin to twist the well-intended idea of obedience into one of reciprocation. It’s that idea of “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”

We see this transformation creep into many areas of our lives. Perhaps nowhere do we see it more than in our walk with God. We can start to live our lives for God. We follow His rules. We obey His Proverbs, trying to be good people, doing what is “right,” and avoiding things that aren’t. But if we’re honest, sometimes this way of life can turn into more of currying favor, playing by the rules so that we feel like we deserve the reward, the blessing of God.

This is what the Proverbs writer explores when he says, “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” 

This isn’t a new concept. It’s found all across the Scriptures. In Psalm 51, David wrote, “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus, quoting Isaiah, says: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

God isn’t primarily concerned with if you can follow the rules. He isn’t up in Heaven waiting to award gold stars for perfect attendance or the highest sales records. God desires a relationship with you. He knows that when you are in right relationship, the Holy Spirit in you moves to live out the goodness and grace of God in motion. You seek righteousness and justice, not because you have to, but because you get to. You want to. That’s the difference.

God doesn’t want rote sacrifices offered to appease or, worse, coerce His presence. He wants hearts that are deeply in love with Him, hands committed to His work, and lives that are open for His leading and His purposes. This is the relationship that refreshes your soul.

If you choose this path, we see later in Proverbs 21 a picture of what awaits you: “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.” The reward is in the living.

God, I want to embrace a life of surrender, not just a life of sacrifice. I don’t want my relationship with You to become routine or ordinary. I want Your love and mercy to motivate my heart toward righteousness and justice. Move my heart and hands towards what is most acceptable to You today.

A good name is more desirable than great riches;
    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Rich and poor have this in common:
    The Lord is the Maker of them all.

The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

Humility is the fear of the Lord;
    its wages are riches and honor and life.

In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls,
    but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

The rich rule over the poor,
    and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity,
    and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.

The generous will themselves be blessed,
    for they share their food with the poor.

10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;
    quarrels and insults are ended.

11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
    will have the king for a friend.

12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
    but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

13 The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside!
    I’ll be killed in the public square!”

14 The mouth of an adulterous woman is a deep pit;
    a man who is under the Lord’s wrath falls into it.

15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
    but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.

16 One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth
    and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.

Thirty Sayings of the Wise

Saying 1

17 Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise;
    apply your heart to what I teach,
18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart
    and have all of them ready on your lips.
19 So that your trust may be in the Lord,
    I teach you today, even you.
20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you,
    sayings of counsel and knowledge,
21 teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth,
    so that you bring back truthful reports
    to those you serve?

Saying 2

22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor
    and do not crush the needy in court,
23 for the Lord will take up their case
    and will exact life for life.

Saying 3

24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
    do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways
    and get yourself ensnared.

Saying 4

26 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge
    or puts up security for debts;
27 if you lack the means to pay,
    your very bed will be snatched from under you.

Saying 5

28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
    set up by your ancestors.

Saying 6

29 Do you see someone skilled in their work?
    They will serve before kings;
    they will not serve before officials of low rank.

Proverbs 22


Most of us don’t know or have any connection to a modern-day King.

While there are still some royal Kings in the world, we’ve adapted our language concerning leaders and heads of state to reflect different titles over the centuries. But regardless of the language, the truth within this Proverb is still just as potent today as it was when it was written.

In Proverbs 22, we see two verses that guide us on how the average man can be friends with royalty and recognized before great leaders.

If you’re wondering, “yes, how do I get that?” King Solomon has a few simple recommendations for you (V11, 29):

  1. Love purity of heart.
  2. Be gracious in speech.
  3. Be skillful in work.

The three critical steps to being brought before and befriending kings are right there. Seems doable, right?

We can easily read through that list and say, “Check, check, check. Show me to the palace, please.” But don’t move too fast. Look closely at each of those characteristics.

Love purity of heart. Can you say that with confidence? Do you deeply desire, fight to protect, and sacrifice consistently for a pure and holy heart? Do you mind your thoughts, your desires, your intentions with vigilance?

Are you gracious in speech? Do you speak life over others, encouraging them, supporting them, talking less about yourself and more about the value, significance, and worth of those around you?

Are you skilled in work? Not like passable or even proficient, but are you tapped out as being the best you can be in the things that God has given you to carry?

Odds are, if each of us digs into these characteristics, we’ll start to see some gaps. In some way, we each miss the mark on one or more of the three simple things we need to do to be friends with kings.

Here’s the best news. Jesus is the King of Kings. And instead of us having to do things perfectly right to get into his presence, He came into our world. Into our mess. Even into the darkest place of all: our hearts. He changed everything, and by His power, the very same power that raised Him from the dead, we can seek to love purity, be gracious, and do our best work.

When we do this through the righteousness of Jesus, He opens doors no man could open. Not because we need to be around more famous or influential people. But because God is always at work accomplishing His eternal plan of glorifying His name, and He often uses people to do that. You have a King as a friend, King Jesus, and through Him, you can live a transformed life that shakes the world around you.

God, thank You for drawing near when I was desperate for Your presence. Thank You for stepping off Your throne so that I could be welcomed back into Your Kingdom as a loved Son and friend of the King of Kings.

Saying 7

When you sit to dine with a ruler,
    note well what is before you,
and put a knife to your throat
    if you are given to gluttony.
Do not crave his delicacies,
    for that food is deceptive.

Saying 8

Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
    do not trust your own cleverness.
Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
    for they will surely sprout wings
    and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

Saying 9

Do not eat the food of a begrudging host,
    do not crave his delicacies;
for he is the kind of person
    who is always thinking about the cost.[b]
“Eat and drink,” he says to you,
    but his heart is not with you.
You will vomit up the little you have eaten
    and will have wasted your compliments.

Saying 10

Do not speak to fools,
    for they will scorn your prudent words.

Saying 11

10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
    or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,
11 for their Defender is strong;
    he will take up their case against you.

Saying 12

12 Apply your heart to instruction
    and your ears to words of knowledge.

Saying 13

13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;
    if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.
14 Punish them with the rod
    and save them from death.

Saying 14

15 My son, if your heart is wise,
    then my heart will be glad indeed;
16 my inmost being will rejoice
    when your lips speak what is right.

Saying 15

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
    but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
18 There is surely a future hope for you,
    and your hope will not be cut off.

Saying 16

19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
    and set your heart on the right path:
20 Do not join those who drink too much wine
    or gorge themselves on meat,
21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
    and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

Saying 17

22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
    and do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 Buy the truth and do not sell it—
    wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
24 The father of a righteous child has great joy;
    a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.
25 May your father and mother rejoice;
    may she who gave you birth be joyful!

Saying 18

26 My son, give me your heart
    and let your eyes delight in my ways,
27 for an adulterous woman is a deep pit,
    and a wayward wife is a narrow well.
28 Like a bandit she lies in wait
    and multiplies the unfaithful among men.

Saying 19

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
    Who has strife? Who has complaints?
    Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who linger over wine,
    who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
    when it sparkles in the cup,
    when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake
    and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange sights,
    and your mind will imagine confusing things.
34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
    lying on top of the rigging.
35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
    They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up
    so I can find another drink?”

Proverbs 23


As men, we so desire things just out of reach. We come alive when faced with a challenge because they are exciting. We were designed for work and accomplishment, for struggle and victory. But what happens when the world twists this design and dangles it in front of us? We become adrenaline junkies striving for a bigger, higher, faster goal. Money. Power. Status. Pleasure. Carrots rotten when bitten into.

And they’re killing us.

It’s not unlike how quickly you acclimate to something constant. You sleep on a plane hurtling through the air at 30,000 feet but measure your heart rate at takeoff, and you’ll find what gets your blood pumping. The speed isn’t what triggers the adrenaline; it’s the acceleration.

Said another way:

We grow weary of the amazing at the slightest sign of the immediate.

Always wanting more, rarely do we consider that we are breathing, that we woke this morning with a beating heart. We move past the blessing of family, the enjoyment of hard work, and the life in front of us, seeking to satiate that craving for new. We ignore the warning of Proverbs 23 daily. We envy our neighbor’s wealth; we wear ourselves out in the pursuit of wealth that fades with the dust, and our eyes linger on what we do not have.

Why? On our own and apart from Christ’s salvation, we have no hope of finding the harbor of righteousness and sailing in the proper course of Jesus’s great love for us.

How many times have you watched a man lose his way because he started comparing his life to someone else’s? How many good men have thrown away their marriages and families because they took their envy into their own hands? How many sleepless nights spent worrying about tomorrow have led to sinful habits reappearing?

When we ignore the promises God offers us and put our faith in self-manufactured hope, we reap the reward of our own folly: desolation and ruin.

Holy confidence is found in knowing that your heart can be rooted in a better truth, in standing on the reality that your future is secure – that your future is in the hands of the Provider. Our mindset begins to shift when we release the lie that our next accomplishment determines our worth. Jesus put an end to that way of living. With Him, in wholeness as His child, we no longer need ‘the next thing.’ We may walk daily in the simplicity of knowing that our relationship with Him is everything. Old habits will always die hard, but we are equipped to control ourselves and take rogue desires captive through the Holy Spirit. We can enter into a beautiful life— a steady one created by God for us.

Lord, today I commit to choosing You. I cast all desires that aren’t from You aside. When my flesh leads me down paths I know aren’t towards You, give me the strength to course correct. I confess to often believing the lies that my worth is found in things other than You. Today, I acknowledge that in You, I have all I need. Help me to live in confidence because of that fact. Amen.

Saying 20

Do not envy the wicked,
    do not desire their company;
for their hearts plot violence,
    and their lips talk about making trouble.

Saying 21

By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

Saying 22

The wise prevail through great power,
    and those who have knowledge muster their strength.
Surely you need guidance to wage war,
    and victory is won through many advisers.

Saying 23

Wisdom is too high for fools;
    in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths.

Saying 24

Whoever plots evil
    will be known as a schemer.
The schemes of folly are sin,
    and people detest a mocker.

Saying 25

10 If you falter in a time of trouble,
    how small is your strength!
11 Rescue those being led away to death;
    hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
    Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

Saying 26

13 Eat honey, my son, for it is good;
    honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.
14 Know also that wisdom is like honey for you:
    If you find it, there is a future hope for you,
    and your hope will not be cut off.

Saying 27

15 Do not lurk like a thief near the house of the righteous,
    do not plunder their dwelling place;
16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,
    but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.

Saying 28

17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
    when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the Lord will see and disapprove
    and turn his wrath away from them.

Saying 29

19 Do not fret because of evildoers
    or be envious of the wicked,
20 for the evildoer has no future hope,
    and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.

Saying 30

21 Fear the Lord and the king, my son,
    and do not join with rebellious officials,
22 for those two will send sudden destruction on them,
    and who knows what calamities they can bring?

Further Sayings of the Wise

23 These also are sayings of the wise:

To show partiality in judging is not good:
24 Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,”
    will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations.
25 But it will go well with those who convict the guilty,
    and rich blessing will come on them.

26 An honest answer
    is like a kiss on the lips.

27 Put your outdoor work in order
    and get your fields ready;
    after that, build your house.

28 Do not testify against your neighbor without cause—
    would you use your lips to mislead?
29 Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me;
    I’ll pay them back for what they did.”

30 I went past the field of a sluggard,
    past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere,
    the ground was covered with weeds,
    and the stone wall was in ruins.
32 I applied my heart to what I observed
    and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
34 and poverty will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man.

Proverbs 24


“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.”

-Captain Jean-Luc Picard 

It is one of the great strengths of men, and one of our most painful follies, that we believe that good things come to those who work for them. Many of us were raised with a defiant attitude, one that promised that through hard work and a little luck, we could achieve any goal we put our minds to, that when we grow up, we could be whatever we want.

And yet, Solomon still feels the need to remind us NOT to envy the wicked…


Why does Solomon feel he must double, triple, and quadruple down on the idea that our hope is in something other than the success we see people achieve through evil means? 

Because he knows there will be times in life when it looks as if the best way forward is not the way of God.

You may get passed over because someone else lied, your success may take longer to achieve than that of devious men, and your reward may look pale in comparison to the riches of the sluggard. You may do nothing wrong and still “lose,” in the world’s sense. These things may happen.

And still, Solomon reminds us, do not envy those who “win,” based on sinful methods.

“Eat honey, my son, for it is good; 

honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.

Know also that wisdom is like honey for you:

If you find it, there is a future hope for you,

and your hope will not be cut off.”

Brother, your hope and heart are secure so long as you gauge success against the proper scale. 

As we talked about in Proverbs 16, there is something God-honoring in being skilled in your work, but look again at the purpose. The point is to honor God and to work for His glory alone. When we remember this, we are freed from the temptation to look around at what people have given over their integrity to obtain and envy it.

There is nothing worth paying that price to accomplish.

Longing to succeed, earn accolades, and accomplish these are natural desires of the Human Heart, ones that can be harnessed for the good of people around you. Still, if they become so strong that your motive behind them is no longer to honor God, they can cause chaos. Test your motives today; check on them like a gardener inspects his plants. Have you given in to envious thoughts? Have they caused you to admit sin into the process? How do you fare when someone achieves something you covet? Are you outraged? What about when someone you don’t like fails? Do you find comfort in their fall? These are signs that you have placed your hope in something other than God’s plan, and it is time to bring that to Him.

“For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, 

but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”

Build your life on the principle that God has your best in mind. Construct walls full of the faith that He will provide for you in the proper time. Let a roof made of the memories of His faithfulness protect you from the attacks of the enemy luring you towards jealousy and scheming. Live in His goodness and mercy, and then you will live an honest life that outlasts all others.

God, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for establishing what is good for me. Thank You that it is my plumb line, my true north, and that I can compare everything I see, feel, and desire against it to find if it is worthy of You. I see that envy is not of You and that I am called to You and You alone. It is a freeing and blessed reality to lose any sense of comparison. I fall into Your hands, giving up hanging onto anyone else’s approval or satisfaction to give me my sense of worth. Thank You that I am Yours alone. Amen.

1 These are more proverbs of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah:

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
3 As the heavens are high and the earth is deep,
so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.

4 Remove the dross from the silver,
and a silversmith can produce a vessel;
5 remove wicked officials from the king’s presence,
and his throne will be established through righteousness.

6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,
and do not claim a place among his great men;
7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,”
than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.

What you have seen with your eyes
8 do not bring[a] hastily to court,
for what will you do in the end
if your neighbor puts you to shame?

9 If you take your neighbor to court,
do not betray another’s confidence,
10 or the one who hears it may shame you
and the charge against you will stand.

11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver
is a ruling rightly given.
12 Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold
is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear.

13 Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time
is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him;
he refreshes the spirit of his master.
14 Like clouds and wind without rain
is one who boasts of gifts never given.

15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,
and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

16 If you find honey, eat just enough—
too much of it, and you will vomit.
17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—
too much of you, and they will hate you.

18 Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow
is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor.
19 Like a broken tooth or a lame foot
is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.
20 Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day,
or like vinegar poured on a wound,
is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.

23 Like a north wind that brings unexpected rain
is a sly tongue—which provokes a horrified look.

24 Better to live on a corner of the roof
than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

25 Like cold water to a weary soul
is good news from a distant land.
26 Like a muddied spring or a polluted well
are the righteous who give way to the wicked.

27 It is not good to eat too much honey,
nor is it honorable to search out matters that are too deep.

28 Like a city whose walls are broken through
is a person who lacks self-control.

Proverbs 25


We live in a world that thrives on instant gratification.

The 10-minute oil changes, microwavable meals, and speed dates of 20 years ago pale in comparison with today’s desire to achieve instant fame via social media. Thirty-year-old billionaires and 18-year-old celebrities are celebrated, while the idea of waiting patiently and building influence over time has disappeared.

But the teacher (or teachers, in this case) call us to more.

Using a variety of illustrations, we are encouraged to demonstrate patience and self-control to gain influence over time. To let recognition come to us rather than seeking it out. 

  • Don’t risk humiliation through self-promotion, but wait for your leader to recognize you and to raise you up.
  • Don’t race to a confrontation without all the facts, or you may be put to shame when you’re proven wrong.
  • A ruler can be persuaded through patience and a gentle word. A person who lacks self-control is compared to a city whose walls have been broken down. (That may not mean much to us in a day of sprawling metro areas that bleed into one suburb after another, but in the teacher’s day, a city whose walls were broken down was simply waiting to be conquered.) 

Self-control, dignity, and patience are not celebrated qualities in a world whose eyes are constantly searching for the next wild endeavor or celebrity who will “tell it like it really is.” But reflect back on Proverbs 15 for a moment,

“The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” Proverbs 15:3 

Remember that God’s opinion concerns us, not the world’s. We are after His heart, not popularity for vanity’s sake.

The Old Testament is filled with the history of God’s people, some good and some bad. It’s a rich story of empires rising and falling, of cities being built, broken, and conquered.

The book of Nehemiah tells the story of Jerusalem, which needed major repairs on the walls surrounding it after being defeated and nearly destroyed. When Nehemiah heard that the walls were broken down and the gates were burnt, he sat down and wept.

Why? Why was a wall worth crying over? 

Because a city with no walls was at the mercy of anything and anyone who came against it.

Such as it is with a person who lacks self-control. Without the necessary patience and dignity to still your tongue and calm your emotions, you will be at the whim of whoever and whatever seeks to manipulate you. Whatever trust and influence you gain with the people around you will be spent on frivolous worries and loss; your passions will overcome you.

This is not the life we were made to live.

We aren’t called to be conquered cities but men of self-control and dignity who build influence over time and who use that influence to point the world to the all-encompassing glory of God and the life that comes only through His son, Jesus. It is not a warrior-king on horseback, ripping through his enemies who we seek to emulate. It is Jesus, the one who turned the other cheek and called us friends even when we called Him enemy.

God, help me to find my satisfaction in You alone. Give me a heart like Yours that seeks gentleness and self-control. Let me not see my worth in the eyes of the world but in Yours. I pray You would give me the strength to shed the impurities of my soul that strive and struggle for rewards of this world. I want to keep my actual reward front and center – my relationship with You. Amen

Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
    honor is not fitting for a fool.
Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
    an undeserved curse does not come to rest.
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
    and a rod for the backs of fools!
Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
    or he will be wise in his own eyes.
Sending a message by the hands of a fool
    is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.
Like the useless legs of one who is lame
    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
Like tying a stone in a sling
    is the giving of honor to a fool.
Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand
    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
10 Like an archer who wounds at random
    is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.
11 As a dog returns to its vomit,
    so fools repeat their folly.
12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes?
    There is more hope for a fool than for them.

13 A sluggard says, “There’s a lion in the road,
    a fierce lion roaming the streets!”
14 As a door turns on its hinges,
    so a sluggard turns on his bed.
15 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
    he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.
16 A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
    than seven people who answer discreetly.

17 Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears
    is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.

18 Like a maniac shooting
    flaming arrows of death
19 is one who deceives their neighbor
    and says, “I was only joking!”

20 Without wood a fire goes out;
    without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
    they go down to the inmost parts.

23 Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware
    are fervent[a] lips with an evil heart.
24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,
    but in their hearts they harbor deceit.
25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,
    for seven abominations fill their hearts.
26 Their malice may be concealed by deception,
    but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;
    if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them.
28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts,
    and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Proverbs 26


The fool, the sluggard, the meddler, and the liar. It sounds like a folk band from the ’60s.

Regardless, none of these guys are men we would seek to emulate. If anything, they are the opposite of the model we should pursue. The teachers of the Proverbs go so far as to not just say, “Don’t act” like a fool, a sluggard, a meddler, or a liar, but don’t even spend time with them.

The fool won’t seek counsel, the sluggard won’t engage in hard work, the meddler gets pleasure from other people’s conflict, and the liar aims to gain from distorting the truth. All of these are what we would think of today as evil men. As Machiavellian as much of that sounds, none of us want to be known for any of these traits.

Who wants to be the guy who doesn’t learn from his mistakes? Or the one who is known for being lazy? No one wants to be seen as consistently getting in other people’s business. And who would like to be known as a liar? These are not desirable traits.

But it’s easy to slip just a little. To be just a little flighty; to rest a little more than maybe we should sometimes; to stir the pot a little bit, just for fun; or to shade the facts when we aren’t ready to own up to the complete truth.

Integrity is about doing the right thing all the time. Not slipping, even a little bit, even when no one is watching.

A windshield is designed and manufactured to withstand rain, snow, and high-velocity wind sheer, but we’ve all experienced what happens if a rock kicks up off the interstate at high speeds and smacks right into the middle of it. It cracks, and that crack compromises the structural integrity of the windshield. Repairing the windshield immediately isn’t too big a deal. The insurance company makes a call, and the repair technician rolls out to fill and seal the crack with a resin that restores the windshield’s integrity. It never looks like new again, but at least the windshield can continue to function.

But… if the chip in the windshield isn’t repaired and continues to be exposed to the elements, it grows, and soon spiderwebs of cracks can stretch all over the windshield. Ultimately, that tiny stone chip can destroy the windshield if not addressed. All of this could have been avoided with a simple repair once the compromise to the integrity was noticed.

Our lives are like that. We are cruising down the highway of life, minding our own business, when something jumps up and cracks the integrity of our lives. Maybe it’s just a little white lie or a juicy bit of gossip that we share. Perhaps it’s a little trouble we decide to stir up between a couple of co-workers to help ourselves get an edge. In any case, the integrity has been breached.

Rather than continuing down the road and allowing that breach to spread into other areas of our lives, we need to address the issue quickly and thoroughly.

It could be between you and God, or maybe you have a group of men who can come around you and call you to a higher standard. In either case, don’t leave the sin issue alone. Address it. Immediately. Move back to a place of integrity. Be restored. And keep moving forward, leading a life that honors and points others to Jesus.

God, I confess all the moments where I disobeyed Your commands. Sanctify my heart where the enemy has gained a foothold. At this moment, I ask forgiveness for the times I have sinned against You. The big and the small. Help me turn to You, learn from mistakes, and begin again in new mercies. Thank You that, through Jesus, I can even ask for forgiveness. Amen.

Do not boast about tomorrow,
    for you do not know what a day may bring.

Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
    an outsider, and not your own lips.

Stone is heavy and sand a burden,
    but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
    but who can stand before jealousy?

Better is open rebuke
    than hidden love.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses.

One who is full loathes honey from the comb,
    but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

Like a bird that flees its nest
    is anyone who flees from home.

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
    and the pleasantness of a friend
    springs from their heartfelt advice.

10 Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family,
    and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you—
    better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.

11 Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart;
    then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt.

12 The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

13 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;
    hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.

14 If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning,
    it will be taken as a curse.

15 A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping
    of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;
16 restraining her is like restraining the wind
    or grasping oil with the hand.

17 As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

18 The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit,
    and whoever protects their master will be honored.

19 As water reflects the face,
    so one’s life reflects the heart.[a]

20 Death and Destruction[b] are never satisfied,
    and neither are human eyes.

21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
    but people are tested by their praise.

22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar,
    grinding them like grain with a pestle,
    you will not remove their folly from them.

23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
    give careful attention to your herds;
24 for riches do not endure forever,
    and a crown is not secure for all generations.
25 When the hay is removed and new growth appears
    and the grass from the hills is gathered in,
26 the lambs will provide you with clothing,
    and the goats with the price of a field.
27 You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family
    and to nourish your female servants.

Proverbs 27


How can we determine the true measure of a man? As we go through life, seeking to grow into mature manhood, what is the benchmark, or the test, that we can use to feel confident and assured that we are growing in the right direction?

Perhaps the answer is to be found in a quote once spoken by Robert G. Ingersoll about Abraham Lincoln,

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Or maybe we draw from a more recent example, inspired by the words of Philadelphia’s own Rocky Balboa,

“It’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

While men worldwide have been tested and tried by power and perseverance, what if we took a slightly different approach?

What if we looked at what the Proverbs writer says is the test of a man: his praise.

“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.”

Why is praise the ultimate test for maturity and depth? Because it strikes at the very center of what nearly all of us tend to treasure most: our pride.

It can be complicated to separate praise and pride. They often are enmeshed, woven together like strands in a rope. That’s why this is the test for every man. As the crucible is used to separate the dross from the silver and the furnace is used to purify gold, praise can also be used to separate pride from our hearts and purify our motives.

The Proverbs writer intentionally shows us that praise is not simply when people say nice things about us. That is why he writes, “A man is tested by his praise.” Earlier in the chapter, we see another verse that clarifies this further.

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”

So what is the test? How can we know if our response to praise is Godly or self-glorifying? While there are many nuances that we could call out, here are two practical ways:

  1. When you give praise, are you more likely to boast about yourself or build others up?
  2. When you get praise spoken of you, does it satisfy something you think you deserve, or does it send you towards gratitude for the grace of God in your life?

When faced with praise, both given and received, we will either respond in pride or humility. And how you choose will determine much about the measure of your character.

Nothing we will ever be praised for is of our own account. The breath in our lungs, the strength in our hands, the fortitude in our minds, it’s all God. It’s all been given to us by grace for the glorification of His Name.

Let us be men who choose humility and who allow praise to drive us to our knees before our great and mighty God.

God, may we never be found valuing man’s opinion and his words over Yours. May we be the type of men who see praise as a vehicle, not for our own gain, but for Your glory.

The wicked flee though no one pursues,
    but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers,
    but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.

A ruler[a] who oppresses the poor
    is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.

Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked,
    but those who heed it resist them.

Evildoers do not understand what is right,
    but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.

Better the poor whose walk is blameless
    than the rich whose ways are perverse.

A discerning son heeds instruction,
    but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.

Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor
    amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.

If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction,
    even their prayers are detestable.

10 Whoever leads the upright along an evil path
    will fall into their own trap,
    but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.

11 The rich are wise in their own eyes;
    one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.

12 When the righteous triumph, there is great elation;
    but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding.

13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
    but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
    but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.

15 Like a roaring lion or a charging bear
    is a wicked ruler over a helpless people.

16 A tyrannical ruler practices extortion,
    but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign.

17 Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder
    will seek refuge in the grave;
    let no one hold them back.

18 The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe,
    but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit.[b]

19 Those who work their land will have abundant food,
    but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.

20 A faithful person will be richly blessed,
    but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.

21 To show partiality is not good—
    yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread.

22 The stingy are eager to get rich
    and are unaware that poverty awaits them.

23 Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor
    rather than one who has a flattering tongue.

24 Whoever robs their father or mother
    and says, “It’s not wrong,”
    is partner to one who destroys.

25 The greedy stir up conflict,
    but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.

26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,
    but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
    but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

28 When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding;
    but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.

Proverbs 28


One of the main reasons we began FIGHT CLUBS at Passion City Church was to challenge men to step into accountability, experience brotherhood, and, ultimately, live in freedom. We believed then and still do now that if we as men are bold enough to step out of the shadows and into the light, God will do remarkable work in and through our stories.

I know that reading those words can make the mission of accountability seem straightforward. However, we know from history and personal experience that intimacy and openness are often anything but easy. 

Confession and repentance are relatively common words with scary implications. It’s tough for any person, let alone men who feel the need to be strong, protective, and proficient, to admit a weakness or inadequacy. Confession comes with a cost, and more times than not, we don’t want to pay that price.

But what are we missing out on if we continually refuse to engage in accountability? What could we begin to experience if we were a measure braver than we were afraid?

The writer of Proverbs 28 weaves the thread of vulnerability and integrity throughout the passage. We see a few verses in that “better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.” Later in the text, we come to a similar-sounding verse, “Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.” Clearly, the author is trying to drive home a point through his repetition: integrity is to be highly valued and is a primary component of a life of freedom.

But how do we increase integrity? How can we ensure that we are developing the right kind of roots, growing deeper in our faith while cultivating the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5)?

Accountability. The conviction and practice of moving out of the shadows and into the light. It’s the fundamental idea written right in the middle of Proverbs 28:

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.”

He who confesses his transgressions and forsakes them (i.e., repents, turns away from, moves in a new direction), that man will obtain mercy and be blessed.

If we recoil back, being more content in the comfort of our shadows, if we are convinced that we are strong enough, smart enough, and tough enough to go through this life on our own, we will reap the harvest of that isolation. We will not prosper, and we will not mature into the men of integrity that God is calling us to become.

The proverbs are begging us to realize that if we want wisdom, we must seek it. And if we desire integrity, character, Godliness, and all other manners of blessings, we must pursue it. The primary tool we use is accountability, confession, and repentance. 

You have all that you need to step out of the shadows and into the light. You just need to be willing to take that first, brave step.

As you commanded Moses and Joshua, God, help me today to be strong and courageous. Not in my power or sufficiency, but in Yours alone. Spur my heart towards deep community, and may I pursue accountability for my good and Your glory.

Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes
    will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.

When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
    when the wicked rule, the people groan.

A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
    but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

By justice a king gives a country stability,
    but those who are greedy for[a] bribes tear it down.

Those who flatter their neighbors
    are spreading nets for their feet.

Evildoers are snared by their own sin,
    but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.

The righteous care about justice for the poor,
    but the wicked have no such concern.

Mockers stir up a city,
    but the wise turn away anger.

If a wise person goes to court with a fool,
    the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.

10 The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity
    and seek to kill the upright.

11 Fools give full vent to their rage,
    but the wise bring calm in the end.

12 If a ruler listens to lies,
    all his officials become wicked.

13 The poor and the oppressor have this in common:
    The Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.

14 If a king judges the poor with fairness,
    his throne will be established forever.

15 A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom,
    but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.

16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin,
    but the righteous will see their downfall.

17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace;
    they will bring you the delights you desire.

18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
    but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

19 Servants cannot be corrected by mere words;
    though they understand, they will not respond.

20 Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
    There is more hope for a fool than for them.

21 A servant pampered from youth
    will turn out to be insolent.

22 An angry person stirs up conflict,
    and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.

23 Pride brings a person low,
    but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

24 The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies;
    they are put under oath and dare not testify.

25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

26 Many seek an audience with a ruler,
    but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.

27 The righteous detest the dishonest;
    the wicked detest the upright.

Proverbs 29


In 1936, engineers completed one of the boldest feats of human ingenuity in history near the Western Coast of the United States. To this day, it is still widely considered to be one of, if not, the most impressive U.S. public works projects ever.

The Hoover Dam, located just 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, is a sight to behold. 

The Dam is 726 feet tall, making it more than 100 feet taller than the Washington Monument in D.C. It is 45 feet thick at the top, but nearly 660 feet thick at the bottom, making it nearly the length of two football fields.

The amount of concrete used to build the Dam could create a two-lane highway from Seattle, Washington, to Miami, Florida.

The Dam holds back 45,000 lbs of water pressure per square foot at its most vital point. If it ever were to break or rupture, roughly 3.5 trillion gallons of water would let loose and total catastrophe would ensue.

The Hoover Dam holding back the Colorado River is undoubtedly impressive. In many ways, it shows us the power that comes through restraint, which is one of the central themes of Proverbs 29. 

Like a dam holding back a mighty river, the Scripture says that a wise man holds back his spirit (or, in other references, his wrath, frustration, aggression).

We often associate wrath as a negative emotion, and in many ways, it can be. We read in verse 8 that “scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath.” Then, later in the text, we see again that “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.”

When we read verses like these, we quickly jump to the first and easiest conclusion: don’t be angry. Don’t experience wrath. But that’s not always the best or healthiest answer. 

God’s character includes wrath. It has righteous jealousy and holy anger. As such, we who are made in His image are prone to these emotions from time to time. Eradicating anger is like telling a river not to run downhill. It’s fighting the inevitable.

Instead of abolishing our emotions, what if we took a different approach? What if we built a Holy dam on the river of our emotions that, like the Hoover Dam, released what was appropriate at the proper time and in the adequate quantity?

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”

What if we bought into this verse and set out to build a Spirit-operated filter in our souls, one that sifted the emotions that pass through and righteously filtered the feelings that are honoring to God from those that are not? 

Like the Hoover Dam, we too would become weighty and impressive, not just for the mechanics of our engineering but rather for our restraint. Our ability to hold back, to temper, to “rule our flesh and spirit” so that what we let through our lives is a holy and pure offering to a most deserving God.

God, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, now dwells in me. Through His power, help me begin to filter my emotions in such a way that holds back that which is not pleasing to You. 

The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance.

This man’s utterance to Ithiel:

“I am weary, God,
    but I can prevail.[a]
Surely I am only a brute, not a man;
    I do not have human understanding.
I have not learned wisdom,
    nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
    Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
    Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is the name of his son?
    Surely you know!

“Every word of God is flawless;
    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
    or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
    do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God.

10 “Do not slander a servant to their master,
    or they will curse you, and you will pay for it.

11 “There are those who curse their fathers
    and do not bless their mothers;
12 those who are pure in their own eyes
    and yet are not cleansed of their filth;
13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty,
    whose glances are so disdainful;
14 those whose teeth are swords
    and whose jaws are set with knives
to devour the poor from the earth
    and the needy from among mankind.

15 “The leech has two daughters.
    ‘Give! Give!’ they cry.

“There are three things that are never satisfied,
    four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
16 the grave, the barren womb,
    land, which is never satisfied with water,
    and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’

17 “The eye that mocks a father,
    that scorns an aged mother,
will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley,
    will be eaten by the vultures.

18 “There are three things that are too amazing for me,
    four that I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
    the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
    and the way of a man with a young woman.

20 “This is the way of an adulterous woman:
    She eats and wipes her mouth
    and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’

21 “Under three things the earth trembles,
    under four it cannot bear up:
22 a servant who becomes king,
    a godless fool who gets plenty to eat,
23 a contemptible woman who gets married,
    and a servant who displaces her mistress.

24 “Four things on earth are small,
    yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
    yet they store up their food in the summer;
26 hyraxes are creatures of little power,
    yet they make their home in the crags;
27 locusts have no king,
    yet they advance together in ranks;
28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,
    yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

29 “There are three things that are stately in their stride,
    four that move with stately bearing:
30 a lion, mighty among beasts,
    who retreats before nothing;
31 a strutting rooster, a he-goat,
    and a king secure against revolt.[b]

32 “If you play the fool and exalt yourself,
    or if you plan evil,
    clap your hand over your mouth!
33 For as churning cream produces butter,
    and as twisting the nose produces blood,
    so stirring up anger produces strife.”

Proverbs 30


A noticeable change in style here is a result of a new author. In Proverbs 30, we find ourselves reading the work of Agur, son of Jakeh. While Agur isn’t a name you may have memorized as a child or know very much about, he demonstrates an understanding of himself that we should all seek to emulate.

“I am weary, God, (we feel that)

but I can prevail. (Amen)

Surely I am only a brute, not a man; (been there)

I do not have human understanding. (Yep)

I have not learned wisdom, (oh boy)

nor have I attained the knowledge of the Holy One. (Really trying.)

It’s a fine line to have a low opinion of yourself vs. thinking poorly of yourself.

The wisdom of God isn’t meant to turn you into a man whose shoulders are hung in defeat. You are a Son of God, a child of the King who paid for you with His blood. God Himself has chosen you, and that relationship should humble you.

Proverbs 30 begins with a beautiful confession of ignorance that once again Agur has failed to grasp the wisdom of God.

Who among us hasn’t? We started this journey together in Proverbs 1 realizing our need for repentance, a condition that stays with us through our entire lives. God is merciful, and the process of becoming more like Him is unending. So keep Agur’s confession close to your heart today, and just like him, remind yourself that through God’s power, you can prevail.

“Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”

Here, confession transitions to admission as we reflect on the unfailing nature of God and His standing as our unflappable Defender. He has never lost a battle or uttered a lie, and it is because of those truths that we can follow Agur’s lead and ask for His protection from the attacks of the enemy:

“Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”


Agur knows what is most dangerous to a man’s heart. Our failure to trust in God’s daily provision can lead us towards the temptation to steal what is not ours or hoard what has been given to us, both of which dishonor Almighty God and shortchange our intended purpose in life. Examine your life. Where are the moments where you have failed to put your hope in the generosity of God’s hands? Where did it lead you?

Today, adopt the rhythm of Agur: Repent, Confess, and then Ask. God is with you. 

God, I confess I’m not worthy to come before You. But in the power of the Holy Spirit and through the work of Jesus, I ask You to cleanse my heart. Bring me closer to You so that I can know You better. Bless my thoughts, my words, my work. Guard me so that I don’t commit the same sins again. Amen. 

Sayings of King Lemuel

The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.

Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
    Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
Do not spend your strength[a] on women,
    your vigor on those who ruin kings.

It is not for kings, Lemuel—
    it is not for kings to drink wine,
    not for rulers to crave beer,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
    and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
Let beer be for those who are perishing,
    wine for those who are in anguish!
Let them drink and forget their poverty
    and remember their misery no more.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31


Here, at the end, we find one of the most famous Proverbs, our third author, and an incredible introduction: 

“The sayings of King Lemuel — an inspired utterance his mother taught him.”

(Editor’s note: This is the ultimate move by a mom. Drop wisdom so profound on your son that it ends up in Holy Scripture.)

It seems essential that the Proverb explicitly dealing with the finding of a wife comes at the end of the book. It is as if God knew already that we would need to learn to lead ourselves with wisdom long before we should ever take a chance on leading someone else. Our natural state, our selves without God, may be able to seemingly hold things together for a time. But the real sacrifice needed for true leadership will eventually call more out of us than we can give apart from His power and His provision in our lives.

Reflect on the opening of this book at the fundamental truth we started off acknowledging: 

There is, within every man, a deep desire to do what is right, a longing to navigate all of life’s adventures with a clear understanding of what is at stake and the best path forward towards victory.

Arriving at Proverbs 31, we have spent the last month together reading the handbook that God has provided for us to do just that. Now, a final instruction comes to us, and with it, a long list of attributes that we should search for in a partner with whom to follow it:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the poor and needy.”

Christian, this is your charge. Obey it earnestly.

Let the wisdom of the past 30 Proverbs guide you as you seek to honor it with all of your heart. As you do, look around you for one who is doing the same. The final twenty-three verses of Proverbs 31 extoll the virtues of a woman who will already be following that very same wisdom in her own long arc of obedience.

If God has called you to marriage, He will lead you to such a woman. If He has not, continue to live a life in full pursuit of the wisdom He has freely poured into your life through the Proverbs. The end goal for each of us is this, that we would be men after God’s own heart, and all else would be found in the following.

God, thank You for Your wisdom. I praise You that You are the Source of truth, and You always will be. You are the source of all knowledge and understanding. I humbly ask for the blessing of Your wisdom; that I would have a heart that feels like Yours, that I would have eyes that see like Yours, that I would have a mind that thinks like Yours. I desire to be a man after Your own heart, and I commit to working towards being more like You for all of my days. Thank You for who You are. Amen.

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Scripture References

  • Proverbs 1
  • Proverbs 2
  • Proverbs 3
  • Proverbs 4
  • Proverbs 5
  • Proverbs 6
  • Proverbs 7
  • Proverbs 8
  • Proverbs 9
  • Proverbs 10
  • Proverbs 11
  • Proverbs 12
  • Proverbs 13
  • Proverbs 14
  • Proverbs 15
  • Proverbs 16
  • Proverbs 17
  • Proverbs 18
  • Proverbs 19
  • Proverbs 20
  • Proverbs 21
  • Proverbs 22
  • Proverbs 23
  • Proverbs 24
  • Proverbs 25
  • Proverbs 26
  • Proverbs 27
  • Proverbs 28
  • Proverbs 29
  • Proverbs 30
  • Proverbs 31
Fight Club We want to be men who contend for what matters most. However, most of us realize that we aren’t going to fulfill our God-designed destiny alone. That’s why we are inviting every man to form their own Fight Club, a group of 3-5 men who meet together on a consistent basis to spur one another on.

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