August 14th 2018 – Proverbs 20: 17-21

Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
but afterwards his mouth will be full of gravel.
Plans are established by counsel;
by wise guidance wage war.
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;
therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.
If one curses his father or his mother,
his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.
An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning
will not be blessed in the end.

Proverbs 20:17 -21

The thought in 17 is similar to that in 9:17,18 - sin's aftermath and aftertaste (cf Hebrews 11:25). The final result of sin belies its earlier, attractive promises. Our Lord's words in Luke 14:31, 32 are echoed in 18, which is similar to 11:14 in its emphasis. The message is clear: beware of finalising plans until you consult with people whose judgment you can trust. In face of this an oft repeated emphasis what price the rash and impulsive behaviour that passes for spiritual action in so many believers? In 19, which repeats the thought of 11:13, the warning is against the danger a gossiping tongue can be - Kidner remarks, 'The point of the first line is that it may be your secrets next'! There is a very solemn warning in 20 against unfilial behaviour. It is the obverse of the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12) and Paul's injunction in Ephesians 6:1. It is something to be taken seriously. Parents stand to children in God's stead, even when they are bad parents, just as the powers that be are ordained of God even when they are bad rulers, and parents are to be honoured for their position, if their person cannot be honoured. And if the promise of the fifth commandment - 'that thy days may be long in the land' - is demonstrably true in human experience, can we suppose that the converse here will simply go by default? In 21, which is a companion piece to 13:11, the meaning is that 'those who set out with the determination to gather wealth at all cost will learn in bitterness of soul that they have missed the true and lasting treasure which would have given heart -satisfaction and joy in its possession' (Ironside)- See Jeremiah 17:11, and James 5:1-6. Is this a word in season to strikers who blackmail the nation by their exorbitant demands?