My son, eat honey, for it is good,
and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, there will be a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.
Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous;
do no violence to his home;
for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
The meaning in 13 and 14 is that as honey is sweet to the taste so is the acquisition of wisdom to the souls. We need to relate this to the general over-all theme of the production of wisdom through the ministry of the Word, in terms of character-formation. Once we attain this (it is always only an approximation, a relative attainment) the rewards are sure, because we become a certain kind of person, rich in the things that matter, stable and established in the truth. In 15 and 16 the warning is against kicking a man when he is down: from the merely prudential viewpoint it is not safe to do so, for he is likely to get up again and deal with his bullying assailant! But there is a deeper thought here also. The question arises as to what we do when we fall. Do we become discouraged, or grit our teeth and struggle to our feet again? The one fatal attitude is to lose heart. The falling in one sense is not so important; provided we get up again. The habit of getting up makes, as it were, a gracious groove in our minds, and one day we shall find that that habit will not only prop us up but keep us up. C.S. Lewis has a fine word about this: 'I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious, provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience, etc. don't get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us: it is the very sign of His presence.'