September 14th 2018 – Proverbs 24:28-34

Be not a witness against your neighbour without cause,
    and do not deceive with your lips.
 Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me;
    I will pay the man back for what he has done.”
I passed by the field of a sluggard,
    by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,
 and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns;
    the ground was covered with nettles,
    and its stone wall was broken down.
 Then I saw and considered it;
    I looked and received instruction.
 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest,
 and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
    and want like an armed man.

Proverbs 24:28-34

The next subject is prejudiced witness. 28 and 29 are linked. The action that is deplored in 28 is clearly an act of revenge, as 29 indicates. And it is forbidden (see 20:22, also Romans 12:19.  We are not to allow others' attitudes to us to condition and determine our attitude to them. We can safely leave our cause in God's hands. He is just, and will look after our interests. We may be content in the knowledge that His will is being carried out, despite all efforts of the enemy to thwart it. Joseph's words, 'God meant it unto good' illustrate this well. The divine perspective helped him to victory here, and so it may do for us also.

The sluggard occupies the remaining verses of the chapter (see 6:6-11, and Note for September 19th, 1973). Kidner has a trenchant comment: 'The sluggard is no freak: but, as often as not, an ordinary man who has made too many excuses, too many refusals, and too many postponements. It has all been as imperceptible, and as pleasant, as falling asleep'. The point in 30 is well made: we are to look at the fruits of a man's performance, of his way of life, and see what he has accomplished. This is the test. By this we shall be justified or condemned. If one lesson stands out in all this, it is that of the interaction and balance between faith and effort. Faith, and the rest of faith, have little in common with idleness, lack of application and lack of a sense of responsibility. Faith and a sense of responsibility belong together, and what God has joined together no man must put asunder. If a man is lacking in a sense of responsibility, he is in that measure lacking in faith, and needs to understand this. God helps those who help themselves - this is a thoroughly biblical position. It in no wise militates against the true life of faith, indeed, on the contrary, it is the full flowering and fruitage of faith to live with a true sense of responsibility.