-Solomon gives sage advice for turning away wrath when it comes against us. He says a gentle response is always the best option. In contrast, harsh words stir up anger and exasperate the situation. The tongue of the wise has a way of making knowledge acceptable. It’s not a beat-down, it’s a lift-up in other words. We must seek to speak in a way that people can accept instead of fighting. We have to break down defenses to the truth. Calmness has this affect. The mouth of the fool only spouts folly. He doesn’t really think about the implications of his speech. Omniscience becomes the crux of the next thought, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, watching the evil and the good.” The All-Knowing God is very aware of everything. In fact, His knowledge is impeccable. The words of mankind quickly resurface now in the chapter when Solomon states, “A soothing tongue is a tree of life (cross reference this phrase in Scripture, Genesis 2:9, Proverbs 3:18; 11:30; 13:12; 15:4, Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14, 19), but perversion in it crushes the spirit.” Now, the king remarks that to regard reproof is prudent, but rejecting a father’s discipline is foolish. Much wealth surrounds the house of the righteous, but trouble is the income of the wicked. The words of the wise spread abroad their knowledge, but the hearts of fools do no such thing. There are three abominations listed in this chapter. Those being: 1) The sacrifice of the wicked, 2) The way of the wicked, and 3) Evil plans (Proverbs 15:8, 9, 26). On the reverse, God is delighted by the prayers of the upright, loves him who pursues righteousness, and is pleased with pleasant and pure words. In fact, stern discipline is for the person who forsakes the way of the LORD. Those who hate reproof will soon die. Sheol and Abaddon (abodes, or realms, for the earthly departed) lie wide open before the LORD, but what is more, God knows intricately the hearts of men. A scoffer hates the one who reproves him. He will not even go near the wise for advice. The heart continues to resurface as a theme as Solomon states that a joyful heart makes the face cheerful, but a sad heart breaks the spirit. Next, he purports that the mind of the intelligent will seek out knowledge, but the mouth of the fool tends to feed on folly. Every day of the afflicted is bad, but a person with a cheerful heart has a continual feast. In support of that, the king endorses contentment by saying, “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, than a great treasure and turmoil with it. Better is a dish of vegetables where love is, than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” Temperament becomes an issue here as hot-tempered people are reported to stir up all kinds of strife. To the contrary, those slow to anger pacify contention (James 1:19). Peace here is our goal, not division and war. Poetic language is awesome as Solomon relates a sluggard to a hedge of thorns (difficult to deal with) in comparison to the path of the upright, which is a broad-smooth running highway. With this in mind, Solomon says, “A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish man despises his mother.” Folly is joyful to those who lack sense, but a person of understanding will walk in a correct, law-abiding, manner. Without good consultation, man’s plans are frustrated, but with a multitude of biblical counselors these plans can succeed. A person always receives joy in an apt answer, and it is delightful to hear a timely word. Solomon now ponders the path of life some more. God’s ways lead upward for the wise so that they can keep away from Sheol below. The LORD will tear down, in judgment and without mercy, the house of the selfish proud, but He looks out for the humble widow and establishes her boundary (Proverbs 15:1-26). I take this to indicate how God gives victory in spiritual warfare and comes to aid of those who truly seek His deliverance. There is a boundary set on what demonic oppressors can do for those who are lowly and know they need help.
-The person who is proud, makes evil plans, and profits illicitly (like taking bribes) troubles his own house with perpetual turmoil. The man who hates bribes, on the other hand, will live and eventually prosper with the peace of God. The heart of the righteous ponders how to they should answer, but the mouth of the wicked man pours out evil things from the deceitfulness of their heart. The LORD is far from the wicked, meaning He resists them with complete awareness, but He attends to the prayers of the righteous. Bright and excited eyes gladden the heart and spread abundant cheer, and good news makes people want to rejoice and feast leading to the gaining of weight. As a Baptist, I can relate. The person who has an ear for “life-giving reproof,” which is of God’s Word, will dwell among the wise. This is their habitation, and they will grow in their spiritual character and understanding. On the other hand, “He who neglects discipline despises himself.” He does himself no good. One more return to the “fear of God” concept, and the chapter is completed, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility (Proverbs 15:27-33).”
-*Application* The multitude of concepts that we are given to enhance our understanding of God’s ways, just in this chapter, numbers in the teens. The mouth, discipline and accepting reproof, God’s omniscience, abominations unto the LORD, the heart, the pursuit of knowledge, the fear of God, contentment, love, temperament, hard work, a multitude of counselors, and pride verses humility all resonate as instruction for the righteous soul. Let’s conform our heart, mind, and will to His Heart, Mind, and Will from this number of profound themes and keep gaining wisdom.
Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 15:1, 3, 5, 8, 18, 29, 32-33