Proverbs 27:17-22 – What manner of man or woman are you?

031206-N-1711I-001Today’s proverbs address a variety of truths that are inter-related, but stand individually on their own.  Remember, Solomon taught these proverbs to his son preparing him for the day he would be king.

Proverbs 27:17 – “Iron [i.e. an axe head] sharpeneth [grow sharp] iron [i.e. an axe head]; so a man sharpeneth [grow sharp] the countenance [the face; person] of his friend [companion; neighbor; fellow].”

It is a fact that rubbing iron against iron will sharpen the edge of a sword or knife.  So it is that a good friend will sharpen the “countenance”, character and soul of his friend. bad friends Choose your friends wisely and be especially mindful of who the members of your family befriend.  Evil, wicked friends will corrupt, dull and destroy good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Proverbs 27:18 – “Whoso keepeth [watch; preserve; maintain] the fig tree [a source of sweetness] shall eat [devour; consume;] the fruit [reward; earnings] thereof: so he that waiteth [keep watch; preserve; guard] on his master [lord; sovereign] shall be honoured [glorified; rich].”

Hard work and faithfulness to a task is its own reward; and, like the farmer is the first to enjoy the fresh fruit of his labor, so is the employee who labors faithfully for his employer.  Be diligent in your labor and a good employer will tend to notice and reward you.

Proverbs 27:19 – “As in water face [countenance; i.e. the look on one’s face] answereth to face, so the heart [mind; understanding] of man to man.”

The water mentioned in this proverb is a slow-moving, placid stream, calm enough to serve as a mirror.  Like a calm body of water reflects objects, a man’s friends tend to reflect his heart. mirror image You and I cannot know the secrets concealed in a man’s heart; however, it is a fact we tend to mirror the moral character and nature of those with whom we fellowship.

Before I address another proverb, allow me the liberty of this observation for parents of teens—your children are, in spite of your objections to the contrary, like their friends!  Skunks run with skunks; buzzards fly with buzzards; and rebels flock to rebels!   Look at your child’s friends and ask yourself: “Is that who I want my child to be?”  Some parents reading today’s devotional need to wake up and take responsibility for whom your children are befriending before it is too late!  You are risking living with regrets the rest of your life!

Proverbs 27:20 – “Hell [“sheol” = the grave; hades; pit] and destruction [perishing] are never [not] full [satisfied; enough; sufficed]; so the eyes [sight; attitude] of man are never satisfied [full; enough; sufficed].”

This proverb needs no explanation.  Hell always has room for one more poor fool.  The proverb of the rich fool reminds us that a heart set upon pleasures and possessions is never satisfied, and he is a fool who fails to turn his heart to God.  The sinful, covetous heart is never content apart from His Creator and provider of lasting peace through Christ.

fiery furnaceProverbs 27:21 – As the fining pot [used for purifying precious metals] for silver, and the furnace [smelting pot] for gold; so is a man [an individual] to his [mouth; speech; opening] praise [brag; boast].”

The opening verses of Proverbs 27 (specifically verses 1-2) served as a warning for us to not play the fool and presume upon God’s grace concerning our future.   Nor should we allow pride to rule our hearts and our lips serve as a megaphone spouting our own laurels.

What a man says of himself is a proof of what manner of man he is!   A fool boasts his own accomplishments with ne’er a thought he is nothing apart from God’s mercy and grace.   Like the fire of a “fining pot” or a “smelting furnace” proves the quality of a precious metal, so do the lips of a man in regard to whom he is.  After all, we are universally sinners and, apart from God’s saving grace through the blood of Christ, we are in the sight of God a wicked, sinful people.

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith