In today’s devotional we will consider three proverbs that, though not bound by a common theme, give insight into the character of a man by taking note of what he enjoys and delights in (Proverbs 10:23-24, 26).
Proverbs 10:23 – “It is as sport [laughter; derision; merriment] to a fool [stupid; silly] to do mischief [lewdness; wickedness; evil]: but a man of understanding [discretion; discernment of right and wrong] hath wisdom [shrewd; skilled in use of knowledge].”
Our society has strayed far from the influence of Biblical Christianity and the evidence of that is seen in heinous crimes committed against children, the elderly and other defenseless members of our community. A generation of youth has risen in our nation whose conscience has never been instructed with a moral standard or trained to know and understand right and wrong. Parents, failing to recognize a child’s heart is naturally bent to foolishness (Proverbs 22:15), have failed to discipline and instruct their sons and daughters and spare their souls from self-destruction. Some might challenge my assertion that fools dominate today’s society; however, I suggest the fact our middle schools and high schools are patrolled by armed police officers is evidence enough that fools rule!
By contrast, people trained and disciplined in the ways of godly wisdom and understanding have no delight or satisfaction in the ways of fools.
Proverbs 10:24 – “The fear [intimidation] of the wicked [ungodly; immoral; criminal], it shall come upon [besiege] him [what the wicked fear and flee from will ultimately overtake them]: but the desire [delight; satisfaction] of the righteous [just; lawful] shall be granted [satisfied; because they desire God’s best].”
The wicked delight in creating havoc and sorrow among the innocent; however, they inevitably become victims of their own proclivity to sin and wickedness. The violence the wicked perpetuate on others to protect their own lives and interests will invariably become their demise.
The righteous are blessed by God because their delight and joy is in pleasing and obeying Him (Psalm 1:2). Like a tree planted by water, the life of a righteous man is blessed and fruitful (Psalm 1:3); however, “the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6).
Proverbs 10:26 – “As vinegar [an organic acid] to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes [irritates the eyes], so is the sluggard to them that send him [To employ a lazy slothful person becomes a constant irritant].”
Solomon employs two common illustrations to teach his son a spiritual truth a future king needs to grasp. The first illustration is the detrimental effect vinegar has on teeth. Used in excess, the natural acidity of vinegar can break down the enamel coating on teeth and invariably promote tooth decay, cavities and toothache. The second illustration is that smoke from a fire irritates the eyes.
Given those two simple illustrative facts of common elements that can irritate and cause pain, Solomon states a spiritual fact a wise man should heed: Employ a lazy, slothful person and they will be a constant irritant in your life!
One thing I have learned in life is that character is consistent. A lazy employee is an irritant like smoke in the eyes and vinegar rotting the teeth. A slothful person may possess valuable talents and skills; however, their indolence and lack of initiative to fulfill their employer’s trust will inevitably be a source of heartache and sorrow.
Writing to first century Christians, Paul challenged them to be zealous in their ministry to others, “fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). I challenge you to the same: be a blessing, not a source of sorrow and irritation to others!
Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith