Proverbs 15:18-21 – Matters of the Heart

heart mattersToday’s devotional proverbs speak to a variety of different topics, but all ultimately address the subject I am titling “Matters of the Heart”.

Proverbs 15:18 – “A wrathful [hate, anger, raging] man stirreth up [meddles; causes contention] strife [quarrels; arguments]: but he that is slow [patient; longsuffering] to anger [wrath; flaring nostrils; huffing and puffing] appeaseth strife [quiets disputes and quarrels].”

It is the curse of many families to have a loved one whose demeanor is described in Proverbs 15:18 as “a wrathful man”, one who is self-centered, provoking and contentious.  Trouble follows him and his presence at gatherings is anticipated with dread and anxiety.couple fighting

Solomon contrasts the “wrathful man” with one who is “slow to anger” (15:18b). Unlike his quick-tempered, unloving cousin, this man is a lover of peace and his patient demeanor offers the opportunity of de-escalating a potentially explosive moment.  He chooses to love, extends grace and is a man who “is not easily provoked” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

Proverbs 15:19 – “The way [road; journey] of the slothful [lazy; sluggard] man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way [path, road, journey] of the righteous [upright; just] is made plain [smooth].”

Verse 19 offers us a contrast of two men very different in character. The “slothful” man imagines his way is too difficult and raises all manner of excuses for his lack of effort and motivation. He views his circumstances through the eyes of a victim rather than an opportunist who sees difficulties as challenges.   The sluggard has all manner of excuses for his idleness…he is tired…sleepy…mistreated…misunderstood…life is lazinessnot fair…no one understands…no one cares… Unwilling to address the “hedge of thorns” he portends is in his way, he accepts the obstacles in his path as reason enough for his slothfulness.

The “righteous” man should inspire us.  Unlike the slothful that is full of excuses, this man walks in accord with God’s Law, sees obstacles as opportunities and determines to use his gifts and talents as a good steward of the Lord.  His path is described as “plain”, meaning smooth and that gives further insight into his character.  You see, it is unnatural for a path to be smooth; in fact, a path that is neglected is inevitably overgrown with weeds and thorns.  No, the path of the righteous is smooth, not because he has been granted an easier way than the slothful, but because he has been diligent and maintained his way and walk with the Lord.

Proverbs 15:20 – “A wise son [intelligent; wise hearted son] maketh a glad father [proud; rejoicing]: but a foolish man despiseth [disdains; shows contempt for] his mother.”

Proverbs 15:20 offers opportunity to reflect on a proverb stated earlier in this chapter, which reads, “A fool [mocker; rebel] despiseth [abhors; has contempt for] his father’s instruction [discipline; chastisement; warnings]: but he that regardeth [keeps; attends to] reproof [rebuke] is prudent [crafty; shrewd](Proverbs 15:5).

proud dadThe determining factor as to the spiritual state of a child’s heart, whether he or she is wise or foolish, is to examine how they respond to instruction and correction.  A fool has contempt for correction while a wise child responds with humility.  It is prudent for a parent to honestly consider their child’s response to instruction and correction, both within the home and with authorities outside the home.

A wise son is his father’s pride and joy; however, a fool treats his mother with contempt and disdain (15:20).  My friend, a fool despises and rejects his parent’s  instructions!

Proverbs 15:21 – “Folly [silliness] is joy [mirth] to him that is destitute [without; lacking; void] of wisdom [lit. “heart” – without feelings]: but a man of understanding [wisdom; insight] walketh uprightly [go straight; righteous; just].”

mug shotSilly, insensitive fools have become the celebrities of our culture and it follows that their sinful ways are modeled by a generation of youth.  Stupidity rules, immoral character dominates and sociopaths whose hearts are desensitized to the feelings of others have become the icons of a people “destitute of wisdom”.

He is in the minority and rejected by mainstream culture; however, the man who walks according to God’s Law and the principles of His Word will evidence insight and discernment only instruction and meditation in God’s Word affords.

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith