Scripture reading – Proverbs 15

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Today’s Scripture reading assignment is Proverbs 15, and our Bible study will focus on Proverbs 15:18-21. While this devotional will address various topics, they all ultimately fall under one subject, “Matters of the Heart.” [I have amplified word definitions in brackets and italics.]

The Angry Man vs. The Patient Man (Proverbs 15:18)


Proverbs 15:18 – “A wrathful [angry, raging] man stirreth up strife [quarrels; arguments]: but he that is slow [patient; longsuffering] to anger appeaseth strife [quiets disputes and quarrels].”


It is the fate of some families to have a loved one whose demeanor is described in Proverbs 15:18 as “a wrathful man.” Such a one is characteristically self-centered, provokes contention, and has an angry spirit. Trouble follows him, and his presence at gatherings is often anticipated with dread and anxiety.

The contrast to the “wrathful man” is the man who is “slow to anger” (Proverbs 15:18b). Unlike his quick-tempered, unloving cousin, this man loves and seeks peace. His patient demeanor tends to de-escalate a potentially volatile moment. His response is one of love, extending grace, and is therefore “not easily provoked” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

The Way of the Lazy vs. The Way of the Righteous (Proverbs 15:19)


Proverbs 15:19 – “The way [road; path] of the slothful [lazy] man is as an hedge of thorns [full of obstructions and difficulties]: but the way [path, road] of the righteous [upright; law-abiding] is made plain [smooth].”


Contrasting a lazy, “slothful man” with “the righteous” seems an odd comparison until we understand it is not the men but the way that is the subject.


The “way” (path, journey) of the “slothful” is difficult, for his laziness has allowed his way to become figuratively overgrown with thorns. According to him, he is too tired, sleepy, mistreated, misunderstood, and undervalued, and so goes the list of excuses for the “slothful man.” Such laziness inevitably leads to a life filled with failures and frustrations.


The way of the “righteous” was described as “made plain” or smooth (Proverbs 15:19b). It is plain and smooth, not because man has prepared it thus, but because it is the LORD’s path. The path of the righteous is smooth because it is the Lord’s path, found in His Word. The righteous are diligent to maintain their walk and way with the Lord.

Two Manner of Sons (Proverbs 15:20)


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


Proverbs 15:20 allows us to reflect on an earlier proverb in this chapter that read: “A fool [mocker; rebel] despiseth [abhors; has contempt] his father’s instruction [discipline; warnings]: but he that regardeth [keeps; attends to] reproof [rebuke] is prudent [wise; crafty; shrewd] (Proverbs 15:5).


Though men look “on the outward appearance” (2 Samuel 16:7), we are reminded that the spiritual state of a child’s heart cannot be determined by their intellect, talent, or outward beauty. Thus, the spiritual condition of a child’s soul must be judged by his response to his father and mother’s instructions and correction. A foolish child has contempt for correction, while a wise son responds with humility.  


It is prudent for parents to honestly consider their child’s response to instruction and correction, not only within the home but also with authorities outside the home. A wise son is a father’s pride and delight; however, a fool treats his mother with contempt and disdain (Proverbs 15:20).

A Tale of Two Courses (Proverbs 15:21)


Proverbs 15:21 – “Folly [silliness] is joy [mirth] to him that is destitute [without; lacking; void] of wisdom [i.e., an insensitive heart]: but a man of understanding [wisdom; insight] walketh uprightly [law-abiding; just; righteous; just].”

Unfortunately, Proverbs 15:21 describes the spirit of our day. Silly, insensitive fools have become the celebrities of our society, and it follows that the youth of this generation will model their sinful ways. When a generation is “destitute of wisdom” (Proverbs 15:21a), absurdity rules, the immoral govern, and sociopaths who are desensitized to the feelings of others become the icons of youth.

Closing thoughts –

It is the challenge of believers to recognize and reject the folly of their day. Let us set our spiritual GPS and walk a straight path according to the Laws, precepts, and commandments of the LORD.

Solomon observed that the way of the wicked is angry, thorny, foolish, and folly. In contrast, the way of the upright is smooth, wise, and straight. Christ urged His followers:

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13–14)

What path are you taking?

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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