Solomon spends a significant amount of time discussing that we can have the good life now by being wise in our relationships. The proverbs have instructed us about being good parents, godly children, and worthy women. Today, we will look at how to be a wise man in the sight of God. To a certain degree, all of the proverbs are instructing men how to be wise. Remember that this is Solomon training his son. When Solomon spoke about the worthy woman and the excellent wife, he did not stop talking to his son. He is telling his son to look for the inner beauty of the woman because that is what makes her truly beautiful. Solomon is telling his son to avoid the contentious, quarrelsome woman because it is better to dwell on the corner of the roof than live in the same house. The instructions that we have looked in this series about controlling anger, not being a fool, not being lazy, and not falling into the snare of wealth have been important instructions to men. But there are more proverbs that deal with what a good man looks like and Solomon describes that man so we can become that person.
“A man will be commended according to his wisdom, but he who is of a perverse heart will be despised” (Proverbs 12:8). Solomon wants his son to realize that he will be measured and praised by his wisdom. I don’t know that we always think about the fact that our reputation will be measured by our life choices for ourselves and for our family. Make good decisions early in life, young man, because you will build a good reputation for yourself and you will begin to go down the path of living the good life now.
“Like a bird that wanders from her nest, so is a man who wanders from his home” (27:8). The picture is of a bird who is not content at home where things are safe but must venture out into danger. This proverb has applications to many areas concerning responsibility. First, this proverb has a sexual meaning. A good man and a wise husband will not seek out sexual pleasures outside of the home. A couple months back we looked at the numerous proverbs instructing the man to find satisfaction in their wife and not to wander into the arms of another.
Second, this proverb has application to divorce and abandonment. A real man does not forsake his responsibility to provide and protect the inhabitants of the home. We see a growing problem in our society where people think that when things get tough, they simply need to get going. There will be conflicts in the home from time to time. Spouses will not see eye to eye. There will be strains in our relationship with our children. But we never have a right to walk out the door, dropping our responsibility. Some of these actions have almost been deemed acceptable as a “mid-life crisis.” We joke about the middle-aged man who drives the cherry red Corvette with a 21 year old blond sitting next to him. We have this feeling that the “grass is greener on the other side.” The problem with believing this to be so is that once you are on the other side of the fence, you see more grass that looks greener. A real man is content with his life at home and does not wander off to sow wild oats, find freedom, live it up, or anything of the like. You have made a commitment to the home.
“He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart” (11:29).
We noted last week Solomon teach his son that the woman sets the tone and the atmosphere of the house. A prudent woman will make the home a place that people want to be where a contentious woman makes the home a place of suffering. But the man is also called to not trouble the home. While it is the work of the woman to create an uplifting, happy atmosphere, a foolish man can destroy that work. Instead of love and care, a man can strike fear into the inhabitants of the house. A troubler of the house will end up with nothing (the wind). But inheriting the wind has a symbolic meaning of reaping trouble and suffering. The troubler will bring trouble back upon his own head. Men, we need to think about if we are troubling our house. Is our attitude harsh and rough or do we show love and care? Do we take out our work frustrations on the family? Do we show that we do not care for our spouse or children? Such actions will leave one with nothing but trouble.
“The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him” (20:7). This proverb is the contrast to the last proverb. The righteous man will act properly, make good decisions, and live righteously. By doing so, the blessings of those decisions will trickle down to the children. When we have children, all of us want so badly for our children to have a better life than ourselves. The way to do that is not by buying gifts or accumulating wealth. We bless our children after us by making good, godly decisions on a regular basis, putting the interests of others in our house above ourselves.
“Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble” (28:14). Again Solomon makes the call to his son to fear the Lord. Fearing the Lord is about making righteous decisions and keeping the heart attuned to following God’s will. Young man, you can live the good life now by submitting your life to God. You can get yourself in a lot of trouble personally, emotional, financially, and spiritually by not letting God guide your paths early in life.
Specific Characteristics of the Good Man/Husband
“The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord” (18:22). A man is supposed to realize the value of a woman. Do we treat our wives as a treasure? Do we place upon them the high value that God has placed upon them? What do you do with something that is very high in value, men? What do you do with those precious possessions? We care for it. We are outside every day waxing the brand new car. We protect it. My children are not allowed to treat my electronics like toys. We spend time with things that are high in value. We honor it. This is exactly what Peter was teaching men in the New Testament.
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
Peter does not say, “Husbands, tell your wives what to do. Treat them as if they cannot make decisions themselves. You are in charge.” But husbands too often think that they control the woman. Solomon said that she is a treasure. Peter said that we are to understanding. Peter said we show her honor. We do not treat her as a slave. It is interesting that the scriptures tell the elders of a local church that they are in charge. But Peter goes to great lengths to teach the elders that it does not mean that you make people do what you say. Peter says that the elders exercise oversight, not compelling people to follow, nor being domineering (1 Peter 5:2,3). We see to understand this. The scriptures say the husband is the head of the wife (1 Corinthians 11:3), but goes to great lengths to show that it is not about making her do what you say or being domineering. Solomon says she is a treasure, so quit treating her like a slave. Peter says you must live with her in an understanding way, so stop acting like it is your way or the highway. Peter says that she is to be honored, so stop acting like you are the king who must be honored. Carefully read the last phrase of Peter’s command in 1 Peter 3:7. If we do not treat our wives as treasures, with compassion and understanding, and giving them honor, our prayers are hindered. We are out of God’s favor. God is not listening to us. How long has God not been listening to you because you are not acting like a godly man and a wise husband? Treat her as a precious, fragile vessel of great value.
Humility, Not Arrogance
“Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men; it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman” (25:6-7).
“It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one’s own honor” (25:27).
“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips” (27:2).
“A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor” (29:25).
These are useful proverbs to keep in mind. As men, sometimes we really are seeking after honor. We speak so that people will think highly of us for our great knowledge or experience. We want people to be “wowed” by us. But to bring praise upon yourself is humiliating. There is no honor when you are trying to achieve honor. Everyone knows that is what you are doing and people lose respect for you. We probably know people who are always trying to heap glory upon themselves. We don’t want to be around those people. Eventually, they get their foot caught in their mouth and look foolish. Honor will come be simply living our lives properly. “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (16:31). We do not need to advertise ourselves. Live a righteous life for God and God will give the glory.
This humility that is required of us is also point out in the willingness to seek counsel:
“Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established” (15:22).
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (11:14).
We have to have the humility to take advice from other people. In both of the proverbs we see that life plans become a mess when we are not willing to listen to others. Children, you need to seek your parents’ counsel when make life decisions. Adults need to listen to other Christians who have life experiences and knowledge of the scriptures to give counsel. Men, we need to listen to the input of our wives. We were told to dwell with them in knowledge and understanding. We cannot understand their needs if we do not ask for their input and wisdom. We married our wives because of the inner beauty they have of wisdom, integrity, and godliness. Why should we not listen to their counsel? Have the humility to listen and to realize that our thoughts may not be the best choice.
Finally, men must maintain integrity and honesty at all times.
“The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight” (11:1).
“It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer; then off he goes and boasts about his purchase” (20:14).
“Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse” (28:6).
There is a challenge for men in the work place to be able to get ahead through dishonest means. We may be told that if we look the other way concerning some activity or cheat another person that you will move up in the company. It can be very tempting to go for the better pay by taking a questionable job or performing activities that are immoral. Such a decision is an abomination to the Lord.
- You have a responsibility to the home. You do not have the option to wander away or see if the grass is greener on the other side.
- Do not be a troubler of the house. All the work the woman puts into the atmosphere of the home can be destroyed by a man who is not putting his family first.
- Your wife is a treasure; treat her like it. She is to be treated in an understanding way, with honor, like a valuable, prized possession. She is not a slave. She was not put on the earth to be told what to do. She is to be honored above all else.
- Be humble. Pride will destroy our lives because we will make foolish decisions. Seek counsel. Listen to your family and listen to your spouse.
- Be honest. There will be great temptations to lie and commit other immoral acts to keep a paycheck or to get a promotion. Maintain your integrity.