Proverbs 16:16-30 (ESV)
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
17 The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
21 The wise of heart is called discerning,
and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
22 Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
but the instruction of fools is folly.
23 The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
26 A worker’s appetite works for him;
his mouth urges him on.
27 A worthless man plots evil,
and his speech is like a scorching fire.
28 A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.
29 A man of violence entices his neighbor
and leads him in a way that is not good.
30 Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things;
he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.
Day 1: Loving God
Verse 18 concedes that at times the humble are poor and afflicted while the proud are rich and triumphant. Nonetheless, “It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud,” because, as verse 16 says, “how much better to get wisdom than gold.” Being wise and poor is better than being foolish and rich. Being humble and poor is better than being proud and rich. Ultimately, as verse 18 says, “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” In what ways is God calling you to “a lowly spirit” rather than “a haughty spirit”? In what situations and relations is God calling you to greater humility and wisdom?
- Confess the ways in which you have been prideful, and ask God for the humility and faith to submit to His will in all things.
- Pray that God would increase your eager desire for His Wisdom and Word, so that you seek it more than gold.
- Pray for spiritual renewal and vigilance, that you might keep to “the highway of the upright” and “turn aside from evil.”
Day 2: Loving One Another
The word “soul” in verse 24 also means “appetite” (cf. 16:26), so “sweetness to the soul/appetite and health to the body” refer to how honey is both sweet to the taste and healthful to the body. This is what the speech of the wise is like. It is both persuasive (i.e. sweet) and instructive (i.e. healthful). In your interactions with the brothers and sisters in the church, are your words both persuasive and instructive? Winsome and edifying?
- Pray that our church would grow in theological and spiritual discernment, so that we might better build one another up in Christ.
- Pray that our church would be characterized by judicious speech, both in private and in public.
- Pray that we would speak the truth in love to one another, rather than being instructive but not persuasive, nor persuasive but not instructive.
Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors
Verse 25 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” It is not always wise to “follow our hearts,” because our hearts can be deceptive. It is not always wise to “obey our consciences,” because our consciences can misfire. Many ways that end in death and damnation seem right to the unbelieving world, and it is the task of those who have been enlightened by the Wisdom of Christ to lead them out to the “highway of the upright.” In what ways have you seen the consequences of evil speech (e.g. rabble-rousing in v. 27, slandering/gossiping in v. 28, and hate-filled, malicious deception v. 29) in the world?
- Pray that God would illuminate the eyes of our unbelieving neighbors’ hearts so that they leave the way that ends in death and turn to Jesus.
- Pray that God would use our Alpha Course, which started in July 13th, to bring people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ through it.
- Pray for repentance and healing for our broken world where evil speech wreaks havoc.
- Pray for revival in Cambridge/Boston and New England, that the Spirit of God would move powerfully in our region.