Summary: Exposition of Prov. 17:22
Just What the Doctor Ordered
It’s usually healthy to follow the doctor’s orders.
After giving a woman a full medical examination, the doctor writes out a prescription and gives instructions on the dosage. "Take the green pill with a large glass of water when you get up. Take the blue pill with a large glass of water after lunch. Then just before you go to bed, take the red pill with another large glass of water." The worried woman exclaims, "Exactly what is my problem, Doctor?" The doctor replies, “You’re not drinking enough water." -Quote
That’s one of the reasons doctors make the big bucks: they know what medicine to give you to cure what ails you. They have to know what kind of pills and in what dose will help you get better. Do you ever wonder when you watch your doctor write out a prescription for yourself, “I wonder how many times they get it wrong?” Probably not too often. If you take what the doctor orders, you’re usually back to your normal health again soon.
This morning I want to give you a prescription. Yes, I know I’m not a doctor, but this prescription I have for you comes from One Who is known as the Great Physician. He gave doctors the knowledge and wisdom to treat our bodies, but this prescription I’m giving you is one for your soul. It is medicine that can help you live better and longer, both in your spirit and in your body. Best of all, it doesn’t really cost you a dime.
I just got a prescription. The instructions read: “Take one every time you can afford it.”—Ron Dentinger
What is this powerful, free wonder drug for your soul? The prescription is found in Prov. 17:22. Read this with me and see if this isn’t just what the doctor ordered for you today.
One of the keys to understanding this prescription is understanding the context of the verse itself. This is part of the book of Proverbs, which contain God’s instructions for how to live your life wisely. These aren’t just old sayings people decided to record—they aren’t just a collection of somebody’s ideas of good advice- they are God’s principles for living your life more skillfully and more successfully—and in this case, living life healthier. With that in mind, you can divide this prescription up into 3 basic parts:
I. LIGHTEN UP!
Pastor and author John Ortberg describes a member of his congregation he calls Hank: Hank was a cranky guy. He did not smile easily, and when he did, the smile often had a cruel edge…coming at someone else’s expense. He had a knack for discovering islands of bad news in oceans of happiness…His native tongue was complaining… someone once asked him, “Hank, are you happy?” Hank paused to reflect, then replied without smiling, “Yeah.” But somehow Hank’s face never seemed to get the news.
I’ve met a lot of Hanks in church. Many of them have been lifelong church members, deacons, even preachers. Serious people who don’t see much in life to smile about or laugh about. Others sometimes look up to these unsmiling, hyper-holy saints who take everything way too seriously. They need a good dose of the medicine found in Prov. 17:22 where God says a merry heart is good medicine. What does it mean to be merry? It means to lighten up! More specifically it involves
a. Keeping a positive perspective. I have heard the world can be divided into optimists and
An optimist invented the boat; a pessimist invented the life preserver.
An optimist invented the airplane; a pessimist invented the parachute.
An optimist laughs to forget; the pessimist forgets to laugh.
’Twixt the optimist and the pessimist / The difference is droll;
The optimist sees the doughnut /But the pessimist sees the hole. -McLandburgh Wilson
Which group do you fall in—the optimists or the pessimists? In a world like ours full of evil, suffering, and death, nothing is harder for many of us than holding on to optimism. But that only makes it more important that you don’t allow yourself to become a pessimist.
God’s prescription for lightening up doesn’t mean you never weep or grieve, for after all Scripture tells us there is a time to weep as well as a time to rejoice. What the Bible does say is that you and I need to develop the habit of keeping a positive attitude, which consists simply of seeing everything the way God sees it. God does not just see the evil, the suffering, the death- He sees how He is working even in these things to bring good out of them. God doesn’t just see His Son dying on the Cross—He sees Christ’s resurrection. He doesn’t just see the death of His saints—He sees them welcomed into Heaven, where they will never die again.