Summary: This is a verse by verse look at Proverbs chapter 22.
We will now look at Proverbs chapter twenty one:
On Life and Conduct
1 A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1 (NASB)
Meyer says of this verse:
Great riches are not always a great blessing. When they are held in trust for God, they afford the opportunity of giving a vast amount of happiness to the benefactor as well as to those benefited. But we recall other riches, which do not consist in what a man has, but in what he is. There are four levels of human experience - to have, to do, to know, and to be - and these in their order are like iron, silver, gold, precious stones.
2 The rich and the poor have a common bond, The Lord is the maker of them all. Proverbs 22:2 (NASB)
There is such a thing as equality before God. Paul tells us in Galatians:
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 (NASB)
We should also always keep in mind:
23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 (NASB)
3 The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it. Proverbs 22:3 (NASB)
One sees evil and stays away from it. The other sees evil and goes to it, accomplishes it and is punished for it.
4 The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord Are riches, honor and life. Proverbs 22:4 (NASB)
The general observation is that humility and fear of the Lord leads to riches, honor, and long life. There are some who have died young for the kingdoms sake – such as martyrs. The book of Proverbs describes life the way it should be. This verse does not dwell on the exceptions.
5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards himself will be far from them. Proverbs 22:5 (NASB)
Perverse living leads to a road that is full of thorns and snares. The wise person will guard where they travel. They will stay far away from the road of destruction.
6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (NASB)
This is one of those proverbs that you hear and sticks with you. It would seem that each person who comes in contact with a child have the responsibility to train them up. Not just parents but grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers and others are responsible too. Even society has a role in the training of children.
In the process of helping our children choose the right path, we must discern differing paths for each child. It is natural to want to bring up all our children alike or train them the same way. This verse implies that parents should discern the individuality and special strengths that God has given each one. While we should not condone or excuse self-will, each child has natural inclinations that parents can develop. By talking to teachers, other parents, and grandparents, we can better discern and develop the individual capabilities of each child.
Many parents want to make all the choices for their child, but this hurts him or her in the long run. When parents teach a child how to make decisions, they don't have to watch every step he or she takes. They know their children will remain on the right path because they have made the choice themselves. Train your children to choose the right way.
Note that the verse does not say that the child will choose the wrong path – but when he or she is “old” they will not depart from it. We should always hope that people will turn their lives around.
7 The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender's slave. Proverbs 22:7 (NASB)
Does this mean we should never borrow? No, but it warns us never to take on a loan without carefully examining our ability to repay it. A loan we can handle is enabling; a loan we can't handle is enslaving. The borrower must realize that until the loan is repaid, he is a servant to the individual or institution that made it.
8 He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, And the rod of his fury will perish. Proverbs 22:8 (NASB)
The crop must be according to the seed. If one sows thistle seed – do you think that you will reap wheat? He that sows according to the flesh will reap destruction. How can it be any other way? You reap what you sow.