Sermon: Proverbs 11:26-31; To Fall or to Flourish?

People of God, this is our last look at Proverbs for this Pentecost Season. We will certainly come back again and again in years to come. It is impossible to grow as a people without the wisdom of King Solomon.

Proverbs are not merely suggestions for better living, rather they are commands for the good life on earth as it is in heaven. Proverbs define the true meaning of success, wealth, and joy. Proverbs is a dictionary whose substance is not subject to change with time or modern fashion. Proverbs is not just true for all times, it is at all times true.

This is why there are so many lessons to learn in Proverbs, and this is why the more we read it the more we will gain from it. “A proverb a day keeps the devil away,” said my old P.E. Teacher. He was right. There is nothing more anti-devilish, anti-Screwtape than drinking deeply at the fountain of kingly wisdom.

Read. Meditate. Memorize. Apply. Proverbs is for you! You have the responsibility to embrace it and allow it to shape you. C.S. Lewis once wrote:

What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.[1]

The sort of person you are and will become is largely based on how well you receive wisdom. If you look at wisdom and say: “Well, this is just too complicated and it has the potential of causing some pain, so I will choose to overlook it for now.” At that moment you have made a decision. You are shaping the person you will become one day. But if your response is: “This is the wisdom of God, and though it will not be easy at times to live by it, I know that this will shape me to be more like my King.” This is the proper attitude: one that is not blind to the consequences of wisdom, but one that knows that wisdom is worth pursuing.

The question before us is “to fall or to flourish?” Solomon is demanding an answer from his son. Life is filled with decisions, and the primary decision you make as a Christian each day is whether you will make it your life-long goal to pursue wisdom, or whether you will choose to cavalierly walk through life? The latter makes you susceptible to falling, the former makes you more like our Lord. Decision-making is unavoidable. Solomon puts it into perspective in verse 26:

The people curse him who holds back grain,

but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.

In verse 26 the market is at the center of the king’s attention. It is amazing how much the Bible has to say about the economy! Solomon here is describing someone who does not want to see the market run its course. He does not want to see competition. He withholds from the people the wealth of the nation. He keeps what rightly belongs to the people. Joseph withheld grain for seven years because he knew that a famine was coming. He was working on behalf of the people, but this leader has large stores of grain at his disposal but he will not allow the market to possess it and sell it at a fair price. He withholds because he knows the people are dependent on it for survival. He manipulates the market.

We see this in communistic countries. Communism is a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state. When this happens the people curse their government, their leader, and their king. Government is not to hold back wealth. Government is not to keep wealth; they are not to stop competition, they are to allow the market to function. They are to encourage people to buy goods from sellers.

I met a man from South American one time who was asked: “What is the biggest difference you have found living here in the U.S.? He said: “The biggest difference is that American grocery stores always contain choices and what I am looking for is always available.” I am not sure how many of you have visited third-world countries, but most times if you want a particular item it will be only available once a week or once a month. The wise king does not withhold, He gives it to the market and allows the market to sell grain at a fair price. On the other hand, the foolish king, the anti-Solomon figure is cursed by the people. He sees his people in need and hungry, and he waits until they are hungry enough to pay the highest amount possible. Then, only then, will he sell. But the wise king is blessed because he does not withhold, he gives and sells for a fair price. His motivation is doing good. There are a lot of practical economic implications here, not only to the market, but also to individual giving. The one who gives and gives is praised and blessed by God, but the one who sees his neighbor in need and does not give is cursed by God.[2]

Will you flourish and give or will you fall and withhold? That is the question.

The theme of flourishing and falling become even clearer in verse 27 & 28:

Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor,

but evil comes to him who searches for it.

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,

but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.

 

If you seek good, you seek favor. Whose favor? The favor of God. All things come from Him. If you seek the good for the sake of the good, then you are prone to hypocrisy, but if you seek the good diligently because you desire the favor of God, then you will flourish.

 

If you seek evil energetically, carefully, meticulously, you will find evil, and it will come upon you, and you will fall.

 

Again, if you trust in your riches, if your purpose for accumulating wealth is to satisfy your own desires you will fall, but the benevolent will seek the interest of others. [3] The righteous, the one who gives will flourish. How will he flourish? Like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all he does, he prospers.[4]

 

What is the result of such a life of fruitfulness? What does this fruitfulness look like? On the other hand, what does this falling look like? Is this just a mere state of mind? Is God saying that you will feel good if you do good, and you will feel like a failure if you do not act benevolently? No. These are very tangible consequences. Look at verses 29-31:

 

Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind,

and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,

and whoever captures souls is wise.

If the righteous is repaid on earth,

how much more the wicked and the sinner!

 

Solomon is training his son as king and as leader of his household. How does one trouble a house? He acts in ways that bring harm to those closest to him.[5] Instead of passing on his wealth as an inheritance, he inherits only wind. He wastes it. The word “economy” means to “manage the house.” When you are not using your money wisely, you are practicing bad economy. When your money is used unwisely, then you are bringing damage and trouble to your own house. To be a king is great, but a king has many responsibilities. The same with queens. Managing your home is not just about money, it is about beauty, ordering, caring, training, learning, and more.

 

The fool will end up becoming a slave, and by doing so he will put his family and his next generation in shackles also. He and his family will be indebted to everyone and everything. This is not the way to live. This is the opposite of kingly wisdom.

 

But the fruit of righteousness “is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.”

 

The righteous bear fruit that feeds others. If you are a tree of life that means that others will be attracted to you and what you offer. This is evangelism 101. By being fruitful, you grab the attention of the world. “Everywhere he goes he encourages, uplifts, laughs, delights.” The person captures souls, which implies the imagination and the heart of someone. The Christian is a soul catcher in the sense that he delivers people from themselves. Fools are prone to folly. They waste, they find themselves unable to be freed from their addictions, their debts, until the wise man comes along and says: “Let me help! Let me show you a better way! Let me show you the love of God, and let me show you how much better off you will be serving the purposes of the kingdom.”

 

How Now Shall We Then Live?

 

We conclude with verse 31, which summarizes the matter:

 

If the righteous is repaid on earth,

how much more the wicked and the sinner!

Wisdom does not eliminate suffering and disappointment, but it offers you an immeasurably better way to handle suffering and disappointment. Kingly wisdom provides a way to avoid “the kind of trouble that boomerangs back to the one who causes it.”[6] This is how you are repaid on earth: by flourishing in good times and in bad; in suffering and in glory.

The wicked and the sinner have no alternative. He swims in the disorder of his own creation. The pain comes back again and again, because he never learns, pursues, or desires wisdom.

Proverbs is life to those who love wisdom. Proverbs makes kings and queens out of children. Proverbs acknowledges the subtleties of life. It acknowledges the fact that your decisions matters. They set before you a path of life or death.

Proverbs prepares you to be like the great king, Jesus Christ. He is the wise King, the one who embraced wisdom and never looked back. The One whose wisdom is given to us today. Let us take it! Let us follow its path and never look back!

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


[1] Quote found on-line.

[2] See Koptak, Matthew Henry, and Waltke. The matter contains several important economic implications. Governments that wish to hinder the market from operating suffer inevitable destruction or collapse. The regulatory system can a part of this great detrimental tactic.

[3] Waltke, 500.

[4] Psalm 1:3

[5] Koptak, 324

[6] Koptak, 327

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About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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2 Responses to Sermon: Proverbs 11:26-31; To Fall or to Flourish?

  1. Pingback: The Steps of the Righteous by John L Hemphill III | Prayer Works Cafe

  2. Pingback: God’s Words thru King Solomon Ecclesiastes 7 | USA COINTELPRO VICTIM OF THE PATRIOT ACT

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