Verse 17-19 of Proverbs 22 make up the prologue to what some call “The Thirty Words” or “Thirty Sayings” that will continue from verse 22 all the way through to the end of Proverbs 24. Here are the writer’s words that introduce them:
Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,
and apply your heart to my knowledge,
for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
if all of them are ready on your lips.
That your trust may be in the Lord,
I have made them known to you today, even to you.
Have I not written for you thirty sayings
of counsel and knowledge,
to make you know what is right and true,
that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?
These verses state the purpose of the “thirty words” – that the reader, or those who hear them, will apply them to their heart, know that they are true, and trust in the Lord. Thus the reader will be able to communicate these truths to others with clarity and confidence. These thirty sayings are two line couplets admonishing the reader to pay heed to advice about many matters that are important to the Lord, and that are beneficial to one’s well-being in navigating life. They each also contain the desired and expected result that will come from heeding or not heeding these admonitions.
Saying one, in verse 22, begins with one that is most dear to the Lord’s heart – and hammered home again and again by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are expected (commanded) to treat the poor with dignity, love and respect – making it clear, as all scripture does, that the Lord values the poor, and that He abhors those who mistreat them.
“Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate, for the Lord will plead their cause and rob of life those who rob them.”
Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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