Proverbs 24:1 ¶ Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.

Proverbs 24:2 For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.

That Solomon warns his sons not to be envious of evil men implies that there is a cause for envy.  Usually, it is because of the wealth and/or position of influence these men possess.  You have to remember that because they are evil, they are always making plans with their cronies to do more that is wicked.

This proverb takes me back to Psalm 73 and the transparency of Asaph.

Psalm 73:3, 16-19 “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked….When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.  Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.  How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.”

We should never envy an evil person; we should rather grieve over their eternal future.

Proverbs 24:3 ¶ Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:

Proverbs 24:4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

Wisdom, understanding and knowledge all go hand-in-hand.  Solomon tells us that wisdom, the ability to take what we know and apply it with skill, is key to building a strong and stable home.  It is the key to being able to fill that home with valuable and delightful things.  This is true on both a physical and spiritual level.  A strong spiritual foundation in one’s life leads to the accumulation of eternal treasure.  I am reminded of the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 6:20–21 “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Proverbs 24:5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.

Proverbs 24:6 For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Obviously, “strong” does not reference physical strength (though the wise man can be physically strong).  The strength that comes from wisdom and knowledge is more internal and is evidenced by one’s character.  One who goes to battle counseled by wisdom and affirmed by the counsel of other wise men are much more like to emerge victorious.  Again, wisdom always aligns with the word and will of God.  An army guided by wisdom can defeat a much larger army that is guided by the plans of foolish men.

Proverbs 24:7 ¶ Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.

Proverbs 24:8 He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person.

Proverbs 24:9 The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.

The foolish man that lacks knowledge and understanding cannot understand wisdom.  He has nothing profitable to contribute when given the opportunity.  In Bible times, the city gate functioned sort of like the city hall.

The person that makes evil plans develops a bad reputation.

The Hebrew for the word “thought” (v9) references one’s plans and purposes.  “Foolishness” references one who is perverse, one who has willingly chosen to turn away from what is right.  So, one who make plans and purposes that deviate from what what God has established as right and good is sinning.  Such people usually mock those that stand up for what is right.  They are morally disgusting to those that choose to do right.

How sad it is to note that in America today (2019) those tables are turning.  It is now more politically correct to honor the foolish person and mock the righteous person.  

Ironside: “The scoffer is one who permits the foolishness of his heart to control his lips. He ridicules holy things….”

Proverbs 24:10If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.

Proverbs 24:11 ¶ If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;

Proverbs 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?

I liked the NLT for this section: “If you fail under pressure, your strength is not very great. Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death; don’t stand back and let them die. Don’t try to avoid responsibility by saying you didn’t know about it. For God knows all hearts, and he sees you. He keeps watch over your soul, and he knows you knew! And he will judge all people according to what they have done.”

This is a powerful statement.  Our actions in times of trouble reveal the strength of our faith.  One who is strong in the faith will cling to the truth of God’s word in spite of the circumstances.  He will cling to the truth that He does understand to carry Him through circumstances that he doesn’t understand.

I am reminded of an earlier proverb that affirms another truth in this verse.

Proverbs 3:27 “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”

There is no excuse for not doing what we can for the good of others to the glory of God.  And Solomon connects this to another amazing truth—God knows what is in our hearts and is aware of everything we do and don’t do.  When you are trying to please the LORD and be obedient to His will as revealed in His word, this is a comforting truth.  When you are being disobedient, it is a truth you try to ignore. 

Solomon identifies the law of sowing and reaping as the motivation to do what is right.  

Ironside provided this historical insight: “These verses seem to refer to a mode of execution once prevalent in Syria and Palestine. Muenscher says, ‘When a criminal was anciently led to execution, a crier went before, who proclaimed the crime of which he had been convicted, and called upon any one who could say anything in behalf of the condemned culprit, to come forward; in which case, he was led back to the tribunal and the cause was re-heard.’ To selfishly withhold information that could save the condemned man’s life, would be to stand with Cain and ask, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ (Genesis 4:9) But the great Judge of all who ponders the heart would be witness against the one who acted so perfidiously and would assuredly render judgment.”

He also makes a powerful spiritual application: “What can be said of Christians who know millions are passing on to eternal sorrow, yet scarcely ever make known God’s message of justification through the Lord Jesus Christ? Almost nineteen centuries have passed since Jesus said, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15). How many millions have not heard the gospel message, because we who are so richly blessed have so little heart to carry the word of reconciliation to them?”

Proverbs 24:13 ¶ My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste:

Proverbs 24:14 So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.

Solomon encourages his sons to enjoy eating the sweet honey from the honeycomb.  He then compares that to how finding wisdom should delight his soul.  Just as the honey is sweet to the taste, wisdom brings a reward and hope for the future.

Notice that Solomon makes reference to “finding” wisdom.  This implies a desire to exert the effort and energy to attain it.

Proverbs 24:15 ¶ Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place:

Proverbs 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

Interestingly, Solomon speaks to the wicked person in these verses.  He warns the wicked person against attacking the righteous man’s home to steal from him.  The righteous person will recover from the evil done against him—even if attacked multiple times.  The wicked person will be overthrown and meet his ruin when caught.

Chuck Smith: “We may fall, but thank God we rise again. I’ve often said there isn’t any great evil in falling unless you just lie there. Everybody stumbles. Everybody falls. None of us are perfect, and God knows that we’re not perfect. He knows our frame, that we’re but dust. We usually expect more out of ourselves than God expects. And we’re usually harder on ourselves than God is. We get so disappointed when we have fallen. We get so disappointed when we have failed. It doesn’t disappoint God at all. He knew all the time we were going to stumble.”

Ironside: “Where grace has worked in the soul, there will be recovery; while the one who makes an insincere profession will return like a dog to his vomit or like a sow to her wallowing in the mire, thus becoming overwhelmed with evil (2Peter 2:20-22).”

Clarke in reference to the righteous man: “Though God permit the hand of violence sometimes to spoil his tent, temptations to assail his mind, and afflictions to press down his body, he constantly emerges; and every time he passes through the furnace, he comes out brighter and more refined.”

Proverbs 24:17 ¶ Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

Proverbs 24:18 Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.

It is a natural response in the flesh to rejoice when your enemy suffers defeat or is brought to ruin.  Solomon warns us not to respond in the flesh because it could result in the LORD turning His wrath in judgment away from your enemy because of the sin in your heart.  That was a huge statement from a king that lived before Jesus entered the picture and taught us to love our enemies.  

Luke 6:27–28 “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”

We do know that God instructed His people that vengeance belonged to Him.  

Deuteronomy 32:35 “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence….”

Psalm 94:1 “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.”

Ironside: “Remembering that he is himself a subject of grace, the humble, contrite soul walks softly, having tears, not sneers, for the afflictions of his enemies.”

Proverbs 24:19 ¶ Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked;

Proverbs 24:20 For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.

These verses go hand-in-hand with verses 1-2.  We should not let the perceived success and prosperity of evil people frustrate us; we should not envy them.  We should remember that when they die, their eternal future is one of suffering and torment.  

Clarke: “His candle shall be put out; his prosperity shall finally cease, or he shall have no posterity. Some have thought that this text intimates the annihilation of sinners; but it refers not to being, but to the state or condition of that being. The wicked shall be; but they shall not be Happy.”

Proverbs 24:21 ¶ My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:

Proverbs 24:22 For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?

Again, I believe these verses are referencing a godly king.  Solomon warns his sons that they should always fear/reverence/honor the LORD and the king.  He warns them not to get involved with those that rebel against the authority of either.  When they finally face destruction, there is no telling how the LORD or the king will execute judgment against them.

Proverbs 24:23 ¶ These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.

Proverbs 24:24 He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:

Proverbs 24:25 But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.

Proverbs 24:26 Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.

In this section of verses, Solomon warns his sons against showing partiality in judgment.  A person that lets a guilty person go free will anger the masses.  One that judges correctly between the guilty and innocent will be blessed.  These responses are predicated on a society with a moral culture.

This is again rooted in the law of God as recorded by Moses.

Leviticus 19:15 “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.”

To “kiss the lips” was an expression of approval and respect.  Those in a culturally moral society celebrate those that stand and act in accordance with what is right, and God’s word is the only acceptable standard for such judgment.

Proverbs 24:27 ¶ Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.

Solomon seems to be saying that it was important to get your fields ready to bring forth a harvest before focusing on building a house.  I think that makes sense considering that food would have been a higher priority.

One commentator (EBC Abridged) relates this to being financially secure before entering a marriage and starting a family.

Proverbs 24:28 ¶ Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.

Proverbs 24:29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.

I liked the way the NLT phrased it: “Do not testify spitefully against innocent neighbors; don’t lie about them. And don’t say, “Now I can pay them back for all their meanness to me! I’ll get even!” 

Again, it reminded me of the words of Jesus.

Luke 6:27–28 “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”

As I looked a little further, I found that this truth was also rooted in the law as recorded by Moses.

Leviticus 19:18 “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD”  

It is so in our fleshly nature to want to “get back” at those that have mistreated us.  God wants us to live by the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  And this relates back directly to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Matthew 7:12 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

Matthew 22:39 “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Ironside: “The man of faith need not be concerned about defending his good name; he certainly will not be found falsely accusing his neighbor, however much he has suffered through him. He can quietly leave all his circumstances in the hands of Him who will ever vindicate His faithful servants.”

Proverbs 24:30 ¶ I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;

Proverbs 24:31 And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.

Proverbs 24:32 Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.

Proverbs 24:33 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

Proverbs 24:34 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

Here, Solomon appears to relate a lesson he learned from personal observation.  As he passed by the fields of a lazy, foolish man one day, he noticed how overgrown it was with thorns and weeds and how the wall was broken down.   As he thought about it, he realized that it was a valuable object lesson.  Those who continually put off the work that needs to be done will find themselves suddenly impoverished.  He compares the suddenness of the man’s poverty to the attack of an armed robber. 

Guzik: “The wise man learned from the tragedy of the lazy man. He didn’t have to suffer the same things the lazy man did to learn the lesson. This is one of the marks of wisdom.”