A study of the book of Proverbs chapter three verses twenty-seven through thirty-four.

Do all you can for everyone who deserves your help. Don’t tell your neighbor to come back tomorrow, if you can help today (vs 27-28 CEV).

When we see someone in need, it’s wise to help them. This is plain simple. But how many times do we turn away strangers who ask for money, and do nothing to help the homeless man we watch digging in the garbage can, or the older woman struggling with her groceries. Ya see, wisdom naturally helps people. The God in you should move you to help, if not, it says a lot about how selfish you are.

The proverbs mentions that we should do all we can. When you know someone’s in need and they ask for money, do you simply give them the left over change in your car? That’s pathetic! Would eighty-two cents buy someone a meal. You know that you can do better than that! Come on, what’s five, ten or twenty bucks to you who will receive this and more by the end of the week. Some of these people live on the street and go without food for days. Come on, don’t be stingy, do all that you can.

The proverb says to help everyone who deserves it. This takes understanding because everyone who looks like they have a need, or asks for help, doesn’t always deserve it. That homeless guy may be a drug-addict who doesn’t need anything but a prayer because the money you give him would only go up his nose. But you can’t append the label of “drug-addict” to every street person looking for financial help – people use that excuse all the time to justify not giving. But there are people who don’t deserve help, for instance: a person who frequently misuses their money. Why give them more to waste? Or, a lazy person – all the help a sluggard deserves is rebuke and correction for his sin.

The proverbs also says that we shouldn’t delay our help (vs 28). We should help as soon as possible. To delay is basically saying you really don’t want to do it. If you tell a person to return tomorrow, usually the person will, but you won’t be home. You knew in advance you wouldn’t be home, but it makes you look like a good Samaritan in the eyes of the person in need because you offered to help but were simply unavailable. That is phony and it masks your true selfishness! God knows what you’re doing and this is why he put that verse in Proverbs. Stop it! Either help them or not, don’t play games with people.

Also, if you intend to help, it’s arrogant to make another person wait on that help when you know you can do it now. God is against arrogance and he tells us not to be this way (Proverbs 8:13). What if the Lord decided to make you wait on your next breath to show you how much you need him? Choosing who to help or not takes discernment, but if we call ourselves “wise”, we will do all we can to help others, and without delay.

Don’t take advantage of your neighbor

Devise not evil against thy neighbor, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee (vs 29 KJV).

This would mean that the neighbor (husband, wife, friend, companion, housemate, family member) is reliant upon you; they live with you, or you own the property they live on. Landlords or heads of the home shouldn’t use this advantage to mistreat the people who rely on them for the security they provide.

I can relate to this proverb because I was living with a Christian who was periodically disrespectful and later tried to charge me for services that didn’t apply to me. This was hard to deal with because I just couldn’t get up and go, but I finally found a better place to happily live.

I wish that “Christian” had an understanding of this proverb: You don’t get to disrespect, mistreat, steal and extort someone because they need the security of your home or property. This can be applied to so many areas of life. Security could be in a job, career, and any service provider. But this proverb applies to us who will, or are in charge of people’s security. If we have wisdom, we won’t take advantage of our position – this is evil and God will punish all those who do it.

Don’t argue with your neighbor

Don’t argue just to be arguing, when you haven’t been hurt (vs 30 CEV).

This seems like common sense, but there are many people who do this. Why, I’m not sure. Perhaps they don’t like peace. If anyone has more insight into this verse, let me know.

Don’t envy your neighbor

31 Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. 32 For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous. 33 The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just. 34 Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly. 35 The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools (KJV).

Why would anyone envy an oppressive, cruel person and choose their ways? Because, in that person’s eyes, that cruel person seems to be a winner. The oppressor has a high social status, wealth and prosperity, but the method used to get it was down-right evil. The KJV uses the word envy – this is a strong word. This means that this person holds resentment and even hates that cruel person a little, not because of their evil deeds, but because they covet the material things they have.

God commands us not to envy anyone, but especially not a sinful person. The scripture emphasizes the sin: cruelty (CEV) and oppression. In these last verses of chapter 3, it shows, once again, that God really cares about the quality of life a person experiences, so he absolutely hates people who would seek to pollute that life through oppressive means and cruelty. This is an abomination to God which is: detestable, repulsive and repugnant (vs 32)!

For this reason, God (in his justice) has put a curse on people like this. They may look prosperous on the outside, but God has allowed all kinds of calamity to come into their homes and families. Another point to make is: we’ve already been given the keys to prosperity and wealth through obedience, righteous living and faithfulness (as seen in Proverbs chapter 2). So there is no reason to be envious of what others may have because we (through our obedience) experience God’s blessings and all the things that come with wisdom (vs 33).

Sneering at God

The LORD sneers at those who sneer at him, but he is kind to everyone who is humble (vs 34 CEV).

Now, God focuses back on these oppressors. He’s says, “You’ve got your upper lip arched at me in contempt? I’m sneering at you too!” Because pride is the root of these people’s behavior, all hell is breaking loose in the homes while blessings and grace are coming to everyone who is humble (vs 34). I love God and his justice.

Most people sneer at God without really knowing it. They sneer when they dismiss certain passages of scripture and when they twist the words of God. They sneer at God when they mistreat other human beings and especially his servants. God doesn’t give grace to the proud who sneer at him. To sneer at the God who created everything is foolish.

Be warned, all you who sneer at God: he’s sneering back and ready to destroy you. Finally, praise comes to those who are wise, but disgrace and shame will come to fools (vs 35). A fitting end to Proverbs chapter 3.

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  1. This is a CEV misinterpretation (I cant call it a translation). Which along side CEV Ephesians 5:6-9 is telling the believer to shun the unbelievers. This one because they dont deserve your help and the Eph verse just because they are sinners.

    What the Proverb is actually saying is to not withold good from those who have earned it. Not those who “deserve” it. Because the first doesnt require a judgment but the second does. Its not my or your place to judge a man to see if he deserves our help or not.

    KJV 27 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.

    The Ephesians 5:6-7 verse is even worse
    KJV 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

    Which says do not join in with a sinner when he sins because of the “wrath of God”, it will not be pleasant.

    But the CEV says
    6 Don’t let anyone trick you with foolish talk. God punishes everyone who disobeys him and says [a] foolish things. 7 So don’t have anything to do with anyone like that

    Which says basically, Shun the sinner.

    Which we all know is wrong. Otherwise Jesus would have been known for his company of the elite, not his company of converted sinners.

    You must invite the sinners to your church to be converted. Not shun them because you dont think they arent worty according to your judgement.

  2. Hi Joe,
    As far as this article goes regarding the proverbs passage, I would have to disagree. I think my interpretation of the CEV and KJV translations are correct as explained in the article.

    As Christians we are called to make judgements every day. Do you think it’s wise to give God’s resources to someone who you know will waste them? I think not. The examples I gave make sense and I stand by them.

    As for the Ephesians passage, I can see how you would interpret it that way, but in light of all the rest of scriptures you gave regarding Jesus’ actions, it’s clear that God isn’t talking about shunning sinners. He’s saying NOT to take part in their works.

    Isolating the text from the rest of scripture can lead to the bible sounding contradictory therefore leading to an assumption that the translators had it wrong. I don’t believe that to be the case with the scripture passages you cited.

    However, I’m aware of some passages that have been flat-out translated wrongly and this is why I study with the Holy Spirit by my side, so he can show me the errors and give me a correct understanding.