What does it say?

Proverbs 27 is a mixture of comparisons marked by like, as and so that we saw in chapters 25-26. In addition to the comparisons, chapter 27 includes maxims that are contrasts identified by the key word but. In chapters 28 and 29 the maxims, or proverbs, are mainly contrasts. In all of these chapters there is a mixture of stand-alone maxims and extended proverbs where several verses form a single unit.

Proverbs 27:1-22 deal with virtues and vices, while the remaining part of the chapter uses animal husbandry to encourage the virtue of prudence. Most of the proverbs in chapters 28 and 29 are simple couplets teaching truth by contrasting two things. The topics dealt with are many and diverse.

What does it mean?

The proverbs of chapter 27 present no great difficulty; the meaning is normally clear and applicable to any culture and time. Verse 17 is a familiar statement on a great benefit of friendship.

Be careful with 28:14. The need to fear always here is to fear God, not to be a fearful person. This can be seen from the contrast of a hardened heart. When 28:22 warns against being in a hurry to get rich, it is not saying that being rich is inherently sinful. The problem is greed. Someone obsessed with getting rich quick has an evil eye, a key concept in biblical cultures that points to evil intentions.

Proverbs 29:18 is often misunderstood. To say that where there is no vision the people perish, is not a reference to vision in the sense of a dream, human goals or what we might call vision casting. The word means a prophetic vision that is a special revelation from God as in 1 Samuel 3:1. This is clear from the contrasting part of the verse about the blessedness of those that keep the law. That the people perish is not a reference to judgment of Hell, but rather to cast off all restraint. In other words, those with no use for the guidance of God’s words become lost (perish) by being abandoned to their own sinful ways.

How will I respond?

What positive step will I take today to respond to the instruction of one of the comparisons in Proverbs 27? How will I respond today to one of the contrasts that appear in Proverbs 27-29?