Sabbath School Lesson Begins
The Book of Proverbs
Lesson 7 *February 7–13
Read for This Week’s Study: Proverbs 17:1-28, 1 Cor. 13:5–7, John 8:1–11, Proverbs 18:1-24, Proverbs 19:1-29, Deut. 24:10–22.
Better is a dry morsel with quietness,
than a house full of feasting with strife (Proverbs 17:1,
Proverbs again denounces the deception of appearances.
We may seem to have everything the world offers — wealth,
power, pleasure, fame — yet, behind the facade, tension and misery
flourish. It’s even possible that the cause of this tension and misery
is precisely the wealth and pleasure that people strive so hard for. As
an Egyptian proverb notes:
Better is bread with a happy heart
than wealth with vexation. — Miriam Lichtheim,
Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings,
vol. II, p. 156. According to the book of Proverbs, the first step to
solve this problem is to recognize what our priorities are: peaceful
relationships are more important than wealth (Prov.
17:1). What counts
is not so much what we have, but who we are within ourselves. The
advice that follows will help in restoring this priority and lead us
toward an inner peace (shalom in the Hebrew) that
will add to our happiness.
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, February 14.
Read Proverbs 17:9, 19:11. What crucial point is being made in these texts? How should we deal with others who fall?
When someone messes up, it’s so tempting to spread the story, to tell others. Have you heard about what so-and-so did? Though we might act as if we are appalled by the action, we still like telling others about what happened. In short, we are gossiping, and that’s what we’re being warned against, because this behavior will generate contention, even between close friends. After all, if a friend of yours messes up, what kind of friend are you if you go around telling others about it?
We are advised instead to
mistake. This is not, however, to imply that we have to hide the sin,
to act as if it never happened, as if the person never did wrong. The
sin that is covered is still present, even though hidden. In fact, the
Hebrew word for
cover in that expression has the
specific connotation of
forgiving (Ps. 85:2, Neh.
4:5). Love, not gossip, should be our response to someone
Read Proverbs 17:17 and 1 Corinthians 13:5–7. How does love help in coping with a friend’s mistake?
One does not love a friend or spouse because he or she is perfect. We love in spite of their mistakes and flaws. Only through love do we learn not to judge others, because with our own faults and shortcomings we could be just as guilty. Instead, we can mourn with them over what they have done, and seek in whatever way we can to help them work through it. After all, what are friends for if not for this?
Think about a time you messed up badly and you were forgiven, ministered to, and comforted. What does that tell you about how, if possible, you should, do the same for others?
True love is not blind. That we
someone’s mistake through love does not mean that we do not see the sin
and do not recognize it as such. Love and justice go together. The
Hebrew word for
cannot have real compassion if we are not just, and we cannot be just
if we do not have compassion and love. The two concepts must be
For example, the exercise of charity toward the poor should not be done at the expense of justice; hence the recommendation not to favor the poor in court (Exod. 23:3). If love obliges us to help the poor, it would be unjust to favor them when they are wrong, simply because they are poor. Justice and truth should therefore go along with love and compassion. It is this wise balance that characterizes the Torah, the law of God, and which is taught and promoted in the book of Proverbs.
Read Proverbs 17:10, 19:25. What do they say about the need for rebuke and confrontation?
The fact that Proverbs 17:10 immediately follows the call to
cover the mistake through love (Prov.
17:9) is not an accident. This
reproof in connection with
places love in the right perspective. The text implies a strong rebuke.
Read John 8:1–11. How do we see Jesus dealing with open sin?
In His act of pardoning this woman and encouraging
her to live a better life, the character of Jesus shines forth in the
beauty of perfect righteousness. While He does not palliate sin, nor
lessen the sense of guilt, He seeks not to condemn, but to save. The
world had for this erring woman only contempt and scorn; but Jesus
speaks words of comfort and hope. The Sinless One pities the weakness
of the sinner, and reaches to her a helping hand. While the
hypocritical Pharisees denounce, Jesus bids her, — Ellen G. White, The
Desire of Ages, p.
Go, and sin
Read Proverbs 18:1-24. Though different themes are presented here, focus on what it has to say about our words. What important concepts are presented here regarding what we do or do not say?
We are again confronted with the reality and power of words; in this case we see how fools use their mouths to their own undoing. Proverbs 18:13 is especially enlightening. How easy is it to speak out before carefully listening and discerning what has been said to us. How many times might we have spared ourselves, and others, undue pain and strife if we had only learned to think through carefully what we had just heard before responding to it. There is indeed a time when silence is the best response.
Read Proverbs 18:4. Why are the words of the wise like deep waters?
The image of
deep waters is used
positively in the book of Proverbs to represent wisdom (Prov. 20:5). It
conveys the idea of quiet, but also of profundity and riches. The wise
are not superficial. They draw their words from the depths of personal
reflection and experience. Who hasn’t marveled sometimes at the deep
thoughts and insights from those who obviously have wisdom and
Read Proverbs 18:21. What does it mean?
Proverbs again tells us what we should already know: our words are powerful, and they can be a force for good or evil, even life and death. How careful we need to be, then, with how we use this powerful tool.
Think about a time someone’s words hurt you in a terrible way. What should this have taught you about how powerful words are? What should it teach you about how careful you need to be with what you say?
Read Proverbs 18:2. Why don’t fools need time to form their opinions?
Fools are so sure of themselves and so eager to express their own opinions that they are not interested in learning from others. Their closed minds go along with their open mouths. This is a deadly combination. How careful we need to be that we don’t find ourselves doing the same thing, especially on a topic that we are convinced we are right about.
After all, haven’t we all at some point felt very strongly about a subject only to find, later on, that we were wrong? This doesn’t mean that we should be wishy-washy in our views; it means only that we need some humility, in that none of us has all the right answers, and even when our answers are right, truth is often deeper and more nuanced that we can appreciate or understand.
Read Proverbs 18:17. What important point is given us here?
Only God does not need a second opinion, precisely because by His nature He already has it, for His eyes are everywhere (Prov. 15:3). God has the capacity to see all sides of any matter. We, by contrast, generally have a very narrow view of everything; a view that tends to get even narrower when we get locked into a position, especially on matters that we think are important.
As we should know by now, however, there are always two or even more sides to any story, and the more information we have, the better we can form the right view of a subject.
Think of a time you were absolutely convinced of something, maybe a view you have held your whole life, only to find out later that you had been wrong your whole life. What should this tell you about your need to be open to the possibility that you could be wrong about things you are fervent about now?
A king needed to appoint a new minister for the highest office
of his kingdom. For this purpose, he organized a special contest on
lying: who could utter the biggest lie. All his ministers applied, and
each one came and spoke their biggest lie. But the king was not
satisfied; their lies seemed lame. The king then asked his closest and
most trusted counselor:
Why didn’t you apply?
The counselor answered,
I am sorry to disappoint
you, Majesty, but I cannot apply.
Why not? asked the king.
lie, the counselor replied.
The king decided to appoint him for the position.
As sinners, lying comes to us easier than we think; for this reason, again, how careful we need to be with our words.
Read Proverbs 19:1-29. Though many themes are presented there, what does it say about lying?
The book of Proverbs upholds a high ethical standard. It is better to remain poor, or even to lose a promotion, if we have to lie in order to get it, if we have to sacrifice our integrity (Prov. 19:1), if we have to cheat, or if it comes at the price of faithfulness (Prov. 19:22).
Read Proverbs 19:9. What is the responsibility of a witness?
Lying, in and of itself, is bad enough; but doing it in court
and under oath is even worse. In many countries perjury is a crime, and
a serious one at that. The witness must therefore give a truthful
testimony. It is no accident that this verse follows the mention of a
to one who gives gifts (Prov.
19:6, NKJV), and of the poor
who are hated by their friends and even their brothers (Prov. 19:7,
NKJV). The point is, witnesses must not be influenced by
bribes or by
the social status of those they are testifying about.
Read Deuteronomy 24:10–22. What important principle is seen here, and how should we apply this to ourselves and to our dealings with those who are needy?
The spirit of gossip and talebearing is
one of Satan’s special agencies to sow discord and strife, to separate
friends, and to undermine the faith of many in the truthfulness of our
positions. Brethren and sisters are too ready to talk of the faults and
errors that they think exist in others, and especially in those who
have borne unflinchingly the messages of reproof and warning given them
of God. — Ellen G. White, Testimonies for
Church, vol. 4, p. 195.
The children of these complainers listen with open
receive the poison of disaffection. Parents are thus blindly closing
the avenues through which the hearts of the children might be reached.
How many families season their daily meals with doubt and questionings.
They dissect the characters of their friends, and serve them up as a
dainty dessert. A precious bit of slander is passed around the board to
be commented upon, not only by adults, but by children. In this God is
dishonored. Jesus said: —
Testimonies for the Church, vol.
4, p. 195.
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one
of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.
Therefore Christ is slighted and abused by those who slander His
Your Parents Should Be Very Proud of You
My dog’s been shot! Brayden*
blurted out in tears to his friend Payton.
Would you speak at
Twelve-year-old Payton had never conducted a funeral, but
wanting to help his friend, he agreed to do what he could.
planned the whole thing out, he said.
The dog is
buried in my yard–Brayden and I dug his grave. After Payton
did the eulogy, the boys added the dog’s dish, collar, and squeaky toy
before filling the grave.
When Payton and his family first moved into the neighborhood,
Payton befriended Brayden and learned about the struggles he was facing
I told him that I was a Christian and shared my
beliefs with him, said Payton,
and then he told me,
I want to try that out!
Brayden began spending more time at Payton’s house and often
spent the night–especially on Fridays, so he could go with Payton and
his family to church the next day. Before long, Brayden’s cousin,
Hunter, wanted to stay with Payton, too,
So I was housing
three people in my room, Payton explained.
While Payton’s bedroom may be small, his heart is big. He befriended another neighbor, Wyatt, whose father committed suicide. At age 13, Wyatt had been kicked out of several public schools, and his mother didn’t know what to do with him. Payton spent time with Wyatt and invited him to come with him to Pathfinders and to church, along with the other boys, but Wyatt’s mother would not allow her son to join in.
Over the next three years Payton often shared his faith with Wyatt, and one day after hearing that they might be moving, Wyatt handed Payton and his sister, Stormy, a note. The note is so precious that Payton keeps it in the family safe.
Dear Payton and Stormy,
Before you move I want to thank you. When you first
came I had lost my way. I stopped going to church and didn’t plan on
coming back. When we became friends I was trying to act tough, but on
the inside, I wanted to be more like you, Payton. When the hard times
came and I lost my father, talking to you was a comfort. I learned
about God through you. You were and still are a hero, inspiration, and
role model to me. Your parents should be very proud of you, knowing
that you helped me find Jesus.
*All names of neighborhood children have been changed.
Sabbath School Lesson Copyright 2014 by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. All Rights Reserved. No part of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide may be edited, altered, modified, adapted, translated, reproduced, or published by any person or entity without prior written authorization from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Sabbath School Lesson Ends
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