Resources by D. Marion Clark

Marion Clark was Executive Minister of Tenth Church until February 2014. He has edited Come to the Waters, a devotional featuring the writings of James Montgomery Boice and is the author of What Matters, Speaking the Truth in Love, and Jesus the Conquering King. Visit DMC Resources for all of his resources.

Proverbs 19:17

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will repay him for his deed.

The lesson of this proverb is not about how to place God in our debt and make him give us what we want. It is about caring for the poor. It shows the compassionate heart of God for the poor, what we often lack.

We want…

Proverbs 19:16

Whoever keeps the commandment keeps his life;
he who despises his ways will die.

Most likely the sense of despising one's ways is that of being careless about how one lives. Such a person is not so much defiant against God's commands as he is uninterested in the subject. His motto is "go with the flow."

Such a person ultimately is defiant, and he…

Proverbs 19:15

Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep,
and an idle person will suffer hunger.

Laziness makes a person weary. Inactivity slows down the body's metabolism. Taking it easy causes even the easy to become laborious. And as activity grows more wearisome, so then one is unable to produce a living.

We see this in the workplace. There is the employee who drags into work…

Proverbs 19:14

House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

If a foolish son and a quarreling wife are ruin to a man, all the more blessed it is to have a prudent wife. Why prudent? Why not loving? A prudent wife is a loving wife, for she takes care of her husband and home. The epitome of such…

Proverbs 19:13

A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife's quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.

The way to break the spirit of a man is through his family. It may be through the folly of a child or through the grumbling of a wife. There is much to be said in Proverbs and Scripture to admonish the husband and father, but…

Proverbs 19:12

A king's wrath is like the growling of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.

Consider the wrath of our King. When he acts in wrath against the wicked, no one can withstand his ire. For it is not that he acts with an uncontrollable rage, but precisely because his anger matches justice. God is to be feared because he…

Proverbs 19:11

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Here is a good measure for how much good sense you have: How do you respond to offenses? Are you quick to retaliate? Do you quickly throw back a verbal jab? Do you get easily flustered? Do you dash off curt emails or text messages? Then good sense…

Proverbs 19:10

It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury, much less for a slave to rule over princes.

It is not fitting for a fool who has done nothing to earn or deserve wealth to live in wealth. Like a pig with pearls, he will treat his wealth with disdain, not merely indulging in worthless pursuits, but turning what is beautiful and…

Proverbs 19:9

A false witness will not go unpunished,
and he who breathes out lies will perish.

This is the same proverb as 19:5, except that it spells out what is alluded to in the previous one which states that the liar will "not escape." He will perish. However much he may try to lie his way out of such a destiny, his lies only serve to secure that destiny…
Proverbs 19:8

Whoever gets sense loves his own soul;
he who keeps understanding will discover good.

Do you love yourself? Do you want what is good for you? Then pursue wisdom! Seek commonsense. Value understanding and discernment. Get knowledge. For it is through attaining good sense - the skill to discern what is right and true and good - that you will discover and enjoy the good in life.

How…
Proverbs 19:7

All a poor man's brothers hate him;
how much more do his friends go far from him!
He pursues them with words,
but does not have them.

If a wealthy generous man has many friends, a poor man with nothing to give has none. They not only do not hang around him; they stay far from him. Of course, such "friends" are neither true friends of the generous…
Proverbs 19:6

Many seek the favor of a generous man,
and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.

"Generous man" could be translated "nobleman" or "prince." Whatever the case, the point is that the person in a position to bestow gifts - be it of money, of position, of power - will have many "friends" who in truth are lovers of what he can give. The person…
Proverbs 19:5

A false witness will not go unpunished,
and he who breathes out lies will not escape.

The irony in this proverb is that people lie for the express purpose of escaping punishment. We lie to cover up other sins. We fudge the truth so that our spouses will not get upset; so that our bosses will not blow up at us, etc. We will lie so that suspicion…
Proverbs 19:4

Wealth brings many new friends,
But a poor man is deserted by his friend.

If the writer of this proverb had access to quotation marks in his day, he would have added them around friends and friend. In each instance the friends are nothing of the sort. The friends of the wealthy person hang about to get what they can. The poor person has but one other person…
Proverbs 19:3

When a man's folly brings his way to ruin,
his heart rages against the Lord.

This is so true of Christians! Why can't I get a job? Why are my workplaces always so difficult? Why is this ministry by which I serve God filled with so much trouble? Why, when I am devoted to God, am I having so much trouble in my marriage, in my family, with…
Proverbs 19:2

Desire without knowledge is not good,
and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

Is this not the cause of our troubles? We desire without knowledge. The young man desires the Forbidden Woman, not knowing that she leads to death. The fool desires fortune and fame, not knowing that he chooses ignominy and destruction. The wicked desire to take advantage of others, not knowing that they…
Proverbs 19:1

Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity
than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.

There is too high a price to pay for crookedness. The lost of integrity is worse than the loss of money and position. The world considers a person not willing to compromise the truth to achieve a goal to be a fool. So be it. God, through…
Proverbs 18:24

A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

It is not the number but the depth of relationships that matter. It is good to have many companions. We are meant to be social creatures, and we should seek and enjoy the acquaintance of many people. And yet, what will sustain us through the trials of life…
Proverbs 18:23

The poor use entreaties,
but the rich answer roughly.

Our status often determines our behavior. If we are poor, we will rely on entreaties to coax help from others. If we are in a position of power or wealthy enough to procure the help we need from many, we are likely to speak roughly or be more demanding.

Think about this in our relationship with the Lord. It…
Proverbs 18:22

He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the Lord.

God instituted marriage as a blessing to man. It was "not good" for man to be alone, and so God created and brought the woman to the man. And he realized it was good, for "she is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone." Marriage is not a trap; it is…
Proverbs 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Bad and good result from the power of speech; those who love speech will reap the consequences of how they use it. This proverb carries the weight of a warning to those who love to talk and those who skillfully use speech for bad ends. Sooner (usually) or later…
Proverbs 18:20

From the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach is satisfied;
he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.

This proverb is based on the assumption that the fruit is good. When our speech produces good fruit by blessing others and conveying wisdom and knowledge, then we receive blessing, as when satisfied by a good, healthy meal. Conversely, when our speech stirs up trouble and offense, we…
Proverbs 18:19

A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city,
and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.

The closer a relationship the deeper an offense is felt. It may or may not be easier to offend a brother, but when he is offended the wound goes deep, as is the witness of many, many family divisions. The offense only goes deeper and the brother more unyielding…
Proverbs 18:18

The lot puts an end to quarrels
and decides between powerful contenders.

It is interesting how the casting of lots or drawing straws or flipping coins settle matters that could produce controversy or are already controversial. Rival teams let a coin flip decide who gets the ball first; kids arguing over who has to take the worse job will meekly accept the result of drawing the shortest straw…
Proverbs 18:17

The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him.

What a true observation! How many times have we heard one speaker lay forth an argument that seems the epitome of commonsense, only to hear someone else give a different opinion or exam the first speaker, and we completely change our opinion? Perhaps the first speaker omitted pertinent information; perhaps he operated…
Proverbs 18:16

A man's gift makes room for him
and brings him before the great.

What is the difference between a gift and a bribe? Is this proverb permitting the offering of bribes to get one's way? The proverb may not be giving permission for anything. Many proverbs are mere observations about life, adding no comment about the moral value. That is true of this one.

And yet, there are…
Proverbs 18:15

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,
and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

Note the precondition of the person who gains knowledge. He is already intelligent, already wise. It is his intelligence and wisdom that spurs him on to attain knowledge. He becomes knowledgeable because he values knowledge. Unlike the student who raises his hand in class and asks the teacher, "Is this going to be on the…
Proverbs 18:14

A man's spirit will endure sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?

Undoubtedly many reading this proverb will sadly nod in agreement because of your own crushed spirit. The weight of depression, of anxiety, of feeling unloved feels unbearable and you focus on merely surviving each day. This proverb lets you know that God understands. It is placed in Scripture for you to know that you do…
Proverbs 18:13

If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame.

Strong but true words. We do this on different levels. There is the surface level in which we actually begin answering before the person has completed the question, only to find that we wrongly anticipated what the question would be. "No, that is not what I was trying to ask."

We give unasked for…
Proverbs 18:12

Before destruction a man's heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.

There are several reasons why this proverb bears out, but consider one reason today. Haughtiness is foolishness; humility is wisdom. To be haughty is to be "scornfully and condescendingly proud." It is not merely to recognize your own skill to be better than others, but to actually consider others as lesser beings. You despise them merely…
Proverbs 18:11

A rich man's wealth is his strong city,
and like a high wall in his imagination.

Note the contrast with the previous proverb. The righteous man looks to the LORD to be his strength; the rich man looks to his wealth. The righteous man turns to the LORD and finds safety; the rich man turns to his wealth and finds an illusion. For wealth can save no one…
Proverbs 18:10

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

What's in a name? How can a name be a strong tower? What's in a name is what is in a person. According to that person's character and relationship to us, the name may evoke joy or sadness, peace or fear. And so it is with the LORD - Yahweh…
Proverbs 18:9

Whoever is slack in his work
is a brother to him who destroys.

The slacker destroys productivity. Products, service, goals are sacrificed. He destroys morale, as others are influenced to have the same attitude or frustrated so that they become less productive. He destroys teamwork, as others become not only angry with him but with supervisors for not managing him well. He destroys his own future, his laziness…
Proverbs 18:8

The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.

Such is the danger of the whispering tongue. We are enticed by it. We like hearing secrets "confided" in us. We like being in the know, of being brought into the inner circle. But those words go into our "inner parts." We mull over them, and they begin to…
Proverbs 18:7

A fool's mouth is his ruin,
and his lips are a snare to his soul.

By his mouth the fool shows lack of wisdom and thus loses the respect of others. He irritates others with his thoughtless remarks; he offends; he makes himself a bore; he betrays confidences; twists the words of others; shows arrogance; stirs up trouble. And all the while is troubled that he does not…
Proverbs 18:6

A fool's lips walk into a fight,
and his mouth invites a beating.

What a funny proverb and so true! The fool will even be warned: "You're asking for it. You'd better stop talking." But he won't stop. He must rant and rave; he keeps provoking, keeps sounding off until the listener either literally or figuratively gives him his beating.

Why does the fool invite punishment? Because he…
Proverbs 18:5

It is not good to be partial to the wicked
or to deprive the righteous of justice.

Surely we all agree with this proverb, but then, how might we be guilty of such injustice? By placing ourselves before God and others. We will ignore political policies that hurt others but either help us or at least do not harm us. We will avert our eyes when confronted by…
Proverbs 18:4

The words of a man's mouth are deep waters;
the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

This proverb seems to be presenting a contrast between the words of sinful man that hide motive, like the deep waters which hide what is underneath, and the words of the wise which is refreshing and clear like a bubbling brook. We are as likely to use words to miscommunicate than…
Proverbs 18:3

When wickedness comes, contempt comes also,
and with dishonor comes disgrace.

One would think that a truth so obvious would have a sobering affect on the wicked. And yet, far from avoiding behavior that leads to disgrace, they all the more pursue their immoral and wicked ways, even basking in the notoriety that results. For the wicked are also fools who mistake shame for honor and contempt for…
Proverbs 18:2

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.

It is hard to get in a word in a conversation with a fool. Even when he asks you a question, he interrupts before you can say much. He must give his opinion, tell his story, listen to his own voice. And all the while he thinks that he is earning your good opinion of…
Proverbs 18:1

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.

The thought here is not that it is wrong to seek solitude or even to work alone. Rather, it speaks to the person who has fortressed himself against companionship. He may be like the hurt lover of Paul Simon's song "I Am a Rock," who isolates himself from relationships so that he might not…
Proverbs 17:28

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

The point of this proverb and the previous one is that the best use of words comes from a measured restraint, or to use a common phrase - think before you speak. The problem with the fool is that he speaks quickly without considering his words. He speaks on impulse…
Proverbs 17:27

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

How is being few with words connected with being knowledgeable? First of all, the person of knowledge and understanding knows that his value is not found in making others see how knowledgeable he is. He is not compelled to speak louder, quicker, and more often than others. His self-esteem is…
Proverbs 17:26

To impose a fine on a righteous man is not good,
nor to strike the noble for their uprightness.

Injustice occurs in two ways: not punishing the guilty and punishing the law abiding. It is one thing to be lax about prosecuting the guilty, but it is more grievous to take action against the person who is upright. Indeed, this proverb presents not merely a person who is…
Proverbs 17:25

A foolish son is a grief to his father
and bitterness to her who bore him.

Fools annoy others; they make others angry. Others enjoy fools, finding them to be entertainment. But fools grieve their parents who are filled with shame by the public disgrace and filled with sorrow for the path their children are following. They may also be angry, but their anger is stirred by disappointment…
Proverbs 17:24

The discerning sets his face toward wisdom,
but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.

The contrast here is between the discerning who keeps focused on wisdom and the fool who chases after each fad that pops up from everywhere. Today he would be the one fascinated with the "new discoveries" of the "Da Vinci Code." His home library is an archive of…
Proverbs 17:23

The wicked accepts a bribe in secret
to pervert the ways of justice.

Truly there is nothing new under the sun. The giving of bribes has a long history. Bribes are given to sway judges' rulings; to fix betting events; to obtain advantage over business competitors; to gain money and power. It is wicked to give such bribes, but as this proverb points out, it is also wicked…
Proverbs 17:22

A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Centuries before the advent of scientific medicine, this proverb recognized a key element of good health and even for curing illness - a joyful heart. Being happy is not a cure-all, of course, but it does play a significant role in reducing the ill effects caused by stress, depression, anger, self-pity, and resentment.
Perhaps…
Proverbs 17:21

He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow,
and the father of a fool has no joy.

Too many parents can nod their heads to this proverb. Others may laugh at a fool, shake their heads in disdain or pity. The parent (father or mother) weeps. The father hangs his head in shame and the mother in sorrow. They had hopes for their child; their delight was in…
Proverbs 17:20

A man of crooked heart does not discover good,
and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity.

The problem for such a man above is not bad luck, as he would think is the cause. Nor is the problem one of circumstances - if only he had money, a good job, a job without a boss, neighbors who appreciated him, etc. Jesus stated clearly his problem: it…