A servant who deals wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully
and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.
This is another way of teaching the primacy of wisdom. Other resources can put us in position to succeed, but it is wisdom that takes us to the top and keeps us there. As talented as pro athletes may be, there are others as athletic or even more talented who did not make it to the highest level because of foolish choices. And many a lesser talented team has won over its opponents by outwitting them. So it is in battle and in business and in any area of life. Wisdom can compensate for lacking innate talent or wealth or, as this proverb notes, station in life.
Consider this servant. He is under the command of the son whose shameful acts no doubt include mistreating the servant. But instead of dwelling in self-pity or resentment, he “deals wisely.” He acts for the good of his master and offsets the foolishness of the son. It is necessary to note that the wisdom of the proverbs is never reduced to scheming. The servant does not scheme against the son. Rather, the wisdom of the proverbs is always the wisdom characterized by righteousness and the fear of the Lord. It is the wisdom of integrity. The servant is like Joseph, who regardless of his circumstance, served his masters well so that he could be entrusted for his wisdom and his integrity.
Finally, note the application to the gospel. There are many who have grown up in the church as covenant sons and daughters, and yet have lost their birthright through their shameful choices and behavior. And there are many who grew up outside the church, yet when they heard the gospel, dealt wisely by repenting of their sins and embracing the Master. They moved from the status of servants of sin to sharing in the inheritance as one of the brothers or sisters of Christ. Such is true wisdom.
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