Sabbath School Lesson for February 7-13, 2015

We all have to admit that the greatest misery and joy we experience in life involves relationships with those around us. No amount of wealth, health, or social fame can take the place of even one healthy relationship. And it only takes one failing relationship to bring us to our knees in despair.

There is an industry out there that strives to equip us with the tools needed for strong, healthy relationships. Have you noticed the large section of the library or your favorite bookstore that houses all the “self-help” guides? Think of all the time and money spent on motivational speakers and talk shows that focus on building our social skills. Not to mention the field of psychology that encompasses counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists and more, who try to make sense of our complex mental and emotional selves and how we interact with each other.

Dealing with fighting or any other kind of negative social interaction is once again addressed in the chapters of Proverbs. We will see in chapters 17, 18, and 19 the incredible power of our words in molding or tearing down our social networks.

Key Text: “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife” Proverbs 17:1 NKJV

A dry morsel or a dry crust. Don’t you hate it when someone leaves the bread sack open and the bread gets hard and dry? Solomon says it’s better to have that dry crust of bread if shared with those with whom you are at peace than to have a big meal or feast with someone you aren’t getting along with.

How many holiday meals are tainted with ill feelings of those in attendance? The tension really spoils the atmosphere and even our taste for the food on our plates. How much better if we had that inner peace called shalom in Hebrew?

Solomon reminds us that getting our priorities in order can lead to more harmonious, peaceful relationships.

Sunday: Sin and Friends

What happens in your circle of friends when one of you really messes up? Or what happens to you when you make some bad choices and begin to suffer the consequences?

Considering how we ourselves would like to be treated in these awkward situations could help us respond more helpfully to our friends when they find themselves unable to stand up to some temptation.

Solomon wisely reminds us of some things we should NOT do:

  • “He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.” Proverbs 17:9 NKJV (Don’t gossip or repeat it to others; give them love!)
  • “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.” Proverbs 19:11 NKJV (Be patient with your friend; forgive their mistakes!)

Discussion Questions: How do friends react when one of them is in the clasp of some sin, either great or small?

Describe how you would like your friends to respond if you really messed up badly.

Can we always turn our heads and forgive repeatedly when our friends disappoint us? When does an “intervention” become necessary for a friend? And what is necessary for a good intervention?

Do circumstances ever call for a severing of a relationship, when efforts to save it are exhausted? How do you know when you’ve reached that point?

Monday: Be Just!

As we’ve discussed, mercy isn’t our only ingredient in dealing with others. We must remember that justice is also needed. Sometimes we must invite a confrontation when other lives are in jeopardy.

As any parent has learned, real love doesn’t exist without real justice. Love without discipline isn’t love at all. And although we have compassion on the poor, we can’t excuse them for unwanted and dangerous acts against others (Proverbs 18:5 and Exodus 23:3).

Solomon invites us to remember this when dealing with our friends. But notice the difference in their reaction:

  1. “Rebuke is more effective for a wise man Than a hundred blows on a fool.” Proverbs 17:10 NKJV
  2. “Strike a scoffer, and the simple will become wary; Rebuke one who has understanding, and he will discern knowledge.” Proverbs 19:25 NKJV

As we can see, there is room for reproof or rebuke in a relationship. But obviously, it must be tempered with love for the best results. And we must be careful to be impartial in our dealings, even though we might anticipate a certain response.

Discussion Questions: Read John 8:1-11. Discuss how Jesus showed both love and justice in the story of pardoning the woman caught in adultery. How was love shown even to the ones who accused her?

How does Proverbs 17:28 show that we can appear wise, even when we aren’t? Could following this practice of listening make us more wise?

Tuesday: Words, Again

A popular verse in chapter 17 is: “A merry heart does good like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 NKJV

Proverbs 18 follows with some good advice about not arguing, gossiping, or speaking rashly. These practices are responsible for many a broken spirit.

Here we also see the difference in depth and superficiality in our interactions:

  • “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.” Proverbs 18:4 NKJV
  • “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out.” Proverbs 20:5 NKJV

Have you ever told someone who paused after saying “well…”, by saying, “Now that’s a deep subject”? It’s a small joke, but we all know that the well-placed pause is valuable in delivering a good speech. And there are times when just silence is the best response we can give.

Isn’t it more gratifying to have a deep conversation, based on personal reflection and experience, than to just cover superficial topics with someone?

Discussion Questions: Why do you think the depth of our speech is so important? Why are these conversations more likely to have a spiritual tone? Is this why we crave those deep conversations with our friends–because God is more likely to be revealed when we speak “from the heart”?

Read Proverbs 18:21 and discuss why our words are a matter of life and death. What kind of fruits result from the “power of the tongue”?

Why is a “merry heart” like good medicine? How do our attitudes and mindset affect our health?

Wednesday: Two Sides to a Story

How many times have we felt we were absolutely right about a subject only to find that the opposing viewpoint was more worthy than ours? It’s a humbling experience, but one that we must expect if we have the kind of humility that makes us wise.

This doesn’t mean we should be wishy-washy and refuse to hold any strong convictions. But it does remind us  to remain open-minded when we are presented with another side to the story.

The more information we have, the better we can form our viewpoints, remembering that only God has all the answers and all the truth because He has the capacity to see all sides at once.

Solomon states that fools are quick to form judgments, based on their own experience and knowledge, without the input of others:

“A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.” Proverbs 18:2 NKJV

He also reminds us that there are two sides to every story:

“The first one to plead his cause seems right, Until his neighbor comes and examines him.” Proverbs 18:17 NKJV

Only God doesn’t need a second opinion.

Discussion Questions: Describe an issue that you held in the past that you now see differently. Whether it’s politics, medicine, religion, or a career choice, how did it make you feel when you decided to change course?

With the internet providing us with innumerable perspectives of every conceivable idea, how do we decide when enough information-gathering has been done?

Is this untold amount of information causing today’s society to become more or less opinionated about any given subject?

Thursday: Be Truthful

tell_truthProverbs 19 focuses on the truthfulness of our conversations. A great deal of fighting between individuals occurs when one or both parties veers from the truth.

One must attempt to maintain the highest level of honesty possible in order to have the greatest influence in life. Not only does it impact our own reputation, but God’s reputation and cause suffers when our witnessing efforts are impaired by our untruthfulness.

Here are some statements in Proverbs 19 to warn us of the dangers of not telling the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

  • “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.” Proverbs 19:1 NKJV
  • “Many entreat the favor of the nobility, And every man is a friend to one who gives gifts.” (a caution about bribery) Proverbs 19:6 NKJV
  • “A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies shall perish.” Proverbs 19:9 NKJV
  • “What is desired in a man is kindness, And a poor man is better than a liar.” Proverbs 19:22 NKJV

“A poor man is better than a liar.” How often has someone passed up a promotion or some other way to better their financial standing by refusing to use dishonest methods to get ahead. Knowing verse 22 would certainly give one the courage to do so.

Discussion Questions: It’s been said that the biggest liar is one who claims not to have ever told a lie. Why would this be true?

Many famous and powerful people have been brought down by just one untruth carelessly spoken. This seems to indicate that our society values the truth. If so, then why are lies and deception so evident in many areas of life?


Proverbs 17 gives a view of good and evil words and can be divided into three sections:

  1. positive words that build relationships (v. 1-10)
  2. negative words that destroy relationships (v. 11-22)
  3. the cause of destructive words (v. 23-28)

Proverbs 18 reveals the mind-set of a fool and has two sections, encouraging us to have deep conversations and try to see all sides of a story:

  1. the lives of the wealthy and foolish (v. 1-9)
  2. the secrets of finding true riches (v. 13-23)

Proverbs 19 defines wisdom by urging us to maintain strict honesty in all our dealings.

We find a summary of these themes in the very center of the three chapters, a triplet in Proverbs 18:10-12:

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. (v. 10)

The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, And like a high wall in his own esteem. (v. 11)

Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, And before honor is humility.” (v. 12)


Meditate on the following Bible characters’ stories and consider what they gave up in order to follow God’s wisdom, instead of their own.

  • Abraham
  • Jacob
  • Joseph
  • Moses

Compare their sacrifices with Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross.

Then look at your own life at the present time. What additional sacrifices could you make in your life to further God’s kingdom?

Next Week–Words of Wisdom

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