Proverbs 16:20

Handling a Matter Wisely

20a He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good

1. Definitions: Handling a matter – translated from one word.

a. Strong’s: speech; word; speaking; utterance; business; occupation; something; a thing… a matter…

b. Dict. of Bib. Lang.: speech; what was said; an account; a record of what happened; the thing that happened; something.

c. The term has a wide range of meaning… but the two major categories are (1) a word or speech and (2) the thing, event, or matter about which something is spoken.

2. Translations:

a. Darby: He that giveth heed to the word shall find good; and whoso confideth in Jehovah, happy is he.

b. English Standard Version: Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

c. New American Standard: He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

d. New Century Version: Whoever listens to what is taught will succeed, and whoever trusts the Lord will be happy.

e. Young’s: The wise in any matter findeth good, And whoso is trusting in Jehovah, O his happiness.

f. KJV: He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.

g. It is probably not possible to know for sure which emphasis Solomon had in mind as he wrote.

h. It is probably best to be broad enough to include BOTH ideas… which are closely related anyway: a matter about which we have heard or been instructed.

3. The point is that wisdom is needed in dealing with any matter… any event… any occurrence… or with any instruction or speech heard.

a. Handle wisely: exercise prudence; understanding; insight.

b. Solomon states here that wisdom is to be applied to any and every matter… to any event in life…

c. Wisdom is to be applied to instruction… to anything we hear…

d. When we read God’s Word or hear a message from God’s Word, wisdom is needed in applying it to our own lives personally.

e. The fact that a person has been instructed does not guarantee that he will carry out those instructions WISELY!

f. Sometimes instructions are carried out quite foolishly. Sometimes applications from the Bible are quite foolish.
• I read of a Christian oil tycoon from Texas who read about much oil in certain areas in Israel and was planning to spend millions to drill there for the oil.
• He believed the Bible when it said there was much oil in certain areas, and since no one had drilled there yet, he planned to drill and get the oil.
• However, the oil in the Bible was not petroleum… motor oil… but olive oil… made from olives…
• He did not apply wisdom to the instruction he heard from the word.

g. Some believers (with good intentions) read in the Bible how Christ healed the sick, and they refuse to go to a doctor.

h. Sometimes we might hear of a matter/problem at work, and dig in to fix it… only to discover we have made it worse! Wisdom is needed.

i. How often have we dealt with people problems… arguments, disagreements, feuds… and with the best of intentions discover that our efforts to heal sparked a worse controversy! Wisdom is needed in every matter!

j. And oh how our leaders in Washington need wisdom in the political, social, and economic matters they deal with every day. Pray for them!

k. Trying to handle a matter (effort plus good intentions) without wisdom can do more harm than good.

l. Prov.13:13 – The one who despises (scorns) the word spoken on any given matter will be destroyed!

4. But hearing instruction about a matter… plus wisdom results in good.

a. Giving heed to the instruction… applying wisdom to the matter is the way to handle any situation in life.

b. We all KNOW this intellectually… but (let’s be honest) we don’t always practice it.

c. We often charge into a matter… and take matters into our own hands without thoughtful consideration… without praying…

d. Jas. 1:5 – wisdom is ours through prayer—in trying “matters” such as James describes here.

e. Prov. 1:20 – Divine wisdom is crying out to be heard. Wisdom is available from the Lord at all times…

f. Prov. 2:3-6 – but wisdom must be diligently sought after.

g. Wisdom is ours through seeking God in prayer and through diligently seeking God in His Word.

h. This results in GOOD.

• Good defined: good; pleasant; agreeable; beneficial; prosperous; bounty… well pleasing… (broad term in meaning).

i. Handling a matter wisely… or applying wisdom to instruction is beneficial in every way.

j. It might produce bounty, prosperity, agreeable, pleasant results…

k. Prov. 19:8 – applying wisdom and understanding is good for the soul… it results in good (same word).

20b And whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.

1. This proverb is a typical synonymous parallelism.

a. The two sections are equal… mean the same thing… from a slightly different angle.

b. In other words, handling a matter wisely EQUALS trusting in the Lord.

c. The “good” and the “happy” are also parallel.

2. The man who TRUSTS in God is happy.

a. Happy = blessed;

b. Ps. 2:12 – BLESSED (same word) are all they that put their trust in Him. (also in Ps. 34:8; 40:4)

c. Those who trust God are blessed… happy…

d. Happy stands in contrast to the “good” (good; pleasant; prosperous; bountiful.)

e. The man who trusts God in matters is blessed… happy.

f. The wise man receives a bounty and prospers… but is not necessarily happy or content.

g. Faith brings God into the picture… and the result is happiness… blessedness… peace… contentment…

3. Wisdom and trust are seen in this proverb as equals… they go hand in hand… you can’t have one without the other.

a. This is an important truth. I’m not sure I’ve seen them as equals before.

b. I’ve seen them both as necessary and important… but to see them as equals is an interesting spin Solomon puts on these terms.

c. But when you stop and think about it (which is what Proverbs are designed to cause us to do!), you can see how closely they are linked together! (wisdom and trust)

d. It would be FOLLY not to trust God in any matter. (wisdom and faith are linked)

e. Trusting God is the WISE way to handle any matter.

f. We would be UNFAITHFUL if we failed to apply wisdom to any matter. (wisdom and faith are linked)

g. Wisdom and faith go together. They are BOTH needed in handling any matter properly.

4. Wisdom WITHOUT trust…

a. It is possible to apply wisdom to a given situation (just like men of the world do every day)… and FAIL to apply faith.

b. A man might apply wisdom by leaning on his own understanding and do so in pride… trusting in himself and in his own wisdom.

c. That proud wise man who leans on his own understanding often succeeds in various matters because he DOES have wisdom.

d. But without faith, it is impossible to please God. Applying wisdom alone is not pleasing to the Lord.

e. The man who is proud and worldly wise may apply wisdom and find good (prosperity; success)… but that does not guarantee that he will be HAPPY… blessed in his soul.

f. In this world, wisdom works in many matters—even without faith.

g. But before God, wisdom without faith is not blessed. There is no reward for that kind of behavior… regardless of how successful it may be on earth. There is no blessed happiness.

h. And sometimes in this world, wisdom ALONE does NOT produce the desired results when God intervenes and “blows” on it.
• Haggai 1:5-6, 9 – These men applied much wisdom in building their houses and accumulating their wealth… but wisdom alone was not enough. God blew upon their efforts… and all came to naught.
• Prov. 28:26 – He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool, but who so walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
• Once again, the two thoughts of wisdom and trust are put side by side.
• The man who trusts in HIMSELF is a fool. The man who trusts in his own wisdom is a fool.
• But the man who walks WISELY (apply God’s wisdom and faith) shall be delivered.
• Wisdom alone is not good enough. Spiritually, wisdom by itself is not wise at all—it is folly!

5. Two things are needed to find good and happiness: wisdom PLUS faith.

a. BOTH are essential. One without the other would lead astray.

b. Our happiness and success are not to be found in ourselves, but in applying God’s wisdom to every matter

c. Our happiness and success are not to be found in ourselves, but in exercising faith in every matter… not leaning on our own resources.

d. Goodness and happiness are for those who apply BOTH wisdom and faith.

e. Calamity and sorrow are for those who don’t. (vs.18 – a fall)

6. Sometimes, our own feelings and reasoning tell us that faith is the OPPOSITE of wisdom.

a. Reasoning sometimes says: either you trust God (pie in the sky) OR you apply sound wisdom and reasoning.

b. Sometimes things God tells us to do might not SEEM very wise…

c. Yet this proverb speaks of faith and wisdom as equals.

d. Imagine hearing the message from the commander in chief that his military strategy for the army is to march around a city 7 times and blow the trumpets!
• Some would say you either apply wisdom OR faith …
• Wouldn’t wisdom tell you to come up with another strategy for defeating the city of Jericho?
• So, do you apply wisdom or faith?

e. Imagine hearing Jesus tell Peter to walk on water.
• It would seem like wisdom would tell you NOT to do so… and only faith would say such a thing.

f. II Chron. 20:20c-21 – What a military strategy. They sent the army out to face the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites… and they put the choir in the front line to sing.

g. Sometimes things God tells us to do might not SEEM very wise… yet this proverb speaks of faith and wisdom as equals.
• And it would NOT be wise for YOU to try to walk on water. Jesus SAID to Peter to come out on the water. He didn’t say that to you!
• It would not be wise for the generals in the war in Iraq to follow the instructions given to Joshua…
• It was an expression of wisdom and faith for Peter and Joshua because God SAID to do so. But God didn’t tell us to do so.
• We saw that wisdom without trust is folly. Here we see that faith without wisdom is dangerous.

h. This speaks of BOTH faith and wisdom. A powerful combination.
• Not wisdom without faith… (that can be proud and godless)
• Not faith without wisdom… (that can be foolish and dangerous)… but BOTH faith and wisdom.