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Proverbs 24:21-23a Do not have fellowship with rebels

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, May 20, 2019

21 My son, fear the LORD and fear the king.
  Do not have fellowship with those who are rebellious,
22 for suddenly their disaster will come,
  and who knows the ruin that both can bring?

When a child is still at home with his parents, the Fourth Commandment governs most of his life. When a child is young, his parents stand in place for God and direct everything the child does, and the way the child talks and acts are directly influenced by the parents. When we consider that some of the holy angels rebelled against God, and that Adam and Eve followed one of those angels in rebellion against God so very soon after the Creation, are we surprised that sinful children learn to rebel against their parents?

Yet Solomon is talking about more than children disagreeing with their parents. He is warning his son about the two who put down rebellion with death: “Fear the Lord and fear the king.” This is advice for any son or daughter as they leave the house.

The second line of verse 21 was read by the Greek translator as if it said, “Do not disobey either of them (that is, the Lord and the king),” which falls in line very well with the rest of the verse. This takes the Hebrew word shonim “the rebellious” as if it were shanayim “the two of them,” spelled almost the same way. But I have taken shonim at face value, meaning “those who do differently” or “those who bring change” as in revolution or disobedience. Do not “have fellowship” with them.

I do not use “have fellowship” lightly in the translation. This is the way that this verb, ‘arab, is translated in the hithpael stem, especially when followed by a noun expressing the person or nation with whom one is in fellowship. There is an example of this in Proverbs 20:19, “Do not have fellowship with a man who talks too much,” and another in Proverbs 14:10, “no one else can share / have fellowship with its joy.” Then there is Psalm 106:35: “They mingled (had fellowship) with the nations and adopted their customs.” Also: “They have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them” (Ezra 9:2). The command not to be in fellowship with them or mix together with them is a caution: They will certainly have their disaster, and you don’t want to be in the same group when the blow falls. It can be seen as a Passover question: Do you want to be in the house with the blood on the door, or do you want to be in fellowship with those who reject God and have turned away from him? It’s the same way on a smaller scale with the king. Don’t get mixed up with rebels. The Fourth Commandment should guide you: Obey the king as your own father. The king and the Lord are the two who make up the “both” in the last line.

This ends the so-called “Thirty Sayings,” which I translated “Previously written sayings” (Psalm 22:17-24:22). See comments on 22:20.

Further Sayings of the Wise

23 These also are sayings of the wise:

Verses 23-34 are a separate section, the shortest in the Book of Proverbs. It is sometimes called an appendix, either to 22:17-24:22 (the “Thirty Sayings”) or to the “Proverbs of Solomon,” which is the central part of the whole book (10:1—24:22). What follows is a group of five proverbs:

    Ia, Do not show partiality in judgment (24:23-25)
    Ib, Be honest with your answers (24:26)
    II, Finish your outside work before you work on your house (24:27)

    I, Do not testify against your neighbor unless you must (24:28-29)
    II, Don’t be lazy (24:30-34)

The Hebrew text divides them into two sections, as I have shown in the outline. Arranged this way, they are similar in length and in content, with a court case given first and then a caution about your work life: Be prudent in the city gate and out in the field! Do your work honestly and to the glory of God, and trust that he will bless you.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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