A Lifestyle of Love and Mercy – Exploring the Passages

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What does Proverbs 10:12 (printed below) tell us about love? How would you explain the meaning of this proverb?

Hatred stirs up contentions; but love covers all transgressions. (Proverbs 10:12)

Hatred arouses and awakens old contentions that have been put to rest and have fallen asleep; hatred turns loose discord that was securely locked away and forgotten. Hatred refuses to forgive and forget. But love covers over transgressions, snuffing out the glowing coals of offense before they can be fanned into a blazing fire of strife. Note: to “cover transgression” does not mean to minimize it, excuse it, dismiss it; rather, it means to forgive it—as Psalm 32:1 testifies, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

2. How would you explain the meaning of Proverbs 25:21-22 (printed below?)

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; (22) by doing so, you will heap burning coals on his head, and Jehovah will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22)

The Lord commands us to respond to evil with acts of mercy (the enemy as he is presented here is in need), not acts of revenge (note Exodus 23:4-5). The inevitable affect of ministering mercy to the offender will be the conviction of his conscience, which may be the greatest kindness of all, for it may lead to repentance. Note: for a biblical interpretation of this difficult passage of Proverbs we may consider the incident involving David and Saul as related in 1 Samuel 24.

3. What assurance does Proverbs 28:27 (printed below) give to the generous man?

He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses. (Proverbs 28:27)

There is always the fear—the temptation to rationalize—that if I give to the poor I will deprive myself and my family: either the little that I have will be exhausted; or the poor coming to my door will multiply. But the Word of God does command us to practice generosity. Proverbs 28:27 assures us that when we imitate our Savior and exhibit a generous spirit, He will provide for us. We may also take note of the promise contained in Proverbs 19:17, “He who is kind to the poor lends to Jehovah, and he will reward him for what he has done.”

4. What does Proverbs 24:11-12 (printed below) teach us about defending the oppressed?

Rescue those who are being led away to death and hold back those who are ready to be killed. (12) If you say, “Look! We knew nothing about this!” does not he who evaluates the hearts observe it? Does not he who preserves your soul know it? Will he not repay every man according to what he has done? (Proverbs 24:11-12)

When we hear of an instance of suffering, injustice, oppression, or when we are actually confronted by such a scene, what happens? We feel overwhelmed, shocked, threatened, frozen. We are tempted to stand aloof, to avoid the scene, to not get involved. We rationalize that it is none of our business. What is Proverbs 24:11-12 teaching us? The Lord knows our hearts: He knows when we are rationalizing and excusing ourselves from our responsibility to stand up for righteousness and exhibit mercy. Furthermore, the Lord holds us responsible and accountable. What present day applications might there be with regard to this message? We are to take a stand against such evils as abortion, euthanasia, and racism.

5. What does Proverbs 29:7 (printed below) teach us about the righteous man’s attitude towards the poor in contrast to the wicked man’s attitude?

The righteous takes into account the cause of the poor; the wicked does not have the understanding to know it. (Proverbs 29:7)

“The righteous takes into account the cause of the poor;” or, “A righteous man knows the cause of the poor.” That is to say, a righteous man has compassion and an active concern and involvement in the cause of the poor, he does not stand aloof, he is sympathetic and understanding. But “the wicked does not have the understanding to know it.” A wicked man lacks the moral perception and sensitivity to feel such compassion and exhibit such concern—he “does not have the understanding to know” the cause of the poor; because of his hard heart, he cannot sympathize and identify with the plight of the poor.