Troublesome Topic: Proverbs that State “That’s the Way Life Is”

These proverbs tell us, “That’s the way life is, deal with it, and don’t let it ruin your day.” There are things in life we cannot change, at least not all at once, so we have to deal with them. We cannot let every negative aspect of life offend us; that is a miserable way to live. Learn to accept that life is hard. Choose to be a person with a beautiful spirit and winsome attitudes regardless of the circumstances.

14:20  The poor person is shunned by his neighbor, but many are the friends of the wealthy (ISV).

18:16  A person’s gift opens doors for him, bringing him access to important people (ISV).

19:4  Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend (ESV).

19:6  Many seek a ruler’s favor, and everyone is a friend of one who gives gifts (HCSB).

21:14  A gift [given] in secret calms anger, and a secret bribe calms great fury (God’s Word translation).

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22:7  The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender (ISV).

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I’m sure you noticed that most of these have to do with poverty. We should not take from this that we should do nothing to alleviate poverty. Rather the point is that we should learn to accept our situation in life without letting it discourage us or paralyze us. Don’t complain about it because that doesn’t help. We should do the best we can with what we have. Strive, work, exert yourself to do better, but don’t complain about it.

Once again, remembering that there was a specific context for each of the proverbs listed in each category helps us realize that there is something to learn from it, but it was spoken originally to someone specific in a specific situation which was probably different than my own.

The next lesson is: Bathsheba’s Advice to Solomon in Proverbs 31



This one sounds like it condones bribing. While the Law instructed the Israelites to not practice or accept bribes, Solomon’s statement to a specific person seems to have communicated, “Yes, bribes are usually bad, but in this case, it was the best thing you could do. You weighed all the aspects of this situation and realized that giving a bribe would be a smaller problem than not doing so. By calming that person down, you may have saved a life.”


This proverb appears to be more about borrowing than anything else. In this way Solomon was reminding the person before him that being poor is no fun, and by borrowing money he may be bringing poverty or even slavery upon himself. (In those days, if a person could not pay his debt, he offered himself as a slave to that person until his debt was considered paid off.) The lesson here is “Don’t borrow.”