Proverbs "Blog" 2013

    "...the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs.  The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.  The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd."

One Sunday I challenged the congregation to read a chapter from Proverbs each day.  I will highlight a portion of each chapter in Proverbs and share some thoughts.

Pastor Kent

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are from the New King James version.

 

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Daily Wisdom in Proverbs

Proverbs 28: 1 - The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion.

 

   Bishop John Hall (1633 – 1710) explains this contrast.  “The wicked is a very coward, and is afraid of everything; of God, because he is His enemy; of Satan, because he is his tormentor; of God's creatures, because they, joining with their Maker, fight against him; of himself, because he bears about him his own accuser and executioner.  The godly man, contrarily is afraid of nothing; not of God, because he knows Him his best friend and will not hurt him; not of Satan, because he cannot hurt him; not of afflictions, because he knows they come from a loving God and end for his good; not of the creatures, since “the very stones in the field are in league with him; not of himself, since his conscience is at peace” - from Meditations and Vows, Cent. ii. Lxxiv.

 

Daily Wisdom in Proverbs

Proverbs 27: 2 - Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.

 

   Praise is a rich treasure, but it will never make you rich if it comes not from another. Praise is sweet music but cannot be tuned in your own mouth.  Consider John the Baptist who considered himself unworthy to carry the shoes of Jesus (Matthew 3: 11; John 3: 30) yet Jesus said of him that John was the greatest of all born of woman (Matthew 11: 11).  The centurion confessed that he was not worthy to have Christ come under his roof yet Jesus commended him for his great faith (Matthew 8: 5- 13).  Luke, the writer of The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts mentions nothing of himself, but another praises Luke as the “beloved physician and faithful companion" (Colossians 4: 14; II Timothy 4: 11).

 

   Self seeking and / or self promotion is a blot upon the Church of God.  Shall one, who has said before God “I am vile”, say before his fellow men “behold my zeal for Christ and my love for men” (Job 40:4; II Kings 10: 16).  Paul, when put in a position to speak of himself said “I speak as a fool” intimating that speaking of oneself, unless pressed, is to talk as a fool (II Corinthians 11: 5- 12; 12: 11).  Paul was pressed for those who should have commended him (the Corinthians) doubted him and suspected him of “ulterior motives”.  We ought not seek the honor of men but, as Jesus did, seek to glorify The Father in Heaven (John 8: 49, 50; Colossians 3: 23, 24; Ephesians 6: 6; I Peter 5: 5, 6).

 

Daily Wisdom in Proverbs

Proverbs 26:11 - As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly.

 

Is this the picture of man “made a little lower than angels" (Psalm 8: 5), even “made in the likeness of God” (Genesis 1: 26)?  Do we not see Adam as monarch of creation summoning all before him to be named and thus receiving homage (Genesis 2: 20)? Who could conceive that the monarch would sink to brutish degradation? Did not the tempter promise “you will be like God” (Genesis 3: 5)?  Ah, but the tempter lied as man became as a brute. Are you disgusted by the allusion?  Peter uses this “true proverb” to describe the condition of apostate teachers (II Peter 2: 20 -22) who are temporarily convicted with no conversion of the heart who fall away into desperate hardness (see also Hebrews 6: 4 – 8).

 

   Did not Pharaoh return to his folly after momentary conviction (Exodus 8: 8, 15; 9: 27, 34,35)? Consider Ahab's feigned repentance (I Kings 21: 27, 28; 22: 8 – 38).  Herod's fear of John was less than his desire to please his guests therefore Herod only partially amended (Mark 6: 14 – 29).  Or, observe the drunkard who has woe, sorrow, contentions, wounds, no feeling, and awakes from his stupor to have another drink (Proverbs 23: 29- 35).  All these, after a fleeting remorse, take a more determinate course of sin as they plunge to their ruin.

 

 A superficial knowledge of Christ is no preservative for the unregenerate heart.  The house may be swept clean, but it must not be left empty.  If the Divine does not fill the swept house, the former tenant will return resulting in greater destruction (Matthew 12: 43 – 45. see also the put off put on of Ephesians 4: 17 – 32 and Colossians 3: 1- 17).

 

   Is not sin justly termed folly?  Every fool who rather be paid the wage of sin than repent in dust and ashes will learn the horror of the folly of sin when the wage is paid in full (Daniel 12: 1- 3; Romans 6: 23).  Child of God, hearken to the voice of your Father's peace and ponder this solemn warning “let them not turn back to folly” (Psalm 85: 8).

 

Daily Wisdom in Proverbs

Proverbs 25: 4, 5 - Take away the dross from silver, And it will go to the silversmith for jewelry.  Take away the wicked from before the king, And his throne will be established in righteousness.

 

   Silver, to be made into fine jewelry, must be refined for the dross mars the beauty and purity of the silver.  Wicked counselors are as dross in a king's court.  David understood the necessity of removing evil influences from his court as expressed in Psalm 101.  This is political wisdom on Biblical principles for “righteousness exalts a nation” (Proverbs 14: 34).  Will not the court of the eternal king be established by the complete, and eternal removal of the wicked?  Lord, may we, under the refiner's hand, be purified and offer unto you an offering of righteousness. (Malachi 3: 3; Jude 24, 25).

 

Daily Wisdom in Proverbs

Proverbs 24: 17, 18 - Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, And He turn away His wrath from him.

 

   One may ask, did not the people of God rejoice at the fall of their enemies (Exodus 15: 1ff.)?  No, we must recognize the difference between the joy of triumph and the joy of malignant revenge.  One is the adoration of God and glorifying our redeemer (Revelation 15: 3,4; 18: 20) while the other is to fall into sin.  David fasted and mourned in his enemies afflictions (Psalm 35: 13, 14).  To be glad of our enemy's fall would be to break the commandment to love our enemies and to bless those who curse us (Luke 19: 41 – 44; Matthew 5: 44).  Do we display the character of the Lord Jesus Christ in the face of our enemies?

 

Daily Wisdom in Proverbs

Proverbs 23: 17, 18 - Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off.

 

   Asaph, in Psalm 73, acknowledges that “his foot nearly slipped”.  Asaph was nearly overcome with envy as he observed the prosperity and ease of the wicked. He nearly betrays the people of God. The remedy for Asaph's envy came when Asaph entered the sanctuary of God and remembered the destiny of the wicked. The Godly have a future in the house of the Lord for all eternity (Psalm 23: 6).  But, the wicked will perish (Psalm 1:6).

   Therefore, dear reader, live in the fear of God and meditate on His Law day and night (Psalm 1; Hebrews 12: 28; I Peter 2: 17; 3: 15).

 

Daily Wisdom in Proverbs

Proverbs 22: 3 - A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished.

 

   It is the prudent man who understands the “signs of the times” and prepares for the coming evil / wrath.  Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees for being able to discern the sky but were unable to discern the “signs of the times” (Matthew 16: 3).  Koheleth exhorts the reader to remember the Creator when he is young because old age and death are coming.  The Creator is the one who will judge every man's work whether it be good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12).  To walk carelessly in the way of evil is folly.  Paul understanding that all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ had but one ambition; to please the judge (II Corinthians 5: 9, 10).

 

   Dear reader have you remembered your Creator?  When you stand before the judgment seat and the Law accuses you, will you have an Advocate?  Do you enjoy the blessings of intercession by the Holy Spirit and the Son rendered on your behalf?

 

Daily Wisdom in Proverbs

Proverbs 31: 10 - Who can find a virtuous woman?  For her price is far above rubies. (NKJ)

   A virtuous woman is the choicest gift and is a gift from the Lord (Proverbs 19:14).  Abraham sent to a distant land for such a woman for his son and his servant waited for the Lord to reveal the woman to him (Genesis 24:2-4; 10-26).  One reason a virtuous woman may be rare is that she is so infrequently sought.  Too often the search is made for accomplishments, beauty or talents, but not for virtue.  Internal Godly worth is of greater value than any external recommendations (I Peter 3:1-6).

Daily Wisdom in Proverbs

Proverbs 30: 1 – 3 - The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal, Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.  I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.

 

   Nothing certain is known of Agur or of his students Ithiel and Ucal.  Therefore it is prudent to give our full attention to the instruction than to engage in unprofitable speculation.  It ought to be enough for us to know the author, even though the writer is hid.  We can be assured that Agur was one of “the holy men of God moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1: 21) and therefore what Agur has written he has written for our learning.

 

   Agur's language is strong!! He confesses not just that he is brutish, but that he is more brutish than any man.  He continues to confess that he has no understanding, has learned wisdom and has no knowledge of the holy.  Why then should we listen / read him?  Does he have anything to say?  How can we possibly regard him as one of the holy men of God moved along by the Holy Spirit?

 

   Agur is confessing his self knowledge.  What would a man who takes the lamp of the Lord to search his own heart (Proverbs 20: 27) find in his own soul?  If one knows his own heart, he can hardly conceive of anyone else to be as degraded as himself (I Timothy 1: 15).  Paul, as he compares himself to the “holy, just, and good” law, exclaims that “I am carnal, sold under sin.” (Romans 7: 7 – 14).  Isaiah, in the presence of the thrice Holy God, cries out “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips...” (Isaiah 6: 5).  Job, of  whom God said “...there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1: 8), following the manifestation of God's power and majesty confesses that he is vile (Job 40: 4) and abhors himself and “repents in dust and ashes” (Job 42: 5, 6).

 

   The nearer our contemplation of God, the closer our communion with Him, the deeper will be our self abasement.  Genuine humility is the path of wisdom.  It is only as we are humbled in shame that the house of God, and all its laws may be seen and heard (Ezekiel 44: 5).  It is only as we understand that the wisdom of this world is foolishness and we become fools that the wisdom of God becomes ours (I Corinthians 3: 18 – 23, also 8: 2).  Socrates, the Greek philosopher is reputed to confess “I only know one thing, that I know nothing”.  Let us rejoice that those who humbly, knowing how destitute we are, approach the throne of Grace may know Him who is Life and thus have eternal life as our inheritance.

 

Daily Wisdom in Proverbs

Proverbs 29: 11 - A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back.

 

   Elsewhere the wise man stated that there was “a time for every purpose under heaven...a time to keep silent, and a time to speak...” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1- 8).  The one who is able to control his tongue is wise. The man who speaks hastily exposes himself to be a fool (Proverbs 18: 13).  Often it is better not to speak, even to suppress the thought (Micah 7: 5; Proverbs 30: 32).  How much foolish talk and jesting fills our conversation rather than words that edify (Ephesians 4: 25 – 32; 5: 4, 19 - 21)?

 

   Let us pray, with the Psalmist, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141: 3).  Let us be wise understanding the example of Paul, who living and ministering in Ephesus for two years, never uttered all his mind concerning the worship of Diana.  But, weeping and unceasingly ministering the Word of God, proved his faithfulness (Acts 19: 10, 23; 20; 31).  We ought to take great care to speak nothing but the truth and that in love (Ephesians 4: 15), but, at times, the whole truth may be legitimately restrained (I Samuel 16:: 1- 3).

 

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