Verse 22: "How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and the fools hate knowledge?" I understand that the question is rhetorical, but if I were to reply with an answer, I'd say, "Until the simple cease being simple, the scorners cease being scornful, and the fools cease being foolish."
Many times, the problem is not what we do; it's who we are. Paul said it like this: "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature..." (1 Cor. 5:17). That's the key to fasting: it doesn't change our situation, but it does change us, which alters how we react to our situation. The transformation must be from the inside, out. Otherwise, it's like covering a painted wall with another color of paint, over and over, until the wall begins to bubble, and reveals that the new shade is merely a cover-up.
This Proverb states that if we incline our ears unto wisdom, and apply our hearts to understanding, wisdom will enter our hearts, and knowledge will be pleasant to our souls. Also, discretion shall preserve us, and understanding shall keep us, from the strange woman "who forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God" (verses 2, 10, 11, 16, 17).
The "strange woman" in verse 16, I believe, can represent any backslider who might try to convince another child of God that the way of the world is better than living for God. The writer says that she once had guidance in her youth, and she once had a covenant with God, but she forsook it. She once prayed in the altars. She once was broken before God. She once had direction, but now she's lost, and she's trying to misguide others. My God, what a scary thought.
You need to be careful of who you allow to speak into your life. I don't care how on fire they USED to be; if they are not currently seeking God, DO NOT seek their advice.
Take that, and think on it, and see who you are allowing to misguide you.
The twenty-fifth verse of this Proverb begins with the instruction to "be not afraid of sudden fear." That puzzled me. I understand to not have fear, but to not have fear of fear itself? Uh....
Actually, that word, "afraid," in the Hebrew language, means, "to dread, or fear." However, the word, "fear," in that verse, comes from a Hebrew word that means, "make to shake." In that sense, I think of a some prank that my friends used to pull on me. Maybe they'd suddenly grab my arm when close to a cliff, or shake the log when I was trying to cross a river. Just to scare me.
These pranks tricked me into thinking that my life was in danger, that I was going to end up hurt, or worse. That's exactly what the enemy plans to do. He can't kill you, so he'll do anything he can to make you miserable. However, we must be like Job; when the enemy does everything to us but kill us, we must remember that God is always in control. Don't let the enemy's tricks fool you into thinking that he has power over you. He never has, and he never will.
I read this chapter and find all the things it says that the righteous are: delivered from death (verse 4), directed (5), delivered out of trouble (8), receptive of a sure reward (18), delightful to the Lord (20), desiring of only good (23), favored (27), and flourishing as a branch (28). These many things mentioned in this chapter alone should motivate me to walk righteously, such as mentioned in Psalms 15:2, for that man shall abide in the tabernacle of the Lord, and shall dwell in His holy hill (Psalms 15:1).
Throughout this chapter, my mind picked up on two key verses that correlate with one another. In my life, the thing I struggle with the most would probably be my pride and the belief that my way is always the best way for me. Many times, when I receive correction for something that I've understood already to be wrong, I get upset or defensive. Granted, in my defense (there I go again), I have gotten better over the past couple of years, and especially over the past 6 months or so. However, I do struggle. After reading Proverbs 12:1, I've realized that by being that way, I'm being "brutish." Who wants to be known as THAT? And verse 15 calls me a fool. "C'mon now, Solomon. That's not right... Oh yeah, that's the Lord speaking through you." Thus, once I put my pen down, I'll make sure I repent. "Lord, help me to love knowledge and desire to be wise."
I'd like to focus on verse 3, which says, "He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction." Notice that it does not say, "He that keepeth his tongue...." I believe this is because the tongue is the most unruly member of the body; it is nearly impossible to control once your mouth is open. But that's the key: the mouth being open. I don't know how many times I've unknowingly opened my mouth to talk about someone or something, only to realize later that once I opened my mouth, my tongue just kept going, and I said quite a few things that I either didn't mean, or that just shouldn't have been spread. So be wise. Don't open your mouth about something prematurely, because once its open, there's not much controlling what comes out. It's a lot easier to keep your mouth closed than to keep your tongue quiet.
Verse 6 of this chapter reads: "A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth." Two opposites are mentioned in this verse: the scorner and him that understandeth. If these are opposites, obviously the scorner does not understand. A scorner is defined as someone who scoffs, or mocks. Maybe the reason that the scorner can't find any wisdom is that he's too busy mocking the wise. Let's build each other up, and who knows? Maybe we'll get some wisdom of our own.
Chapter fifteen, verse three says, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." We might look at this verse and think, "Ooo, scary...," but it's actually quite uplifting. Think about it. He sees EVERYTHING. That means every mistake AND every good work; the outside AND the inside; "the evil AND the good" (verse 3). The reason we get frightened, or even humiliated by this verse is because we read up to the word "evil," and the adversary quickly reminds us of that alone. Once we begin to think on those things, we lose focus on the "and." In fact, the "and" is what saves us. If the Lord only saw the evil, we'd be desolate, and hopeless. But God is omniscient -- all-knowing, not partially knowing. Remember, our perception is our reality. If we could ever open our eyes to the last three words of that verse, THEN we would see ourselves as God sees us.
I'd like to start off by saying that I'm sure my stepfather will enjoy this post.
Verse 9: "A man's heart deviseth his wis way: but the Lord directeth his steps." The twenty-fifth verse also says, "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Finally, Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" The theme of all of this is that there are two options: the way of the heart, or the steps from the Lord.
The way of the heart "SEEMETH right unto a man," or is "deceitful above all things." However, it only leads to the "ways of death." Notice that verse 9 does not say that "the Lord decideth his way," but that He "directeth his steps." One step at a time.
When you're no longer "set in your ways" is when the Lord can direct your steps. Personally, I have never been on a hike where the path went straight the entire way to the top of the mountain. Many times, switchbacks are in order, where the trail completely changes direction. In that case, you again have two choices: you can be set in your ways and walk either into the side of the mountain or off the side of the mountain, or you can take one step that will change your direction to follow the path already established.
I do not disagree with Robert Frost concerning taking the road less traveled by; however, notice that the road he took was already created for him. He didn't just go where his heart desired. Therefore, let the Lord guide each step, and don't be so stubborn that your direction points to spiritual death.
Sometimes, I get so frustrated with people who criticize and condemn those that have a servant's heart. I see people who work their tail off to do something for someone with nothing expected in return, just to turn and hear something negative said about them. It makes me sick.
Today, I read Proverbs 17:15, which says, "He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination unto the Lord." Then I let the conviction settle. I began to think of how bad of a justifier I can be of my own ways, whether right or wrong. Sometimes, I make special rules for myself to trick my conscience into thinking I'm okay. The bible says that that is an abomination unto God. Meaning my actions are in the same category as homosexuality, lying, and other things I see as terrible sins. Time to repent...
There are so many directions I could go with this entry, but I'll choose verse 12, which reads, "Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility." As listed in many Proverbs, we have two choices: to be haughty, or to be humble. The destinations of these two actions are either destruction, or honor. In Hebrew, that word, "honor," can be a verb. In other words, to honor someone. When you honor someone, you promote them -- whether to a new job position, with a badge or medal in the military, or just from a certain level of esteem in our hearts to the next.
If I were to tell my boss that I didn't have time to do the things he asked of me, I'd soon be fired, and my position would be destroyed. However, if I were asked by him three days out of the week to stay a little later to accomplish a few more things, I'd soon be promoted. Obedience is key, and that involves putting my desires aside to accomplish the desires of the King.
"Hear counsel" (verse 20). That's tough to many. But I can't tell enough of how my counsel has kept me in the church. Sometimes, I think about what life would be like if I did things my own way. You know, in those times when it seems like the "right thing" is the only thing you don't want to hear? I must say, though, that I've never come up with a better way than the right way.
Verse 20 says that counsel and instruction will make us "wise in the latter end." Usually, our eyes are not opened until the decision has already been made. That's why we need a counsel to instruct us when we can't discern the best route to take. So find an elder that can help you. It will keep you from having to experience many consequences first-hand before you learn.
The sixth verse asks, "Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?" I don't believe that this verse is saying that there is a lack of faithful men, but rather that the abundance of faithful men do not openly proclaim their own goodness; therefore, they are not found among most.
Whenever I read this, I begin to appreciate even more the hidden ministries of the church. Those are the truly faithful people -- those who labor behind the scenes. Even in a church service, the people I am led to pray for the most are the ones being touched by God in a more private manner.
My grandmother is probably the most faithful woman I know. She's never been on the platform; never used a microphone, although she has a wonderful voice. In fact, the greatest leadership position she ever had was leading the Senior Saints ministry. But she's so humble, and so willing to serve. She doesn't run aisles, or get very loud, but trust me -- she hears from God.
The bible says that "the meek shall inherit the earth" (Psalms 37:11). God, help us to show our faithfulness to You, especially if it's out of the spotlight.
The very first verse of this chapter says, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will." This country is not in good condition. It's easy to see that. But we must trust in the hand of the Lord. All of the events happening today are simply fulfilling Bible prophecy, and cannot be altered.
I like the comparison of the king's heart to rivers of water. Think about a river. There is no river that runs perfectly straight, but every one has numerous bends. However, notice that every river, no matter how many bends, ends up leading to an ocean. The verse says that God turns the heart of the king "whithersoever he will" (Proverbs 21:1). But the Bible has already predicted the outcome. This world is heading to hell -- it doesn't matter which direction it temporarily travels. I'm just glad I'm a part of the church, because it's the only thing that's going to last.
"Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Flagler... Man, it sure would be nice to have a last name like that..." Is that not the way we think? And we think this way, not because the names themselves mean much, but because the men behind those names were, and are, outstandingly wealthy. You could even say that they are the epitome of success. Who wouldn't want even the tiniest fraction of their wealth?
Now, let's look at Proverbs 22:1, which states: "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold."
"Wow, so now we have to pick one or the other? A good name RATHER than great riches?"
Guess so. Matthew 10:25 says, "It is easier for camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
"Whoa, so THAT'S why we have to choose. But what kind of good name is there besides the ones associated with wealth and fame?"
Well, you could say that you just need to do good things, to keep a "good name," or reputation, for yourself. But I know a certain name that's above every name -- Jesus. And it might not be full of riches, but it's rich in mercy, and full of grace. And when you choose it over another inheritance, you'll get an inheritance that's literally out of this world.
You know, a lot of wealthy people live solely in their wealth; they buy fancy cars, huge houses, and even their gravestones are bigger and better than others. And don't misunderstand me: fancy cars, nice houses, and elaborate gravestones aren't sins against God. The Christian rap artist, Lecrae, says it best: "Ain't nothin' wrong with havin' it. As a matter of fact, go and get it. But if you find identity in it, then go forget it." There is, however, something you can and should find identity in, and that's the name of Jesus. Be buried in His name through baptism, and live solely in His name forevermore through the Holy Ghost.
Now THAT'S something to take with you.
Ever heard the cliché phrase, "Follow your heart?" Seems like the 21st-century, careless, regretless thing to do right? Wrong. If you truly want to live a life without regret, don't follow your heart - lead it.
Jeremiah said, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desparately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:19). Instead of following, Proverbs 23:19 instructs us to "guide thine heart in the way." Not to follow.
So, if we're supposed to guide our heart, and not follow it, there must be something we can use to help lead. In fact, the one thing stronger than the heart is the mind. The heart is just wicked. There's no changing its desires. But the mind is without specific direction on its own. This is why we must have a made-up mind. It's impossible to have any control of what we feel without taking control of what we think.
So try and control your thoughts. Both good and evil are pulling at your mind; it's your choice of which wins. Let your mind have good direction, so that you may lead your heart in the way.
Verse 20 of this chapter states that "the candle of the wicked shall be put out." Why is that? Because once the wax in a candle runs out, the candle can no longer burn. However, the righteous do not have a candle; they have a lamp. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet..." (Psalms 119:105). God's word is a lamp with endless anointing, and therefore endless oil. It'll never run out of fuel.
Boy, would I hate to be the wicked, for they have nothing to turn to but a terminal candle. Thank God for allowing to be part of the righteous, who have the eternal lamp to guide them.
The verse I'd like to focus on right now is verse 19, which reads, "Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint." Why a tooth and a foot, Solomon?
You know, one of the key causes for a broken tooth is a cavity that weakens the tooth overtime, so that when it comes time to chew, the tooth is so weak that it breaks. When I think of cavities, I think first of walking or hiking on a trail. Sometimes, out of nowhere, I'll step on weak ground, or into a hole. If I'm not properly prepared for that hole, it can really damage various parts of my body, especially my foot. Talk about a "foot out of joint."
There have been several times in my life when I have put my faith and confidence in someone who wasn't trustworthy, only to be let down in the end. And I can't describe the pain it causes, especially when that person is someone you thought would make a good ear to talk to, or friend to rely on. However, even after the let-down has occurred, I'm so thankful that I have a God in whom I can put my trust.
People will eventually let you down, even though they might not mean it. BUT GOD is a refuge. He's a strong tower. I don't ever have to worry about being let down by the One who can only lift me up. So put your faith in Him, so that when "crunch time" comes, you don't end up with a broken tooth.
Verse 8 says, "As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honor to a fool." That phrase, "bindeth a stone in a sling," literally translated in the Hebrew means, "putteth a precious stone in a heap of stones." Proverbs 18:12 says, "...before honor is humility." The fool is not humble. Humility comes from the heart, not from the mouth. Anyone can say that they don't want to be exalted, or that they don't aspire to be some type of figurehead, but according to Psalms 53:1, those people are still potential fools.
Psalms 53:1 says that "the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Not from his mouth, but in his heart - it's the motive that matters. By saying, "There is no God," the fool is walking in pride, by putting himself in the seat of The Almighty. Not good.
Self-evaluation time. As humans, we tend to desire a "Good job!" every now and again. But do we honestly deserve it? We might speak well, or exceed expectations through our performance, but what's the motive behind it? What's our heart like? Does it match the performance, or is the performance simply a facade? Repentance time.
Because a diamond doesn't belong with ordinary rocks.
I'd like to look at the beginning of verse 6 tonight, which reads, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend." I write tonight with a heavy heart toward this matter, because I have experienced many wounds of friends. It seems for the past four to five years, my life has been greatly altered many a time by these wounds.
You know, many things can only be broken with force; this includes habits, attitudes, and addictions. It seems as though my greatest changes in lifestyle have come from the harshest words spoken to be my closest friends and mentors.
A scalpel is the sharpest instrument used by the surgeon, yet it is the most precise. It can cut through skin, muscle tissue, and even organs without any tearing whatsoever. With a scalpel, there is always a clean cut. And when used by the right person, it can cut right through you and remove just the right infirmities.
Well, for tonight, I'd like to liken the scalpel to the words of a friend. But not just any friend - the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Hebrews 4:12 says, "The word of God is... sharper than any two-edged sword...." That's the scalpel. That same word of God is also "piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit," according to the same verse. And when used in the right hands - by those who love you and care for your soul - it'll cut right through you and remove just the right infirmities.
But be encouraged, friend, for "faithful are the wounds of a friend" (Proverbs 27:6). The same One that performed the surgery is an expert in recovery.
Verse 23 of this chapter is where the "Wait, what?"s come in, in regards to the words of Solomon. It states this: "He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue."
"Now, Solomon, I thought we were supposed to uplift our brethren..." We are. But to be uplifted does not mean to feel better; it means to BE better. How can one's abilities be perfected if they are never tested? Without rebuke, there is no correction - only praise for falsehood and poor practices.
Now, this passage is not a license to openly rebuke whomever you'd please. Paul said, "Though I speak with tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am but a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal" (1 Corinthians 13:1). In other words, if we don't rebuke or flatter out of love, we're no more than another instrument played incorrectly.
So if you are rebuked by someone out of love, don't take offense - take action. For that rebuke was not meant to kill, but to correct.
Proverbs 29:11 states, "The fool uttereth all his mind: but the wise man keepeth it in till afterwards." It doesn't say that the wise man does not uttereth all his mind; it just says that he waits until afterwards.
"After what, Solomon?" Well, my name is not Solomon, but I believe that he wrote this verse concerning the timing of the matter. Ecclesiastes talks about a time for everything. Thus, there is a time to speak your mind, and a time to keep your peace. And usually, the speaking comes after the keeping.
It is so vital that we are led by the Holy Ghost when correcting and instructing others. I have seen families leave churches because someone spoke out-of-timing. So think before you "just speak your mind." What you say can birth or kill. Use your voice wisely.
Purity is beautiful. It's perfect. However the absolute smallest amount of any other substance, no matter what it might be, if added to the pure substance, exterminates all sense of purity. Verses five and six of Proverbs 30 read, "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." Ouch. A liar? Sounds pretty important, huh?
I am a man. Man and woman have been clothed in sin since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. Yet it is still vitally important for me to maintain my virginity until the bond of marriage. Why? Well, there are a copious amount of reasons, but the first I'd give is a restatement of the first paragraph of this entry: any other substance defiles the once pure substance. Secondly, there is no deeper physical intimacy between two people (a man and a woman, biblically).
Now if I must keep my sense of purity until brought together in marriage, how much more the God who is forever without sin? "Every word of God is pure..." (Proverbs 30:5). Anything added to his word defiles it. The author label the defiler, "a liar." Without being a hypocrite to my own post, I'd like to give them another title: "an adulterer." False prophets, teachers, and leaders who preach false doctrine are guilty of spiritual adultery, because they dilute the pure word of God, and thereby cause a spiritually lethal disconnection between the Bridegroom and His soon-to-be bride.
This is dangerous ground, my friend, so I'd suggest that we make sure what we practice and preach is the truth. Otherwise, we're lying adulterers.