He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Proverbs 17:27
Talking when we should not say anything is something that can keep us from a world of trouble. Most of us, myself included, have a difficult time restraining our words. This is especially the case when we are being provoked or treated unjustly. Those are the times when we are tempted to speak - and to speak out of emotion and anything other than a
"cool spirit" as mentioned here. Wisdom tells us that it is better to use few words than many. Wisdom tells us to use no words at all when we are angry and bitter. Wisdom reminds us that such words are usually spoken out of our flesh rather than having the Holy Spirit empowered self-control that is needed.
We are told that a man of insight and discernment - a man who knows as he should and who understands things well - that man will hold back words. He will restrain himself from speaking and from saying what comes to his mind. He may want to say something, but wisdom tells him to keep his thoughts to Himself. The reason for this is found in the second half of today's proverb. He maintains a cool spirit. The word for "cool" here is the Hebrew word "qar" which means to be cool or even-tempered. The word refers to a cold refreshing drink of water - which was though to soothe the soul of the one who drank it. In the arid, hot middle east - such a drink would truly refresh the soul and cool the heat of the moment. The wise man maintains a cool spirit and does not allow provocation and rage to send him over the edge emotionally.
Such a man is one who has understanding. He understands that such outbursts do nothing to calm a situation. He understands that one act of anger and agression usually leads to another. Circumsntances like this can cause a man or woman to lose their temper and result in far worse damage and grief than just remaining quiet. Jesus was abused before the Roman rulers, the Jewish rulers, and the entire Sanhedrin - yet He held His tongue through it all. It is one of the most amazing displays of self-control ever known to mankind. The result of His self-control was the salvation of mankind. He said in the garden that God would make 12 legions of angels available to Him. But He never reacted - and maintained a cool spirit. He fulfilled God's purposes in the crucifixion, even though such purposes demanded several ridiculously illegal trials. He also fulfilled a prophecy that said he would be like a sheep silent before its shearers (Isaiah 53:7
Many in our day think a powerful man is one who demands his rights and does not take anything from anyone. It takes no real strength to be a fool after this order. This fits perfectly with the fall of man and the conduct that such men carry out daily. The powerful man is the one who can exercise great self-control in the face of problems and even terrible miscarriages of justice. Such self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit who works powerfully to grant a man such strength to keep his mouth shut. Such a man also shows by his silence the wisdom of his actions and heart - rather than the other man who speaks rashly and proves to all around him that he is nothing more than a fool.
It is also not good to fine the righteous, nor to strike the noble for their uprightness. Proverbs 17:26
Today's proverb has to do with the issues of injustice in a society. By the time this kind of injustice begins to take place, a society is beginning to experience its death throes. When what is good is called evil and what is evil is called good, very dangerous days lie ahead for that society. It will not endure long when this begins to happen. Then we read that is it not good to fine the righteous. These are the godly ones who follow the rules. They are being fined and punished by their government - which is wrongly defining the righteous and the wicked - the noble and the ignoble.
According to this passage - the righteous are being fined. We are beginning to see this more often in our country. People, doing what is right and good - are being fined for being successful - fined for doing what is right. The reason for this is because the society itself is beginning to call what is good evil and what is evil good. That is a point where the society begins a downward spiral.
Not only are the righteous being fined - but the noble and godly one is being struck simply because they are righteous. Consider today's world in which the godly man says homosexuality is a sin - agreeing with God and what He has revealed to us in His Word. This creates a problem with an ungodly society that says that we should not only tolerate all sexual choices – we should celebrate them! Thus in our society we have the righteous being fined and honestly, threatened with jail time if they continue to hold views contrary to those being forced upon the rest of the populace. Here is where we find the righteous being fined and the noble being struck. Consider the radical homosexual movement which has gone so far as to invade churches – throwing condoms on the membership while two lesbians passionately kiss on the stage area. In such a society righteousness and uprightness has been redefined by the more deviant parts of society. Anyone who holds to a biblical view of such things is labeled a “hater” or is called “intolerant” or even accused of committing a “hate crime” because of their views.
Before you think I am picking on the Gay movement – we also have problems standing for biblical morality when it comes to other issues too. Issues like abortion, purity before marriage, racism, greed, work ethic, and a host of others also bring out the worst in our society. Let’s face it . . . we are a fallen people who do not appreciate biblical morality. We hate God’s ways – because we love sin. This is why societies get to the point where they fine the righteous and strike the upright.
These are the signs or a rapidly declining cultures. They are signs that there are very serious problems within the society. The rotting morals of a nation have begun to taken hold when we see the abuse of the righteous and the upright. The proper thing to do at times like this is humble ourselves and pray that God will work in such a way to turn the society from their sinful thinking - and turn them instead to the Word of God. What is truly sad is that often the striking of the godly is even happening in the church by this point. Thus the first place a return to Godly principles is needed is among God’s people – the church. Only a God-sent, God-empowered revival can rescue such a culture from these kind of things. May God grant us such a gracious move soon!
A foolish son is a grief to his father And bitterness to her who bore him. Proverbs 17:25
This is a proverb that we've seen before in a slightly different fashion. The only difference is that the word for fool here is the Hebew word "kesiyl" which is a different word than what we've seen in the past. So, with a different word as our guide, lets look at the fool who is a heartbreak to both his mother and father.
The word "kesiyl refers to one of several different types of fools mentioned in Scripture. The word study we'll do here will reveal much to us. The first way this word is used is in Ecclesiastes 4:5
- where we see that it refers to someone who is unable to deal with the issues of life in successful or practically godly ways. We see that his laziness and unwillingness to be corrected or taught brings about serious problems for him. In Psalm 49:10-11
the psalmist uses the word "stupid" to describe someone who refuses to learn anything. Proverbs 1:32
speaks of a young man who is complacent about his ungodly ways and sees no need to change anything in his life. Psalm 92:6
reveals that he does not understand spiritual issues and Ecclesiastes 2:14
shows us that he chooses to walk in darkness and see the problems he has.
We get the idea that this son is a young man who refuses to learn or listen to anyone other than himself. He is lazy and undisciplined - and that is most clearly seen in that he refuses to do what is necessary to be guided by a person, a book, or any kind of mentor. In the end this young man's ignorance is embraced as he thinks that nothing is wrong - and his life needs no change. As a result he walks in darkness and doesn't even know it. His spiritual ignorance is astounding - yet the young man sees no connection between his problems and his unwillingness to listen and learn from anyone.
The parents of such a child are to be pitied. The father is filled with grief. The word for this is "kaas" which means to be angry and provoked. The same word is used for God's anger toward those who paractice idolatry. For the father of this young person - his anger and vexation is due to the fact that his child worships himself and his own mind rather than God. The only person he listens too and values is himself. His mother if filled with a sense of bitterness. It is very difficult for her to process the choices and actions of such a child. The word in the Hebrew speaks of a harsh reality that is the opposite of something pleasant. Her sorrow and pain is sharp as she tries to rear a child who values nothing of what is offered to him, unless he already has thought of it himself.
This young person's attitude mirrors that of a lost person without Christ. They are filled with ideas and thoughts that only validate their own thinking. They love their sin and see no need to stop it. They are grossly ignorant and stupid - valuing only their own thinking and reasoning which is fatally flawed by the fall of man into sin. There is no hope for such a young man or woman were it not for the grace and mercy of God. Fortunately for such people God pursues us by His infinite mercy. He brings us to a knowledge of our true condition and the sheer massive gargantuan size of our stupidity. He then draws us and opens our eyes to our condition - offering grace to change us from the inside out. For the parent of such a rebellious, ignorant child - there is only one hope. That hope is to fall on one's knees and cry out to God. Pray that He will open their eyes to their stupidity and deadness of heart - and then change them by the wonderful operation of His grace! There is little else one can do outside this. Thanks be to God that He delights in changing stupid young people into wise saints by His saving grace.
Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding, But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth. Proverbs 17:24
In order to have wisdom we must be one who has discernment. What is interesting is what the Scriptures have to say about how we get this "discernment." We are told by James that if we lack wisdom we should, "ask of God" (James 1:5
). We are also told that God offers this wisdom as One who gives freely to all without rebuke when they ask. In Proverbs 2:6
we are told ". . . the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding." This is a promise of the same thing mentioned here in Proverbs 17:24
. It is only when we turn to God and listen to what He has to say that we have what is necessary to grasp wisdom. The discernment needed for this is the ability to determine what differs between two things. The vast majority of decisions we will have to make in life will involve one of two choices placed before us. If we cannot discern the difference between these two things - we will not "understand" which is the will of God and which is not. The wise man knows only because he fills his mind with the Word of God - and learns to discern and distinguish between things because of the counsel he receives from God as a result of meditating upon the Word. He sees clearly and can distinguish between things that are worldly, fleshly, and spiritual.
The fool knows of no such wisdom. His eyes are not fixed on God, but on the "ends of the earth." The fool looks everywhere for answers - everywhere except God's Word. He looks to the wisdom of man, the wisdom of godless scholars, the thoughts and meditation of gurus, or to his own understanding. Others turn to a darker side, looking to false religion, the occult, spiritism, and even to drugs for enlightenment. Our culture turned from God in the 1960's to eastern religious thought and practice. The rock and roll world introduced us anew to the so-called enlightenment of eastern religious sages, Hinduism, Buddhisim, and various other eastern ways. The culture grabbed onto reincarnation and the thought that they could discard their individualism and become part of the one - with no real self-consciousness at all. Others turned to philosophy that started at Deism, but eventually turned to Naturalism and its eventual end Nihlism and complete hopelessness. These movements have given to us all the same problems that the culture of Canaan gave to its inhabitants. There was not wisdom in all this - but multiplied foolishness that has ceded to us a disregard for life or any kind of moral code. Our current post-modern philosophy has reached its conclusion with the view that there is no right or wrong - no truth - no absolutes (except the absolute that there are no absolutes - which by the way is an absolute) - and no basis for societal cohesion except the rare times when we agree on something.
Seeking some other answer to life than that of "absolutist" Christianity - the world has gone hunting for anything other than truth. The result of their search mission is more like a search and destroy mission for anything and anyone who would dare to say there is absolute truth. But what has the wisdom of this current dominant culture given us? Since their deconstruction of Christian morals and absolutes has ensued, we've watched 2 world wars and a host of other smaller ones - numerous ethnic cleansings - political theories that allow dictators and rulers to decimate their people (as in Russia, China, Cambodia, and most of tribal Africa). The wisdom of the ages is nothing more than the same old lie that thrust our world into darkness in the first place. Either there is no God - or we ourselves can be god. That does not end well. Maybe the answer is not found in looking to the "ends of the earth" in search for some secret wisdom of the gurus. Maybe the truth all along has been right under our noses in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. It is my hope that by turning again to God and to His Word we will recapture the wisdom that has been abandoned by recent generations - and that God will revive His people with understanding so that they will not be fools. That, though, would require mankind humbling themselves and turning to God with ALL their heart, soul, mind, and strength. It is my hope that our current "great minds" would humble themselves and understand that unless we surrender ourselves to God . . . there will be very little wisdom available to us.
A wicked man receives a bribe from the bosom To pervert the ways of justice. Proverbs 17:23
When someone reverts to bribing others in matters of justice - you can guarantee that they are doing so because they are guilty of the charge that has been brought. That is what we learn from today's proverb of the day.
The "wicked man" to whom this proverb refers is a man who is guilty of the offense with which he is charged. The Hebrew word used here is "rasha" which means someone who is guilty or wrong. It is used of people who are transgressors, criminals, and honestly - who are just plain wicked. The word is an antonym of the Hebrew word "saddiyq" which has as its meaning - to be righteous or in the right. Therefore someone who is turning to a bribe is wrong - and therefore guilty as charged. When used in the Old Testament it refers to those who are enemies of God - and enemies of His people. God is a God of righteousness and justice - therefore anyone who desires to pervert true justice will find themselves an enemy of God.
The phrase ". . . from the bosom" has the idea of someone who is slipping money to another in a secret fashion. This is how most bribes pass hands - through subversive and secretive ways. This happens because the wicked man offering them - and the wicked man receiving them to pervert justice - both do not want to be exposed. Therefore everything is done in a cloak and dagger fashion.
This is done to "pervert the ways of justice." The one offering it is wicked - and the one receiving it is perjerous. They perjure themselves - for they make it clear that truth is not something they value (at least not as much as money). Where such judges rule - there cannot be justice - because the hearts of such men are corrupted by various means to twist justice as the bribes have purchased. In 1973 Charles Ashman wrote a book entitled, The Finest Judges Money Can Buy. This is a very depressing book because it exposes the chronic problem of bribes in our own justice system. In his book Ashman reveals eight judges involved in Mafia-type organizations, ten who were guilty of receiving bribes, sixteen who were guilty of petter larceny, at least six who were guilty of sexual impropriety, seven who were guilty of being drunk on the job, and ten more who have used their position and authority for impure political gain. Those who bemoan the corruption in our nation should see clearly one of the chief reasons it exists - and that is gross corruption in our legal system. This is why God makes it clear to all the judges within the biblical judicial system that they were NEVER to take a bribe to pervert justice. God also promises special judgment upon those who do!
The one thing we can be eternally grateful for is that our ultimate judge is nothing like these men and women who parade as judges, yet have no integrity. He is the One Who sits enthroned - and Whose very throne is founded upon justice and righteousness. He hears and sees all things - and judges accordingly. He is incorruptible and cannot make an unjust decision, for such a decision is contrary to His very nature which is holiness and purity. When it came down to how God would deal with sin, He even judged His only Son when He took sin upon Himself. He is completely and absolutely just and righteous in all that He does. Therefore know that although justice and righteousness may not be given to us here on this fallen earth - we can know that there will be a day when God will judge ALL men according to His righteous standard.
Therefore be of good cheer and be greatly comforted! Your God has the ultimate bar of justice - which will be held before Him alone. In the meantime, we can thank Him daily for His gracious kindness and for His unparalleled love!
A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
There is a healing effect when we are joyful, cheerful people. We read in today's proverb that a joyful heart is good medicine. The word used for "joyful" here is the Hebrew word "sameah" which means, 'to be glad, happy, or joyful.' The idea behind this word is that someone is choosing to rejoice - to consider the good that God has done, rather than the misery and the opportunity to be sad and depressed. That is why we are to seek to maintain a "joyful" heart.
The number of medical studies that reveal to us this principle is nothing short of amazing. Dr. Hans Seyle, former director of the University of Montreal's Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery, discovered that when rats are subjected to cold, fatigue, frustration, noise, and other stressful conditions, they develop physical symptoms. Their blood pressure soars, their vital adrenal glands become grossly enlarged, their thymus and lymphatic glands shrink, and they develop peptic ulcers. Research done by the American Medical Association by a Dr Seyle showed that in animals emotional stress causes fats to be drawn from the body, dumped into the blood, and deposited along artery walls. The lethal results are atherosclerosis and coronary-artery disease. According to Dr. Seyle, hatred, frustration, and anxiety are the worst stresses. If you forcefully restrain a normally active rat, deadly frustration results. If you put a mouse and a cat in adjoining cages, the mouse will die of anxiety.
This kind of "broken spirit" will, according to the Lord, dry up the bones. This is a horrible condition because our bones are not only our main source of strength and stability, but they are also the place where our blood is produced. Without our bones we will surely die in short order. What is difficult though is that we cannot go up to someone who is dried up in their affections and tell them to be joyful. That does not help them. They know they are without joy - and can sense the drying up of their vitality. An admontion to stop this is like asking the sun to stop shining simply by requesting it. What they need is a supernatural infusion of joy - or even better an infusing of a joy producing principle that will not go away with the seasons or the up and down existance of being alive.
Where can we obtain joy? That is the million dollar question. Fortunately, we are instructed in where to find joy in the gospels. When Jesus was born the angels made an amazing statement. "But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people, for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)
Joy comes when we are brought into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The true source of a dried up spirit is that we are separated fom God by our sin. The weight of our guilt along with the prospect of judgment and separation from God for all eternity will bring great pain and sorrow.
Jesus, when He came on the scene publically, read the following passage from Isaiah to the people in Gallilee. "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in
Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting." (Isaiah 61:1-3)
For those afflicted with sorrow, sighing, sadness, and a broken spirit there is wonderful news. Jesus came to bring great joy. He came to give us the oil of joy poured upon our heads rather than a spirit of fainting. The cause of the broken spirit is our separation from God - and its remedy is turning to God through Jesus Christ. That is how we can have our sorrow turned to laughter and our gloom to everlasting joy.
Joy is not just laughter. Some use this verse to promote Christian comediens. But I will say that although I enjoy their humor greatly - they are not the source of bringing men from sorrow to joy. Solomon also wrote Ecclesastes 2 which says, "I said to myself, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself." And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, "It is madness," and of pleasure, "What does it accomplish?" (Ecclesiastes 2:1-2)
So just getting someone to laugh will not solve the cause of a broken heart. David said it best when in the midst of his confession of sin he said, "Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation!" Joy comes from knowing God - knowing your sins are forgiven - knowing that you will stand in the judgment. When this aspect of our lives is not right - nothing will be.
The way to a joyful heart is by knowing God through Jesus Christ, crucified, buried, and resurrected from the dead. It is by coming to God in repentance and faith and turning from a self-centered life to one centered in Him. God offers such a gift freely to us - therefore joy is truly available to men. The problem is that they turn to other things than Him and His gospel to obtain it.
He who sires a fool does so to his sorrow, And the father of a fool has no joy. Proverbs 17:21
Wisdom knows that children can be a source of great joy - and also a source of incredible sorrow. This particular proverb points us to the fact that a man who has a child - and that child becomes a fool - is a man who will have a great deal or sorrow, pain, and difficulty. There are a couple of things we should note, though, in this statement.
When a man sires a fool - it is not just the process of having a child that is meant here. God calls us to rear our children according to His Word - making sure that we first live it before them - and also that we spend time teaching them this Word as well. Listen to what God says in Deuteronomy on this issue.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
It is so important to see here a call to reality in our own spiritual walk first. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, and might. We are to put His Word on OUR hearts first. Then right after this is the command to teach these things DILIGENTLY to our children. The way this is said givbes the impression that this is to be part of our lifestyle. When we do not do this - we are paving the way to be one who has sired a fool. But the reality is that the foolishness was not inherent in the child - it often is a learned response. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, proverbs tells us, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. Often a fool is created by one who thinks that discipline and correction are too strident for a child. The fact is leave these things out of a child's life - and you will sire a fool before it is over.
The father here has no joy - because has to watch his son live like a fool. He watches his boy live a life that is very self-destructive. He also watches as the lack of his own parenting comes back to haunt him. Let me give a brief testimony concerning rearing children.
God has blessed me with 6 wonderful children - and a very, very godly wife. We are in the twilight of rearing our children. Child-rearing is not a spectator sport - and often is a full contact - heart-breaking activity. God has blessed us with very godly kids who have a heart for God. But this was NOT something that was like falling off of a log. There were times when we taught - times when we had to discipline - and times when we wondered if discipline even worked. But we trusted God's Word. There were also times when we had to confront our teenage children with their lifestyle choices. We faced times when we were the "uncool" parents - and even times when one would tell us that they hated us and that we were ruining their lives. Ah, good times . . . But there were also times when we would invest in our children - being at events - spending hours talking, listening, and even answering difficult questions. All this required time, effort, and at times very tough choices.
I am saying this to say that too many men are little more than sperm donors to their children. I know that is a rough statement - but rearing children requires a lifetime committment to them - and to God. By the way, it also requires learning how to walk with god yourself. There were times when God would call ME on the carpet - rebuke me - and correct me. Honestly - the best place to learn parenting is from how God dealt with His people. There were times when I would have to face the fact that I had been a hypocrite - and then would have to sit my children down and admit it to them! We were anything but "perfect parents." We were participants in the gospel and the grace of God. We were participants in growing up in the Lord. I know that at least I was a royal doofus many times. There are times when I wonder how any of my kids could turn out well when I look at the progression of my own heart. When I think of how often I fell - how often I failed - and how often I was on my face dealing with my own sin. I've had to face daily discipline from God - and from brothers who help me stay committed to the Lord. Without this - I would have utterly destroyed my testimony.
Here is what I am trying to say. Life is a full-contact sport. It is hard. It is difficult and often is exhausting. It also has a million blessings intersperced in it as well. To live it - we have to turn to God a billion times - often wondering when we will ever get it right. But this IS life. We sire fools when we do not both walk with them through this wonderful gauntlet - as well as teach them and cheer them on as they make their way through after us. It requires us to live our lives for God's purposes and plans - even in having children. It requires us to die daily to ourselves and live for God's glory in it all. Is this easy . . . NO! Is it possible . . . YES! Is it rewarding and awesome and amazing as we walk with God through it all . . . ABSOLUTELY! Therefore, I urge you men out there reading this to take the task of loving God, loving your wife, and siring and rearing children very seriously. It will take your whole life to do it - it will cost you everything to accomplish it - but it will mean everything to you when you look back on it with joy - seeing your kids follow Christ.