The leech has two daughters, "Give," "Give." There are three things that will not be satisfied, Four that will not say, "Enough": Sheol, and the barren womb, Earth that is never satisfied with water, And fire that never says, "Enough." Proverbs 30:15-16
Among verses in Proverbs this has to be one of the stranger ones. Because this passage has no real pointer within it except the fact that it speaks of a specific kind of leech whose daughters are insatiable, it is one of those verses that has a myriad of explanations by commentators. These explanations range from the two daughters being death and hell, heaven and hell, as well as a myriad of negative character traits all focusing on greed in its various forms. So how do you come to any kind of secure conclusion about a verse like this? Let's take a look and see if we can discern anything from looking at this very strange verse in Proverbs.
First of all, when a passage itself does not immediately release its meaning - it can be very dangerous. That is because too many people will begin allegorizing it quickly. You will have people saying that these two sisters are anything and everything under the sun. But when a verse does not yield immediate clarity - we MUST turn to the context to better understand it.
Let's start with what we do know. The being spoken of here is a leech - and more specifically, a horseleach. This is a blood sucking creature that actually has a two lipped appearance. It is through these two lips that the leech sucks the blood out of its victims. Because the horseleach has these two sucking mechanisms - it is known for having an insatiable appetite for a large amount of blood. That might account for the reason that the passage speaks of the leech having two daughters. But we come again to what all this means?
What is the context of this passage. The previous verses, 12 through 14, are a unit in themselves - and verse 15 does not really fit with them. These verses spoke of the arrogance and pride of various individuals - and how their arrogance make their mouths very dangerous. But when you look at verse 15 in the context of the next set of verses - it fits quite well. These verses deal with things that are unsatiable - that won't ever say, "enough." The next piece of the puzzle is found when we see that verse 15 speaks of two things - then of three, and ends with a comment in verse 16 that says there are even four things that will not be satisified or say enough. Verse 16 then gives us what those four things are.
So what does this context say to us - or help us to see about this horseleach? When I took time to seriously look at what Solomon was saying, I think that the horseleach was being referred to by his physical characteristics - as an example of the first number (2 things) that are insatiable. It is part of the buildup that Solomon is giving to get to the number four. Solomon is using a verbal tactic or a rhetorical device to make his argument more powerful. He is saying that there are two - no three - no four things that will not say enough.
Therefore - the leech spoken of here is not a two-pronged greedy set of things - like death and hell or greed and avarice - or like the most ridiculous commentator suggested - a vampire! The leech is an example of something (here I believe the two-lipped or two-suckered opening that sucks blood - and that according to Solomon is saying always, "Give, Give!" Beyond that example out of nature - Solomon is most likely saying nothing else. He moves on in the very next statement to count to three then four - and makes it clear that he speaks of things that will not say enough. He speaks of these four things before the next verse is over.
What this passage does help us to see is the danger of just haphazardly taking verses or parts of them that don't seem to have any clear meaning - and assigning them things that we just figure they must be. I've even heard some use this verse to speak derrogatorily of daugnters - saying that they are like blood-sucking leeches who are constantly taking money from daddy - and who never say, enough. Again, here is the dagner in all this. What we don't clearly understand - we need to submit to further scrutiny and a searching out of the text and context. This will usually yield a blessing in the end. Here - it yields the use of a rhetorical device - not a secret two-fold code concerning things we are left to guess about in the end.
But what about wisdom? This passage is saying to us that we should see that this life and this world are never satisfied. Whether it is "sheol" (which is the place of the dead -or death itself) or a barren womb (which is never satisfied until there is a baby on the way - even one born to the barren woman) of the earth that is never satisfied with the water rained upon it, or a fire that consumes everything it can get - never being satisfied with what it has burned - we are facing the fact that this present world never gets enough. If we are wise - we will follow Solomon's reasoning - and see that not having satisfaction is kinda normal in this world. The Rolling Stones were quasi-prophetic when they sang, "I Can't Get No, Satisfaction, even though they were terrible grammarians. Wisdom tells us to be careful about our desires and unmet wants. Wisdom tells us that this world is saying something to us about our dissatisfaction. This world is not right - and it cannot satisfy us. In the end - satisfaction will have to be found "outside" this existence. We are not told where we can get this satisfaction here - just that nature and life should tell us not to expect all that much of it from this present life and this present world. What we learn from the rest of the testimony of Scripture is that this IS a problem - and it is only satisfied when we come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Only He can bring us fullness.
I guess the proper way to close this particular post is to say that maybe there is a fifth thing that never says enough. That would be commentators who take passages like this and make them say something that neither the meaning of the words in the verse - nor the verse as a whole in its context actually means.
The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, The wicked does not understand such
concern. Proverbs 29:7
In a world where money speaks loudly it is important to have those who are advocates for the poor. The wicked know of no such concern for this as they see the poor as a perfect target for their abuse of power. But God makes it clear that the righteous are very concerned for the poor.
The literal translation of the proverb begins with the statement, "The righteous knows the cause of the poor." This assumes that there is a cause for which the poor need help. The word used here to describe the rights of the poor is a legal word. It was used in the world of the courts and in lawsuits. What we have then is a situation in which the legal system and the courts are not working the way they should toward the poor. Thus they need for someone to be concerned and to know their plight.
This is a situation that unfortunately has existed all through history - and even more unfortunately - exists today. I watched in disgust years ago when a man who had committed a heinous murder had his sentence reduced twice because his family had the money necessary to get his case reviewed again and again. The poor know nothing of these kinds of rights. They don't have the money to afford the high priced lawyers who can use the system both for justice and injustice. The poor pretty much face the system with justice alone. Thus we see the poor going to jail - while the wealthy and influential can work the system to avoid it.
Our proverb tells us that the righteous is concerned about these things. They see the injustice and it bothers them. They want to see justice blind to money and blind to political influence. When that is not the case the righteous will fight for the cause of the poor.
The wicked don't have any kind of concern here. In fact the proverb tells us that they don't even understand concern. Their worldview has them as most important. Thus, if a poor person is convicted of a crime they did not commit - or a lawsuit is turned against the poor - the wicked don't understand why anyone is upset. In the end the wicked got what they wanted - so why all the fuss? They just go on their way unscathed and unbothered by the legal problems of the poor.
The reason this is important is because such things reveal the major differences between the righteous and the wicked. The wicked cares only about himself. He cannot see past his own desires and wants to concern himself with anyone other than himself. The righteous are concerned because they are selfless and want God's justice to prevail in all aspects of life. In the end - we see very clearly the contrast between the wicked and the righteous. But in the most important sense - what we see is a godly selfless lifestyle and that of a selfish wicked person. Knowing this we should do all we can to support the rightes of the poor. To do otherwise would be walking in the very ungodliness that we seek to avoid.
He who keeps the law is a discerning son, But he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father. Proverbs 28:7
Here is an interesting proverb for us. In it we find comments about discernment, the Law, gluttons, and the way we represent our families, our fathers in particular. Yet, all of it boils down to how we maintain a relationship with the Word of God.
The entire proverb hinges on the first statement. Here we see a son who "keeps the law." What is it that this son is doing? The word for keep is the Hebrew "natsar" and it means that he guards the Word in his life. He does this by living a life that seeks to obey the Word. He also is seeking to preserve the Word and its effects in his life. He does this by hiding the Word in his heart - keeping it in his mind - and realizing that the Word (here the law) is entrusted to him. Thus he wants to "maintain" a relationship with God's Word. This is more than just a casual relationship that this son wants to maintain with the Word. He is longing to protect the way that the Word impacts his life - desiring to maximize it as well! Because of this - the Word says that this son is discerning. When we have this kind of ongoing relationship with God's Word - we are putting ourselves in line to being someone with a fair amount of discernment from God. But why is this the case?
There is an inherent blessing that comes to us when we "keep the Word" in our lives. Think about the practices that this involves. We have a mindset that wants to guard obedience to the Word and what God has said to us today. We take the time to memorize and meditate on the Word each day. In the end the Word begins to fill our minds and our thoughts. We find our thinking processes being transformed by what God says - and we consider what He says as worth guarding and protecting in our lives. As a result when things happen in this young man's life - he filters it through the Word. He asks fascinating questions like, "Will this please God," or "Am I glorifying God while doing this?" He wants to see all of his actions and attitudes agree with what the law says. He sees it not just as a "have to" situation - but because his heart has worked to keep the law near - it becomes a "want to" one as well.
This young man will experience the blessing of discernment. He will have that ability to look at two things that differ - and see the difference in light of the law of God. He will be able to discern what pleases God and what displeases Him - what delights His heart and what breaks it. What is even better is that he learns to choose what delihts the heart of his Father!
The contrary of this thought is really interesting. The opposite is a son who humiliates his father by being a companion of gluttons. OK - didn't see that one coming when I read the first part of this - but let's take a few moments to break it down and discern wisdom.
First something indirect we should notice. If this young man's activities an companionship humiliates his father - it must mean that the father was actively seeking to teach him differently. Dad was wanting his son to have the law as a guidepost for his son. He was teaching and training his son to be a young man who could discern God's will through His law. Thus we come to an interesting question for fathers. Are you training your sons to be discerning young men who approach all in this world with the Word of God as a filter and a guide? That is not the main point here - but it is one that is implied.
The main point here though is that the son who is a companion of gluttons will humiliate his father. A couple of things that a wise man knows. First he knows that those whom he chooses to be his companions matters. If he makes the wrong choices about those who are his friends - he will be harmed by it. Bad company corrupts good morals. Godless companions will bring about a godless lifestyle in the end. Minister to the godless - but let your companions be those who honor God and who desire to obey His Word.
Who are these "gluttons?" The Hebrew word is "zalal" which means to be vile, frivilous, gluttonous, or worthless. The word was used in Deuteronomy 21:20
to describe a son who is worthless in his character and gluttonous. A similar word was used to those who drank too much. It is the opposite of what is useful, valuable, or precious. This is the word used to describe the foolish son's friends and companions. They are definitely bad characters - whose character is bad. They give themselves to excess (thus the word gluttony) and the excess that they embrace is an excess of godlessness and worthless things. Since this word is set over against the son who watches and keeps God's law - the companions of the foolish son are overindulgent in their appetites for evil. They are godless - and they take their godlessness to the extreme.
The son who keeps company with such men will humiliate his father. He will live the life of a profligate - giving himself to the same excess of the flesh and the world that they do. He will embrace the godlessness - and in so doing will break the heart of his father.
There is good news in all this though. Jesus spoke of a son who embraced these kind of companions - and who demanded his inheritance so that he could pay for all the wickedness that money could buy. His father allowed him to walk away - rich yet very stupid. His father, I'm sure, was humiliated by his son's godless conduct. But in this story - the prodigal son wound up wishing he could eat the food that he was feeding to the pigs. He decided that his godless lifestyle had brought him little joy - and much sorrow and disgrace. As he returned home to beg forgiveness - and offer himself as a slave to his father - he experienced an astounding thing. His father had been praying and waiting for his return. When the father saw this prodigal son, he ran to him and embraced him. What we learn from this is that even a foolish son who shames his father - is loved by the Father. He is watching ahd waiting for his return. Though his actions shamed Him - the Father still loved his son - and rejoiced when he returned. Wisdom tells us to steer clear of godless companions. But even though many of us ignore this and walk headlong into sin and wickedness - the Father still waits and watches. He works so as to bring His wayward sons home. Those who come and see the radical difference living for Christ makes - embrace the wisdom of turning to God and finding grace and mercy ready to run to them when they arrive in repentance toward God. So, even if you have been a fool with your companions - and have been corrupted as a result - know that God loves you and is willing to forgive and restore!
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, So a man's counsel is sweet to his friend. Proverbs 27:9
A man is blessed if he has friends who offer him godly counsel. When you have this you have something that both makes life sweet as well as fulfilling. To better understand this proverb we need to look at the oriental purposes for oil and perfume.
The word oil here is the Hebrew "shemen" which means fat - and it was the equivalent of middle eastern butter in its usage. Shemen would be what a Hebrew Paula Dean would use in all her dishes to make them taste great. Seeing that I am a southerner - I now fully understand that "butter" makes the heart glad. I love how butter makes things taste. To the Hebrew at the time, they knew that this oil mentioned here was what made their food have its distinctive taste. When used properly - it took bland food and helped make it taste wonderful. In the same way, the counsel of a true friend is sweet to us. It makes life "taste" better. When we have the sweet counsel of a good friend - things that may seem bland and boring to do are changed. Having a good friend who counsels me to do the right thing - even though I've done it a thousand times and am bored with it - will help me do it another thousand times. They remind me that doing the godly thing will bring blessing in the end.
Oil was also used for medicinal purposes. It was used to promote healing. There are numerous passages in the Scritpures that speak of pouring oil into a wound to soften and to heal it. These oils would have additives in them to help promote healing. How often has the kind and gracious counsel of a friend helped heal a hurt we have had in our lives. This counsel is sweet to us - just like oil is. Finally, Oil is also offered as a cosmetic. For a Hebrew oil was needed because they were in such a dry climate. The oil helped their bodies not become dry, hard, and brittle. I've had godly friends who have helped me be prevented from becoming dry, hard, and brittle in my personal and spiritual life as well.
The second thing mentioned here is incense. This refers to the aromatic use of crushed materials which were burned to provide a smoke that perfumed the air. The non-religious use of incense was simply to help the aroma of a tent or other area. The counsel of a friend is like that to us. It just makes things better. To have someone to whom you can talk, bounce ideas and problems off of, and hear sound advice - is to have a life that is easier to live. These people can make "stinky" times in life be much better. There was also a religious use for incense. It was used in the temple on the approach to God. It is compared to the sweet savor of prayer offered in a godly way to Him. Here is where the counsel of a friend is very sweet to a friend. When that counsel is offered in light of prayer (your friend is praying for you) and it is offered with a view to having you in a right relationship with God - that, dear brothers and sisters, is very sweet counsel indeed!
The counsel of a godly friend is something we should not be without as we walk in this world. What I find fascinating is a passage in 2 Corinthians 2:13
. Paul was experiencing a time of blessed ministry in Troas - an open door for the gospel - yet he wanted to see Titus. There was something about the blessing of this brother - that made Paul leave that fruitful field and look for this brother. Now I know that Paul was discipling several younger brothers like him - but I also think that Paul was missing the blessing of the "oil and incense" ministry of a godly friend and co-worker. That is why a wise man will not take these kind of godly relationships for granted. He will cherish them and thank God for the sweet counsel of a godly man or woman in his life. If you have one of these relationships - praise God for it. If you do not have one - cry out to God and do what is necessary to cultivate it. The blessing it will bring to your live will be of greater value than you know.
Like one who binds a stone in a sling, So is he who gives honor to a fool. Proverbs 26:8
Imagine this scene if you will. David is facing the giant Goliath. He goes to the stream and picks out five smooth stones. He then takes of them and a piece of leather and ties the stone into the sling that he is about to use to engage the giant in battle. He ties it securely in the sling so that it won't come out. Then he rushes to the scene of the battle to . . . to . . . to completely fail as he has the sling wrap around his arm when he looses it from one hand - only to have the stone bruise his forearm - just before the giant pierces him like a pin cushion with his spear. Little different than the Biblical account isn't it?
What you read above would be what would have happened had David bound the stone he chose to throw at Goliath inside his sling. Anyone who even knows the rudimentary skills with a sling knows that only the dumbest of warriors would bind the stone inside the sling when going out to battle. It would be the move that a man who wants to die takes. It would be possibly the very worst thing you could do. It would completely destroy any effectiveness you could imagine as a fighter for the army you serve. If a Hebrew - or anyone from this region were to read the opening part of this proverb, they would laugh. It is more like something you would see on a show called, "The World's Dumbest Warriors." But at times the Bible uses sarcasm and ridiculousness to get a point across to us. Such is the case in Proverbs 26:8.
The proverb compares the stupidity of a man binding a stone in a sling to a man giving honor to a fool. This is something that should never be done! A fool is one who mocks God - and who mocks godliness. He is careless and does not do the right thing. He does not think before he acts unless you count thinking of what he himself wants - or what would bring him the greatest pleasure at the moment. This man does not deserve honor - he deserves to be pointed out as what he is, a fool!
When we give honor to a fool we are shooting ourselves in the foot. We are lifting up someone as an example - who when followed will only produce more fools. We are disarming ourselves of something that is so necessary - good examples. We are giving the enemy an unfair advantage as we are lifting up someone who is a spokesman for godlessness. We are guaranteeing failure because we are pointing our children to those who will ultimately fail as one they should honor and respect.
Our society is replete with the act of honoring of fools. We see it all the time in sports. We join with those who offer praise to someone whose skill set includes little more than shooting a ball - throwing a ball - catching a ball - or dunking a ball (methinks we have the over-fascination with balls and those who can impress us with their dexterity with them). It matters little to us what character or lack thereof these men have. We join with the throngs who grant them far more accolades that they deserve. They even boast to us that they are not role models - and continue living in ways that would get the normal person arrested. They flaunt our laws - and then use their fame to get slapped on the wrist for offenses that would land the rest of us in prison. Their sports continue to degenerate as more and more thugs rise to prominence. There are good men there as well, it just seems that for every really good guy - there are several thugs whose antics dominate our papers and airwaves.
I want to ask a simple question for those of you who have children. Who are your children's heros? Have you taken the time to exalt godly men whose godly lives should be the kind you honor? What about men like Hudson Taylor who took the gospel into the heartland of China and John Knox who stood toe to toe with Kings and Queens? How about Eric Liddell who was willing to give up the Olympics for godly principles - then won the 200 yard dash - and then did something even more important by giving his life for the gospel in China? What about David Livingstone who took the gospel across Africa or Vanya who stood for Christ in the midst of the Russian army at the cost of his own life? Finally, how about Jim Elliot who bravely gave his life to reach a South American Indian tribe? Here are the heros we should honor - but too often our children don't even know their names. They never shot a game winning three at the buzzer or scored a winning touchdown. They never hit a home run or pitched a no-hitter. All these men did was live lives that were worthy of emmulation - lives of character and godliness - lives of sacrifice and bravery - and saw the real victory won.
The reason we have so many fools in our society is because we are constantly honoring them. Like a fool binding a sling in a stone - we keep lifting them up - swinging them around - and letting them go - only to have them come back and bruise our arm. Our children watch and dream of a day when they too can be a fool whose accomplishments are dust and ashes. Let us go forth today and find true heros - men and women whose lives are weighed down with character and godliness. Let us lift them up for our children to see - and to honor. The sooner we do this - the sooner we will see the Goliaths in our culture come crashing down because we've chosen to use our slings properly. Let us honor those whose lives will challenge our sons and daughters to be those who change our culture with both the character and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Do not go out hastily to argue your case;
Otherwise, what will you do in the end, When your neighbor humiliates you? Proverbs 25:8
Proverbs provides an amazing array of good practical advice for living. It also has passages that would help in any profession a person chooses. But there are certain proverbs that fit hand in glove with a specific profession. Here is one that definitely fits with the legal profession well. Since the word "argue" here has as one of its primary meanings, "to argue in court" or "to file a lawsuit" we can see that this has great wisdom to offer to someone who is a lawyer - or someone who is about to hire one.Proverbs 25:8-9
is a great reminder to anyone who wants to argue a case with another - which of course fits perfectly with the legal profession. We are warned to not do this "hastily." When someone chooses to argue a case for themselves or against another - they need to make sure that they proceed with wisdom and caution. To go out and hastily argue a case is to do so without due diligence. There a dangers in doing this that are inherent in reacting quickly to things. First, we have far too much emotion in our immediate reactions to argue without undue prejudice in our thinking. We are blinded to seeing wisely - which is the ability to look at multiple angles of the issue. When you are blind to something - you are very succeptible to being "blind-sided" when arguing your case. A wise man takes the time to look at every angle and consider every argument before beginning to argue a case.
Our legal system allows for argument and cross-examination. This is inherently wise because it allows for two sides of an argument to be explored. It is designed to expose hasty decisions and ill thought out arguments so that wisdom and prudence prevail in the end. We would be wise to "cross-examine" ourselves when we have a knee jerk reaction that drives us to argue something too quickly. If we did this - we would avoid embarassment when someone who is thinking more rationally dismantles our open and shut arguments - and reveal them to be way more "shut" than open. This is what Proverbs warns us when it tells us to be careful about hasty arguments. We are warned about being humiliated by our neighbor in the end when we do this.
Here we find our Hebrew friend "acharith" again. This word speaks of the end - but does so from the standpoint of being able to think about what the end of our actions will be. Here we see that that the end of hastily argued points is humliation by our opponents. If we saw this before we started arguing in haste, we would have stopped ourselves long enough to properly think though what we were going to say. I am for anything that will stave off moments of high embarassment. That has meant seeing my natural tendency to jump to conclusions as more of a jump into a pit of poisoned spikes. To put it another way - it is very unwise to jump to conclusions. It is wiser to look before you leap upon someone with your supposedly lock-tight arguments. The wise man takes the time to consider first whether pre-prejudice has affected his thinking. The wise man takes the time to decide whether silence would be more effective than blurting out what he thinks. The wise man takes the time to consider the end of the matter - before starting it. This, dear saints, can rescue us from a plethora of painfully embarassing moments. Oh, and by the way, in court - it can mean the difference between a case that is won - and one that is humiliatingly lost.
My son, eat honey, for it is good, Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste; Know that
wisdom is thus for your soul; If you find it,
then there will be a future, And your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 24:13-14
Here we have it on biblical authority - eat honey! There is an interesting study that comes with seeing the benefits of honey and then comparing those to the benefits of wisdom to our souls. Let's take a look at them today and gain wisdom by learning a little more about honey and wisdom.
Solomon tells us here that we should eat honey for it is good. Anyone who has tasted honey knows that it tastes good - but Solomon is saying more than this. He says that honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. There are sugars in honey that make it a wonderful source of sweetness. Note though that Solomon is telling us to eat honey from the comb - natural, not processed. Then we are told that just like honey is good for us an sweet to our taste - so also wisdom is for our soul. We are reminded that when we find wisdom, there will be a future. The word used here is "acharith" which means, "a latter end." What the word says to us is that when we get wisdom - there is a good end to things. If we live our lives with wisdom - our lives will have a desired end - one that is blessed and good. We are also told that when we partake of wisdom - our hope will not be cut off. Wisdom yields a lasting hope. Wise living is living for eternal things. Living for this world may seem great at first - but in the end it is bitter. We have things now - we have pleasures now - but they are all cut off by death. Ecclesiastes also reminds us that we may be able to enjoy the things of the world when we are young - but when we are old those same things will not satisfy. The older we get - the less we enjoy things due to the aging of our bodies. So to live for the foolishness of this world - is to live for a hope that is cut off more and more every year. In the end - when the "acharith" comes - it is cut off altogether. Wisdom will protect us from living for a hope that will be cut off.
But how does honey factor into all this? There are several ways that honey is helpful and healthy for our bodies. The first is the way that honey gives us sugars. Refined sugar is digested in a way that elevates our sugar levels in our blood stream - making it easier to become diabetic. Honey has actually been pre-digested by the bees - and is digested in a way that gives us the energy we need - without an elevation in our blood sugar levels. In other words, honey gives us what we need - but does so without also giving us the negative. Wisdom is the same way. There are those who desire to be smart and educated - but their education lacks God's wisdom and understanding. When this happens a person has a tendency to become very smart, but also very arrogant. They get the blessing of knowledge and education - but do so without getting humility and submission to God. This makes their education dangerous in that they trust a man-centered wisdom - that due to the sin nature in man - rejects the moral wisdom of God. In the end, their learning tends to corrupt them for they reject God's revelation and view education, knowledge, and wisdom to be purely a human endeavor. God's wisdom is different. Like the honey - it offers the good in a way that is not harmful. God's wisdom educates us - but with a view to submission to God. The more we learn, the more we embrace humility. We see that wisdom comes from God. The Lord does not bypass true learning and education - it is just submitted to God's moral law and is used to bring glory to Him. Because the God-centered worldview is radically different from the humanistic worldview - the learned gained in each system will lead to drastically different conclusions about life.
A second benefit of honey is that it is filled with antioxidants that help us to fight disease. We have learned over the years that antioxidants help us fight free radicals - a type of chemical compound in our bodies that weakens them and makes them more succeptible to disease and even cancer. Honey helps fight these free radicals and keep them from harming us. Wisdom is like honey in this regard. Left to ourselves we will make choices that are harmful to us. The fall of man into sin has guaranteed that. According to Romans 1
and Ehpesians 4 - our understanding is darkened due to sin. We will inevitably choose to make a god of our choosing rather than honor the God who made heaven and earth. Wisdom from God counters this tendecy in sinful man - pointing us to God as the source of wisdom and understanding - rather than turning to our own ungodly wisdom instead. Wisdom that we gain from God's Word is like a divine antioxidant that will counter our tendency to turn to ourselves and the world for wisdom. Whereas the world tells us that we are free to make our own sexual choices - even if that involves sex outside of marriage - God's wisdom tells us that sexual intercourse outside of marriage is wrong and harmful to us. God's wisdom has been vindicated as study after study shows us that abstinence before marriage and faithfulness in it keeps us from all kinds of disease that runs rampant in the sexually promiscuous population. Like a divine antioxidant, the Word protects us from the free radicals of our sinful nature and the world system around us.
Another benefit of honey is that is it a wonderful antibacterial and antibiotic. I learned from a local honey grower in our town that honey is wonderful to use in fighting infection - especially among burn victims. In China honey is used to keep burn victims from getting infections. Their success rate in keeping burn victims from getting infections puts ours to shame in America. Wisdom is just like honey in this regard. It is a divine remedy to keep us from being infected with the world's thought - and thus from the world's maladies. God's wisdom tells us that in relationships we should be selfless and patient. The world tends to be all about themselves in relationships. That is why there are so many broken relationships in the world. Marriages are protected from selfishness infections when God's wisdom prevails. Families are protected from self-centered outbreaks when we apply a healthy dose of God's wisdom to the inevitable difficulties and problems that we will face in this world.
These are just a couple of the ways that honey and wisdom are good for us body and soul. When we choose to have a daily diet that includes these things, we will be blessed. As we read earlier - this will provide us with a desired end and a hope that will not be cut off. We will find ourselves energized with God's power - as well as protected from the infections of the world in our minds, hearts, and spirits. So eat up dear saints! Eat honey - do so wisely, but partake of it. Take a healthy daily dose of wisdom from God's Word as well. You will find that when you do this - there will be blessings that will last far beyond a moment - or even a day. You will be given blessings that will last a lifetime.
Apply your heart to discipline And your ears to words of knowledge. Proverbs 23:12
This is a simple admonition here in Proverbs - and yet if we will look at it carefully, it will yield to us some very helpful information.
The first thing we see is that we are to apply our heart to discipline. The word "apply" here means, "to bring to" - thus what God is saying to us is that we need to bring our hearts to something. Here we read that what we bring our hearts to is discipline. The word discipline is "musar" which means to instruct with discipline. It refers most often to the discipline given by a father - both by word and by the rod.
It is very easy when discipline is applied to us for us to not allow it to reach the heart. We may hear the words - and receive the correction - but we do not bring our hearts to it. True correction and discipline is for the heart - not the bottom. It might be applied to the rear end with the rod - but the aim in these things needs to be directly to the heart. Those who protest the use of the rod see the issue being striking a child - and they see it as evil in all circumstances. But the godly parent is not aiming for the rear end alone. They want to instruct with their discipline. They want their words and their use of the rod to affect the heart of the child. If you have their heart - in the end you will truly change their behavior. What Solomon is saying though, is for the one receiving the discipline. Apply your heart to what God is trying to teach you.
If you are like me - there are times when you bristle at discipline. It is not pleasant to have God apply the rod to us. It is not a delightful thing for us to be corrected and rebuked. But when God grants us discipline it is only for our best interests. We can be absolutely assured of this. Therefore we need to train ourselves to receive it joyfully - gratefully - and educationally. If we do, maybe we won't need a second dose of discipline to complete the job for us.
The second admonition here is that we also apply our ears to words of knowledge. Knowledge here refers to more than just head-learning. Solomon is telling us about a knowing of God and His ways. He refers to a working knowledge - a practical knowledge - intimate knowledge - knowledge that truly changes the way we act. The verb "apply" is assumed here - thus we are told to bring our ears to this knowledge that God is seeking to give us. It is more than just hearing it - it is concentrated listening. It is listening to learn and to apply it to one's life. This is key to us becoming wise.
If we will truly bring our hearts and ears to what God is seeking to communicate to us, we will be blessed greatly. God longs for us to be wise and to know and follow Him with all our hearts. These two practices - bringing our hearts to times of discipline - and bringing our ears to hear obediently what God says to us - will assure that we grow and personally experience all the godliness that God desires to give us when He works and speaks in our lives.
He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, And the rod of his fury will perish. Proverbs 22:8
The other day something truly amazing happened. I had planted a batch of tomato seeds, and after a couple of months I went out and harvested a whole bucket full of orages from the vines that grew there. Now if you are someone who is even the least bit familiar with agriculture, you know that this last statement was false. If I planted tomato seeds into the ground - the only thing I will harvest from them is tomatos. There is an unbending principle at work here - whatever you sow is what you will reap. That principle is what is at the core of what is taught in today's proverb.
Here we have a man who is sowing iniquity. The word used here is a pretty tough word. It means unrighteousness, injustice, or wrong. This doesn't sound too bad until you begin to look a little deeper into the word and its usage. It is used to describe violent injustice and outright wickedness. Keil and Delitasch state that this word means, "unsympthizing tyranny, cruel misconduct toward a neighbor." It describes the actions of one who wants the person who feels his wrong to feel the fury of his anger. The second half of this proverb makes that clear. The iniquity that he is sowing is manifest in the "rod of his fury," which is felt by those unfortunate enough to be his victims. These kind of actions are usually those of a despotic king - or a person who is misusing their authority.
When one sows like this - they are going to reap vanity. The word for vanity here is the Hebrew word "aven" which means emptiness or nothingness. It can also mean sorrow, trouble, evil, or mischief. The idea here is that this despotic individual thinks he is going to reap the power of his authority - when in reality he is going to reap nothingness. The thought behind this nothingness is that of utter destruction. We've watched as this has happened right before our eyes. Saddam Hussein thought he was building an empire - but what he received in the end was a rude awaking in a hole - and the end of a hangman's noose. The Word of God warns in Galatians 6:7
that God will not be mocked - whatever a man sows he shall also reap. If he sows to the flesh, as he is here, he will from the flesh reap corruption. No one can outrun the hand of God and the principles upon which the Lord has founded this world.
The wicked man thinks that the rod of his fury will make others bow down and obey him. He rules only with fear - and trusts that fear alone will bring him the results that he desires. But the proverb tells us that this man - after all his furious tiraids - will perish. All his fury will do for him is ensure that his place in history is set as a terrible ruler or leader. His memory will not be blessed - men will curse it and use it as a byword. They will remember him not as a wise man - but as a fool. There lies the man who thought he could rule the world through wickedness and through fear. No one fears him now - and what awaits him is the utter vanity for which he worked. Having spent his life living for himself and for his own arrogant pursuits - he will die facing the fury of the One before Whom he will stand and give an account for his actions. Having rejected His love and His offer of mercy and grace through Jesus Christ, unfortunately for him, the fury of God will never cease.
The violence of the wicked will drag them away, Because they refuse to act with justice. Proverbs 21:7
When a man is unjust an violent, he is headed for disaster. Although at first it may look like his ungodly ways are a means of getting somewhere in life at first, his violence will eventually drag him down to destruction. In today's proverb, God makes it clear that the violent man is headed no where fast - and that a life of injustice and wickedness will not prosper in the end.
The first half of today's proverb speaks of how the violence of the wicked will affect the wicked man. We are told that his wickedness will drag him away. The word for violence here can point to violence itself - but it can also mean robery and a whole host of other socially unacceptable behavior that causes havoc in people's lives. The wicked think that they can use violence to get what they want. The extreme examples of this are people who rob others violently - either beating their victims or even shooting them and killing them. Their actions trigger a man-hunt that works to bring them to justice for their wrong. In the end, their violence drags them away - and they are either arrested and sentenced to prison for a long time - or in some cases are killed while trying to be apprehended by the police. Others violently misuse their power to gain things. The number of CEO's that have gone to jail for abusing the law - and violently stealing the money from their clients and companies is too numerous to list here. But one thing is for sure. The violence of their wicked behavior dragged them down in the end.
The whole problem with these individuals is that they refuse to act justly. They ignore the laws of the land as if they are immune to them and to the consequences they promise. They see them and may have even read them - but they think they are above them. Their refusal to act with justice will destroy them. That is how God has set things up in this world - that laws are given to identify lawbreakers and bring them to justice. He even puts the rod and the sword into the hands of government to punish those who do wrong. The truly wise man sees the laws of society and realizes they are there for the purpose of protecting and keeping people safe from the sinfulness of man. He does not refuse to act with justice . . . he chooses a just and righteous lifestyle for the wise one knows that it is the way of life.