That you may observe discretion And your lips may reserve knowledge. Proverbs 5:2
One of the ways that we know that we are being discreet in life is by what comes out of our mouths when we speak. What is fascinating about this passage is that the overall gist of the fifth chapter of Proverbs is that it deals primarily with the issue of immorality and those who fall into the trap the adulteress.
One of the reasons why we need to gain wisdom and understanding is so that we may watch out to be discreet. The word "observe" in this passage means to guard and be careful. Zhodiates states that this word basically means to be on your guard. What you are guarding is "discretion." Yet the word is different than the discretion that is mentioned most often in the book of Proverbs. It means a thought - or the thoughts in our minds that are used to make up our plans. There is one major point though that needs to be distinguished about this word. It most often means evil plans and schemes that are contrary to God's ways. What Solomon is warning his son to watch out for in life is evil plans and schemes that begin to formulate in his mind.
When it comes to maintaining purity in our lives, what happens in our heads is vitally important. We need to watch over our minds and what is running through them. Actions begin as thoughts - which in time turn into plans and schemes. The reason we watch and guard our minds is to make sure that when lust and immoral thoughts try to push in - we deal with them. It is not just enough to push these thoughts out - we need to bring them to the cross. The Word tells us to mortify these things - and that means to kill them! Nothing short of this will do.
The second half of this proverb says that when we watch over the development of evil plans and schemes in our heads - it will help us to watch over our mouths. Our mouths will speak "a knowing" when we guard our minds. This knowing is once again primarily a discernment - but one that is specific to the situation. Remember that here this refers to sexual immorality and the wiles of the adulteress. We are warned in the very next verse that the adulteress captures men with her words and her flattery. These things often cause men to be deceived in their hearts and minds. The flattery of a woman giving them attention strokes their pride and their ego - something very dangerous to a man who doesn't watch what enters and walks through his mind. In time his pride and ego can lie to him and fill his mind with thoughts of further flattery. He begins wanting to spend more time with this woman - at lunch and eventually at secret meetings he keeps from his wife. We all know where this is going - toward an eventual adulterous relationship with this woman. Yet the real danger started with the thoughts that ran through his mind - and the words he began to speak to this woman because he didn't watch and guard against the adulterous thoughts that were fostered in his head. He may not wake up until the damage is irrepairable.
It is vital to our spiritual progress and protection to keep a close eye on what is going through our minds. This is the stuff that can cause us serious problems. What begins in just a seed form in our minds will eventually sprout and bear disastrous fruit. Better to deal with seeds by being wise - than have to cut down entire forests because of a lack of watchfulness.
Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, That you not have it in excess and vomit it. Proverbs 25:16
Overindulgence is something to be avoided in life. Here we have an admonition to be careful when we find honey. This most likely refers to wild honey that is found in the forest areas around Israel. It would be much like the honey that Jonathan found after the battle with the Philistines in the forest. The counsel is to eat only what you need of this honey. The problem comes when our desire for something sweet and tasty goes beyond our stomach's ability to handle it. Then we will have a reaction from being too full - and we will vomit due to having an excess. But this proverb goes beyond a dietary warning and restriction. It refers to the problem we all have with excess in any area of life.
Having good things is profitable to us. It is when we allow these good things to go beyond where they should that good things become a problem - and possibly even an addiction. Moderation is wise in just about every area of life. To moderate ourselves makes us take time to consider what we really need. Yet, because of the fall of man into sin, we are no longer wired for moderation. We are wired for the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. That kind of wiring can get us in serious trouble. When we overindulge our desires - we can build that desire into something that we no longer control. Our desires control us. We see this in every kind of addiction. The addict can no longer control their desires. Their desires control them - and dominates them to the point of being able to command them what they WILL do. This leads to an "out of control" lifestyle - which becomes horribly destructive to the one caught in it.
The wisdom of God is to live life in moderation - especially when it comes to anything that flies in the "lust" zones of our lives. What is good can become what is overdone. When it reaches these levels it then can become that which makes us sick - sick in body, but also sick in our minds and our spirits as well. Knowing this the wise man approaches all things with a desire that they remain under the control of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of Scripture. This is how he avoids trouble that comes from fallen desires gone wild.
Do not move the ancient boundary Which your fathers have set. Proverbs 22:28
This proverb is understood as one speaking about real estate and how land is treated. At least this is language which is used. The "ancient boundary" referred to markers, usually rather large stone markers that were set in place by the previous generation - by which the boundaries of the land were marked. Those who do surveying today do the same thing - except they use deep metal spikes driven into the ground as the markers. All land surveying is done from these markers to make sure that land that is sold and transferred is done legally. So on the surface level this passage is saying that God is against illegal land transactions where one party tries to cheat another out of land by moving the ancient boundary marker to their advantage. But there is more to this proverb than what we see on the surface - there is a principle that is very important for us grasp - especially in light of our ever-changing culture.
There are physical boundaries - and there are social and spiritual boundaries. There are things which our forefathers gave us as a nation - and things which our spiritual forefathers gave us in the church. The question in an ever-changing society is this. When is it right to change things - altering with the times - and when are we dealing with the ancient boundaries that our fathers set for us? Even more important for us in the church there is the question of when is something an enduring spiritual truth - and when is it something a tradition arising out of denominational preference?
First of all, I am not sure that anyone can know all boundaries perfectly. Nations and especially churches are in conflict about such things on a regular basis. What is tradition that is the ancient boundaries - and what tradition is . . . well, just tradition? When it comes to things like this, we need an authority in the matter - and it needs to be outside ourselves. It even needs to be outside of our fathers and forefathers. Therefore we turn to the Scriptures for guidance. The things that are immovable have to do with theology. We can NEVER change our theology. Things like the Deity of Christ - His virgin birth, death, burial, and resurrection can never be altered. Things like the person and nature of God - the Holy Spirit - the veracity of the Bible as God's self-revelation are all non-negotiables. Then we have the negotiable items. These are driven more by basic principles and preferences. One very controversial area in the church is music and ministry styles. There are basic principles of sharing the gospel. The gospel must remain pure - but the style in which we share it will morph as society changes. Wisdom says that there is merit in modernizing our style of ministry - how we share the gospel - ways we interact with people - but the truth of the gospel itself is never to be changed. Similar things exist in musical worship. The principle that God is worshipped and is the center of our thinking and focus cannot be changed. We sing to Him and He is the One on whom we focus in worship. Instruments in worship may change over time - even styles of music will alter over the years, but there is never to be a change in focus.
Traditions can be tricky things. Those who survey land know that it can be a tricky thing to do it properly. At Calvary Chapel we had a problem with survey work that was not done properly for us in a land transaction. The surveyor did not accurately read the set pin for our land. He just guessed at it - and as a result made what seemed at first a minor miscalculation in drawing a line for our land border. The problem became much more pronounced though as the line went out further. Eventually the line which ran for about 100 yards cut off an ever-increasing pie-shaped part of our land. What started out as a small error - got far worse as it widened out. The final result was a large corner of land and a large error - all because he ignored the set pin put down by the fathers. This can happen to us spiritually as well. It may seem like such a small thing - a small change that we are making. It may seem like we're only ignoring a small principle of the Scriptures at first. The problem is that as time progresses, ignoring the ancient set point of our fathers (which they set according to Scripture) will be far worse in the future. Such things won't happen if all we are doing is seting new traditions for a new generation of people. But ignoring Scripture - ignoring the ultimate Father and the boundaries He has set - will cause great harm in the end - and honestly - even in the meantime.
Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts. Proverbs 20:30
Physical punishment . . . here is a topic that brings out the most strident opposition in a lot of people. When it refers to children some call it child abuse - and when it comes to the punishment of those who break the law the phrase "cruel and unusual punishment" is used. So what exactly is God's take on the idea of corporal punishment and some kind of physical response to disobedience and criminal activity?
There are two levels to understand this Proverb - that of the physical and the responsibility of parents and the state - and a purely spiritual level and how it relates to our growth in a relationship with the Lord. I'll begin with what is being addressed most clearly here - which is the response of parents and governing officials to disobedience and crime.
Our justice system has turned away from the biblical view of crime and punishment. We try to rehabilitate criminals without thought that they need to acknowledge that they've stepped over a very serious line in their behavior. The results are not encouraging at all. We have overcrowded jails and prisons where repeat offenders abound. We've gotten to the point where we have more people interested in the rights of the criminals than in the rights of those they infringed upon with their godless behavior. Our prisons therefore have revolving doors on them - and with the present focus, there are few who are rehabilitated while incarcerated. Put our current record next to one of a modern state that practices physical punishment for a crime. Several years ago a young American citizen was arrested from a crime in one of these states. He was convicted and sentenced to a caning. People in the United States, especially among liberals, went ballistic. Yet the facts should be viewed without all the hysteria. Their crime rates are much lower than ours. What they see currently and have seen in the past is that truly stripes and strokes do scour away evil in the heart. They do reach the innermost parts of a person. They are a very powerful deterrent to crime and disobedience.
The spiritual level is little diffeerent. God disciplines those He loves and, according to Hebrews 12, He scourges every son He accepts. How does God deal with His own children? He disciplines them with scourgings - stripes and strokes that scour away the evil of our hearts and make us think twice about being disobedient again. We are fallen beings and have a sad tendency to ignore God and His commandments and turn instead to what our flesh cries out for constantly. The way God deals with this is to bring us into discipline. Anyone who has ever experienced this discipline knows that it is stern but loving. There is no doubt that God loves us when He disciplines us - but He is dead serious about it too. He knows what is at stake - and is wanting to deter us from walking in rebellion and sin. These things will hurt us - and in some cases even destroy us - therefore He takes it very seriously a trip to the proverbial spiritual woodshed. But do not ever be mistaken . . . God does these things because He loves us. The same should be said for parents and for a society that crafts effective physical punsihments for those who break the law.
Physical punishment and corporal punishment may be unpopular with the liberal elements of our society - but in all honesty, they are wrong. Yes there need to be limits put in place - there needs to be a humane way to practice the death penalty - and there should be wisdom in a parents administration of discipline. Yet there also should be a full acknowledgement that the sinful nature of man will not respond to a call to reform alone. It is in the best interests of a family - and indeed a society to practice physical and corporal punishment. How do we know? The Word of God informs us.
"Bad, bad," says the buyer, But when he goes his way, then he boasts. Proverbs 20:14
There are proverbs which present the heart of man to us - so that we can know how to deal with men in a fallen world. This is one of those proverbs. The truth of this proverb needs to be grasped especially by those who are in the business world - and those who go forth to buy and sell in the marketplace. If we know this truth, we will be better armed to know the hearts of men - and to know how to bargain with them, as well as why they can be so stubborn and insistent on getting a price as low as possible.
We have here what seems to be a contradiction in the one who is the buyer. At one point he is saying, "Bad, bad," about the merchandise that he is seeking to buy. Yet in the next moment, after making the purchase, he boasts about what he has received. This is deceit on the part of the buyer - yet he is engaging in the deceit to make sure that he can get the lowest price possible. Not that this is ethical at all - but it is far too often how men think they need to negotiate.
A story is told by St. Augustine of a certain banker in his time who told an entire theater of men that he would show every man what was in his heart the next time they met. When the time came, the theater was full and all awaited with a breathless silence for his words. He stood up, and in a single sentence said, "You all wich to buy cheap, and sell dear." The crowd waited for an instant - then broke into applause for his statement, but everyone one of themt agreed that the same was in every one of their hearts. This reveals to us the very same thing that this proverb says today. We all wish to buy as cheap as possible, and then sell the same at the highest price we can get.
Some might say that this is why the captialist system needs to be destroyed and replaced with another system that is based on equality. Yet there is a fundamental problem with any other system - especially socialism or communism. Who is going to guarantee this so-called equality? Is there one among us who is NOT tainted by sin? Is there anyone who can say that selfishness does not enter the equation? And can anyone deny that when systems are put into place where the government is supposed to provide true equity, that the very government that promises this fairness, eventually turns to be the greatest oppressor of the people in the end?
Though this proverb may cause some to chafe at the thought of its inherent selfishness, we need to see that in a fallen world, no one is able to truly do business without an inherent self-interest. But when a system is put into place that allows the greatest freedom of choice by the people, then this inherent self-interest actually acts as a guard against any one person taking control of everything and acting in their own self-interest to the detriment of all.
The wise man knows the heart of God - and in this case, he also knows the heart of men. John 3
says that Jesus knew what was in the heart of a man. That is why He did not gauge His success or failure on the momentary accolades of the crowds that surrounded Him. They cheered Him when He multiplied bread and fish, but then left Him in John 6
when He spoke hard truth to them. A wise man knows the hearts of men - and that is why in the arena of men governing men, he sets up safeguards. Our forefathers were wise in setting up a system of government where all three branches had checks and balances to ensure that none would become dominant over all. In the same way, it is wise for man to function under an economic system where his own selfishness is a check and balance on him in the marketplace.
I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; And if you run, you will not stumble. Proverbs 4:11-12Fathers, how well have you led and directed your sons? Would you be able to say what we have read here in Proverbs today? Would you be able to tell your sons that if they walk in your ways, they would live a godly life - one that would not hinder them from growing spiritually and one free from the stumbling blocks that often trip us up in life?
The father here who is instructing his son tells him very plainly that he has directed him in a lifestyle that values wisdom. The word for "directed" is a very visual word - describing an arrow that has been shot straight. The way that fathers are to shoot their sons into this world is on a path that highly values wisdom and God's ways. I love that he uses the phrase, "the way of wisdom." Way is the Hebrew word "derek" which refers to a lifestyle - a long journey - a manner of living. The father taught in such a way that wisdom became a lifestyle, not just a series of choices every now and then. This is how we are to educate our children. I believe in education - but not as an end in itself. Education or the acquiring of information and learning - is just a stepping stone to a greater goal. We should educate our children (and everyone for that matter) so that they take the information they receive and use it to walk in wisdom and understanding in their lives. That is how this father taught his son - and what his goal was in the end.
The second thing he says to his son is that he also led him in upright paths. Again we see a word here, paths, that tells us that this father led with a view toward having his son learn a pathway. This word refers to a track or a course. The father, by his example - led his son to know the track that leads to wisdom and godliness. He refers to it as an "upright" path. In Proverbs 2:13 the father speaks to his son about staying on the straight path - and not taking the crooked one. This upright path is one that is straight, godly, and filled with what is right. The dad took the time to teach his son godly, holy ways. He did so with such consistency in his life that his son learned these ways - not just from instruction alone. He "led" his son in these paths - meaning that he walked in front of his son - leading the way
all throughout his life. The son knew godliness not just by precept, but by example.
Here is the beauty of teaching and leading our sons in this manner. The father, in verse 12, now tells his son that there are wonderul rewards or walking in this way.
The first benefit is that when he walks, this son will not be impeded. The word here is "yatsar" and it means to be in distress or frustrated. The word indicates a frustrated anxiety in situations. The idea therefore is that the son will not face impediments that will make him filled with anxiety and frustration. This seems like a wonderful promise. But can we truly walk throughout our lives without being frustrated? That seems a little more than we can swallow, being those who have frequently experienced varying levels of frustration and anxiety in life.
God's promise here is not a lack of frustrating situations, but rather that when we walk, our steps will not be walked out in frustration. This God provides by teaching us wisdom - seeing life as He sees it. When we do this, we will begin to see all things as beneficial to us - even if they seem bad at the outset. We will find even the most difficult of moments being used by God for our good. We learn to have the same patience that our Father God has as we deal with people. Seeing life as He does makes us so much less frustrate-able. Knowing that all things work together for our good - as we are being conformed to the image and character of Jesus - makes life so very livable.
The second benefit the father tells his son that wisdom will bring is that when it comes time to run, he will not stumble. The word for "run" used here had pretty specific contexts. Men ran in battle. Men ran to the defense. Men ran to bring important messages to others. Fathers, we need to teach our sons that there are times they need to run. But we also need to train them so that when it is time to run - to battle the enemy - to defend their family, their friends, the church, their freedom - to bring the message of the gospel and of godliness - that they will not trip and fall because they are not ready. The idea here of stumbling always carried with it that one stumbled either because he was weak or because he had a stumbling block before him. This is where an education of wisdom - to help a young man establish a lifestyle is so vital. Without it he will develop habits and choices that will put stumbling blocks before him. Without it he will be weak when he needs to be strong. Without it he will fall inevitably into the two traps of manhood. He will either become a man who is domineering who lacks a servant's heart toward his wie and children - or - he will fall into passivity and not have the strength o character to lead his family and lead in situations where the world around him desperately needs a man to step up and be a man.
Fathers, an awesome task has been set before us. We are to train the next generation of men. That may seem like a daunting task - but it is one that God promises to help us and give us great grace to accomplish. There is no one, dad, who can take your place in this effort. You will be THE most effective teacher for your sons in this endeavor. Do it with all your hearts - because the blessing it will bring to your grandchildren and the world in which your son will live will be immeasurable. And beyond all this, the glory that will be brought to God for the ways that His wisdom will be displayed in your son's life and family - will adorn the gospel and the Word of God in a way that is desperately needed in our generation.
now in the streets, now in the squares, And lurks by every corner. Proverbs 7:12
In chapter 7 of Proverbs we are examining the adulterous woman. As we do this we are learning to contrast her actions and lifestyle with what the Scriptures call a godly woman to be. This particular verse may wind up being controversial in what it teaches us. But that is only because we don't teach what the Scriptures say to the women in the church any longer due to the effect of the doctrines of the women's liberation movement. Now that I've opened the proverbial can of worms - let's take a look at today's verse in Proverbs.
One of the descriptions of the adulteress is that she is not at home, but instead is all over town. She's in the streets, the squares - and then we read that she "lurks" by every corner. First let's deal with the fact that she is all over town. The Scriptures teach us that a godly woman is a "worker at home." In Titus 2
we read that the older women should be teaching the younger women to love their hustands, love their children, to be sensible, pure, kind, and workers at home. The church has moved away from such teaching because the women's lib movement has made enough noise to make such teaching uncomfortable in today's society. We are considered "out of touch" if we teach such things. We are told that we should realize that a woman can do anything a man can do - and that she should be liberated from her enslavement to the dungeon of the home.
What I find fascinating is that Paul begins this section of his letter to Titus by saying that he is to "speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine." This is not a matter of cultural preference - but a matter of sound doctrine. When we do not teach these things in the church - in the way specificed by Paul (i.e. the older woman teaching the younger women) the end will be that the Word of God will be dishonored. The other thing I find fascinating is that for all the so-called liberating that has been done for women - they are still finding that they desire husbands and children. They still find the greatest satisfaction (as well as the greatest challenge) in loving a husband and loving their children. Where this is happening we are also finding that there is the greatest stability provided for children and society to flourish.
The adulteress is not for this lifestyle of staying at home - or at least seeing her life's work there with her husband and her children. The Hebrew here is so descriptive. With short phrases we read that she is now in the streets - then now in the squares - and as she lives this jet-setting life all over town - she tends to lurk by the corners. What is being said is that she is not content being in the home. She wants her own life and her own way. Hopefully we are learning from Scripture that the worst thing for us is to constantly "get our way." This woman does not want the home-based life - the family-based life. She wants to be out and about - doing and being everywhere. She's in the streets and in the squares - and we should note that it seems that nothing of any real use is being accomplished. She's just hanging out - out of the home. This is NOT good for a woman - or - for a man for that matter.
Now before someone begins to protest that I'm suggesting that a woman be a slave to her house - I want to offer a few comments here on the godly woman. Proverbs 31
presents to us the godly woman. When you read that passage you come away with anything BUT a woman enslaved to her home. She is out and about at times - but not without a purpose. She is out and about doing things for her family. She is out and about serving her home. You would probably see her in the streets and squares as well - but not just "lurking" about by every corner. She is accomplishing things - buying and selling - getting things for her husband and her children. She is overseeing servants who work with her to make her house into a home. The problem is not being out of the house - it is being out of the house for no real apparent reason.
We've got far too much "hanging out" going on in our society. Too often our men, women, and children are living their lives to "hang out" rather than to accomplish something. Ever notice that those who are "hanging out" tend to get into far more trouble than those who have a purpose and are "getting out" to accomplish that purpose?
This is the fundamental problem with the adulteress. She is "lurking out" rather than "living out." Let me explain. When we "lurk out," we are wasting our time with no real purpose in view. Actually those who "hang out" and "lurk out" are saying that they are either looking for something to do - or - they don't have anything to do. Because this is their situation, they are going somewhere to "hang out." Believe me that when this is your normal mode of life - you will eventually get into trouble. An idle life is the devil's/flesh's playground. Spend enough time with no purpose and no place to go - and the flesh or the devil will begin making suggestions. Live like this and the world system (which is under the devil's control) will offer a direction - and it is a bad one. For the adulteress woman (as well as the fool she seduces) her time spent "lurking out" looking for something to do - it ends in the sin of adultery.
We need to "live out" our days. What I mean by this is that we learn to live in God's will - fulfilling His purposes for our lives. This is a life spent seeking to know God - and follow what He desires for our lives. When we live like this, we will go out like everyone else. But the time we go out will be spent accomplishing the things God desires for us to do. There will be a purpose to our going out. We will be "living out" the will of God. We will be living to bring glory to God as we take the time He's given us and put it to good use. In the end His purposes will not just keep us out of trouble - they will be lived out to where we have a life filled with purpose and meaning. This is a far better way to live than just "hanging out" or "lurking out" to see what the world, the devil, and our flesh bring us to do.
Wisdom is living a life. Wisdom is a life lived on purpose. Just hanging out will turn to just lurking out - and just lurking out will be a life lived for the wrong purposes. Be wise and live life on purpose - God's purpose.
Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and
every good course. Proverbs 2:9
How do you know when you are doing the right thing or going in the right direction in life? Here is a question that everyone would love to be able to answer. The fact is that God says that we can know this. The way that we know it though is definitely outside of the mainstream of ideas that exist today. Let's take a look today at how we can know whether we are on course or not.
Solomon tells us here that there is a time when we will be able to discern some very important things. The first in his fourfold list is righteousness. Before we jump into those four things, we should see that discernment is involved. The word discern means that we are able to look at things and distinguish between them. We see differences between two or more things - and use that knowledge to understand them from God's vantage point. Here is our first very important lesson - things differ - and you can tell the difference. Most would agree with you on this truth - until you begin stating what you can distinguish between. The last thing we should address before we go into our list is that Solomon is stating what he does in verse 9 as a conclusion to all he has said before. What is it that allows us to have this discernment? It is the Word of God. All through this chapter he is calling for us to receive the Word, store up the Word in our hearts, cry out for God's work in teaching it to us, and to seek for the Word as one would buried treasure. The discernment of which we speak here is a discernment that comes only because of the way the Word works in our hearts.
As I said earlier, the first in his fourold list if righteousness. We will be able to discern when something is right or not. Now is the moment when the postmodern among us throw up their red flags. They assert someone might know right and wrong for themselves - but consider it the height of arrogance to think or state that anyone might be able to discern right and wrong for everyone. But that is exactly what Proverbs asserts here - and more by the time we finish with the four things Solomon says can be discerned.
The second in our list of four is justice. Our society cries out for justice - but unfortunately the justice they want ignores the Word of God. It ignores what God calls just in many cases - and completely ignores the problem of how we can be just before Him. Whereas the world cries for social justice - God offers absolute justice. These are not always opposed to one another - but - God ultimately wants us to be able to stand before Him just and righteous - and that requires the person and the work of Jesus Christ to happen.
The third thing we will be able to discern is equity. Here, my friends is a loaded word. "Meysar" is the word the Hebrews used to describe equity. It means rightness, correctness, and fairness. The word meant something smooth and level. Communism is man's way of trying to make everything equitable. Pure communism takes from everyone and then redistributes it so everyone gets an equal share. It does not take into account work ethic or whether someone has truly earned their share with hard work. And since pure communism would require pure hearts to work - we see that in practical communism - the ruling class takes and redistributes so everyone is equally as poor - while they live in the lap of luxury and take care of those who most honor and support their rule. When God speaks of equity He is speaking of how a state should judge fairly and honorably. He is speaking of how His promises are available to all. To "discern" equity we need to see things as God does - for fairness and correctness begins with what is fair and right in God's eyes. When we bring God into this equation - we have serious trouble for mankind. Man is sinful and rebellious - and what is fair for him is God's wrath and judgment. What we should find amazing about God's equity is that He chose to pay the price of equity for us - and instead of giving us what is fair, He gave us grace instead.
Finally, through the Word, we can discern every good course. We will know the right ways to walk - and God will indicate to us wrongs ones as well. This right and wrong will correspond to what He says in His Word. Thus we have the ultimate aggravation to the modernist. We assert that through God's Word we have an "absolute standard" upon which all things in life is to be measured. If actions and choices and lifestyles do not measure up to what God calls good, right, just, and equitable - they are wrong. And thus begins the clash of worldviews. True Judaism and Christianity will always find themselves at odds with the rest of the worldviews that come from men. They end up at odds because they have the audacity of claiming that God's Word is a revelation of THE truth. For those who reject this claim - the world is a mish-mash of conflicting morals and ideas. We all get along by ultimately stating that both everything is right, as well as everything is wrong. It might be right for us while at the same time being wrong for others. The resulting public moral quicksand creates a world in which all things are to be tolerated except the arrogance of Judaism and Christianity who assert that their worldview is absolute. That view - that view that states that there is absolute truth and it is found in God's Word - is the one that absolutely cannot be tolerated. Too bad though - because it is the only worldview that creates the stability of actually knowing whether the path you are taking will ultimately lead to blessing or destruction.
Keep your way far from her And do not go near the door of her house, Proverbs 5:8
For many, the reason that they fail and fail again in conquering sexual sin is because they are trying to walk as close as they can to the line rather than walking miles from seeing it. Let me explain as we look at today's "little bit of wisdom."
Solomon is giving his son great advice here concerning the immoral woman. He is told to keep his way FAR from her! He tells his son not to go near to the door of her house! What great wisdom he offers here - and yet it is as simple as a child learning their first letters. The problem is that too many ignore this advice - and do so to their own demise.
FAR - there is the definitive word that we need to remember when it comes to avoiding sexual sin. What usually happens is that a young man wants to go as close as he can to sin - without actually stepping into it. He walks the line between sin and righteousness like someone walks a tight rope. The result of this choice on his part is that he sins - and does so fairly regularly.
Here is a truth and wisdom you need to remember when it comes to sexual sin - and hanging around the wrong kind of women or men. If you want to walk as close as you can to sin - you will sin. You are destined to fall if your goal is to stay close to the edge of sin. David knew this when he instructed Solomon in this very same information. David understood this all too well.
David should have never been in Jerusalem when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. The Scriptures tell us that when kings went to war . . . David chose to stay home. This presents a very dangerous situation for David. First of all, David is not where he should be - fighting for Israel and engaging the Lord's enemies. So our first lesson is this - if sin is our enemy, why would we want to get as close to it as we can? If David would have been where God wanted him to be - he would have never faced temptation in the first place.
David's actions had consequences. Now he was a man in a city filled with women whose husbands were away at war. Where there would have been a natural protection afforded to David by the presence of Bathsheba's husband - that was not the case.
When David was walking on the roof of his house and saw Bathsheba bathing - he could have walked away and gone back into his palace. Instead he chose to look - and to note that she was a beautiful woman. Each time David decided to walk on the edge of where God wanted him to be - and what God wanted him to do - David was ensuring that he was going to eventually fall off that edge headlong into sin. Eventually, David succumbed to the desires that were raging in his heard. Even though he had a palace filled with wives - and probably by this time concubines - he had to have this woman. The rest is a sad and sordid history.
But enough about David - how about us? Where are we walking in these matters? Are we steering clear of sin - especially sexual sin. I know of men who have stumbled again and again into pornography and other sexual sin - who grieve over their failures. But they are unwilling to get a filter - unwilling to submit to accountability - and many think they can continue to get as close to sin as possible rather than run from it.
If you want to know the answer to all this - it is to follow Solomon's counsel here - and keep away from the immoral woman - or wherever you are seeing her image or pictures. If anything our heart's desire needs to be a desire to get as close to JESUS as we can! That is what needs to drive us in our hearts. We need to have a heart that says - not only do I want to keep away from her and steer clear of the door of her house. I want to do just the opposite - to keep as close as I can to Christ - and to often go near Him.
If you want to avoid sexual sin - then AVOID IT! But in avoiding it, don't think inches or millimeters. Think miles and miles! By staying away from the source of temptation - we will find our hearts wonderfully protected as we instead draw near to our Lord Jesus Christ!
Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to him whose life is bitter. 7 Let him drink and forget his poverty And remember his trouble no more. Proverbs 31:6-7 Is the Bible encouraging drunkenness here? When I read this - at first glance I come away with the thought that the Bible is encouraging us, if we know someone who is struggling with poverty and bitterness, to encourage them to knock back a few - and they will forget all their troubles. Is that what the Bible is saying here? If it is - then this contradicts badly the passages that warn us against the harm that over indulgence in alcohol can do in our lives. To understand this Proverb we once again need to understand it based upon what it says in context. God just moved on Bathsheba to instruct her son NOT to drink wine or strong drink. Her reasoning is that such an action would lead her son to forget the Law. With his thinking and reasoning impaired - he might pervert the rights of those who are afflicted. So, two things we know here are that drunkenness is out of the question in what is being said - and - that Bathsheba is interested in how her son, as king, deals with the afflicted within his kingdom. Her admonition to her son, next, is to give wine and strong drink to the one who is perishing. This word means to perish, to be lost, or destroyed. It was understood by the Jewish rabbis as dealing with two primary situations. The first is when someone is suffering greatly with sickness - especially when that sickness is terminal. It was a custom due to this admonition to medicate the dying with strong drink so that they would drink and forget the pain of their dying. We do this today with terminal patients through morphine. It is not evil to do so - it is merciful. It is giving them something to help with the throes of dying. The second instance where this was used was with those given to a death sentence - especially crucifixion. We know this because Jesus was offered wine mixed with gall when He was on the cross. This was a pain killing mixture that was given by godly women to those who faced the death penalty. Jesus refused this because He needed to embrace all that the cross meant for sin. But to offer some merciful pain killing substance to someone in the midst of horrific pain is something God counsels us to do. These admonitions are given for those "perishing" and also for those who are "bitter of soul." Here is where things get a little bit more dicey. For the one who is perishing - it is easy to see that we are easing their suffering as they draw near to death. But what about the bitter of soul? What is going on here? Again, context is so important to remember. We are in a section of Scripture where a mother has just warned her son against alcohol abuse - and how it clouds judgment and could lead to her son disregarding the Law in a moment of drunkenness. Therefore, we can be assured that when it comes to those who are "bitter of soul" she is not advocating drunkenness to alleviate their problems. This passage cannot be used therefore to justify men or women drowning their sorrows in whiskey or beer. What we do see though is that there is a benefit for the bitter of soul in having a drink. The Bible itself says that "wine makes man's heart glad," in Psalm 104:15. That verse is in the midst of a list of things that God Himself provides, including oil for the skin and the food that sustains a man with strength. Wine was used in the feasts of Israel as well - and even offered up to God as a sacrifice. Our problems with alcohol come from living in a society where drinking is too often done for the sake of partying - and with a view to getting drunk. But God knows that drinking in moderation (let me stress here that this means NEVER getting drunk - and it also means drinking apart from the party scene, which in itself has more sins than just the drinking) can lift someone's spirits. Wine does make a man's heart glad - and can lift someone's spirits. Thus, Solomon was advised to give it to those who are bitter in soul to help them be lifted temporarily and cheered. I'm going to venture into an area where there is much disagreement and where I can be heavily criticized. But in light of this passage, I feel the need to go there regardless of the dangers. There are believers who struggle with periods of depression. You could call these periods of time being bitter in soul. Often a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a doctor encourages them to take something for a while to help them with their depression. When this happens there is a cry from some that this is wicked, sinful - and it is only because the person does not trust God. Yet here we have counsel given to the king that he should give wine or strong drink to someone who is too struggling with being bitter in soul. Verse 7 in this section speaks of having him forget his poverty and trouble no more. Poverty speaks of a lack - something is missing here - and it is further described as a man's "trouble." This second word means a troublesome time - a time of labor and toil - and was used of the difficulties and hardships of life that lead to sorrow in a man's heart. These times can be very difficult to handle - and I've actually watched brothers and sisters helped for a period of time by a medicine - something that lifts their spirits as they walk through a very difficult time. Needless to say - or maybe it is better to say, Needful to say - God is not advocating drunkenness and the proverbial drowning of our sorrows in beer or hard liquor - but I do think what is advocated is something that would temporarily lift ones spirit and soul through a very difficult time. Here is where I offer what I hope to be the other side of wisdom on this issue. Although I do see a situation and a period of time where this might be profitable - I do not see it as "the answer" for depression and for times when we are bitter of soul. Psalm 4:7 tells me that God puts, "gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound." A period of time may require this verse to be applied (if it does not refer solely to the perishing - and the bitter of soul is just another way of saying someone who is perishing) but we need to see God ultimately as our source of joy and as the ultimate One who can lift us out of any funk in which we find ourselves in life. The one who turns to wine, strong drink, or even modern medicines as a permanent solution to their difficulties - and who does not turn to the Lord with them - is placing themselves in danger of looking to something rather than looking to Somone - as the answer to their problems. Remember this - as we close today's look at Proverbs. There is a mountain of Scripture dealing with the abuse of alcohol - of wine, new wine, and strong drink. The Bible is overflowing with examples of how people lost their reason and their discernment with these things and wound up in grevious sin. So as we see the wisdom of using wine and strong drink in the ways specified here - we need to do so with extreme caution and with God's wisdom guiding our every move in this area. Too many, thinking they were just needing a little lift - have turned to alcohol and found it to be worse than their original problem in the end. Wisdom, dear saints, should always color our use of such things. May God give us grace and wisdom to do just as His counsel suggests here - and not find ourselves falling into sin by abusing something meant for a temporary benefit. In the end, He is and always will be our source of comfort and of encouragment in difficult times - even in death.