He who is a partner with a thief hates his own life; He hears the oath but tells nothing. Proverbs 29:24
In our law courts we have something called, "being an accessory to a crime." This particular aspect of our law (as many of them do) has its roots in biblical law. The whole idea of being an accessory to a crime has to do with knowing or seeing that someone has committed a crime - and saying nothing about it when called to testify against them. For our courts the one who is with someone while they commit a crime - even if they are not involved - can be brought up on charges of being an accessory to the crime. Charges like this are dropped when the one who has seen the crime testifies against the one who committed it. Some call this ratting someone out or being a snitch. Reality is that they are speaking the truth about someone who has a complete disregard of the law, public safety, and the cohesiveness of the fabric of our society.
To be a partner with a thief here means to be one who divides or shares in his actions. Proverbs 1 speaks of ignoring someone when they make an offer like this. The thief says that they will all share in one purse as they steal and kill to take what is not theirs. The same word is used in that passage as it used here. We are warned that someone who will do this with a thief (who will be their watchman to warn them if someone is coming - who is the get-away driver - who turns the other way when they break into someone's home or business) is someone who "hates' their own life. Hate is the Hebrew word "sane" and it means to be hotile to, loathe, or dislike intensely. When we ignore the warnings of God - His commandments - and indeed even those of our society - we do damage to our souls.
To be an accessory to a crime means we need to hurt our souls. We begin with our minds. We need to convince ourselves that God's laws and those of our society do not apply to us. We need to ignore the Word of God and its calls to us - as we ignore the Holy Spirit and our conscience. We then move to our emotions. Due to the Work of the Spirit in our consciences, we will begin to have adverse emotiions. We will feel guilty (because we are guilty). We will also have to put to death things like mercy, compassion, and kindness in order to act in those ways toward whoever is being robbed. Finally, our will is affected. We set our couse direction with our will and our choices. We intentionally chose against God's way - and in agreement with our flesh and the devil (who by the way loves it when we sin). Now we see the damage to our soul - or the way that we disdain the work of God withiin it.
The Bible speaks of hearing an admonition or oath - but saying nothing. This speaks of the Law in Leviticus 5:1 which says, "Now if a person sins after he hears a public adjuration to testify when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt." There it is plain and simple - the law against withholding information and in so doing helping a thief, murderer, or any kind of criminal who is acting outside of the law. Wisdom tells us that we should speak up on these matters - not to be a snitch or someone who is telling on everyone about everything possible - but rather as someone who desires for a society to hold together on the basis of law. This passage is speaking of clear cut crimes being committed. It also speaks of us being made aware of those crimes - being called to testify - and then choosing to withhold our testimony so as to be in league with the crime and the one who committed it. That is never wise. God's desire - and indeed the healthiest thing we can do for our souls - is to be a friend and ally of the truth. That is the position of wisdom - and of loving our souls, not hating them.
The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:17
Today we will see a proverb that gives us wisdom when it comes to hearing the case of someone who is seeking to convince us of something. It is also a day when we will see where our forefathers learned about the wisdom of cross-examination in a court of law. We hear people say that we are a godly nation founded upon biblical principles. I can imagine that the average person would have to think at some point where they could see these biblical principles in black and white. Here in Proverbs 18:17 we see such an example.
This proverb probably was spoken to those who had to deal with legal issues - matters of justice in a community. They were warned that when a court case ensues, there is a normal tendency in all of us to believe the things we are told by someone. This is especially the case when we have someone who is "pleading" their case with us. This is someone who is passionate about what they are saying. It is also someone, at times, who is facing a very real loss of money or even freedom if they lose. In some severe cases it can even be that the one pleading his case may forfeit his life. Therefore we are dealing with someone who will make a very impassioned plea.
If the truth were known (and I guess now it is), I tend to be someone who believes what is said to me. Early in my life as an adult, I was somewhat of an easy target for those who wanted to deceive me or take advantage of me. Growing up with my father I saw a man whose word was his bond. As I got older, I was shocked to learn this was not always the case with people. Therefore needed the wisdom shared here in Proverbs 18:17. I needed to examine the person before me - and not always just accept what they say as the truth.
The fact is that we live in a fallen world - which means that not everyone is honest, forthright, and has integrity. Believe it or not - and I did not at first - some people will lie to your face to steal from you. They intend to deceive you, take your money, take your stuff, and can have a straight face as they weave their lies they tell you in the process.
This is why we need to cross-examine what folks say to us. Please do not take this as a call to be jaded and think everyone is on the take. There are many who I do not even have to question. Their integrity is not suspect. But with someone I do not know - or - someone who has serious character deficits - I need to be wise and ask questions.
I am a pastor - and as such have people who come to ask me for money to help in various situations. Early in ministry I'd get taken about 98% of the time. This was because I'd believe every word they'd say as they "plead" their case with me. Now, I've learned to ask questions. I've also learned to ask for phone numbers and people who can verify their story. This had led to a huge drop in the number of times I've been taken.
God wants us to love people - and be people who tend to believe others. But . . . He also wants us to be wise as serpents as well as innocent as doves. That requires some basic cross-examination of others. We do it in court because we need to have evidence of the truth - not just statements. By doing this the facts in a case become much clearer over time. Does this always insure a perfect outcome? No, but it does at least help us to be wise and understanding about the nature of people - and about how we need to respond to their requests and problems.
Do not rob the poor because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate; for the LORD will plead their case and take the life of those who rob them. Proverbs 22:22-23
How does God feel about the poor and the afflicted? What kind of safeguard does God have against those who would treat these people with disregard? How does God protect these two groups from being expolited by the unscrupulous actions of others? That is what today's proverb is about.
This proverb begins with a warning against robbing the poor or crushing the afflicted at the gate. The gate was the place where financial transactions took place in Israel. It was the "Wall Street" of their society. Because this is where the "movers and shakers" of their culture would meet to transact major business, it was also the place God commanded that the poor and the afflicted be given honest and fair treatment.
The Lord warns against robbing from them and afflicting them. The word rob is the Hebrew word "gazal" which means to take something by force or to seize something from another because they cannot resist. Here God is protecting the poor and afflicted because they would not have the kind of business savvy or representation to protect themselves. The poor are those who a low or small in matters of importance in society. The word for poor is used to describe the lame, those who were defeated in a military engagement, or someone who is so weak that they are languishing before others. They cannot rise up to defend themsleves in the gate. They can barely care for themselves. Thus they are easy prey to those who want to abuse and steal.
The Lord also warns against crushing the affllicted. The afflicted are those suffering in a state of poverty, oppression, or misery. They are in serious want - and biblically are those whose only hope is in the deliverance and grace of God. They are easy pickings for the ungodly and unprincipled. To crush them is to beat them down and oppress them. Again, their sad state of affairs makes them unable to stop those who would use their power and position to take advantage of their poverty.
The warning God gives those with power and authority in the gate is to refrain from treating these people badly. But if someone at the gate would proceed in acting unjustly, we have a picture that should cause us to shrink back in terror. God says that He Himself will plead their cause. The poor and afflicted have no representation - or do they? God said that He would be their representative. He would "plead their case. This word "plead" is a legal term. It means that God Himself will rise up and argue their lawsuit. The word is "riyb" and it means to strive and contend in a lawsuit or legal case.
Imagine someone among the poor and afflicted - trying to muster up enough strength to stand in the gate and argue their case. They have no ability to do this - and some in the crowd would even begin to laugh as they haltingly began their defense. Yet, as they stood humiliated in that setting suddenly a noise would be heard - a mighty rushing of wind from heaven - and all present would begin to tremble as the mighty presence of God descended into the area of the gate. The Lord, manifesting Himself as a mighty angel, suddenly appears at the proceeding. All shrink back from His glory and majesty - as they realize that God Himself has come to argue the cause of the afflicted and needy one. The prosecutor falls on his face and becomes speechless in the presence of God. Then God proceeds to take up the case of this one so frail and helpless. But God not only pleads their case with a passion and wisdom that causes all to fall silent. He also does something that terrifies everyone in the court-setting of the gate. Proverbs 22:23
tells us that God will "take the life of those who rob them." The phrase "take the life," is literally in the Hebrew "rob the soul." God promises to rob the soul of those who would rob the poor and afflicted. Our scene now resumes with God finishing His arguments and brilliantly defending the poor and afflicted in the gate. Then He turns to the one who so arrogantly thought he could rob the poor and crush the afflicted. He reaches out a hand toward this one and tears his soul from his body. Robbed of his very soul, the arrogant one falls lifeless to the ground. All gasp in horror as they watch this fool careen toward the ground with a thud. His lifeless, soul-less body now a monument to God's judgment upon those who would abuse the poor.
This is what God promises to those who abuse the poor and afflicted ones. This is what He says will come to those who live their lives for the sordid gain they can gather from the weakest among us. Some may read this and mock, saying that they've seen the wealthy and powerful do this many times without retribution from God, but know this - their day is coming. This proverb is a promise from God - so you can know that one day it is going to happen. May you be ready by being one who loves and is gracious and compassionate towards the poor.
A gift in secret subdues anger, And a bribe in the bosom, strong wrath. Proverbs 21:14
Some of the proverbs are instructional while others are observational. In no way is the Bible endorsing giving bribes to subvert justice - but God, the One who has inspired the Scriptures, is also not blind to the observation that bribes do exist and they are used to turn away anger and wrath. In understanding this proverb we do need to focus on the fact that what is being said here deals with the issue of those who are angry and filled with wrath toward another. This is not a proverb dealing with wanting to pervert justice - it is about dealing with those who come to a court situation and who are very angry. It is written with truth that will help those who are wanting to lessen that anger before they get to court. So what is this proverb telling us - and what observation is it giving to us?
When facing anger and wrath from someone - it is helpful in subduing it to offer a gift or a bribe. Bribes do exist - and unfortunately the rich use them to subvert justice. When a situation arises when someone is very angry and they are considering acting in the wrath of the moment - a bribe will help tone down the anger. Is this righteous? Most likely in the case of the bribe it is not. Is it effective in the world? Unfortunately it probably is. But there is another way of looking at the statement that a gift in secret subdues anger.
Those who know of court proceedings know that many cases are "settled" out of court. What is often done is that lawyers offer a "settlement" to make a case or a person's anger go away. The injured person is willing to have a sum of money - a gift given in secret if you will - subdue their anger and move them to drop the suit in court. These settlements usually involve fairly large amounts of money. They are meant to pacify the anger of the one who is bringing the suit or threatening to do so. When this gift is given in secret - the case goes away. For those who know that they are in trouble and guilty, yet do not want a court or a jury deciding the award in the case, a settlement may save them millions of dollars. For the person injured or wronged, it saves them the difficulty of the court case itself - and the risk of getting nothing. In the end, though everyone may not be completely thrilled, it does subdue the anger and settle the dispute.
Remember though, this is a proverb that is observatory. It is observing what happens in life - not dictating what should happen. In this regard it is good to know these things - and to know that God knows too. God knows that often these things will happen - but one thing to remember is that they will never happen at His bar of justice. When we stand before God, there is no amount of money or works that will speak for us subduing His wrath. The only thing that speaks in that day is the blood of Jesus Christ shed to pay for our sins in full. There will be no bribes or gifts passed under the table. God Himself has made the way of payment for sin - but know this - it is the ONLY payment accepted.
But to those who rebuke the wicked
will be delight, And a good blessing will come upon them. He kisses the lips Who gives a right answer. Proverbs 24:25-26
We continue with Solomon's comments on partiality and favoritism. There is a blessing that comes to those who do what is right in these situations. We are told of those who "rebuke" the wicked. These are the men who give a right answer when faced with issues of justice and righteousness. Let's take a couple of minutes to learn what they do - and how they are rewarded.
To "rebuke" here means more than just speaking a simple word of correction. The Hebrew word is "yakah" which means to argue, convince, convict, judge, or reprove. This word usually has the meaning of clarifying where someone stands morally. This involves making arguments to establish the ground upon which a moral judgment is made. The word is used of God's reproof and rebuke of the wicked and sinful. When He rebukes, there is no doubt the right-ness of His Words - and the biblical reason behind them.
When we rebuke the wicked - it is not just a simple statement that we make. This blessed man comes to the wicked with wisdom, with understanding, and with arguments to help the wicked grasp why their actions are wrong. Christians need to embrace this kind of rebuke and reproof as they seek to convince those who stand in biblically unjust positions of the truth. It is not enough just to say, "I rebuke you for your stand!" The wise man comes with ordered and convincing arguments. He does not come just to state that a position is wrong and ungodly - he makes a case that convinces and convicts the one holding it.
We are told to this kind of man there will be delight and blessing. These will come as he experiences first the blessing of God who delights in wisdom and justice. Knowing the smile of God - and His approval of our works and words is more to us than the favor of all the nations. Please understand that when a godly man takes a stand worldlings will hate him - and some will mock his views. But many will see his arguments and rejoice that righteousness is being upheld. If the "wicked" are in positions of power - this man may face problems - even imprisonment - but the blessing from God - and the joy of the people will abound in what he has said. They may not be able to rescue him from imprisonment, but his words will be embraced by those who love what is just and righteous - and that includes Almighty God Himself. Remember if your stand for truth, righteousness, and justice costs you in this life - that you will be richly rewarded in the life to come - in eternity.
We are told at the close of these statements that, "He kisses the lips who gives a right answer." The right answer here is the honest and true answer. It is the person who does not let the world, or any kind of personal favoritism enter into their thinking and judgment. The proper judgment in this matter is God's judgment. And the "kiss" that is spoken of here is the kiss one gives in approval. The idea expressed here may seem strange to us in the United States, even forward and weird. But in the middle east it was common to express approval with a kiss. Thus the idea here is that when we speak what is right - approving the righteous and rebuking the wicked - there will be favor for us. Those who love what is right will hear - and it will be as one receiving loving favor to hear it.
Wise men speak what is right. They do not allow favoritism and partiality to cloud and darken their judgment. They are instructed by the Word of God as to what is proper and true. They open their mouths to speak this truth to others - not just in a denunciation - but with convincing arguments that help to instruct men as to what is good and right. To have such men around you is a blessing that cannot be measured. Such men are rare and hard to find, so if God gives you one - thank Him for the favor He has shown you - and treasure this blessing always.
He who says to the wicked, "You are righteous," Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him; Proverbs 24:24
As we face the issue of partiality in judgment, we are shown the danger of it - and the anger that ensues when it happens. We are told of someone who says to the wicked, "You are righteous." It is important to see that this is not a case of religious judgment, but one that is happening in a court system - and also can happen in life as well. The idea is not of religious righteousness on the par of justification. This is simply a wicked man being told that he is in the right - he is without fault in a matter that clearly is the opposite. We see this too often in our society and even in our court systems. Gone are the days when what we truly desire in our courts is justice and righteousness. When a criminal who is clearly guilty of a crime is acquitted because of a minor technicality - we groan and shake our heads in disgust.
We are told that when this happens, peoples will curse this man - and nations will abhor him. Justice is something that goes far outside our homes - and even our cities. When injustice happens, entire people groups will see - and nations will join in the condemnation of partiality and favoritism. Wars have been fought because of errors in judgment - and favoritism toward those who should be convicted of crimes.
I'm going to step into a danger zone here and comment on convoluted foreign policy. I do so realizing that often the choices put before our state department are never between pure right and wrong. They are usually choices between bad and horrible. Regardless of the dilemmas that are faced, we too often support brutal dictators who are guilty of gross injustice toward their people. We wring our hands wondering why in parts of the world people hate our country. One reason is because our power is used to support oppressive, murderous men in positions of power. We may consider them to be the lesser of two evils - and I understand that. But we also need to grasp that when we put someone like that in power and say to the populace of that nation - this wicked man is righteous - at least righteous enough to be your leader, they are going to hate us.
Honestly, I am glad I do not have to make decisions like the ones our state department makes, and I pray for them to have wisdom. They have very difficult decisions to make. But when we do call the wicked righteous - we need to know that the peoples and nations will curse and hate us. It is just a fact of the Bible - and of life on this earth.
Since we are talking about "a little bit of wisdom" in these articles, some may ask, "Then what should we do?" What would the "wise" thing be to do in these situations? That is a difficult thing to answer. But my thoughts are that we should first tend to issues of justice in our own nation. First of all, we are horrific oppressors of the first order in our practices toward the unborn. Our sins and crimes in that area match anything ever seen in the world - and since we export this barbaric practice all over the world for the so-called purpose of population control - we have serious problems of our own. We too often paint ourselves as the great hope - while we are not even living up to the heritage handed to us by our forefathers. My advice would be first to reclaim wise judgment in our own land - before we go off telling others how they should administer justice in theirs. We need to remove the proverbial log from our own eye - before we try to go all over the world removing the speck from the eye of other nations.
"How can we do something so huge!?" would be the next statement made. It actually begins by starting personally - with our own hearts. We repent of the injustices in our own lives - and cry out for God's wisdom in rectifying our own wrongs. Then we fall to our knees and pray for our country. We pray for a revival that will break hearts and turn our churches back to biblical justice and righteousness. Once biblical righteousness has been restored to our lives and the lives of God's church - then we can begin to address our public officials. We can demand something other than base politics govern their thinking - and elect true men of character to our public offices. They can then address the policies that promote ungodliness and gross injustice in our land - by the standard of God's Word. Then and only then can we begin to hope to address the world about matters of justice. We do it now - but only by the use of power and money. May God so work in us, our churches, and our nation that one day we can speak from a vantage of moral clarity - and not just national self-interest.
These also are sayings of the wise. To show partiality in judgment is not good. Proverbs 24:23
Solomon now gives us the sayings of the wise through the end of this chapter. These are things we should definitely keep in mind as we walk in this life. They are over a number of different topics which will be faced as we walk through our lives. The first of these topics is the problem of partiality in judgment.
The statement, "to show partiality" is literally "to regard the face." This is when someone who is to render judgment sees a face they know - and suddenly their judgment is clouded due to a favorable reaction to this one they see. Once they see their friend or aquaintence, they look upon them no longer with wise judgment, but with an attitude of personal preference. This is one reason why our legal system has within it the practice of recusing ourselves from a case because our relationship with someone might skew our thinking and affect our judgment unfairly. This is the case at the level of the judge, the prosecutor, and the jury. To have justice be fair is of the utmost importance.
I remember the first time I saw the statue that represents justice - and realized that she has a blindfold over her eyes. She stands their blind to who is before her - with a set of scales in her hands. The statue represents how we should enter into judgment with others. We should be blind to who they are - not recognizing or regarding the face of the one before us. Without this kind of blindness to who is before us - we cannot render fair and just decisions. When we start recognizing "faces" that come before us in the justice system, we face the danger of favoritism.
A wise man learns to administer justice blindly, without recognizing a face and without the favoritism that comes with it. He learns to act according to the wisdom of God's Word in rendering judgment and decisions on matters of right and wrong
He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD. Proverbs 17:15
God is a God of justice - and with Him matters of justice take the forefront. That is why God refers to someone who completely skews the matters of justice and righteousness as a person who is an abomination to Him.
Today's proverb tells us that a person who justifies the wicked and condemns the righteous are an abomination to the Lord. This should be something that causes those in the legal industry to fear God and tremble concerning their decisions of right and wrong within the justice system. Which brings me to a few comments about biblical justice.
Several times in the Scriptures the history recorded for us involved the selection of judges. Each time this took place, God made several things very clear. First, He declared that matters of justice always involved His Word, which is the ultimate law-book when it comes to what justice is - and what it is not. This is something we should all heed. Our legal systems are to be nothing more than legal systems which do their best to mete out justice in the sight of God. We are not left to ourselves in determining what is legal and what is not. There is plenty in God's Word to describe any lawless person or delinquent. It is not necessary to consult with the legal opinions of men (even though we may be required to do so by their laws) if God has commented on the issue. He is the ultimate dispenser of justice (and will be at the end of the age). Therefore, if God has commented on the matter - His judgment is supreme.
Second, that decisions of justice are to be free from favoritism. This refers to favoritism on the basis of someone being a family member of friend, but it also refers to more sinister favoritism such as a situation where a bribe has been offered to twist justice. God forbids the acceptance of a bribe to pervert justice - and warns that He will require it of the judge if it is done. This is why our proverb says that justifying the wicked and condemning the righteous are an abomination in His sight.
Third, is a reminder that all human judges are to be those who dispense God's justice, not their own. They are never to be a law unto themselves - or take matters of justice into their own hands. For those who experience perverted justice, God warns not to take vengeance into their own hands. The promise of God is that He will take vengeance on those who disregard His laws and ways. There is a Psalm that should terrify judges as they ascend to the bench. I wish it was written on their desks for them to see daily.
"Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in
the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" (Psalm 2:10-12
, NASB) This Psalm reminds every one of us that even the judges and kings of earth are to worship and bow in reverence to God's King, Jesus Christ. All that they do - every judgment that they make - is made in His sight and under His ultimate jurisdiction. Therefore every decision that they make should be made under His lordship - and for His justice to be established on the earth.
The wise man knows that justice has already been decreed - and that all he need do is follow the direction and leadership of the Scriptures on all matters concerning what is just and right. But before we leave this particular Proverb - we should mention one situation in which some consider that God Himself stepped over the line. Some think that God condemned the righteous and justified the wicked when Jesus died on the cross - and when sinful men were granted salvation. But contrary to that thought - God did everything according to His perfect righteousness and justice. Jesus did not die for His own sin - but when He chose to become sin God's justice had to be fulfilled - even on Jesus. When by faith we are credited with Christ's righteousness at salvation, God responds with His perfect justice in welcoming us and granting us His blessing and favor. He is both just and the justifier of the one who believes in Jesus. Rather than being an unjust situation - the cross is actually the ultimate moment of justice in the universe. For when Christ became sin - God had to respond with wrath and punishment upon His only Son - or else He would have been unjust. It is not only wisdom for us to grasp God's perfect justice and righteousness - it is glory itself! Knowing this, though, should make us tremble at His justice and be all the more committed to calling wicked what He calls wicked, and calling righteous what He calls righteous. Any other choice is an abomination to Him.
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.