An arrogant man stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper. Proverbs 28:25
A wise man knows that arrogance and pride are always evil. There are not many things we can say are wrong always - but this is one of them. God said in James that He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Embrace pride and you will embrace resistance to God's will and ways.
What we learn here about the arrogant man is that he stirs up strife. This is because the arrogant man considers himself right and first at all times and in all things. His pride will not allow him to consider others before himself. the ultimate example of this is Lucifer who, although the annointed one who covered - some say the highest angel in all of heaven - he decided he would be God. This arrogance stirred up the ultimate stife in all the universe. First it stirred up strife among the angels as a third of them followed him into his eternal insanity. They were subsequently cast out of heaven and are condemned for all eternity for following the pride of the devil.
On a much lower level, we too will find ourselves in strife when we are arrogant. An arrogant man will not humble himself. He will resist confessing sin - or even the thought of him doing something wrong. He will not serve others - but will demand that others serve him. He will not follow leadership - because he wants to lead - and then wants no one to question his leadership. His very demeanor will stirr up strife among others who will react to his arrogant ways.
What is portrayed against this strife-causing arrogance is a man who trusts in the Lord. He looks to God and relys on God's work in people's hearts and minds. As a result he does not have to have his own way. He does not view others as a threat. He can serve them and place himself lower than all others because ultimately he knows that God is in sovereign over all things. The greatest example of this is found in our Lord Jesus Christ. Although he was God, He did not consider equality with God a thing to be grapsed - but humbled Himself and became a man. Christ's humility and trust in God led to very interesting places. He became a man - humbled himself to be a servant - and wound up on a cross being crucified for others. Yet, whereas Satan's pride and arrogance cost him everything - the humility and trust of Jesus in God won Him the name that is above every name. He was blessed for all eternity as the One Who saves. To say that Christ's humble trust caused Him to prosper is an understatement of monumental proportions!
But let's take a moment and leave the lofty courts of heaven itself and get in the trenches where you and I live every day. When we are arrogant and feel like we need to defend ourselves and get what our rights deserve . . . those actions will lead to strife. It is when we trust the Lord and lay down our rights that we will prosper. It is not when we take up the crown but when we embrace the servant's towel that we will prosper. Trust the Lord in every circumstance and become a servant to others. Allow the Lord to prosper you - and then use that prosperity to bring glory to God. This is the way to true happiness and to a blessed life. It may cost in the short term - but in the long term of a person's life it will lead to so much more - and to the ultimate blessings for all eternity!
Like one who takes a dog by the ears Is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him. Proverbs 26:17
In order to learn this proverb in the way we will never forget, we should find a large, doberman - whom we do not know - and grab him by the ears and shake him a little. Yeah - don't think you'd want to do that either. Want to know why? Because you'd come out of that situation with one less hand (possibly two if you are slower).
I love when God uses pictures that are not only graphic - but pretty funny to consider. This sounds like a bad clip from "America's Funniest Videos." Nevertheless, it is great for those of us who have a bad tendency to get involved in "strife-filled" situations when we have no reason for doing so. There are just some of us who think it is our place to fix every situation where people are having problems.
Note several things about this person. First, he is simply "passing by" a situation that is ongoing. He has not been invited to enter it and offer counsel. He just feels that these two people who are fighting need his particular expertise and wisdom. Second, this is a situation "not belonging to him." That removes him even further from the picture - or at least it should. Third, he enjoys "meddling" in other people's business. Add all these things up and you get a recipe for "relational disaster stew!"
This is one of those proverbs that needs to be featured in the University of Duh. Anyone with a remote "lick of sense" knows better than to grab a dog by its ears. Do so and you will anger the dog - who will then bite your hand. Do it to the wrong dog and more than just your hand will be attacked. So also is the foolishness of someone who just will not stay out of other people's business. This particular fool won't stay out of other people's ANGRY business. The word "riybah" is used here - and it means strife, controversy, or contention. It speaks of a quarrel or dispute - which often involves open hostilities. Why would anyone want to step into something like that - when they don't even know the people all that well? To do so is stupid! But it seems that "stupid" here just cann't help himself or herself. They insert themselves into the conflict - and later are shocked when they walk away battered and bruised by the words or actions that they run into in the midst of it.
Stay out of other people's business! That is something my mother taught me. It has been a very wise saying - and one that I did not know at the time was biblical. Whenever I have obeyed her counsel I was blessed. But I've ignored it a few times . . . and I have the emotional dog bites to show for it!
He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. Proverbs 26:27
This is not a proverb that explains why bad things happen to Wylie Coyote - even though at first glance it might. It is actually about those who plan to do evil to others. Those who set traps to catch others and have bad things happen to them are warned in this proverb that what they do will eventually happen to them. Let's take a look at what this means - and also see an example or two.
Those who dig a pit do so to catch someone in it. In biblical times people would dig pits and cover them for the purpose of catching more than just animals who would fall into them. These pits would be dug and covered with camouflage as well as wetted down on the sides so that whoever was caught in them would not have opportunity to escape. Those who caught the person would then either take them captive as a slave - or kill the one who fell into the pit. The reason a stone would be rolled is to be put on a steep hill so that it could then be rolled down to kill or badly injure someone who was coming through the valley. This was a tactic of thieves who wanted to steal what travellers would have as they went through valleys and along roads that were next to hilly or mountainous areas. The idea with a pit or with a stone was to injure or kill someone for evil purposes.
God warns that those who do such things will fall into a pit themselves. God also warns that the stone that is rolled with come back on them. This is not a reference to an actual pit or an actual stone rolling on them - but was a warning that God was going to hold them responsible for their wicked actions. A good example of this would be the story of Joseph and his brothers. The brothers threw Joseph into a pit with the original intention of killing him because of their jealous hatred of him. Joseph and his stinking varicolored coat reminded them every day that their father loved him more than them - so why not teach the little runt a lesson. Of course killing your brother is a little intense. In the end they decided just to sell him into lifelong slavery (their sibling rivalry was way more intense that what I remember with my brothers). They covered their tracks by dipping the hated coat in blood and telling their father that a wild animal killed Joseph. But the pit they dug - and the rock they rolled was going to come back on them one day.
The first "pit-experience" was when their father almost died from grief. Then there was the famine that came and caused them to have to go to Egypt where they had to ask for food from . . . wait for it . . . their snotty little brother who was now the second ruler of Egypt. What was very good for them was that their brother had far more mercy on them in their pit that they had on him when he was in theirs. They had rolled their stone on him - but he refused to roll his on them. He chose forgiveness rather than revenge.
The varied pits that you can fall into are as numerous as the ones you dig for others. It is amazing as I grow older to see all the various pits that people have fallen into after they've dug ones for someone else. It is a fact of life that what goes around comes around. That is the simple, one-sentence way to define this particular proverb. I just hope that we all remember that the next time we grab our shovels and start digging for someone else.
It is better to live in a corner of the roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman. Proverbs 25:24
I find it interesting that a man who had hundreds of wives - felt the need to comment identically on the contentious and quarrelsome ones. This is almost an exact repeat of a previous proverb in chapter 21, verse 9. What Solomon has to say about this is pretty severe.
To live on a corner of a roof would be very uncomfortable in Israel. The houses of that time had flat roofs - and Scripture required them to build a wall around the top so that people would not fall off of them. Often they would have a set of stairs on the side of the home that led to the top of the house. But to live there would be very uncomfortable. In the summer months the roof would be unbearably hot with the sun beating down upon the poor man's brow. In the winter, or the rainy season, it would be wet and cold there. Yet Solomon states that this would be better than to be in even a palace with a contentious woman.
It might be good for us to see what a "contentious" woman looks like - or better acts like. The word used here is "madon" and its basic meaning is strife or dissension. It refers to a quarrel or dispute that is so filled with anger and bitterness that it cannot be stopped once it starts. That is why Proverbs 17:14 counsels us to abandon such a disupute before it breaks out. But the contetious woman knows no such self-restraint. Her pride and unwillingness to submit to God results in her not only entering into disputes - but even engineering and starting them. This same word is used in Proverbs 18:19 to speak of how strife creates strong barriers between people. The contentious woman doesn't care about this because her heart is already bitter and filled with resentment. Rather than avoid conflicts that result in relational barriers - she fights from hers and builds it higher. A few other verses that use this word indicate to us the following: 1) This kind of contention spreads to other people (Proverbs 6:14, 19), 2) it comes from someone who is hot-tempered and given to fits of anger (Proverbs 15:18), and 3) it is stirred by hatred which is lodged in this woman's heart - which is why she rejects loving, selfless responses and chooses her rage instead (PRoverbs 10:12). What an terrible picture is painted of this contentious woman who loves and embraces anger, bitterness, and loveless rage.
Now you might understand why this guy wants to live on the edge of his roof. He chooses this rather than to be in a house with this lady. Life is miserable for him - and he would choose misery among the elements than even a few moments with this train-wreck of a woman. But, honestly for Solomon, such a situation wasn't exactly prevented by having so many wives and so many concubines. Living among that many women vying for the affection of one very selfish, sexually out of control man, could not have been a picnic. This is why the second reference to this circumstance should be used for wisdom in two ways for us. First - be careful not to marry a bitter woman who overflows with resentment and anger. Second - don't create one either by being a man who is unwise in how he approaches the marriage covenant. Be faithful to one woman in your lifetime. And love her in such a way that she will not ever have the problem of being a contentious wife.
He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles. Proverbs 21:23
All of us can identify with a situation where we said something that got us in trouble. We let a comment slip or we say something before seriously thinking about what we were about to say. Regardless of what was said - it ended in trouble - in someone's feelings being hurt. Extreme situations can land us in a doghouse that is very difficult to get out of . . . all because we were not cautious enough about the things that we said.
Today's proverb tells us to guard our mouth and our tongue. The word used for guard is a strong word meaning to set a watch guard or a military sentry over our mouth and our tongue. We are not just casually watching what we say - we are placing well-armed guards over our mouths to make sure that they do not run off on their own. Considering that Scripture tells us that the power of death and life are in our words - that James tells us that our words are like a fire and that they can be set our very lives on fire - it is a wise thing to put some guards there. After re-reading this last sentence I'd set some ninjas aided by a few Navy Seals there. I remember an old Last Days Newsletter written by Keith Green that had a picture of machine gun toting commandos peering over the molars in a person's mouth. That is the kind of watchfulness we need to have when it comes to our mouths and our tongues.
The one who does not guard his tongue and mouth will face troubles. Think about the last time your mouth got you in trouble. Imagine again the kind of difficulty it caused you emotionally. Try to remember how your soul ached as you realized you had once again inserted your foot in your mouth and swallowed it up to your kneecap. The wisdom of God warns that our soul will have troubles. That is our mind, will, and emotions - and most likely all three will face difficulties when we speak apart from God's wisdom. I've known of situations that lasted only a few hours - but others that are still going years and even decades later. A wise man learns from such things and holds his tongue. He is wise and shuts his mouth - contemplating the things he is about to say. To do otherwise is to court problems that can range from a few awkward moments to a life altering relational disaster.
It is better to live in a desert land Than with a contentious and vexing woman. Proverbs 21:19
Here we have a proverb about making a wise choice of our mate - or more specifically the wise choice of the right kind of wife. We see two words used to describe the wrong kind of woman, as well as one phrase used to describe what we will want to do if we choose one like this.
The first word used to describe a woman to avoid is the word contentious. This is the Hebrew word "madon" and it means one who is filled with strife and contention. This is a person always ready for a quarrel or dispute. These things come from a heart that is not right with God and a temper that is not under control. The man who marries such a woman will find that this contention, quarrelling, and strife will fill his home. There will always seem to be a problem - and that problem will lead to arguments and strong contentions. The home itself will not be a refuge - but a fight club.
The second word used here is the word vexing. This is the Hebrew word "kaas" which means vexation. This is a word we seldom use any longer - but it means to provoke someone to anger. The wrong kind of wife is one who herself is angry - and who seems to have as a goal provoking everyone else to anger as well. She is ready for a fight, which we get from the previous word - and she delights in being angry. What a difficult life this would lead to for the man who marries such a woman.
God then warns us what will happen if we marry such a woman. We will not enjoy living in our home. In fact we would choose to live in the wilderness than stay there. The stated New Testament purpose for a godly woman is to create a good home in which her husband and children can live. But when a woman is angry, bitter, and itching for a fight, such a home will not be possible. Her husband and family will prefer living in an inhospitible wilderness than that house - because the wilderness would seem far more hospitable than being with that woman in that house.
What a warning to us to choose our mates wisely. It is also a warning to go beyond how a woman looks to how well kept her heart is. Beauty will pass - and the vanity of looks will one day give way to the attractiveness of one's heart. In that day a man will know that it was a wise thing that he sought first a woman who feared God than a woman who was a physical beauty alone. Beauty is skin deep - but the ugliness of a wicked heart will torture for a lifetime.
The cast lot puts an end to strife and decides between the mighty ones. Proverbs 18:18
How can casting a lot actually help people make decisions? This is akin to making a major decision by drawing straws! Are we going to make a decision concerning justice by seeing who gets the short straw? This seems ludicrous by normal standards - yet for those who know God and who trust His sovereignty and ability to control all providential history - this is not too far a stretch.
Today's proverb is not about making all your decisions in life. It is about a situation where there is strife - and where there is disagreement between what the Bible calls - "mighty ones." So we see that this is not speaking of every decision we make, but rather ones where there is disagreement between people who are either fighting with each other or who are very powerful. The first group needs the lot because their anger is keeping them from thinking rationally or wisely. The second may be so powerful that they do not have anyone else influential enough to deal with their problem. In both cases this would refer to those who know the Lord and trust Him to deal in their situation. The lost and the ungodly would just scoff at something like this - yet even in their case such a trusting practice would yield the right decision. When you read this you might wonder if I've lost my mind. How could I trust something as random as casting a lot to make a "right" decision?
The meat of this proverb lies in your understanding of Who is in charge of all matters of providence. It also lies in whether you believe in random chance or not when it comes to the affairs of men. The Christian knows that God is ultimately sovereign over all things - including what happens when you cast a lot. His superceding, divine providence rules over everything. Therefore when two people are too blinded by strife to decide a matter - they can submit to the lot for a decision from God. When two mighty men are struggling with a decision they can trust that God will direct them properly by surrendering to His divine choice in the matter of the lot.
Think about this for a moment if you are still incredulous about the lot making decisions. God found Achan among all the millions of Israel with the lot. When he had stolen something from Jericho that had been devoted to destruction, he hid it from God and from the entire congregation. Yet God, when He needed to "out" Achan - did so by having lots drawn to find him. Consider Jonathan, who did not realize he had sinned against his father's vow to God. But when he needed to be singled out - God did so by casting lots. How did the Lord do this? He did it by being a God Who is omniscient - Who knows all things that are known - or can ever be known. He is also a God who is omnipotent - Whose power can do all things. Therefore we can trust Him - even when trusting Him means appealing to His providence - even in drawing lots. Ultimately it is a trust in His ability to work all things for His glory and our good.
It is wise for those locked in strife and conflict to turn to God with their troubles. Even if these troubles seem unanswerable, God can provide the answer for them. Drawing lots to make a decision in what seems to be an unanswerable circumstance is very wise - because it trusts God to end the strife and the problem for His glory. Continuing in these things will not glorify God. Therefore a decision needs to be made. If both parties will trust Him - they will watch as God puts an end to the difficulty - and those who see it will be amazed at the way God's people will put aside their difficulties for the ultimate gain of even His providential direction. That is trusting God.
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute. Proverbs 15:18
Whenever we face a situation where we can react in anger we have a choice. I know that some don't think so because they say that so-in-so made me angry - or such-and-such a situation made me mad. The facts would say something much different. They say that we control our temperment - not that circumstances and people control what we do. Today's proverb helps us understand this. Each day as we begin to interact with people and face a world filled with its varicolored situations, we need to do so making a conscious choice. What that choice should be is the topic of God's wise counsel to us in this verse.
We have a choice whether we are going to be "hot-tempered" or not. The Hebrew word for "hot-tempered" is very instructive and descriptive here. It is "chemah" and means to be rage-filled, angry, and filled with poison or venom. This is fascinating because we need to make a conscious choice not to have the venom and poison of the evil one flowing through our veins as we walk through our day. By this I am not saying that we are demon possessed or anything fantastical like that. Instead I refer to a much more subtle thing that energizes the strife that will follow such a man through his day. Let me explain.
Each day we live we interact with others and with our environment from morning to night. As we do this we have both problems and problem people come into our lives. It is possible as we do this to be bitten by the evil one in such a way that his venom and poison enters our system. This usually happens when someone hurts our feelings - or tramples what we perceive to be our right to be treated better or with a certain modicum of respect. It can also happen when we begin to entertain the thought that a certain set of providential circumstances are a raw deal. If we are not careful to cry out to God to remove such venom from the veins of our thinking and our heart - it can begin to do its insidious work in us. Over time this poison will turn to bitterness against someone - resentment grows to a point where what at first was an annoyance becomes a seething cauldron of anger and rage toward someone. In regard to circumstances that our God allows providentially in our lives, we can think Him cruel and uncaring. This poison will turn our hearts a deep shade of bitter - and we soon find it hard to read His Word, pray, and ultimately to trust Hiim to cause all things to work for good. As the infection spreads deeper in our reasoning, we soon become angry at our core - which is where this one is in this verse. Thus the temper of his soul is such that he is constantly stirring up strife. I've known men over the years who say that trouble seems to follow them. But in a majority of the cases, they were one who had allowed the venom of the evil one through slights and circumstantial difficulties to reach a critical mass in their hearts. The trouble they perceived to follow them - really was trouble that they encoruaged because they are so angry in their core. I've even watched this in some who do this not through active agression - but through passive-agressive actions and words (or the lack of them).
There is another choice we can make in the Lord. That is that we become those who calm disputes. These are those who have at their core a work of the grace of God that makes them slow to anger. The Hebrew word used for this is one that is also used to describe long pinions - which are the largest feathers on the wing of birds. These particular feathers are used in birds to reduce drag on their wings thus helping them control both the wind and the turbulence that is natural in the sky while they fly. What an astounding picture this is for us of the patient, long-suffering man who chooses to calm disputes rather than fuel them. Like a bird who uses their long pinions to ride the wind while diffusing the problems it causes - these people ride the events of everyday life. They choose to deflect and diffuse both the insults and indignities of life - as well as the problematic providences that we cannot change. Rather than having such things make their flight a bumpy one, their choice to be slow to anger allows them to ride the difficulties of living on earth rather than having the things of earth ride rough-shod over them.
A wise man knows that life is not going to be fair - neither is it going to bow down and kiss his feet every day. He knows that since we live in a fallen world, that he will run into fallen people who act . . . well, they act fallen. Therefore he chooses to turn to God, who deals with the indignities of over 7 billion people daily, and yet who does not consume them with His wrath. This grace daily allows him to stretch forth his spiritual pinions and diffuse the problems and the poison that would turn him from being a peaceful, gracious man into an angry strife-ridden one. May God give us mercy that we would be such men and women.