When the wicked increase, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall. Proverbs 29:16
There is a principle at work here - and one that has been seen again and again in the world. The more the wicked increase in a society, the more that the society will turn toward wickedness. This is not a recent phenomenon - it has been happening ever since the fall of man. In fact, one of the most powerful examples of it was not long after man fell into sin.
We read in Geneis chapter 6 of this kind of situation. "Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose." The progression here is fascinating to see. First the wicked began to multiply. You might wonder why I think the wicked multiplied - and not the godly. The reason for this is because man is sinful - and will always orient himself toward his sin and ungodliness unless God intervenes by His grace to change things. The next step was that the wicked began to modify - and they modified God's intention for marriage. They married at will - based on something other than God's plan. This led to the wicked multipliying even more. The god-desired role of the family was perverted and rather than pass on godliness - men began to pass on and even grow in his wickedness.
We read in verse 5 of that same chapter of Genesis, "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Two more things began to happen. The wicked began to magnify their wickedness. God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth. The original intent for creation was to magnify the Creator, God. Now it was filled with men who magnified the creation, man. The second thing that happened was the the Wicked began to meditate on their wickedness. Every intent of the thoughts of their heart became evil continually. God's desire was for men to meditate on Him and His Word - instead, they meditated on their godless desires - which led to even worse conditions.
The wicked then turned to mayhem and murder in their wickedness. God said the following to Noah about this in verse 13 of chapter 6 of Genesis. “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth." James warns us in chapter 4 of his letter that the cause of our fighting is our lusts that wage war within us. This leads us to even kill so that we can fulfill our lusts that rage for more within us. The sad ending of all this is that the choices of the wicked led to the condemnation of the wicked. God destroyed that generation.
As we turn our attention back to our proverb - we see just what Solomon is communicating to his sons - and to all who would read these words. When the wicked increase, transgression among men increases as well. But in the end the righteous will see their fall. Wickedness cannot reign long in a land - it consumes it to a point of catastrophe. It did so in Noah's day - and we read that as it was in the days of Noah, so also it shall be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man. The ungodly will always be ungodly - and the wicked will seek to multiply their wickedness. But what is there for us to learn from this - just don't be wicked? No, there is a message for us today - one that will magnify the grace of God in the gospel.
How can we keep the wicked from increasing? Every time a child is born - another ungodly heart enters the human race. We are fallen - and we multiply into more fallen men and women over time. The answer lies in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the ONLY way that we can stem the tide of the wicked multiplying on the earth. We must multiply! We must be about sharing Jesus Christ with all who are around us. We must take the one thing that can take a wicked heart and transform it into a godly one. That one thing is the gospel of Jesus Christ! Jesus sent us into the world to make disciples of all the nations. As the early church took that mandate seriously they multiplied disciples - leading them to Christ - baptizing them as they identified with Christ - teaching them to obey all Jesus commands - and then doing it in each and every generation until the end of the age. This, and only this, can stand against the wicked and their wickedness multiplying in a society! May God give us grace to accept no substitutes in this matter - no political or social or military option which in the end will only fail. May we see that the glorious mandate to minister the gospel - and make disciples IS God's only answer for our world!
A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth And does not know that want will come upon him. Proverbs 28:22
Greed and a heart that chases after wealth and riches - is a terrible condition to see in a man. The Bible describes such a conditioin as having an "evil eye." This phrase is actually a Hebraism which meant to be greedy about money - and very stingy about giving any of it to anyone other than himself. When a man lives this way, he has an evil eye.
Another way of stating this is found in this same Hebraism in the New Testament. In Luke we see Jesus say this about a person's eye. "The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. "Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. (Luke 11:34-35) The "bad eye" mentioned here is said to be full of darkness. This is a similar Hebraism that speaks of the evil or the bad eye. What is interesting is that both of these passages refer to someone who is very greedy with their money. Whether in the Old Testament or the New, this condition is considered a bad one to have.
Here is the problem - when money fills our eye - little else does. Therefore we don't have our eyes on the Lord - and neither can we see past money to recognize the needs of others that should move us to compassion and a giving heart. The evil eye is hastening after wealth. The word for "hasten" here is "bahal" and it means to be in a hurry for fear or dismay that one won't get what they are chasing. The unwise man is chasing wealth. He is not just after money - he wants a lot of money. He won't be satisfied until he has a little more - and that condition will be terminal.
This man is igorant of something that is happening to him even as he pursues his money. Slowly but surely want is coming upon him. It may not be a want of cash - it may be a want that grows as he ignores family, friends, and God in his endless pursuit of just a little more. The writer, Charles Dickens gave us the unforgettable Ebenezeer Scrooge in his book entitled, "A Christmas Carol." Scrooge was a man who had enormous amounts of wealth in reference to his bank account. Unfortunately for him such a boon in his bank led to utter bankruptcy everywhere else. The visits from the three spirits who came to show him his poverty woke him up to the fact that while he hastened after wealth - want had come upon him. It was a want that could not be satisfied with money alone. That fortunate night cured Scrooge of his evil eye - yet his name lives forever in our minds as a term that speaks of a miserly, miserable heart that loves little other than its money.
May God help us to embrace wisdom as a result of today's proverb. Wisdom is to have what Jesus called a "clear eye" that is "filled with light." That light will be the Word of God that will instruct us in true riches. Those may include physical wealth - but will never be limited to it along. The true riches must always include a tender heart that yields an open hand that does not hold tightly to financial wealth. It sees such blessings as God-given, and therefore to be God-directed to those who need it most. When we live this way it is not want that is coming to us, but blessing. The blessing of having our treasure in heaven and our true riches found in a relationship with God's Son, Jesus Christ.
Do not say, “I will repay evil”; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you. Proverbs 20:22
Revenge is something that is very dangerous. We are told by today's proverb not to say that we ourselves will repay the evil done to us. Instead we are to wait for the Lord to be the One who saves us. There are two interesting examples of this - and Solomon was well aware of both of them. These two examples were Saul and David. They were the opposite ends of this issue of taking our own vengeance and repaying the evil done to us. They are also the difference between blessing and destruction.
Saul started out his career being wise in this way. When he became king some scoffed at him - and did not bring him any kind of present - on a day when presents were in order. Shortly after this God allowed a situation where Saul proved his worth - and showed that he indeed was fit and called to be king. When some wanted to bring vengeance on these men who rebuffed Solomon, his response was wise. He said that no one was going to be put to death, because God was gracious and had been good to His people. Thus Solomon allowed the Lord to defend him. But later in life Saul no longer followed the Lord - and began to be rebellious to God's purposes. When he faced a supposed wrong by the priests of the Lord - he reacted violently. Even though the priests acted without any knowledge of any kind of rebellion, Saul had the entire city, men, women, and children put to death. Thus was his reign marred by a continual desire to repay any suspected slight or evil done to him.
David was much different. He was wronged repeatedly by Saul and by those who followed him. Yet twice David rejected the opportunity to kill Saul - even when God put the opporutnity to do so. He saw Saul as God's annointed and therefore a man to be honored. His statement to the men with him who desired to put Saul to death was that God would be the One to bring Saul down - but David would not take his own vengeance and repay the evils done to him. David was blessed greatly because of this -a nd God greatly prospered his kingdom. God also blessed David with deliverance after deliverance.
Saul . . . he experienced something much diffferent than David. Saul went crazy - he was mad - he lost his mind. This is what happens to us when we think we have to defend ourselves against every slight and every evil done to us. This is a responsibility and a weight on our minds that we cannot carry. Soon the world itself is against us - and everyone and everything is suspect. This will make you lose your mind - just like Saul did. The way to peace is through forgiveness.
When we choose to forgive the evils done to us we are blessed. We are adopting the mind and heart of God, Who chose to forgive even though it cost His Son His life to do so. Our minds, when we forgive, are loosed from the constant torture of remembering the wrongs done to us. They are set free from bitterness which will consume our sanity like a dry forest is consumed by a fire driven by dry winds. We are free to give all our slights to God and allow Him Who sits on the throne to determine how to measure out justice and righteousness. Since there is only one ultimate throne in this universe - with only One Who sits upon it - truly, only He can mete out perfect justice. We are liberated from decisions taht are beyond our ability to make.
As long as we live in a fallen world there are going to be slights, problems, evils, and injustices that come our way. The wisdom that God offers to us today recognizes these things and gives us a way to deal with them without losing our minds. In the process we are protected from the deeper damage these things can do to us - and we are given the glorious priviledge of forgiving others - which is when we reflect both His character and His glory most.
When a wicked man comes, contempt also comes, And with dishonor comes
scorn. Proverbs 18:3
The wicked man mentioned here is one who is guilty of doing a wrong - thus a criminal or a transgressor. This is a man who has sinned against others in what he has done. We are told in this proverb that when this kind of man comes - contempt also comes. The contempt mentoined here is an attitude of disrespect and scron towards him. Thus when the wicked man comes around there is also disrespect and scorn. There is something about someone who breaks the law - who disregards what is right - that brings about a response of scorn and disgust. Look at the recent events surrounding Tiger Woods. He was viewed as a man of great integrity and honor until it became known that he was having multiple affairs. Suddenly all the respect turned to scorn. This is how a wicked man - a law breaker is received.
The rest of the proverb tells us that with dishonor comes scorn. Dishonor here refers to something disgraceful and full of shame. When this kind of thing comes, then scorn comes as well. This word means a reproach, a taunting - usually hurled at an enemy or someone who is ungodly. The wicked may be able to hide many of their actions for a time - but eventually things will come to light. When they do - then comes the contempt, the shame, the disgrace, and the scorn and reproach. It is better to walk with the Lord and keep to His paths and ways - than to face the reward of the wicked - contempt and scorn.
He who winks his eyes does so
to devise perverse things; He who compresses his lips brings evil to pass. Proverbs 16:30
A wise man can read people's faces and expressions - with the result being that of being warned against those who are planning perverse and evil things. In the Jewish world the winking of an eye was considered an evil thing. This kind of facial movement was consistently condemned as we read in Proverbs 6:13
as well as in Proverbs 10:10
where we learn that the one who winks an eye is doing so to cause trouble. Even in Psalm 35:19
this is seen as an ungodly thing, where we read of those who "wink maliciously" as they plot evil. Such a wink is considered part of the shiftiness of those who are plotting and scheming against others. Therefore the godly man who is wise will note such things and weigh their words on the basis of their signals.
Note that the "winker" is one who is devising "perverse things." The word for "perverse" is "tahpukah" which means to deviate and distort God's ways. It is interesting that when men are acting perverse, they are first seeking to pervert God's ways. They are deceptive in their intent and are corrupt as they speak. There is a perversity in their hearts that disregards God's Word and His ways as they plot their evil and their conquest of others.
We are also warned about those who "compress their lips." We are told that they do this to bring evil to pass. The picture that we should get is someone who is putting their lips together and pressing them tightly. This expression, as we are told by several Hebrew commentators, is a sight of anger, rage, bitterness, and disgust. The one who does this has no good planned. There will be an "evil" that will come to pass from such a man.
Wise men notice a man's visage and face. The face of those who are godly and loving will be one that is glowing and hides nothing from others. They are usually people filled with joy and with the peace that arises from having a relationship with God where they have been justified and declared righteous in His sight by the gift of His grace. The wicked man cannot hide the evil that resides in his heart. It is etched into his face - and in the tightness of one whose true motives cannot be brought to the surface for fear that they will be exposed for what they are - perverse and filled with misery and evil. Read a face, dear saints of God, and you will often understand a heart.
A worthless man digs up evil, While his words are like scorching fire. Proverbs 16:27
There are those who seem to love digging up dirt on others. These are the ones who love gossip and betrayal and slander. But such a man is a very wicked man. The proverb for today says that a "worthless" man is the one who digs up evil. That word "worthless" is the term, "beliyal" in the Hebrew and it means someone who is a scoundrel and who has no good in himself. This man plots to find and to expose evil in others.
We are told that when this wicked man gets the right information to slander and destroy others, he lets it forth in a belching flame of fire. He scorches the earth with his inflamatory language with every intent on destroying his adversaries and causing their reputation to go up in the flames of his evil rhetoric. The term used here are that his words are like scorching fire. The literal is that his lips burn like an uncontrolable fire. We are warned agaisnt such things in James 3:6
where we read,
"So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet
it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very
world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our
life, and is set on fire by hell. James 3:5-6
This is why we need to set a guard over our lips and our mouths. Our tongues are a fire themselves and can be the very world of iniquity. If we do not learn how to control our tongues we may learn all too late that our tongues can defile our entire lives and be set on fire by hell itself. That is why we need to make sure that we use our tongues for good rather than for wickedness. May God take our tongues and tame them by His Spirit so that, rather than being a scorching fire set abaze by hell itself - we become one whose words are a healing balm from the Lord Himself!
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. - Proverbs 15:28
Look before you leap. There is a proverb outside Scripture that reminds us to seriously think about the steps we take, because once we take them we cannot get them back. Our proverb today is similar to this except it deals with what we say. One might say that this proverb could be said this way, "Think before you speak!"
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer. We should note right from the start that the "heart" of the righteous is what is pondering his answer. The godly man does not allow his mouth to run its own course without the management of the heart. He wants to speak from the heart - not shoot from the hip. The problem about shooting from the hip when we speak is the carnage that results from drive-by speaking. This wise man thinks and considers what he is about to say. He takes the time to meditate on God's Word before he speaks his own. He discerns what is needed for the situation and speaks according to what God wants. This godly man speaks as God directs in Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear." Ultimately this man speaks those wonderful, edifying words that are like "apples of gold in settings of silver" which are words spoken at just the perfect time.
The wicked allows his mouth to have free reign in his life. This is a dangerous thing because left to itself a mouth can be dangerous. We read in the third chapter of James, "So the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fireon fire! And the tongue is a fire: the very world of iniquity, the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, ans set on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell." These verses warn us in the starkest terms of the danger of allowing our mouths and tongues to gho unchecked in what they say. When we do this it is inevitable that our mouth will "pour out evil things." The heart of the wicked man will be fully expressed by his words. The result of this will be much evil and pain in the world. Consider how many horrible things started with evil words pouring out of a wicked man's mouth. Think for a moment how Adolph Hitler mesmerized entire crowds in Germany by his wicked words. Then consider what the end of his leadership brought to the world. We may not ever do the damage of Hitler, but much harm can come from unwise, un-considered words.
Precious ones, God wants us to think before we speak. It will bring blessing to us - and will benefit those who are the recipients of our words. May we submit what we say to our Lord every morning. May we ask the Holy Spirit to bridle our tongues so that they do not speak of themselves. May we surrender all we say for God's purposes and God's specific leadership so that they can truly edify those who hear them.
Evil thoughts are an abomination to the Lord, But pleasant words are pure. - Proverbs 15:26
Thoughts and words actually come from the same place, from the heart. So as we look at today's proverb, we can see that out of the hearts of men come evil thoughts and plans. Knowing that the Bible teaches that the heart is deceitful above all things and is desperately wicked, we can know that such thoughts and plans reside in the breast of every man alive. The thoughts of man's heart were at one point so wicked that God decided to destroy the earth in the days of Noah. That is how much of an abomination these things are to Him.
We read next that pleasant words are pure. This might be a little hard to understand unless once again we take a biblical viewpoint. Words that come out of the mouth originate in the heart first. Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Thus when someone has pleasant words - they come from a pure heart. There are thoughts behind them that are equally pleasant as well.
Thoughts and words are very important to the Lord - and should be to us as well. Jesus made it clear in the Sermon on the Mount that there was far more to a man than just his actions. There were the things he thought and did in his heart. A man might state emphatically that he has never committed adultery, but if he looks at a woman with lust in his heart, Jesus says, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. These things are vital for us to grasp because they take religion out of merely acting good - and puts it where it should be - that our hearts are transformed to be good at their core. This is wisdom that cannot be refuted.
Will they not go astray who devise evil? But kindness and truth will be to
those who devise good. Proverbs 14:22
Today's proverb has to do with the payoff for both evil and good. There is a pay day for living in a way that is morally wrong. God uses quite an interesting picture of the one who is planning and devising evil. The word used here is "haras" which means to plow or to till the soil. The kind of plowing that is being done is plowing and planting evil. The evil is both moral and ethical in its reach. The fool spends his time plowing this way - and planting a very morally perverse crop into the ground of his life. The proverb tells us that the ones who live this way - will err. They will wander about and go astray. They will be intoxicated with their sin and as a result wander off not really realizing the danger of their actions. In the end they go the wrong way and wander into a moral wasteland.
Unfortunately I've watched this kind of moral wandering many times. They begin to plow the fields of their life with questionable morals and ethics. As they do this they speak of their freedom to do what they want - and usually disparage the Word of God for its straight-laced moral views. But in the end they wind up wanding off into things they did not intend to do. They only realize this when they've gone much father than they expected - or when something devastating happens to them because of their moral blindness. It is a sad thing to watch - because as those counselled by Scripture, we see where they are going. That is why this is voiced to us in a rhetorical way. The rhetorical question is that they are going to wander and err who plan and plow evil in their lifestyle.
To counter this erring way, we are also given a strong statement about what awaits those who plow what is good in their lives. This good (Hebrew word "tobah") is something that is well-pleasing, fruitful, proper, and morally correct. Of course all these things are referring to how God's Word affirms the moral direction that they are taking. What is promised to those plowing in this way is mercy and truth. Let's take a closer look at these two words.
Kindness is the Hebrew word "chesed." That word means to receive mercy and lovingkindness. The word is used of God's love constantly in the Old Testament. It is the closest kin to the Greek word agape in the New Testatment. It refers to God's covenant love with His people. When we choose to plow in a way that is morally in agreement with God's Word, God loves us - and will shower us with His grace, mercy, faithfulness, and goodness. That is what awaits right moral choices. The second word is "truth" which is the Hebrew word "emet." It refers to faithfulness - and is often combined with ideas like God's righteousness and peace. When we plow our lives with godliness and moral rectitiude, there will be a harvest of peace and righteousness that will come to us. Rather than the wandering destructive ways that come to those who plow evil, there is a blessing that showers on those who seek a crop of good things. That blessing is a righteous life - a peaceful existance where we know where we are going. There will be the smile of God and the light of His presence upon this person's path. He sows to godliness and reaps an abundance of joy, light, and life as a result.
When I consider this proverb I cannot but come away from it without remembering the promise of God that we will reap what we sow. To the one who is plowing and sowing evil this comes as a warning that his ways are not good. He will eventually be led to wander and even be destroyed by his ungodly moral choices. To the one plowing and sowing good there is the confident expectation that a good crop will grow - yielding 30, 60, and 100 fold fruit to the glory of God - and to his own blessing and welfare. So the question to ask is simply this, "How are you plowing the fields of your life and future?"
Desire realized is sweet to the soul, But it is an abomination to fools to turn away from evil. Proverbs 13:19
One of the key things that will lead to a happy life is when we realize godly desires in our lives. Today's proverb gives us some very wonderful counsel when it comes to realizing the desires that will truly bless us. Let's take a look at this - because it truly is a very important principle when it comes to living a contented, happy life.
Desire realized is sweet to the soul. This easily could be misinterpreted to mean that we are to run after whatever desire rises within our hearts. We know this is not true because we know that our struggle to be godly and to please God has much to do with putting to death the desires that rise out of our flesh - and surrendering ourselves to those which are giving to us by the Holy Spirit. Also the second half of our proverb warns against the man who will not turn away from evil. Therefore we know that these "desires" have boundaries set for them to keep them from being dominated by our flesh.
If all we ever do is dream - and those dreams are not realized in any kind of fulfillment, we will be a miserable soul indeed. God made us so that we have the function of desire - and also that we would dream of things far beyond ourselves. But only a lazy man will dream alone without any kind of fulfillment of those dreams that make his heart burn within him. It is given to us to dream and desire so that we will be moved to action to see those desires fulfilled. Such desires motivate us to DO something. Often the doing is the undoing of many desires and dreams. We are unable or often unwilling to put the effort and the steadfastness into our dreams to see them become reality. Oh, but what sweetness is ours when that desire is realized. Let me illustrate in a couple of examples.
Ever mow your lawn? I dread the start of mowing my lawn. If there was not the reward of a freshly mowed and manicured lawn at the end of that process, I might never address the grass that grows around my house. But when I am finished, I love to stand and look at a lawn that looks good. There is something very sweet about that particular desire realized that seriously motivates me to take up that task. As a pastor I am constantly starting up various projects that we do as a church. There is the desire to see something done that starts the process. Then there is the nuts and bolts work of doing that particular task. Often the details and the work is where we get bogged down in this process. But as we apply ourselves as a fellowship, we are blessed with the desire realized in the end, which is sweet to all those who have given themselves to the task. This is life - and those who follow these paths from the desire stage to the accomplishment at the end know the sweetness of which Solomon speaks.
The second half of our proverb tells us that it is an abomination to fools to turn away from evil. Most projects that are undertaken are for good purposes and plans. The fool though knows nothing of this kind of lifestyle. He thinks too highly of his comfort to actually work toward a goal. The fool is both lazy and undisciplined. For him to realize a desire of his would require him to get up off of his duff and do something. He finds such things an abomination. He would much rather do his own thing - which is usually nothing. The other fact about the fool is that he loves his evil too much to allow God to guide his desires into something positive and helpful. The vast majority of his desires are in a close orbit around himself. Therefore he despises the rebuke and leading of God to break out of a self-centered orbit to explore the vast recesses of what true selflessness could accomplish. Unless he get some sort of selfish pleasure that immediately placates his own love of self - he is not interested. Therefore much of his life is spent either in a short-term immediate pleasure that leaves him empty later - or in wanting things he in no way will be disciplined enough to actually do.
Misery follows the fool wherever he goes. His life is spent wanting much for himself - but gathering realitvely little. The wise man's journey is much different thnough. He spends his life seeking the heart of Another. In seeking the heart of God he finds himself drawn into activities and dreams that both bless others as well as glorifies the One Who placed the ideas and dreams into his heart in the first place. He has the sweetness of desire realized because the One Who put them into his heart also empowers him to see them accomplished. Ah what blessedness lies in that wise path that first receives from and then relies upon God to bring about those things which glorify His great name as well as bless the heart of man.