He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Proverbs 28:13
Here is a proverb that agrees perfectly with what is said in the New Testament. We read in 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is the truth of 1 John 1:9 stated in another way. Whereas the 1 John passage states this truth in the positive only, this proverb also warns us of the consequences and danger of not dealing with our sins.
The Concealer . . . First we are told about the fate of the one who conceals his transgressions. The word "conceal" means to cover - and has the idea of a cover up. This man is hiding his transgressions (word meaning a sin or rebellion - here against God and His Law and His way). Thus the concealer is not willing to bring his sin to light before God. He therefore hides his rebellion thinking that God does not see him. This same word was used to describe how Joseph's brothers tried to hide their sin when they dipped his coat in goat's blood and brought to Jacob. There was an attempted cover up by Joseph's brothers which eventually came to light. In the same way, we are warned against covering up our sins. They will come to light - and the way this happens in by a loss of the blessing of God.
Psalm 32:5 also speaks of his particular sin of hiding and trying to cover up our sin. The Psalmist says, "I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord"; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah." When he was trying to hide his sin from God, the Psalmist had nothing but grief and pain. When he faced his sin before God he received forgiveness. Hiding our sins is not only counterproductive - it is also ridiculously foolish. We serve a God Who is omniscient. He knows all things. When Adam and Eve tried to hide in the garden - it was out of shame and rebellion. The problem for them was that God could still see them - and did even as they committed the first sin. Cain answered God rebelliously when God asked where his brother Abel was. Cain must have thought God did not see - but he did - and Abel's blood was crying out to God from the ground. Moses thought he could kill the Egyptian and hide him in the piles of grain - but God saw - as well as some other Hebrews. HEre is a fact you should always remember. We can never hide our sin from a holy, omniscient God. He truly sees all! He warns his people, "Be sure that your sins will find you out!"
Proverbs tells us that this man who is trying to conceal his sin will not prosper. Prosper is the Hebrew word "tsalach" which means to succeed or to be victorious. This word has the idea of breaking out or breaking through - and has a military aspect to it. It spoke of how an army would break through their enemies - which was a sure sign that they were about to win the battle and defeat them. Proverbs says to us is that concealing our sins is way to ensure we will NOT PROSPER. God wants us to confess and forsake our sin. When we choose rebellion and sin against God, we are in serious trouble. We are facing judgment if we do not know Christ - or discipline if we do. What we need is grace - we need God's compassion. That is exactly what Proverbs is wanting to teach us. God wants us to know how to obtain His compassion when we sin?
How do we obtain God's compassion and restoration? First, we confess our sins and rebellion. What is fascinating here is the word that God uses to describe confession. The Hebrew word is "yadah." This word means to throw towards - to cast something towards. Here it means to throw off our sin and cast it towards God. It means that we are throwing all our sin and rebellion to God - with a desire for Him to show us forgiveness and compassion. What is wild is that this same word is used for praising God - meaning that we are casting our hands up into the air and casting our praises toward God. God does not want us to try to hold our sins close to us - He wants us to cast those sins away from us and toward Him for His compassion and grace!
There is a second thing that puts us in line for God's compassion and forgiveness. Some teach that all we need to do is to confess our sins and everything is fine with God. That is partially true. There is suppose to be a second attitude present. If it is not - I do not believe the Bible says that we will receive forgiveness. That attitude or action is to forsake our sins. This word means to abandon, desert, leave behind, completely neglect and STOP. When we come to God seeking His compassion and forgiveness - we need to come with a heart that says, "Please forgive me God . . . and I also want to forsake and abandon my sin." This is the kind of heart that finds compassion and forgiveness before God.
This verse is vital in us knowing the fellowship and grace of God. It is so important for us to grasp the call of God to deal with our sins and rebellion. I honestly believe that just as 1 John 1:9 is such a blessed verse - this verse in Proverbs 28:13 is as well. Oh that we would hear this and heed it as well. It would throw open to us the door to God's grace, mercy, and compassion that we need every day of our lives.
He who pursues righteousness and loyalty Finds life, righteousness and honor. Proverbs 21:21
What are you pursuing in life? It is not unusual to hear someone say that they are pursuing a career in some field of endeavor. When we hear someone say this we know that they are puting their energies and their time into study and practice of that discipline. It means that they have a goal in front of them and that goal is what guides them in much of what they do. Thus the question begs to be asked, "What are your pursuing when it comes to spiritual things?"
God points us to wisdom by telling us that there are two things that are very worthy of pursuit when it comes to spiritual matters. These two things are righteousness and loyalty. Today we will take a closer look at what it means to pursue these two things. We will also see in the rewards that God says come to those to follow this pursuit the reason why this is exceedingly wise.
When God says to pursue these things He uses the word, "radaph." This word means to chase or to follow after closely and with great effort and energy. The idea is that one is not just to pursue - but one is to overtake these things. The mindset is that we will not be content with a life without righteousness and without loyalty. These are things we must have - and thus in our pursuit we are passionate and totally committed. This is not a hobby or just something to add to our resume. This is a hot pursuit that is pleased only with the eventual 'catching' or 'having' of these things. Nothing else will do.
We pursue righteousness - which in Hebrew is "tsedequah." This word means righteousness abstractly - but when applied to how we live our lives it speaks of moral rectitude - of a desire to have our lives measure up to a standard of right and good that is found in God and in His Word. It speaks of living a life of justice in how we relate to others and especially how we relate to the poor and unfortunate. The word refers to a moral standard that is not set according to the world and its views. The moral standard and sentiment we embrace is that which is found in the pages of Scripture. Yet the righteousness we seek is not by law. The Scriptures which speak of this righteousness say that we obtain it by faith. It is not a set of rules - it is a person - the Lord Jesus Christ. Ultimately we pursue Him for only He can transform us and make us righteous.
We also pursue loyalty. The Hebrew word used here is "chesed" which refers to more than just a loyalty. This is the word that most closely relates to the New Testament word grace. It is the word that is used to describe God's love and commitment to His covenant people. It is easily translated, "covenant-love." Paul says to us in the New Testament to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. What we are to pursue in life is the grace of God. We live by grace - and advance in life by grace. In pursuing grace - we are kind of pursuing the One who is pursuing us. We pursue love and commitment. We pursue a selflessness that is evidenced by the love of God in Christ Jesus. Kind of cool here to see that even in an Old Testament proverb we are told to pursue righteousness by faith and a God who gives us such a righteousness by His loving, selfless grace.
What will we find when we give ourselves to such a pursuit? We are told of three things. First is that we will receive life. "Chayim" is the word for life here - and it simply means life itself. We are made alive when we pursue these two wonderful things. Consider the New Testament call to us - that when we pursue Christ, Who is the ultimate source of life - the ultimate way of life - and who is the life itself - we receive eternal life. This is the life of God, Who alone is eternal. We have a quality of life that can only be received from God Himself. Second in our set of three blessings is "righteousness." This is the same word as was used earlier - and it simply means that in seeking and pursuing righteousness - we receive righteousness as a gift by faith - through the grace of God. This does not mean we attain righteousness by our own choice of lifestyle. The fact is we are given righteousness by a gift of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We are stunned to learn that when God gives us this gift - we are just as righteous as Jesus Himself - by God's wonderful gift - and as a result of that - we can be transformed to reflect that righteousness in all our ways. The third in this list of glorious benefits is honor. The word for honor here is "kavod" and it is the word God uses for glory. When we pursue the proper things - it is to the glory of God - and we receive from it the honor of His working in our hearts. What a glorious gift is ours - to receive the glory of salvation - the glory of God's righteousness - the glory of being at peace with God - the glory of His marvelous transformation of our lives. This is ours when we pursue the One Who in His mercy pursues us by grace.
Want to know what to pursue in life? Pursue God! That is the ultimate answer when all is said and done with today's proverb. It is a wise thing to pursue God - and to pursue His righteousness by His grace. This is both the ultimate pursuit in life and the ultimate prize! Oh the glories of pursuing the One Who pursues us! Oh the joy of capturing the One Who by grace captures our hearts. Pursue, dearest saints - pursue for you will find as you do - that you are gloriously pursued by the One Who loves you more than you could ever dream of being loved!
He who withholds grain, the people will curse him, But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it. Proverbs 11:26
Today's proverb is fascinating to me because it addresses an abuse that often happens in the area of economics. This abuse, though a proven way to make money, results in the inflation of prices for food. What has happened over the course of economic history is that when this is done - and it reaches a critical level in food prices - it leads to riots and in some cases the overthrow of a government.
Our proverb speaks of one who has much grain. Here is a man who has worked hard and labored to produce a crop on his farm. As a result he has a large amount of grain. He can choose to withhold grain from the people and not sell it. By doing this he will drive the price of grain up due to a scarcity of grain in the market place. This will make him very wealthy, but in time it will backfire on him. The people, who need grain, will begin to curse him because his actions are preventing them from eating - or is making it to where being able to provide food is becoming very expensive. The cost is not coming due to natural reasons such as a flood or drought or crop failure. The added cost is coming due to a man's greed. But for the man who sells his grain there will be a blessing - not just a financial one - but one from God Himself. This proverb allows us to consider the whole area of how Biblical authority addresses economic theory.
In our day it is considered a wise business move to hold on to goods until they wind up in short supply. This allows the person who has them to artificially inflate the price of what they sell so that they can make huge profits from it. Such actions eventually become accepted business practices on larger levels so that embargos are used by nations to boost the price of their domestic products. In time groups of businesses form consortiums that try to corner an entire market so that they can set the price wherever they want. The government then steps in a tries to enforce what they call "social justice." They impose restrictions on businesses so that things will be fair. The problem is that in time the government oversteps their bounds and corruption within the government (due to the sin nature in all of us) begins to crystalize. It is then that officials learn how to use their power to corner their own political markets and do the very thing they initially were trying to prevent in the public sector. The problem throughout all this is that the poor are hurt the most by such practices.
Some think wrongly that the end of all labor is to make money. But Scripture militates against that philosophy. God desires us to work hard and be diligent to make a profit - but - He also desires for us to be compassionate in the process. This sets up a very interesting tension in life and in the economic theory that governs Bible-believing Christians. At one end is the philosophy of pure Capitalism. This philosophy functions under the idea that life is about the profit motive at all times. But God warns against a "love of money" which He says is a root of all sorts of evil. At the other end is Socialism and Communism. This philosophy functions under the assumption that a government should rule over all land and production efforts. Their goal is then to take all profits and distribute them equally to all the people. Both of these extremes will fail.
Pure Capitalism will fail because greed will so rule men's hearts that they will lack compassion for others - and especially for the poor. In time their greed will consume them with a desire for more and more profit - and an insatiable desire for more and more wealth. In the process they will shut their hearts to the plight of the poor. This will lead to greater levels of abuse of the poorest - who will then curse those who have the economic power - and will ultimately lead to revolution and the overthrow of those who have the wealth and power in society.
Communism and Socialism will fail because of greed as well. Though such economic philosophies sound wonderful at the outset, they fail because of several factors. First, there is no man who is not fallen. When given the power to confiscate the wealth of a society, they will NOT distribute it equally. They will eventually treat themselves well - and let the rest of society live on the rest. This has happened in every situation when such an economic system prevails. Their goals may sound lofty, but their practices wind up eerily similar to the captialist. Second, there is no motive in this system to work. Actually there is a motive - to do what you do for the good of all others in the collective society. But this equates good as distributing things equally among all in the society. This will not work in a fallen world because over time some will sinfully decide that if they don't work hard - or at all - they will still get an equal part of the collective pie. Others who intially work hard - will be greatly discouraged that it is their hard work that is allowing the lazy, the undisciplined, and the slothful to live just as they do. In time there will be an equality - but it will be an equality of poverty and want - because no one will be motivated to work to the best of their ability. No matter how hard they work - they only get the same part of the collective's goods. These will never be enough for collective prosperity because sinfulness will move many to barely work at all - or at a level where they are forced to work.
The system God will bless is one that encourages and rewards hard work and industriousness. This is captialism - but there must be a restraint in this system as well, if it is to succeed. This is what I call "Compassionate Captialism." It is a system where the profit motive and self-interest is encouraged. But it is also a system that values compassion and kindness. Where a profit and self-interest motive might move a man to withhold grain so he can make an obscene profit - he does not do it. He is moved by the desire to serve those who buy his grain. Understanding this he chooses to sell his grain - not just for a profit - but for a profit that also allows those who are poor to be able to afford to feed their families. In the end, this man is blessed with profit - and also is blessed with the favor of God for acting with kindness and compassion toward those who can easily be taken advantage of by the system. He chooses a wise profit level rather than one driven by greed alone. This promotes peace and the welfare of all those in the market.
It is fascinating to see the wisdom of God address all areas of life. One would not readily think that the Word of God would be a good place to learn economic principles. Yet when we read and mediatate on God's Word - immeasurable benefit is gained from it. Oh, that we would not divorce academic pursuit from the queen of the sciences - theology. May God gives us wisdom to see that His perspective is best in all academic and lifestyle pusuits. Then we can be blessed - not just a religious context - but in all of life.
Good understanding produces favor, But the way of the treacherous is hard. Proverbs 13:15
Intelligence with insight and discernment is worth its weight in gold and jewels. We see the phrase "good understanding" at the beginning of this proverb today. This phrase means to have an intelligence or good sense. God did not intend for us to be ignorant. The Word of God makes it clear that we are to learn, to be educated, and to gain knowledge. Where the world has made its fatal mistake is to separate their gathering and thirst for knowledge from God and from a life given to know and please Him.
The idea behind having good understanding is ones ability to take their intelligence and use it to also manifest good sense and discernment. It is the ability to have more than just knowledge - it is the ability to gain insight from that knowledge. It is taking our knowledge and seeing it as the servant of God. Unfortunately in the past there were some in the church (not necessarily in Christ) who reacted wrongly to those who in foolish education decided that part and parcel of their education was a call to reject God. In their misguided zeal to "protect" God - they began to reject education. In our day there has been such a false separation between God and education that many believe you have to choose one or the other. Such a separation is falacious entirely. What the academic rejects is submitting his knowledge to anything or Anyone - which leads him to many foolish conclusions. What the Christian academic does is submit his study to the Word of God - which, if he will do so consistently, will lead him to even greater discoveries (and by the way - acurate ones as well).
Ultimately - and here is where the purely secular academic will howl with disapproval - the goal of life is to experience God's favor and grace. This is wholly unacceptable to the academic who rejects the Bible as ultimate truth. He sees this as a step backwards into stupidity and ignorance. But his rejection of God's favor only produces problems for him - and for those who adopt his worldview based upon purely flesly science and research. The Scriptures here state very clearly that the way of the treacherous is hard. The word treacherous is telling here. It is the Hebrew word "bagad" and it means to be traitorous, to act unfaithfully, to betray. This has at least two applications. First is the one I to which I am currently referring in this discussion of true scholars - who move past mere research to conclusions which ultimately seek the favor of God. The treachery of which they are guilty is a betrayal of their very principles of research and understanding. In cutting off any consideration of the divine - they betray their own conclusions. They demand a world without anything except what their fallen senses can detect. But such a world would be one without meaning or purpose. Thus their very science which seeks to make sense out of the world and its workings - is passionately pursuing of a moot point. There is no meaning - there are no morals - there is no purpose in a world that is based on an amoral starting point. You cannot begin with amorality - and come to a conclusion of any moral reasoning.
This is why the way of the treacherous is hard. Rejecting God, rejecting truth, rejecting the biblical worldview - is hard. In the end you are left with a machine that has no purpose nor meaning that crushes the life out of those who are desperately wanting their philosophical nothingless void to whisper that there is something to live for in life. Though they may never admit it in their lifetime - their pursuit of a nothing that means something will laugh at them in the end - showing that their lifetime has been spent tilting at philosophical windmills. Even worse - they will give the philosophical underpinnings that will give rise to the most monstrous of men. Germany rejected God - and rejected truth in the early 20th century in what they thought was a freedom from the mentally constipated constructs of Christian theology which they felt constricted science and philosophical thought. The step-child of their philosophy rose to power amidst the Third Reich - and Hitler arose as the one who would take their atheistic, evolution-driven understanding and put it to a use that would horrify the ages. His actions that sought a super-race - free from the restraints of human kindness and consideration - gave us the genocide of the Jews in his generation. Yet he was only following the treacherous path laid for him by those who asserted that a worldview based on the survival of the fittest. He was only taking their philosophical treachery and drawing conclusions that make sense in that system. In the end the way is hard for the treacherous.
There is a second kind of treachery - one that exists in the church itself. It is the treachery of hypocrisy within our hearts. This is where our so-called Bible understanding short-circuits and does not lead us to valid discernment of sin and righteousness. This is where we have a disconnect with the truth. We choose NOT to follow the Word - nor the conclusions that should be drawn from it. We choose NOT to walk in obedience - or to reject an action because the Scriptures clearly show it to be sin. Thus we become treacherous in how we either know the Word or how we should apply it. Once again the conclusion of this matter is that the way of the treacherous one is hard. Sin, regardless of who commits it, is going to be hard. There are going to be stumbling blocks - consequences - and difficulties that will not go away simply because we claim to be Christians. The Word stands - we can either follow it and walk in a way that will be blessed - or go the way of the transgressor, which the Bible also tells us, is hard.
The wise man is the one who grasps that God is truly God - and that His Word IS truth. Knowing this he is armed with what I would call "advanced" information about this world. It is information given to us - indeed revealed to us - from an Infinite Intelligence. If we learn to follow it - and know that stepping outside of its philosophical and moral constructs will only bring difficulty - we will be blessed - even favored if you will accept it. But to do so requires us to also accept the Author's worldview of man - that of a fallen one who has rebelled and turned from the right way to follow his own base nature. It requires us to see that the purpose of all things does not find its apex in man - but in God. Unfortunately for many academics - and religious hypocrites - that is the most odious step to take.
The king's wrath is like the roaring of a lion, But his favor is like dew on the grass. Proverbs 19:12
In the days of kings who had absolute power - it was not a wise thing to make the king angry. Even in today's world it is not wise to make the chief executive in any situation angry enough to have "wrath."
The proverb warns us that the wrath of the king is like the roaring of a lion. A roaring lion is rather intimidating - and tends to make most other animals in the wild freeze with fear. Someone who makes the king rise to wrath is someone who probably did not have enough respect for him in the first place. When we think biblically about a king's wrath - we should go to the book of Esther. There we watch a man fall from the king's closest association - to having a death sentence pronounced upon him. Haman's sin was that of believing his own press a little too much. He was raised up to be the king's most trusted advisor - but used his position and power to carry out a vendetta against a man who did not stroke his ego like he wanted. Haman bristled when Modecai, Esther's adoptive father, would not bow in reverence to him. Without thinking about anything other than his own wounded pride, he vowed within himself to destroy both Haman and his people, the Jewish nation. He did not think enough, because had he done his homework, he would have learned that Esther the queen was in that group he wanted slaughtered. Focused on himself - and blind to anything other than his own pride - he forged ahead with his plan to bring death on the Jews.
In the end, Haman's plan brought death to himself and all others who had a vendetta against God's people. His last act of begging for mercy at the couch of queen Esther so enraged the king that Haman's head was covered in a black bag, in preparation for his hanging. His risked the wrath of two kings - both Ahasuerus on earth - and God the King of heaven and earth. Ahasuerus rendered his judgment on earth - but only did so because God worked sovereignly to bring information to bear on the situation in perfect timing.
The other side of this proverb is that the favor of the king is like the dew. The dew is a wonderful daily manifestation of nutrient-filled water that comes as a result of condensation that happens every evening as cold meets hot in the atmosphere. It causes a plant to thrive and grow. So having the king's favor is a means of us growing and thriving as well. This is true on earth - but has its greatest application with the God of heaven. That favor comes through the gospel of Jesus Christ - which brings God's favor upon us. When we know God's favor through the gospel - we have his daily blessing of dew - as His glory meets our need - as His power fills us and gives us all that we need to overcome sin and grow.
Wisdom knows not to agravate the king - but to know his favor through loving and obeying Him. That same wisdom will also guide us to seek God's favor through the gospel of His grace - so His favor will rest upon us. What an awesome thing though to grasp fully that His favor is given due to Christ's accomplishments - and never due to our own.
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, But humility goes
before honor. Proverbs 18:12
Humility is the thing - therefore embrace humility! When you are not humble, you are headed for trouble - for afflication, for a fracture or a breach in some way. God says that He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble in the book of James. Here that truth is reiterated - just in a little more terrifying way.
When a man's heart is haughty - bad things are going to happen. The word "haughty" here is the Hebew word "gabah" which means to be high, exalted, or arrogant. This word is used of thing like a high tree or vine - but it is also used of Almighty God. Here it does not have the meaning of arrogant - but simply someone high and exalted - and rightly so. But when a man takes on this attitude and this demeanor, he is headed for trouble.
God says that right before destruction comes upon a man his heart is this way - haughty and lifted up - full of himself. Such a heart condition does not mean that he is right on the verge of destruction. That would be a misinterpretation of this proverb. What it is saying is that right before God brings destruction upon a man - he will be haughty. Consider the king, Belshazzar from Babylonian times. He was very arrogant - so arrogant that during a big party he had the cups and bowls brought in from God's Temple - and he and his party guests drank their wine out of them. As they did, they praised the God's of silver and gold. This was about as arrogant as someone could get. But Belshazzar did not know that this would be the last banquet he would ever hold. It would be the last party he would ever host. That night a hand from God came and wrote on the wall of the room where he was having his wicked shindig. The message on that wall told him that in the midst of his arrogance God had rendered final judgment upon him. He had been put in the balances of God's justice and righteousness - and had been found wanting. Because of his arrogance and pride he was going to have his kingdom handed over the Medes and the Persians. Suddenly Belshazzar's arrogance was confronted - but not with opportunity for repentance. He was confronted with destruction. That night his defenses were breached, his captiol city captured, and he himself was slain in the onslaught that ensued. He had nothing with which to defend himself. All he had was his last moments of arrogance and pride - oh, and terror as the breech came.
Reject haughtiness and thinking highly of yourself. It is a trap of monumental proportion. It was the sin for which the devil himself was judged when he was the annointed angerl that led the praises of heaven itself. This sin is deadly above all others - therefore utterly abandon it and embrace god-honoring humility instead. This proverb does tell us that before honor - there is humility. Since I am writing this a week before Christmas, I will use the ultimate example of humility to illustrate this truth. Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. He has ever been with the Father and the Spirit and is God of very God. As such He actually deserves the praise of all creation for all eternity. Yet He chose to obey His Father and be born as a baby in Bethlehem. He left the glories of heaven and took on the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. He became the God-man. As such He humbled Himself infinitely. He did not demand honor and glory and praise - which we all due Him. He chose instead a path of obedience, humility, and eventually humiliation as He bore the sin of the world on the cross of Calvary. Being found in form as a man he humbled Himself and became obedient unto death - even that awful death on the cross. Here is someone who deserves honor and respect - praise and adoration - yet He chooses humility. As a result we read in latter verses in Philippians 2
the following words - also a fulfillment of this very proverb.
"For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11
There it is in what God did through and for His Son. Jesus chose to humble Himself - and before the honor God gave Him - was that marvellous attitude and practice of humility. God raised Jesus from the lowest place to the highest! God will honor those who embrace obedient humility to Him. Therefore wisdom is this . . . it is embracing humility and obedience to God in all that we do. That is the very best way of knowing that God will honor you in due time - as you continue to embrace a self-effacing, god-glorifying, Christlike humility and obedience to Him.
"By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice. "By me princes rule, and nobles, All who judge rightly. Proverbs 8:15-16
Wisdom is the thing that rulers need more than anything else. That is what we get when we read today's proverb of the day. In the midst of speaking of all the things that wisdom does for us - God includes that it is by wisdom that kings reign and rulers do what is right. What is interesting about this passage is that it assumes that a king or ruler will do what is right. That is not exactly an assumption that we share today.
Any authority that a king, ruler, prince, or noble has is what is called "derived" authority. They do not get their authority inherently, but receive it from God when they become a leader. This is something that is so important for us to remember. In years gone by kings would speak of how they rule by divine right. This was because the Scriptures teach us that there is no authority except from God - and all the authorities in this world are where they are only because God allows it. Unfortunately, the kings who said this said it because they wanted an absolute authority by which they could command their subjects to be submissive to them. They could have cared less about their people - what was important to them was their power.
God, though, sees things differently. It is by God's wisdom that kings and rulers should decide issues of justice. It it by God's wisdom that princes and nobles decree justice. Thus, in the end, the authority that God gives to a ruler is to be used to ensure that justice and righteousness reign in that society. In the end, God makes it clear that all the authority that these rulers have - is to be used to decree justice - and to judge rightly. what a different way of thinking - and yet it is not foreign to those of us who study the Scriptures. All throughout the Bible we see that ever since the fall of man the world has been turned upside down. Mankind thinks all things are about man - but the reality is that all things are about God and His glory. When we turn from that - and have rulers who do not decree justice and do not live for God's righteousness - we have a mess.
God desires to have all human leaders filled with His wisdom and understanding. He desires for them to make just and righteous decisions. That means He desires for them to rule according to His righteousness - and to establish His law in the hearts of men. He calls them to "judge rightly," and when He says this, He means that they judge according to His ways and according to His Word.
Wisdom tells us that when a king rules as he ought to, he does so according to wisdom. When a ruler or a prince does what he should in governmental affairs - he is doing it God's way. I realize that if we were to say that today - many would have a stroke and would cry out that this is contrary to the separation of church and state that is in the constitution. But then again that would just reveal their ignorance first, because no such separation exists in the actual constitution, and it would reveal their spiritual ignorance second, because THE ONE THING that we must have as a nation is God's favor. A ruler who wants to rule by his own thinking and his own wisdom is not going to have the favor of God on his life - and by that fact - we won't have the favor of God upon our nation. That is why for me - one thing I look for in a leader is whether he is willing to speak positively about the Bible - and whether he looks to it for wisdom in leading our city, state, or nation.
Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is good will. Proverbs 14:9
How a person views and deals with sin determines whether they are wise or they are foolish. Here we have Solomon teaching us the important lesson that how a man views the whole concept and reality of sin is vitally important. If we miss this - and decide how a person sees sin is not really important to us - we will find ourselves in the company of those who are fools. We will find ourselves allowing those who think sin does not even exist - be those who counsel us as to how we should have a sound mind.
The fact that we are bypassing this issue - especially when it comes to our worldview - is wreaking havoc on the church. Let me explain for a moment, because this issue is absolutely vital to us today. How a man views sin will ultimately either bless or corrupt everything he does. Most philosophies actually reject the idea of sin. They see our problem as a lack of education - or a lack of opportunity for people. Some even see the problem as believing that there is truth upon which we define and state whether actions and choices are sinful or not. They reject the very idea of sin - and consider guilt as a root problem for all people. The way they deal with this is to make truth an issue of individuality. Your truth is your truth - and you are free to live however you want based on what you consider to be true. Thus, if your truth states that there is no sin - that guilt is a bad thing - then that is true for you. This denial of sin goes further because it asserts that no one has the right to call your truth falsehood. You can imagine the problems this makes for a society in which everyone is a free agent, determining what is right or wrong for themselves. Actually it is not much different from the book of Judges where there was no God and every man did what was right in his own eyes. In this kind of society rules are constantly shifting like blowing sand. The end of this is a state in which a growing ungodliness and lawlessness begins to take root. By the way - this eventually leads to a culture of corruption and violence that is out of control. The people begin calling for someone to rise up and restore order - which in turn gives rise to a dictator who then re-establishes "order" according to "his rules." If you would like to know when this has happened in history, take a look at the Weimar Republic - which gave rise to Hitler's Germany. It has also happened in numerous examples of dictatorships of every stripe.
Mankind is best ruled by God's law established in their hearts by the work of His grace. But until men come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ - it is so necessary for a Law to be established because of the wickedness of man's fallen heart. Here we see why it is so important to define sin - and define it according to God's Word. If God has revealed Himself in the Bible, then we know how to define righteousness - truth - and what is and what is not sin. This becomes the bedrock of laws that are established in a nation. But the best thing - which our founders realized - is that men's hearts be ruled according to God's law. Our founders knew this - and thus were pinning their hopes on a heart initially ruled by God's 10 commandments. This set of God's laws would restrain so much sin and ungodly behavior - that then a society could be ruled by fewer laws. But where there is no law - there is no sin. Since our nation has rejected the 10 commandments as an illegal document by which to rule our nation, then we are left to the shifting sands of public opinion and man's evil heart to govern us. Is it any wonder that our laws continue to degrade - allowing just about any conduct to be considered legal - but not just legal - acceptable. In the end the Bible tells us where this will go - as men call good evil and evil good. Watch closely, dear saints, as more and more Biblical positions will be considered illegal by those who mock at sin. But there is even a greater evil that is foisted upon us by mocking at sin.
When sin is mocked - when the whole idea of guilt is abandoned - then there is no real reason for a Savior. The second half of this proverb states that among the upright there is "good will." The word used here for "good will" means "the favor of God." When the concept of sin is rejected by the philosophies of this present world - then there is no need for any kind of redemption from it. If we are not guilty of anything before God, then it seems pretty arrogant of God to call for the death of His only Son to pay for . . . "nothing." Follow where your philosophy ultimately leads you. If you mock at and deny guilt and sin - and this is where it leads. That is why we have modern day preachers in the church calling the death of Christ, "divine child abuse."
Without sin and guilt - there is actually no wrong behavior. But a corollary to this doctrine is that without wrong behavior - neither is there any real "upright" behavior either. All things become neutral - and the matter of individual hearts. You have no business in that society stating your view on anything. To do so is to risk the danger of being called "judgmental." The problem is that there IS WRONG BEHAVIOR! We all know it in our conscience. The only way to rid ourselves of this is to sear our conscience as with a hot iron.
The fact is that there is sin - whether men mock it or not. There is a guilt that comes with breaking God's Law. That guilt and that offense is real - and it poses a serious problem. According to God's Word, sin and guilt require accountability and punishment. There is an earthly punishment meted out by men in the governmental sphere (Romans 13
) - but the real problem is the divine retribution for rebellion and sin. The good will - i.e. grace - that the upright know is one given not by works, but by grace through faith. God has provided the way through Jesus Christ - His death, burial, and resurrection. That is given as a gift to those who respond when God grants knowledge and conviction of sin, repentance, and faith to the sinner through the gospel. When we look at the amazing thing God has done for us - and His infinite mercy in granting it to us - we have to come to the same conclusion that our proverb states to us today. Only a fool would disdain this grace . . . only a fool would disregard the wonderful work of God's conviction by the Spirit . . . and mock sin. By doing so, he also mocks the grace that is freely given to those made upright by it. He mocks the gospel.
Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her. Proverbs 4:8
As we are getting wisdom and understanding it would benefit us to know why we should prize it so highly. That is what this wise father does next as he is seeking to teach his childern. He does so by personifying wisdom as a lady who will begin showing those who value her with wonderful things. There are several things he tells his son in this way - pictures that he will not forget.
Prize her . . . this is the first thing he is told to do. The idea here is that this young man should lift up and exalt wisdom. He should give wisdom and understanding a marvelous reputation and worth. A smart man highly values and exalts the wisdom of God in his life. He puts a premium upon it - and makes obtaining it a priority. The son is told that if he does this - Wisdom will exalt him. Wisdom will lift you up - will grow you - will promote you and cause you to be raised up in position and in your place in life. Here is a wonderful benefit of wisdom. People might not value a person of wisdom initially - but in time wisdom reveals itself in what it does and how it blesses. When a man has wisdom to see the right thing to do - and understanding so that he can practically carry out what needs to be done in order to secure the blessings - he becomes incredibly valuable to those who are around him. Far too many bad things happen in life because people follow the advice of fools. So when a man truly wise and understanding comes around - he is noticed and he is desired.
Embrace her . . . this is the next attitude we need to have toward wisdom and understanding. When you embrace someone you are showing affection and affirmation. To embrace wisdom means not having it at an arm's distance. We pull wisdom and understanding close. We want it and we love it. When we do this wisdom, we are told, will honor us. The word for honor here means to be heavy and the idea behind the word is something that carries weight. This is the same word that elsewhere is used for the glory of God. If we will embrace wisdom, she will honor us. She will give our words and ideas weight to those around us. To use a modern phrase - we won't be lightweights in the world of ideas.
When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7You mean to say that if my ways please God, I will never have an enemy? That is how too many people view this proverb. But the proverb itself assumes that we will have enemies when we are walking with the Lord. Then what does this proverb mean - and how can we know when God has done this on our behalf.
This passage teaches us that when our ways are pleasing to God that God does some wonderful things in our lives. He takes those who are our enemies and makes them to be at peace with us. It does not mean that we don't have enemies, it means that they are at peace with us instead of warring or seeking to destroy us. They may still be our enemy, but they will choose peace rather than to be in open conflict with us.
The stories of this are many in our society. J. Vernon McGee speaks of a man who hated him, but who was heard saying to others, "I hate the man, but he preaches the Word of God." That kind of thing is what this proverb is saying to us. The world will continue to hate us - but due to our lives being pleasing to God, they will see godly character in our lives. I know of situations where the ungodly came to the aid of believers not because they agreed with our theology or teaching, but simply because they knew the character of the person and vouched for them.
Let me take a moment here and say something about what this points to in the human condition. Why would the world be at peace with us when we choose God's ways? In fact, why should God's ways even be viewed positively? Ever wonder why our world values things like peace and joy and what we call good character? Think about it for a moment. Why, if we are supposed to be the result of survival of the fittest, do we not value a more cut throat kind of existance? Why would we value the weakest - and embrace values that would allow others to take advantage of us? Why shouldn't we value the thief and the one who crushes all others on his climb to the top? These should be things we value and admire if we are simply a process of evolutionary processes. Why shouldn't we admire Adolf Hitler and even thank him for trying to get rid of the more errant DNA in our worldwide gene pool? The truth is that we don't admire these things - we consider them evil and wrong - even among the most ardent evolutionists. Even thsoe who live this way have mighty struggles with their own behavior - somehow just knowing deep within themselves that they are not living right. But I want to ask this incredibly important question, "Who told them this?" The answer, though the world hates it, is in the Bible itself. Romans 2 speaks of the way that our conscience works in either approving and condemning our actions and attitudes. This is the mark of God in our world. It is the hidden proof that we are His workmanship - we are His creation. His original design - though badly marred by sin - still is written on our hearts. We may try to sear it from our memories and ignore it in our actions, but it still remains deeply written within us. When the ungodly are at peace with us due to our choice to act on God's character-transforming Word - it is only a testimony to this very spiritual DNA that is a remnant of His creative work before the fall.
God does not promise we won't have enemies. In fact just the opposite is told to us. If we desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, we will suffer persecution. Jesus faced enemies that desired and conspired to put Him to death. To say that God promises a carte blanche freedom from having enemies is to say that Jesus did not please the Father - and evidently His ways were not pleasing to God. Nothing could be further from the truth. God does not promise freedom from enemies - He promises that when we do have them - He will choose to even make our enemies to be at peace with us. This is why we should choose the wisdom of God's ways and walk in them. There is a desirable-ness in how we live. There is an honesty - a joy - a freedom - a peace that will make even our enemies say good things about us. When this happens, we can know that God in His grace has worked in our lives - taking even those who oppose us - and making them testify of His grace that works in us when our ways are pleasing to Him.