He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue. Proverbs 28:23
Which would you rather receive - a compliment or a rebuke? Even though many of us would chose the first - it is actually a better thing to get the second. Today we will look at the value of a godly, loving rebuke - or honestly - even a not so godly rebuke from someone who is frustrated with us.
My original question was not exactly what this proverb addresses. The compliment offered is actually called, 'flattery' rather than just a compliment. Flattery, by its Hebrew definition, is very seldom true. The one offering the flattery usually has an ulterior motive for offering it. They do not have your best interests in mind. What makes this difficult for me, though, is that I usually agree with people who think I'm awesome. My fallen heart wants people to make much of me. Thus it is very easy to deceive me with complimentary flattery. What I've learned though is that this is not good for me - because I don't learn to address sinful patterns of behavior that hinder me from loving others better.
Someone who offers rebuke is much harder to receive. The problem with receiving rebuke is once again my sinfulness. I will resist the thought that I am not awesome. I am perfectly fine with hearing other people rebuked - or even offering rebuke myself. They do have problems. In fact, often it is their problems that led to someone thinking I need to be rebuked. It is there fault, after all, that I have any problems whatsoever. What you have in these last goofy sentences is the affect of the sinful nature. We want to absolve ourselves of any responsibility for the things we do that are sinful - and prefer blaming others for them. Biblical reality looks much different. We are selfish and self-centered by nature. That leads to choices that are sinful - and that will lead to problems in our lives.
It is better to have someone in your life who will offer rebuke - than to have 50 who offer sycophantic flattery that only blinds you further to your moral and relational blind spots. The rebuke is a blessing in several ways. First, the rebuke helps us to see a sinful pattern or action. Second, as that sin is revealed, it helps me to turn to God in repentance and for forgiveness. Third, it puts me in a place where I want God's grace and truth in my life. The rebuke may hurt at first, but in the end it is far better for me because it helps me to grow spiritually and morally. The wise man learns to receive rebuke not only because of the benefit, but also because of how it identifies true friends. Those who only condone and put up with our sin are not really our friends. A true friend is someone who will tell us the truth lovingly - even if saying it may hurt us - and even our friendship in the short term. But if you have such a friend, thank them for such things, because they are truly interested in your best - and in God's best being realized in your life.
The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and each is tested by the praise accorded him. Proverbs 27:21
One of the wisest things ever said to me was said by a Australian professor at the seminary that I attended in Memphis, Tennessee. He told us that the most difficult test we will ever have in life is to experience praise and success. That will test you in ways you are not ready to handle - unless you have truly embraced the humility of Christ in your life. Today's proverb tell us the same thing - that we will be tested by the praise that is given to us.
The picture that is painted for us is that of a crucible and a furnace. These two things are used to refine silver and gold. The process begins with the base ore being put into the crucible. As the heat increases the valuable metal sinks into the crucible, while the junk rises to the top. The one refining the ore scraps the slag from the top of the crucible. Over time more impurities come to the top - and each time they are scraped off revealing purer and purer silver or gold. So the picture that is painted for us is that of a purifying process brought on by heat and stress on the metal.
In a similar way, we are tested when praise and success comes our way. We are faced with a choice when this happens. We can either believe our own press and think we really are awesome - or - we can be realistic about things and know that any goodness in us is solely due to God's grace and goodness. The opposite of this response is pride. We begin to take pride in ourselves and our accomplishments. We have the audacity to think we are the cause and the wisdom of our own works. Yet any good thing seen in us is the grace of God at work.
I've watched this process in the my own life and in the lives of others. Nothing tests us like praise that comes our way. I watched a very successful church that was praised begin to think they deserved the praise for what they were going. It was a trerrifying thing to watch God first remove His presence from the church - and then begin to discipline the church for their arrogance and pride. The moment we think that anything but God's grace is responsible for our success and praise, in that moment we have miserably failed the test.
A wise man knows that his first response to praise should be one of two things. Either he expresses gratefulness to the one who had praised him - or he immediately deflects the praise offered to God Who is truly responsible for what has happened. Let us therefore be wise and immediately take any praise given to us - and give it to God. May we realize that truly any good seen in us is a result of the grace and mercy of God. That is the way to pass the test of praise offered to us.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22
"It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him." These were the words of God in the garden before the Lord made Eve. This is why it is a good thing - and by the way, a God thing, that a man get married and find a wife. When he finds one - he has found a good thing - and has obtained favor from God. What I find interesting though about this proverb is that it does not say, "He who finds a good wife finds a good thing." Many would like for this passage to say this - but it does not. Let's look at this then for a few moments today to obtain wisdom on the favor God gives us when giving us a wife.
The Hebrew word for "finds" in this opening sentence is "masa" which means not just to find, but also to obtain. The word means mor than just stumbling upon something. The idea of finding here means that someone is searching for something. In this case what the man is searching for is a wife from the Lord. That is the key here. When he obtains one - it is a very good thing he has gotten. Think about the kind of wife God would have us have - especially if we find one that is according to wisdom. This woman would be of the Proverbs 31
kind - she would be a godly woman - and one who delights in her biblical role. This is why finding her is a good thing! Since good here means something beneficial - something that makes us happy, glad, and joyful - this is a lady that came to us from God as His provision for a wife.
When I consider this favor from God (Which is what we learn this lady is to her husband) I think of the way that one of my sons went about seeking a wife from God. The first thing he did was learn how to be satisfied with God - and with seeking God's ultimate purpose and plan for his life. As he did this, he learned not only about the gospel - but about the kind of woman God wanted to give him. He searched out the Scriptures to learn what kind of woman that God wanted for him, knowing that God's will would be the very best for him. In time he had a list of character traits he desired in a wife - and had also learned a list of character traits that God wanted him to have as a husband and father. As he sought the Lord for the grace to become this kind of man - he also sought Him for grace to be joined to this kind of woman. He is married now - and I can tell you that when you do things God's ways - God blesses wonderfully. I could not have hand picked a more godly, wonderful lady than the one that God gave to him. Watching the two of them walk together through life is one of my greatest joys.
But before I leave this proverb, I think I also need to address the other end of this blessing as well. Some marry in a way that is not so wise. They may read this proverb and decide that they were not blessed in having a wife. They may see their wife as a curse rather than a blessing. But, contrary to what they think, this lady in their life is a blessing from God. There may have to be some discipline - and some character development - but the fact that this woman is a blessing is nonetheless a fact.
A wife is a blessing in that she rescues us from being selfish and self-centered. A wife is a blessing in that her femininity helps to break off the harsh edges of masculinity that need work. A wife is a blessing in that she is a provision for our sexual needs - so that we will not turn to pornography or to fornication. A wife is a blessing in that she is there to be a companion in our journey through life. Whether you fully access these blessings and many more may not be nearly as much a problem with her as it is a problem with you! We are so quick to adopt the view of the world and "blame the old lady." But God gave you your wife so that by your example and your choice you would lead her. When you do not - things don't work so well. So a wife is also a barometer of your walk with God. If you are living selflessly and for the will of God, you will most likely have a happy wife and a good marriage. But if you want a woman to be at your beckon-call and to do and be for you everything you want . . . well, you didn't want a wife - you wanted a slave. God meant to give you a wife - and that is for your benefit . . . and your sanctification and maturity. This is why no matter what kind of wife you received from God - she is a good thing - and you have received favor. You may just need to have your eyes opened so that you can see her that way. And I can promise you by the Word of the Lord - that if your eyes are opened to see this beautiful lady God has given you the way you should - you will see her as His glorious blessing to you!
The king's favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, But his anger is toward him who acts shamefully. Proverbs 14:35
Anyone who has ever worked knows the difference between receiving the favor of your boss versus receiving an angry rebuke or tirade. Today's proverb reminds us that when we serve others - especially a king or person in high authority - it is good to be prudent in how we perform our duties.
The king will show favor to a servant who acts wisely. The word for "wisely" here is the Hebrew word, "sakal" which has as its root meaning to act with prudence. One who acts wisely takes time to consider his actions. He ponders what the consequences are for a word that he speaks or an action that he takes. He wants to understand and have insight into what he does. Any leader loves having such a servant or employee. They are not quick to rush into things and as a result make fewer mistakes. They are good employees because they honestly think of the good of the company - and are prone to being selfless toward others.
The king or boss in a situation will react with angrer though toward someone who acts shamefully. The idea behind this word is to cause shame or disgrace. Leaders know that when someone is not thinking and not pondering their choices - they will inevitably walk into a lot of problems. These particular problems are enough to shame a boss - or disgrace a king. It should not shock us therefore to learn that the king or boss reacts with wrath against this one. They are not only falling down on the job - but they are failing in a way that is bringing shame and disgrace on the business.
The foolish man acts without taking time to think about what is about to do. He has even less knowledge of the potential consequences for what he is doing. He does not want any restraint upon himself. The wise man looks things over and is careful to make a decision consistent with what is best for his authorities. That is why the king shows him such favor.
He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, But he who seeks evil, evil will come to him. Proverbs 11:27
What you seek will eventually be seeking you. That is the wisdom that Solomon is seeking to give to his children - and God is seeking to give to His. We have a fairly general statement made here about this - nevertheless it is still wise to hear it.
The words good and evil are the usual words that we see in Scripture. The word "good" means something beneficial, well-pleasing to God, fruitful, morally correct, proper or convenient. The word "evil" meaning something bad in a moral and ehtical sense. The final arbiter of whether something is in either category is God and His Word.
What brings a distinction to this is the use of the word "seeks." In this passage each time it is used - it is a different Hebrew word - and that helps us to see what is going on in this passage itself. The first time this word is used it is used to speak of diligently seeking good. The word here is "shachar" in the Hebrew and it means to inquire after something or someone. Here what the person is iquiring about is what is good. This is a passionate search to know and to walk in what is good. The second time the word is used it is the Hebrew word "baqas." This means to seek something so that you can obtain it. When these two words are put together they communicate something very important to us. The wise man is the one who diligently inquires of God what is good. He wants to understand what is morally right and good - what is beneficial to others and to himself. But he or she inquires (seeks) it because he or she wants to obtain favor from God. Thus the seeking (inquiring - questioning - study - longing for knowledge) is so that they can please God and obtain His favor. There is another aspect of this that simply means by inqiring what is good morally - they also will obtain favor with others as they watch their selflessness and willingness to give of themselves.
The last time the word "seeks" is used - it is used in the context of seeking evil. The Hebrew word here is "darash" which means to seek after something by frequently going after it. It has the idea of treading a path again and again. It speaks of someone who is seeking after something by going somewhere often. Thus the idea here is that the one who is seeking evil - is choosing to tread a path to it again and again in their lives. We are told that those who do such things, evil will come to them.
King Saul is an example for us of someone who did this. Although Saul started out well - he began to seek out evil by not obeying the Lord. He tried to obey God - his way. He did not carry out God's wrath against Amalek. He decided to keep what he thought was good and use it to serve God. He did not honor God's way of sacrificing to Him. When Samuel did not come in an allotted time - Saul did God's will his way. He made the sacrifice. This led to a pathway to evil for King Saul. As he walked this path again and again it became easier to disobey than obey. His walk with God deteriorated. He soon found it easier to follow his own flesh than respond to the Spirit's leading. In time evil came to him - and he followed it. His life is a reminder that we need to seek to know and do good - rather than frequent the path to evil. What we seek is what will eventually come to us. Seek evil and evil will be ready to lead you any time you need direction. Seek good - both to know what it is and then to own it by having a heart that seeks good - and favor from God and from others will be granted to you.
“For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord.“ Proverbs 8:35
Wisdom is the One we should seek in life. It is not just information - but a person. God wants us to have a relationship with Him - not just a reading habit with a book. Wisdom calls us to know God - to find life by knowing God - and to obtain favor from Him. Oh, how we need to see that what we are being called to by Wisdom is a relationship with Almighty God. This is not merely religion - nor is it s body of material that we are to learn - like Biology or Physics. This is the living God calling us into relationship with Himself. It is God telling us the way of life and the way of obtaining His favor. The idea of favor is one that overflows with the idea of relationship. We obtain favor - so that we can grow in intimacy.
More amazing to me is what I read in 1 Corinthians chapter one. I read that God has made Someone Wisdom unto me. Not just wisdom - but also sanctification and redemption. The One Who is all these things to me . . . Jesus Christ. Thus we have a call both in 1 Corinthians 1 and in Proverbs 8 that knowing wisdom is knowing Christ - for a truly wise man will turn to Jesus Christ. We find that when we do this - when we embrace God's wisdom - we will also embrace the life and favor that God offers to us through the gospel.
If you will - let me connect a few dots - and maybe answer a few questions as well. What we have seen in Proverbs 8 is that God made wisdom - so that He could communicate Himself to us. Then God embarked on creating this world that we see. What Proverbs 8 has shown us again and again is that God's wisdom is in perfect sync with what we actually see in biblical creation. Wisdom reminds us numerous times that this world did not evolve into higher and higher organisms - culminating in man - and with promise of even a more wonderful evolution into something higher than man. God spoke this world into existence by the power of His Word. Thus, what we see is that the heavens (if seen in a biblical worldview) are declaring the glory of God. The earth and all its works are also resounding with praise for their Creator. Men, though, deafen themselves to this glorious song by providing themselves with pseudo-scientific myths about a creation making itself. If we would listen to wisdom - we would find life - and come to a place where we have favor with God. Now, let me start connecting dots. Wisdom is manifest by the glories of God seen in creation. If we would listen to creation and hear her song correctly - creation would point us to the creator - God. If we would follow this path - we would come to the Word of God to learn more about God. More wisdom would be given to us - eventually pointing us to the reason God gave His Word - to reveal what He has done to provide salvation through Jesus Christ - to His own glory. Wisdom would then even further counsel us to repent and believe - putting our faith in Jesus Christ - who was crucified for our sins - Who died, and Who resurrected the third day - all to pay for our sins and offer a way for us to be made right with God. Thus, in the end, we would find wisdom speaking through creation to lead us to Christ - so that we might be declared righteous through faith. This would then give us favor with God and life when we would be born again through Jesus Christ.
I have some who ask me about the heathen who do not have a testimony of God - or who do not hear the gospel. Would God send them to hell and judge them - even if they have not heard. The problem is not with God - but with the fallacy of the question. They have heard! Wisdom shouts out about Who God is through creation. Every day and night the heavens and the earth are declaring to us a message about a glorious God. But men reject that message. Romans 1:18-23 says, " For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures."
Here is Proverbs 8 right before our eyes. God is speaking within men by conscience - and all around men by His creation. God's invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature have been CLEARLY SEEN through creation itself. When men reject the wisdom that is available to them through creation - they have no excuse before God. They choose to ignore the wisdom of God - and instead choose not to honor God as God - they choose not to give thanks to God. They choose instead to make gods for themselves - either in their own image - or by making God a bird, or some other kind of animal. They even say God is a bug of some sort. Having rejected God's wisdom - and His very person - they have made a much more manageable god - one they can control - and one who will be far more understanding of their wickedness and sin. Thus they are under God's wrath. They rejected wisdom - thus they reject the revelation of God in nature. This rejection therefore leads them to making their own god - and rejecting the true and living God. What we have in Romans 1 is a re-write of Proverbs 8. What we need to do in response is to return to the Word of God - which will return us to God. That will be handled by bringing us to Christ, Who is the wisdom of God - as well as our salvation through being our righteousness and our redemption. Hmmm . . . the gospel right here before our eyes - in Proverbs 8
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.