Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. Proverbs 31:25
As we look at the excellent wife, we now turn to inner qualities in her life. These are discussed in verses 25-28 and once again represent a godly woman who takes her role seriously before God, before her family, and before the outside world around her. In verse 25 three things characterize the inner qualities of this godly wife.
First, she is a woman of strength. Keil and Delitzsch say this about the word strength here. "She is clothed with strength, which is the power over the changes of temporal circumstances, which easily shatter and bring to ruin a household resting on less solid foundations." Hers is an inner strength derived from a relationship with God - and from the Scriptures which guide those who know Him. Just as she would clothe herself daily with outward dress - she also turns each day to God for the inner strength she will need to face the world and love those in her family. When I think of what strength she functions from, Ephesians 6:10 comes to mind. "Be strong in The Lord and in the strength of His might." Any lady who has run a home knows that Keil and Delitzsch's comments are very true. The average home faces changing circumstances - especially when it comes to the people who live in it. The godly wife is a rock to her family - in that she faces the problems they face with the wisdom of God. The throes of a child's life - especially in the Junior and Senior High years are a roller-coaster of emotions, highs and lows, and wrestlings with the world seeking to influence them negatively. She faces every battle - every situation - every new trial with strength.
Secondly, we see that she faces these things with "dignity." The word here is "glory" which here points to a mindset that thinks above that which is low, little, or common. She does not look to life as just getting by or living for the things of this world. She thinks higher than that. She is clothed with a mind and a heart that reaches higher - that desires a life that glorifies God. Some live aspiring to no glory at all. They live in the mundane and think that is all that they will be able to do. But a godly woman knows that God wants to work in those around her - and she cooperates, knowing that in doing so a touch of glory will be on the lives of those around her as a result. She is both dignified - and lives with a dignity that has others look up to her.
Because of these things the godly wife smiles at the future. There is something that is needed today. Too many look at the future and grit their teeth as they await the devastation they figure is coming. The godly woman faces all things with God's strength seeking God's glory - and as a result smiles that although much may be wrong in the world - she sees things in light of growing closer to God and doing things that glorify Him. As a result, regardless of the circumstances, she smiles at the future knowing that getting closer to God - loving Him more - serving Him better - and selflessly giving herself for those around her is not governed by anyone other than herself as she responds to God Himself. That is why while all others seem to frown at the future - she stands smiling and looking to God for His work even in the midst of a crooked and godless generation.
The inner strength, character, and outlook of the excellent wife sets her apart from other women. She stands as a beacon of hope and joy in a world where too many struggle with depression and thoughts that everything stinks. Rather than let the world depress her - she seeks to live by God's purposes and designs - and then seeks to influence the world rather than let it influence her. What a delight it is to know such a woman - and an ever better one to have one blessing your home.
When the grass disappears, the new growth is seen, And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in, The lambs will be for your clothing, And the goats will bring the price of a field, And there will be goats' milk enough for your food, For the food of your household, And sustenance for your maidens. Proverbs 27:25-27
These last three verses of Proverbs 27 are additional commentary on verses 23-24. Thus they deal with keeping watch or being aware of your flocks and herds. These verses are practical commentary on that activity. They are also very helpful to us who desire to build and maintain a godly work ethic in ours or any other society.
The first statement here seems like common sense to us. It speaks of the fact of the seasons and how one who tills the ground needs to be aware of them. When the grasss disappears, then the new growth is seen. There will be a time each year when the grass of the field dies in the fall and winter. The farmer is also reminded that during this time the herbs of the mountains need to be gathered into the barns. Again, this may seem like something that does not need to be said. The reason it is said is because, due to the fall, men are undisciplined and lazy. There is only a brief window of time that this can be done - and if not done at this time - the farmer will lose yield. If left undone for a long period of time - he will lose everything to decay, mildew, and decomposition.
This has something to say to us. We may not have grass oriented crops like hay, wheat, or barley. We may not have herbs on the mountains that should be gathered and put away for use in the next year. We do have responsibilities that fall to us though. Many of these things need to be done promptly. How many have received a late notice on a bill because we did not pay it "in season." Will this keep us out of heaven? No it won't, but for many it will mean anywhere from 20-50 dollars of lost wealth because we did not act "in season" to get something done that requires diligence in a certain time line.
More is said to us in verses 26-27, this time about principles of building and using wealth. Note that we are told that the lambs will be for our clothing. There is a reason to do all that the farmer does. He does not just grow grass. He diversifies into raising livestock. He has lambs that are for clothing. He has goats he milks not just for his own family to drink, but to sell so that he can buy a field with the profit. There is the wisdom of provision for oneself, and for the continued growth of wealth and provision for a family and a growing number of people who are dependent on your growing enterprises. Mentioned here are one's own household as well as one's maidens. Thus a wise man knows that the current level of wealth and provision today needs to be expanded as he expands his family and his business. What does this require? Hard work - and an attention to detail - at least an attention to doing things as they need to be done.
What is the wisdom for us today then, in light of these verses? The first wise thing we are to learn is that opportunity for blessings comes and goes. If we are not alert to the seasons of God's working, we will miss the blessing being unaware or lazy. Within the framework of His seasons, we need to act and work hard. The second piece of wisdom offered is this, our work blesses us for today - and for the future. The lifestyle lived from paycheck to paycheck is not a wise way to live. We work in such a way to bless us with today's provision - and to make wise choices for expansion of that provision as God blesses. The wise man lives in the moment and is thankful for what God has given him. There can be a danger of having greed enter our minds so that we make Nabalish choices to be selfish and self-centered. The rich farmer who thought his riches were only for his current enjoyment and pleasure found his soul in hell because he was not living for eternity. This, though, does not justify us in being foolish in expanding what we do for the sake of added family provision. There will be children and grandchildren. There will be expanded business opportunity that will bless additional employees. There will be changes in the market - changes in society - and changes even in the weather and providence. We should be wise enough to learn how to read such things and make adequate provision for them as God guides us.
Being godly and wise does not mean throwing our brains away. We can acquire business acumen and wisdom concerning how to be more productive. We can build a business while trusting and relying upon the Lord. That is what is being said here. May God give us wisdom to look to Him day by day - and yet still be wise enough to provide for an expanded future of blessings all as we look to Him for the blessings of today's provision and tomorrow's expansion.
The glory of young men is their strength, And the honor of old men is their gray hair. Proverbs 20:29
Today's proverb gives us some valued information about both young men and old men. This is not a proverb that compares them against each other. It gives us the best view of what is wonderful about them - and what they should strive for in their youthful zeal - as well as their older, wiser days.
There are some great words used here to describe the younger man and his pursuit in the things of God - and in life in general. Note that God's wisdom tells us there is a "glory of young men." When you are younger in years you seek after the glory of something. This is not meant to be a negative statement - as if the younger man is usurping the glory of God. They just have an appetite for glory. The best way to describe this is that they yearn for rewards in life. If you place a goal with a reward that grants glory for something - young men will pursue it with great passion. These are the years when trophies, plaques, awards, and bonuses mean the most. Put a goal in front of these young men - and they will be greatly motivated to reach it. This is why the movement to make everyone equal at a young age is not good for our children. The whole, "we don't keep score" and "everyone is a winner" is not a realistic view of life. Granted we don't want competition to become an all-consuming desire to where morals and character don't seem to matter any longer - but the fact of life is that there is going to be competition. There are going to be winners and losers chosen in almost every area of life. Solomon warns that this can become vanity - when competition becomes the only thing that matters - but at the same time God's Word exhorts us to run the race "so as to win." Only one person gets the prize (or one team) but a wise parent encourages his children to excell at what they do - even if all they have to measure their success is their own previous performance.
We read here that the young man's glory is his strength. Young men want to be strong in some way. Some choose physical strength - others mental prowess. Whatever way they choose, they love being seen as strong in something. There is a wisdom that takes this desire and channels it in ways that are very constructive. Encourage your young men to find something they enjoy - or an area in which they can excell. Put goals and lofty aspirations before them in this - and then encourage the daylights out of them as they strive toward it. Let me give you a small example of this. Too often we do not challenge our young men - and this is a detriment that cripples them later in life. We are so given to the fear that they will have their self-image damaged - that we do not see that it already is because as young men they are not being challenged to do great things. One summer I took the high school guys I work with and challenged them to read the New Testament once a month - and memorize 8-10 verses a week. They were to do this in June, July, and August. Some might be concerned that I was "setting them up to fail" and that their poor little self worth would be damaged as a result. But that was not the case. They rose to the task with youthful vigor and strength! They loved it - and as a result were blown away at what God did in their hearts as they strove for something challenging. They each felt their strength as they were challenged to do something that was a huge challenge. They would come in week by week having met the challenge - or needing to step up and do what needed to be done to meet it. These young men gloried in the strength to do something hard for God.
What about old men? What is it that motivates and moves them. Note first that the word glory is removed and the word honor is inserted. Older men desire honor - but once again let me state that they do not desire God's honor in an ungodly way. Their desire is for others to realize that they have lived a godly, honorable life - and due to this should be respected and honored for their years of labor and wisdom. The proverb says that older men are honored due to their grey hair. Grey hair is achieved by . . . getting older It means that you've lived for a while. We joke that grey hair comes because of walking through the difficulties and challenges of life. That may not be as much of a joke as we think. Grey hair means you are no longer a young man plowing through life's difficulties. It means you've walked through them - and honestly - know ways that are wiser and better. Grey hair comes with battle scars and with proven character in the difficult trials that life throws your way. Grey hair means you've been around for a while - you've been knocked down a lot - but it also means that you've gotten back up and continued in the way a little better and a little wiser. There is a phrase older men know - you learn to work smarter, not just harder. This comes from wisdom - and it is a reason to be honored. Honor comes when people listen to you. They listen, not because you love to talk and because you have a thousand stories you repeat again and again. They listen because you are wise and becasue you truly have something to say. They listen because you not only know the road - but you know the good short-cuts. You know the the short-cuts that work - and those that will result in disasters. You also know that some things are only learned over time - and that there are no short-cuts to them. They also listen because you've walked with God for years - have survived the pitfalls and ambushes of life - and have come out a godly man.
There is a lack of wisdom that unwisely pits younger men against older men. It devalues one or the other while trying to make the case that one is more important than the other. The truth - and wisdom tells us that both are needed. The military needs strong young men who can fight - yet it also relies on older, seasoned men to strategize the best ways to fight and defend the land. Business needs young, strong men who can work hard and cover a lot of things - yet it also relies on older, wiser men to navigate the dangerous paths that can often destroy a business. Both are needed - if they understand their roles and don't succumb to jealousy. Blessed is the business, organization, and nation who grasps this - who values the strength of young men and the grey hair of older ones. They will receive the best of both ends of the age spectrum - and will prepare the next generation of older men to do the same. The fact is this - the younger men of today are becoming the older men of tomorrow. Oh that we will learn to value the contributions of both - and will find ourselves continuously training the next group of older men who will lead and appreciate the younger.
An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning will not be blessed in the end. Proverbs 20:21Quick money is often thought of as a blessing - but often is more like a curse. This proverb is all about warning us of the dangers of greed and quickly gaining money and wealth without having the character to deal with what we receive. The best example of this is the prodigal son. His father gave him his inheritance, but he was not ready morally to handle it. What happened next is an altogether too often heard story. He wasted his inheritance on loose living and partying with his new-found friends. He only learns when the money is gone that he has no real friends among the sycophants who have gathered around him. He only has regrets and abject poverty. The inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning - was not blessed in the end.
Note here that the problem is "hurriedly" gaining this inheritance. A wise man will prepare his children and his children's children for the inheritance that they will most likely receive at his death. He does this by teaching them the value of work. This work ethic that is built into them gives them a proper perspective toward money. They see money earned and see that they do not waste all their hard work on silly and frivilous pursuits. When the inheritance comes - they learn to spend it and invest it in ways that will bring long-term blessing rather than just a short-term high.
The best way to prepare a person for an inheritance is to have them focused on God rather than on money. They see an inheritance is a blessing to pass on rather than to be wasted on their lusts and desires. They want to see the family wealth passed to many generations. This is called generational wealth - and it can bless multiple generations of one family. But even more important than this is passing on to children the truth that the things of this world are passing away. Therefore the wise man invests and sees real wealth in terms of becoming rich toward God. This means investing in the kingdom of God - investing in good works - and investing in buiilding up disciples of Jesus Christ who can bless multiple generations. Ultimately the wise man teaches his children that the greatest inheritance is that given to us by God. We are blessed with a heavenly inheritance in Christ Jesus our Lord. That inheritance will never pass away - and is reserved in heaven for us.
Wealth - especially sudden, hurriedly gained wealth will test us sorely. We will be tested in our values - in our view of what is truly valuable - and in our view toward eternally valuable things. The man whose master is money (mammon in Scripture) will cling to that master and hate any others who rival him. The man whose master is the Lord will be blessed not just in the short term as he receives an inheritance, he will be blessed in his own generation - in multiple generations afterward - and ultimately, he will be blessed in the presence of God forever. Now there is an inheritance worth living for in life!
In a multitude of people is a king's glory, But in the dearth of people is a prince's ruin. Proverbs 14:28
A king is not a king unless he has a kingdom over which to rule. A kingdom will not exist where the people are not fruitful and multiply. Therefore it is wise for kings to encourage their people to grow in number. Today's proverb handles this situation - but the implications of this proverb are fascinating, especially when applied to what is happening in both the United States and Europe.
The simple meaning of this proverb is obvious - a king needs people to have his kingdom flourish. When there is a multitude of people under his rule - he is blessed, but when there is a declining population within the kingdom - it points to the ruin of his son. The son will have a far smaller kingdom over which to rule - or possibly none at all.
As I stated at the beginning of this post, this has amazing ramifications for both our nation and the nations of Europe. Both places have declining populations when it comes to the original population of the countries. As a result of this both of these regions are trying their best to maintain population growth by immigration. The problem is that as the numbers of immigrants grow, they are having more and more influence in the policies and direction of the nation. Give this direction a few more years - and soon Europe will be different - completely different than their forefathers. The United States is not that far from this development either. Why is this happening to these once great nations?
For a king to continue to rule over his own people, he has to encourge his own people to multiply in their families. If they do not, the indigenous people of the land will begin to dwindle in numbers. The result of this will be that a different group of people will begin to rise up and rule the land. All this happens because the people do not have children. Or, in our case, they only want 2.4 children or less. That is what has happened in our nation. We have become a people who do not believe that having multiple children is a blessing. This all began with people espousing a worldview that did not value children. We became a people so interested in our own comforot and our own pleasure that we decidd that children were no longer a blessing of the Lord. We came to the conclusion that the man whose quiver if full of children is not blessed at all. In fact, we decided children were a burden - an unnecessary burden - and within a couple of generations - an unwanted burden.
According to the humanistic worldview - this was a wonderful development. We were supposedly choking the world to death with our overpopulation - our poluting - and our urban sprawl. So when people bought this unbiblical view, they stopped having childen, or they did what was necessary to reduce the number of children they have. Everything seemed wonderful and the planet would be saved. But over time, the dearth of children began to weigh heavy on our society. Now we face problems as our system is imploding. It is doing so because we no longer have far more families coming up, because we do not like or enjoy the thought of having multiple children. Programs like Social Security require a larger generation of younger people than in the older generation. Even our national character - is shifting from being European and western to being either Mexican or Islamic.
A wise set of leaders would have had a biblical worldview. That worldview remembers that God said to be fruitful and multiply. The whole concept of overpopulation is foreign to God. He promises to supply our needs if we will live for His glory and obey His Word. But since those things have been jettisoned just as we have done with His view of children and family - we are facing the "dearth of a people."
An interesting thing about this passage is that it says that the prince is ruined by this. The king is to rule not just with an eye toward himself - but toward his sons - and his grandsons. That is a fascinating thing to see here. It is fascinating because one of the curses of our current political fabric is that we only see the immediate future as important. Most of our elected officials actually only see the next election cycle as important - therefore they plan only to keep people fat and happy til past the next election. All the while as we are doing this - the princes of our future (our children) are having their future ruined by the selfishness of the current generation.
Wisdom means that rulers think ahead - they think long-term - and honestly, they should think biblically. To do otherwise is to think in a way that God will not bless. This, more than the economy or any other factor, is what will bring about the blessing or the dearth of our society and its people. We should always remember the verse, "Blessed are the people who are so situated. Blessed is the nation who's God is the Lord."
In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. Proverbs 14:26
It is in the book of Proverbs that we learn that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Only when we have a proper respect and fear of God will we understand things as we ought to in life. It is a lack of fearing God that leads to sin and to ungodly behavior and choices. Thus it should be no shock to us that the fear of the Lord brings us a strong confidence in how we live, what we say, and in how we look to the future. The fool has no such confidence in life. Their brief forays into confidence are mere moments of braggadoccio that fade into insignificance when suffering and death make their appearance.
Confidence comes to the man or woman of God because they fear the Lord. They truly know the end of the story - which is that man will stand in the judgment before a holy God. That seems a little odd at first because we read in the book of Hebrews that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. But for the one who fears the Lord, that day will not involve falling into the hands of a yet angry and wrathful God. Wisdom has told him to run to God's provision of forgiveness and grace which is in Jesus Christ. When we do this we know that the wrath of God fell upon His own Son, so that we might be forgiven and granted great grace by our loving Father.
When we choose to fear God now - we will not have to cower in terror later. We fear God now - looking in absolute terror at the cross and what God truly requires in His holiness to pay for the debt of sin. It is in seeing what had to be done to Christ Jesus to pay for sin that we cringe in horror at what our wickedness truly costs. But when we embrace Jesus Christ, receiving the gift of repentance and faith, our sins are gone. Thus there is no longer the "terror of the Lord" at the thought of judgment, but rather a strong confidence that our anchor will hold. Jesus Christ has paid all that there is to pay - and we are forgiven and free.
The second part of this proverb is vital for us to see as well. We are told that the children of the man who fears the Lord will have a a refuge. This points to the fact that if a man truly knows the Lord, his greatest desire is for his children to know his Savior as well. The refuge that his children have is first seen in how he rears them and teaches them the Scriptures. What a wonderful refuge is provided by a set of godly parents to their children as they grow up in the Lord. The parents may not be perfect, but they provide an example of two who walk with the Lord - and who look to Him for their hope and their salvation. They also do their very best to teach their children the things of the Lord and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. They pray for their children and do all that they can to see that they follow them in their pursuit of Jesus Christ in life.
God desires for men to be saved. That is a given when you read the Scriptures. But there is more. He also desires that there be many godly generations descending from a family who have come to Christ. This is the legacy that comes to children and grandchildren - and even great grandchildren of those whose parents fear the Lord. Oh that we would see this and live in the fear of God. Oh that we would provide a lasting refuge - a lasting legacy of godliness and gospel-led lives to our children - and even to many generations of our families.
He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20
Who comprises your group of companions will have everything to do with the level of blessing you will experience in your future. Today's proverb has to do with our friendships and also our mentors. If you have the wrong mentors and the wrong friends, you are going to have a very difficult future.
God tells us here that the man who walks with wise men will be wise. That sounds like it is not a difficult statement to grasp and to follow. I will agree that it is not difficult to understand - but when it comes to how hard it is to follow - that is a different story altogether. First, we need to be schooled in how to know a wise man from a foolish one. A wise man is often shunned because he may not be as "fun" as the fool. It is not that wisdom inherently is dull - but it is that wisdom follows God's way - even when doing so means you will not be the life of the party. The wise man seeks to walk and to speak according to God's Word. Sometimes this means that he will speak pleasant things - and at others - rebuke. But you can know one thing - walking with him will make you wise as well. Remember that early in Proverbs we were told that the beginning of wisdom is, "Get wisdom!" That means be where wise people can influence and speak into your life.
There is another way to walk with the wise - even if they are dead. That way is by reading books that they have written. I can still walk with men like Andrew Murry, John Calvin, Watchman Nee, A. B. Simpson, George Mueller, Charles Spurgeon, and A. W. Tozer. I can do so by reading their writings. By doing this I can fill my mind with their thoughts and their teachings. As I walk with these dead men in their books - I can become wise with the wisdom God gave them. One of the best friends of a man of God is the books which bring to life men who have gone on to be with the Lord.
By a contrary choice, those who are companions of fools will suffer harm. You cannot stay long with a fool without his foolishness rubbing off on you. Bad company corrupts good character - and that is never more true than with those who become companions of fools. We would be wise to avoid them altogether. Something that is similar to the knowing of wise men through their books - is the influence of fools through their writings and productions. Consider all the influence a movie or a television show has on people. We will actually lay down good money for a fool to influence us for 2 hours when we go to watch movies. Their message often contains philosophies that are diametrically opposed to our own - yet we not only watch them - but encourage others to do so as well. We hear their words - and we see their actions - which often include sexual immorality, profanity, murder, rebellion, and a godless world where one can sit for 2 hours and only hear of God in their blasphemy of his name. Our entire society has been the companion of the fools in Hollywood through movies and television - and consider the damage and harm we have suffered as a result. The worldview of the silver screen in one generation will be the worldview of the populace in the next - if not sooner.
Walk with the wise. It is a choice that we will never regret. Get to know older men and women who have walked with God for years. Listen to their wisdom and be wise. Take the time to sit with someone older and wiser - for it will be of immense benefit to you. Such choices will insure that we become wise as we walk with the wise.
The merciful man does himself good, But the cruel man does himself harm. Proverbs 11:17
There is a way to live that will guarantee that we will be greeted with good from others. There is also a way of living and interacting with others that may give us an advantage in the short term, but in the long term will do us tremendous harm. The difference between these two lifestyles is found in how they treat others - especially when someone has done something wrong to them.
Our proverb begins by introducing us to someone called "the merciful man." This is the man who is gracious to others when they wrong him. He is called the "merciful man" because he delights in showing mercy to others. Mercy is best described this way. Not getting what we deserve. That may not sound all that great until you realize that the context for mercy is when you do something wrong, or act in a way that merits punishment. The man who shows mercy to others is willing to endure beging wronged. He does not always demand "fair" treatment when it comes to himself. He does not demand his pound of flesh whenever he is wronged. By doing this the Bible says that he does himself good. The literal Hebew here reads, "he does good to his own soul."
There are actually two benefits to being a "mercy-man." The first benefit is that others who receive mercy from you are far more likely to show you mercy as well. Jesus, in the Beattitudes, said this same thing. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." When we show mercy, others are more apt to show us mercy as well. The second benefit is one we receive inwardly. The passage says that we do our souls' good. When we react with anger to every supposed slight and wrong, our spirit and our emotions are in a constant turmoil. That is not healthy for us - because stress levels will be elevated all the time. But when we learn to show mercy (and not take ourselves so seriously in the process) it will do wonders for our stress level.
The end of today's proverb deals with the problems that the "cruel man" brings upon himself. We read that the cruel man does himself harm. The Hebrew word for "cruel" here means someone who is fierce and who lacks any kind of sensitivity, compassion, or mercy towards others. Since we have an example from our news, I will use it to illustrate this. Ghadaffi was the leader of the nation of Libya. He was a living example of a "cruel man." He ruled with an iron fist over his people. He was not known for his wonderful acts of mercy, but rather for his horrible acts of cruelty. The day came when he no longer had an army to protect him. The media informed us of his last moments on this earth. He hid in a drainage pipe, hoping to escape those who were hunting him down. When they found him they treated him just as he had treated others. I won't go into detail as to what was done to him, but it was a horrible end. His cruelty was the example that was set for the people of his country. No wonder when he was caught he was subjected to the same lack of compassion and kindness he was known to use upon others.
The way we respond to others will prepare the way for our own treatment in life. That is why the man who chooses to show mercy will have good come upon him for his choice. The cruel man has a much different end. Having chosen a lack of compassion throughout his lifetime of interaction with others, he has nothing except the overflow of his own cruelty awaiting him in this life - and the full measure of God's wrath in the next.
There is a way which seems
right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12
Why is it that we cannot just trust our natural instincts concerning God and issues of morality and truth? If this proverb is true (and it is), then we face a very real danger when we trust what we think is right in our lives. When we live a self-directed life and a life that is self-oriented - we are going to have very serious problems. Why is this the case?
First of all, we need to see that for a time in this life - this proverb may seem like it is wrong. There are those who do what they think is right - and it seems to go well for them. I would agree with this assessment for the here and now - for life on this earth. But that is not what this proverb is saying to us. It is saying that the end of a self-directed life is death. The word end here is our old friend, "acharith," the Hebrew word meaning the latter end of things.
Things seemed to be going marvelous for the rich farmer who did not use his riches for the glory of God. Things seemed to be going well for the rich man who lavished abundance on himself, but did not even notice the starving Lazarus at his gate. Things seemed to be going well for Belshazzar the king as he feasted with his nobles and friends and drank wine out of the temple goblets and toasted the gods of silver and gold. Things seemed to be going well for many people who lived a life of luxury and self-indulgence here on earth. The problem is going to come at the latter end of their lives.
The rich farmer, after building bigger barns and saying he was set for life - experienced the end of his life - and had done nothing to prepare for eternity. The rich man realized as James said, the humiliation of his exalted position on earth, as he envied the destitute Lazarus' one in the afterlife. He begged for Lazarus to only dip the tip of his finger in water and touch the end of his tongue - for he was in agony in the fires of hell. Belshazzar soon grasped the infinite foolishness of serving the false gods of silver and gold - when the true and living God sent a hand to write on his wall. He learned that his self-directed life had been weighed in the balances - and he was found wanting. One can only hope he enjoyed that banquet that evening - for by the next evening he was dead and in hell - forever wanting in the sight of God.
These three are examples for us of the stupidity of the self-directed life. There are many others in Scripture and in life who follow their footsteps into hell. There is Dathan and Abiram who opposed God and received a non-stop trip to hell via the ground opening up and swallowing them and their families whole. There were the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah who undoubtedly held the same concept of God keeping His morality off of their bodies. They wound up fried along with their cities as God's judgment revealed their latter end. And, lest we think that this ignoble end is only for those guilty of heinous sin - there are those who die every day as good ole boys - as "good" "moral" people. Their ultimate end was sealed when they decided that they were decent enough and did not need Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross to pay for their sins.
When you listen to the news, the entertainment industry, the religious elite, and the gurus of public opinion - you would think that the cross of Christ is foolishness (Gee that sounds like Paul in 1 Corinthians doesn't it). You would think that mankind does not need a religious crutch to lean on - mankind can solve their own problems without religion or some savior. But reality is this - mankind does not need a crutch. We would only need a crutch if we were injured. The fact is that we are dead! We need a whole new life. We might need a religious system if we only needed modification. The fact is that we are ruined. We need to be completely regenerated and made new. But the world for the most part rejects these truths revealed to us in Scripture. They have a way that seems right to them - that makes more sense. That is because "the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." It is because, "the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks (read thinkers here) search for wisdom; but we preach Christ curcified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."
There is that way that seems to right to men - but in the end "THAT WAY" is actually the foolish and the stupid one. If they continue following it and reject the gospel . . . it will end in death - eternal death in hell. I know that is not popular in today's culture - either religious or secular - but nevertheless - it is the truth. If we are wise we will reject what the world calls wisdom - and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ - for that is truly wisdom that will last through all the ages and until the end of time.
For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you. Proverbs 9:11
I receive health food, supplement, and exercise information on a regular basis. I do this because I realize that there are benefits to eating and doing the right things for my physical body. But there are those in the health-conscious world who think that this alone is how to have a long, healthy, happy life. They are sadly mistaken.
Here in Proverbs 9 we have wisdom personified telling us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom - and that the knowledge of the Holy One is the way to live with understanding in this world. Immediately after that statement wisdom then tells us that
He is the One who can add to our days and give us a long, happy life. It is wisdom that mattters - and God is the One who can give it to us.
While I do agree that certain health-conscious choices will lengthen our days - none of the sage advice of the health guru's has anything on the revelation of God in the Scripture. When you look at the Old Testament laws concerning food and cleanliness, you realize that within that system that is nearly 4000 years old is the best way to stay healthy and free from disease. It is really shocking to some when they realize this. I mean, these folks didn't even have hand sanitizer!
God's Word goes far beyond just physical well-being though. It moves into the area of spiritual well-being. That involves far more than just sitting on a floor chanting and centering yourself in . . . yourself. It involves being in a right relationship with God. It is moving all your temporary, momentary physical health toward what God intended for you in the first place - to know, serve, and love Him. If we are not doing this - it really doesn't matter how many "pain-free" and "vital" years we live on this earth. Things WILL go badly for us the moment we die. So, may God give us wisdom to follow Him . . . in what is best for us physically, and what is best for us spiritually. That is the way to a long, healthy, wonderful life here on earth - and a life after your days here are ended - that will last throughout all eternity.