She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
Proverbs 31:20-24The wise and godly woman here knows the taste of success. When it says that she "senses" her gain is good - God uses the word for tasting something. She works hard, which we see consistently in the previous verses. But more than that, she tastes that what she is doing it good. The things that she sells to the merchants brings her gain - it helps her to earn money. She knows and tastes the success that hard work brings. It is important that people experience the fruit of their labor. I am not one who believes in the economic systems of socialism or communism. Those two systems tout a false idea of community goods that are shared by all. The problem is that such systems kill the benefits of hard work and labor for the individual. In the end, the collective works only as hard as they want to - and since they receive nothing but the same allotment for their labors - they are not motivated to excell at them. The result of tasing the fruit of your labors will be far less labors. When we are allowed to taste that sweet fruit, we are motivated to labor harder, smarter, wiser for the good of our own benefit - and by that for the good of our family and others around us.
This godly woman knows that her gain is good. Here we have another confrontation with the current thoughts on economics. In our world gain is bad! How dare Capitalists relish the fact that they are making a profit. We wrongly call them evil - yet it is their "so-called profit that allows so many others to enjoy benefits. This godly lady knew in her heart that hard work would yield good things - and would bless her - bless her family - bless others who bought them - and eventually would bless her community. When governments try to "equalize" the playing field - what they mean is that they are going to promise everyone the same outcome - because that is what they say is fair. What is amazing is that they want an equal misery for the masses - but for themselves luxury. Every socialist and communist leader has evidenced the sin nature. They talk a certain egalitarianism among others - but they themselves will have the most. They will have the best of everything. What they deliver to the people is equal poverty and misery.
It is self-interest that will drive men and women to their best efforts. They must receive some reward for hard labor - and once they taste this fruit - they will want more. This results in hard work - work ethic as it is called. This woman knows that. Because she tastes that her gain is good - she works hard. She labors into the night as her lamp can testify. She stretches out her hands to make clothing - which is what the terms distaff and spiindle indicate. This is because she is working toward her own self-interest. In this case that means her own clothing - the clothing of her family - and clothing that can be sold to others to earn more money for the welfare of her home. This is the kind of work God encourages - and blesses. May He give us wisdom to reject the false philosophies that promote powerful government officials who speak of equality and egalitarianism - but who only deliver a corporate misery to the masses as they live high on the hog themselves. May we instead see the value of hard work, frugality, and wisdom in taking what God gives us and using it for the benefit of our families. The fascinating thing about this kind of life is that as families (Which are the basic unit of society in God's economy) multiply with these views, a village, city, region, and even nation is blessed and prosperous as a result.
Verse 21 introduces us to the way that this woman is generous toward her own household. She does this by knowing of their needs. She lives in a climate where snow and cold affect her children and family. Therefore she labors to make sure that they are clothed with scarlet. The imagry here is that of seeing the heaviness of the clothing she provides for her family. She makes sure that they are warm when it is cold outside. The word household even goes a step further. This word also referred to the servants one might have in and out of their home. She is gracious and kind enough to make sure that even they are warm and well taken care of especially when it is cold outside and they need warm clothing.This next verse may seem strange to us - but she also provides for herself. This indicates her frugality, as clothes made by her own hands would cost less than those made by others. But it also indicates that she cares about her appearance. Her clothing is fine linen and purple. These are expensive and fine fabrics she uses and it indicates that her household (who are all clothed in this fashion as well - from verse 21) are dressed as those who are proud of their appearance. This is not because they are clothed in the latest fashions from Gapstein, Eyptian Eagle, or Old Testament Navy. These are clothes their mother produced by the labor of her own hand. There is class here - but not class that arises out of buying things from others. It is the class that arises from quality made at home. In this way she blesses her children, her husband, and even herself.
The excellent wife is generous toward her husband as well. We find it said that eh is known in the gates and sits among the elders of the land. He is successful and wise. Working with and for him and her family is this godly woman who takes great joy in seeing her husband respected. That takes for granted that she herself respects him - and respect for him grows in concentric circles from what men see in her heart and actions. When a man's household is in order and respectable - men want him to rise to other positions of leadership where he can do the same. The wisdom and discretion they see in his choice of a wife makes them want him to lead them. His wife, in this way, is his crown (Proverbs 12:4).
We see this attitude in Ruth - who delighted in seeing her husband Boaz honored in the gates of the land. She was indeed an excellent wife, even though she was a Gentile. Those who saw and experienced her wisdom and servant heart praised her to Boaz - and spoke to her mother-in-law of how she was better to her than seven sons. To bring honor to those around us by the way we carry ourselves is a high task. Too many live only for the honor brought to themselves - and are content with the compliments being spent there. The true servant and generous person is the one who gives of herself with no thought of herself. She is content to receive praise by seeing those she loved praised. Truly that is a generous person.
The excellent wife is generous even in business with others. Her skill is such that she is not just able to make garments for her own family - but she makes them for others. The quality of her work creates a demand for what she makes. She sells garments she makes to others who desire them for their beauty and quality. Even the tradesmen want her products. This is quite a compliment because a tradesman is one who offers quality merchandise. They learn their trade and perfect it over years. What we have here is a woman of excellence - who makes garments excellently so that those who know excellent merchandise want it when they see it. She is generous even to them for what she makes . . . sells and sells well.
The excellent wife is a generous woman. That generosity moves out in circles blessing first those she loves and calls family. Eventually though, she is so skilled in what she does that the demand for her work is great. Being selfish most often hurts the one who is this way. But being generous will bless the one who is in ways that only someone who is truly giving can understand.
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.
Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him. Proverbs 27:22
The problem with a fool is . . . that he is a fool. I know that sounds like double talk, but the problem is that until the heart of the fool is changed by a work of God, nothing you do will move him from his foolishness. This is not an issue of education or of environment. It is a heart issue - nothing more and nothing less. Today's proverb tells us that no matter what you do to the fool physically - he will not have his foolishness depart from him. You can even put him into a giant mortar with a pestle - and yet even crushing him in this environment along with some grain will not cause his foolishness to depart from him. Just a note: not sure why the grain is put in there - guess it would make wise-guy flour for making some kind of spiritual bread later?
Too many see foolishness as a "learned" behavior. They see it as something that can be fixed by merely by having someone be better educated. If that were true - then the most educated among us would be the wisest. The problem is that many who become very educated get to the point where they reject God in the midst of their supposed knowledge. What they prove in that moment is that they are the exact opposite of wise - for the fool is the one who says in his heart that there is no God. Often very educated men are smart in a classroom and yet very stupid morally. Such examples remind us that God says that we are to guard our hearts with all dilgence. Your mind is important, but not as important as your heart.
No matter your education level, the truth is that you are fallen. You are sinful - and will remain sinful until God's grace changes your heart. As a sinful man or woman, you will make choices that will amaze you. I do not speak of wise choices - but ones that leave you thinking, "Why in the world did I do that?!" The reason you have such moments is that apart from the Spirit of God teaching you the word of God - and then the Spirit of God enabling and empowering you to walk out the Word of God - you will eventually act like a fool. I don't know about those who will read this - but I for my part - even with the work of the Holy Spirit - still have foolish moments in life.
What does this proverb mean for us - who desire to live as wise men and women? It means that we need to give ourselves to a view of change among the foolish that is centered in the gospel and the grace of God. If you cannot get the foolishness out of a man by grinding him in a mortar and pestle with grain - then all thought of human resources being enough to deal with fools and foolishness should be abandoned. This is a God-sized problem - that can only have a God-sized solution. The good news for us though is that God in His wonderful mercy and grace has provided a solution, not based on either our moral or financial abilities. His solution is based out of His own infinite resources of love. He will change us because He has chosen to love us - and will do that because of what He has done in Christ Jesus on the cross. As a result we will no longer have to report to the mortar and pestle room for regular crushings so that we can become wise men and women. This is a good for us, because when I read this proverb I see such a proposition as a very painful one.
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22
Here is a proverb that is usually misunderstood because of the phrase that is used in it. The phrase to which I refer is where we are told that we will "heap burning coals on his head," when we are kind to our enemy. Of course, our intial thought is by doing good to our enemy - we will burn his head or melt it. Heaping burning coals on someone usually has that effect - scorching their head. But the phrase that is used does not mean this. It actually is a phrase that speaks of blessing another. Let's take a look at this phrase and how it counsels the wise man to act toward his enemies.
The call for the wise man is to give his enemy food when he is hungry and water if he is thirsty. The reason he is to do this is to act with mercy and with love - even toward someone who considers him an enemy. This is a way that the world sees that we are radically different than they are. We do not seek revenge on our enemies, but rather to show mercy - even as we have been shown mercy by God. It is important for us to remember that at one time we were enemies with God. He did not pour out his wrath upon us, rather He gave us mercy and grace. He had His wrath poured out upon His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ - and instead gives us grace to be made righteous in His sight. Therefore the call to be merciful and loving toward our enemies is a call to be like God Himself.
The problem comes when we look at why we do this. The passage says that by doing this we will pour burning coals upon our enemies - upon their foreheads. When we do this, God rewards us for acting in this way. One view of this is that conviction is in order - and that is what happens when the burning coals are put on our enemies. Thus this phrase is seen as judgment on them - because let's be honest - who wants their forehead burned up with burning coals? But the phrase used here is a Hebraism - a Hebrew expression they would understand - but we would not.
The picture here is of a very loving, very merciful deed toward our enemies. The idea here is of placing coals that are already hot into a clay pot or some other kind of insulated container. That container would then be carried, often on the head, to the person's fire pit, which has been extinguished. They would then take the coals and re-ignite their fire so that they could cook their food. This was a very loving and merciful act on their behalf, because it was not an easy thing to have a fire of coals lit for someone. This act of mercy and love would be very beneficial to the enemy - and would help to melt their hardened heart against the one who acted with such grace.
The wise man knows that winning an enemy is a difficult thing. He also knows that prolonging a fight is not to his advantage unless there is no way to reach his enemy - or his enemy is actively seeking to destroy him. In these cases one must defend himself. But if possible it is better to win over your enemy. There is a picture of this in the book of 2 Kings in the life of Elisha. The king of Aram was furious that Elisha could predict by God's power everywhere the Arameans would prepare to attack Israel. In a rage he sent his entire army to kill Elisha. As the army approached Elisha prayed that they would all be struck blind. Then he led them into Samaria where Israel could destroy them. But look at what God led them to do - and the result.
"When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. Then the king of Israel when he saw them, said to Elisha, “My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” He answered, “You shall not kill them. Would you kill those you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” So he prepared a great feast for them; and when they had eaten and drunk he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the marauding bands of Arameans did not come again into the land of Israel." It would have been easy to destroy the Arameans, but instead God led Elisha to counsel them to feed them with a feast. When they did so - it made their enemies turn away from their destrutive ways - and they no longer sent marauding bands into Israel any longer. Remember this, for it is wisdom of the highest order, mercy triumphs over judgment. Therefore God paid the judgment, and showed us mercy in Christ. Oh that we would be wise enough to do the same with our enemies. When we do, they will see a glorious display of the very gospel that is at the heart of what God is and does among men.
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 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 heart of the wise instructs his mouth And adds persuasiveness to his lips. Proverbs 16:23
One of the maladies that I face in my life is that I engage my mouth too often without fully engaging my mind as to what I am going to say. That particular malady results in another and that is that I find my foot often lodged in my mouth shortly after the first malady manifests itself. Needless to say today's proverb was eye-opening to say the least. I learned that what truly needs to be engaged before I speak is my heart - which is to be what instructs my mouth before it engages in saying what "ought" to be said.
The heart of a wise man instructs his mouth what to say. Some might say that if this were the case all we would say is, "thump, thump" in a rythmic fashion. (Oops, there I go again!) But the Hebrew concept of the heart is a wondeful one. The heart refers to the immaterial inner self - or what the Holy Spirit would refer to as man's spirit. This is considered by the Hebrew mind to be our inner nature - the workings of our mind as it is instructed by the Holy Spirit using as His primary text, the Word of God. Thus the mouth is instructed by none other than the Holy Spirit Himself - who takes the Word and uses it to instruct us, through our spirit, so that our mind is taught. This working then brings to our mind things that should be filtered out - or in some cases filtered in.
Scripture, for example, instructs us in Colossians 4:6
, "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." What a great instruction for our mouths. Therefore, as the Spirit does this He asks us, "Hey Bubba (sorry, I live in Arkansas and this is pretty effective here), is what you are going to say gracious? Does it have a little 'salt of the gospel' in it - so that it will make whoever is hearing you thirsty for God - and the gospel?" Something else the Spirit of God might ask is this, "Yo Bubbba, did you think about what this person truly and lovingly NEEDS - or - are you just spouting off what you want to say to them?" These are things that will truly alter how you speak - because in all honesty - not even our words belong to us. We were bought with a price - therefore we are to glorify God with our bodies - which, by the way, includes our mouths!
Here is another way our mouth can be instructed by the wisdom of the Spirit of God. He may choose to remind us of Ephesians 4:29
which says, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word
as is good for edification according to the need of the moment,
so that it will give grace to those who hear." So this time the Spirit of God may chime in with something like this. "Dude (this is when I am in California), is what you are going to say wholesome, or does it smell like rotten fruit or nasty-smelling fish! Are you going to build up your friend - or just confirm him in the same worldly ways that his other friends speak? Like, you totally need to think about what he NEEDS right now! Have you even heard what HE'S been saying at a heart level in this conversation and others? Don't be a total bogart man - give him some grace - some love brother - some real helpful, encouraging, gospel-smelling stuff!"
Now, apart from the regionalization of all this in my language - there are a few VERY important things we can learn from just these two examples. We learn how the Scriptures would be used by the Holy Spirit to instruct our mouths. First, note that in both examples the Lord wants to instruct us to think of others
as we open our mouths. Second, note as well in both examples that the Lord wants us to have our words abound with grace
as we speak. Lastly, there is either stated or implied that our words are to be used to build others up - not tear them down
. You can take these three things to the verbal-bank! We ought to write them on the inside of our mouths, so to speak, so that we are reminded that any word that proceeds out of them should be - 1) others-minded, 2) filled with grace and the gospel, and 3) encouraging! Can you imagine the difference that would make in a matter of days in the things we say!?
The rest of today's proverb reminds us that when we do this - our hearts will help us to have additional "persuasiveness" added to everything we say. I have known people like this in my life - and they are amazing people. They are the E.F. Hutton's of the spiritual world - and in many ways the world in general. When they speak - people listen! The amazing thing is that this is not because they have "earth-shaking" things to say every time they open their mouths. It is more because you will be blessed and uplifted whenever they speak! You want to hear what they say - because it nourishes your very soul to hear it.
Precious ones . . . let us not be people whose mouths are instructed by our culture - or by our own selfish motives - or by the evil one who would love to use our mouths for his own destructive purposes. Let us be people of the grace-filled, love-overflowing, life-encouraging, Spirit-instructed mouth! Let us embrace hearing what our hearts have to say about what words we should use. And as we listen to this soul-nourishing instruction for our mouths - may we submit our hearts to be ruled and governed by the Holy Spirit of God. May His tutelage dominate our conversations, our statements, and our answers so that others may be blessed - made thirsty for the God who speaks through us - and hungry for the same gospel grace that has changed our hearts, which is the very reason that our conversation is so different!
A fool's anger is known at once, But a prudent man conceals dishonor. Proverbs 12:16
Ours is a society driven by rights and by slights. We are told that we have rights - and as a result of this education we demand them all the time. One of the rights that evidently is near the top of the list is the right never to be offended. That is why we have political correct language that is being ever more strictly enforced in our nation. We cannot say things that will offend anyone else. If the society determines that a certain word or phrase is no longer allowed - that word or phrase is banished from our circles. If someone were so foolish as to speak that word of phrase - he too will be banished - even fired from his job. If he is in the public eye - he will be summarily destroyed and cast upon the trash heap for the foreseeable future - possibly forever. We are the nation with the greatest law protecting free speech (our first ammendment) but also the greatest number of unwritten laws that restrict our speech as well as punish any who dare step over the line.
Our proverb today would help us greatly with our problems societally. We are first warned that only a fool's anger is known at once. The fool has no patience, therefore he is often disgusted and angry with others around him. He takes up the slighest offence - whether overt or covert - and becomes vexed about it immediately. The word for anger here is the Hebrew word "kaas" which means to be provoked to anger. The problem is that this man is easily provoked - and lets his anger blow the moment that he is. As we read here - his anger is know at once. He is unable to control himself - and also unable to let things roll off his back like water off of a duck. Every slight - every potential offence is taken to the deepest part of his being and fully embraced. There is little wonder therefore that he has a tendency to lose it whenever this happens. He is offended - angry - disgusted - and filled with rage toward whoever has knowingly or unknowingly slighted him.
The prudent man is the one who conceals this anger and offence. He is able to ignore the slights and snubs of life. He is able to deal with the insults and general indignities of living in the fallen world. Because he knows the world is fallen - he is aware that things like this are bound to happen. Because he knows he too is fallen - he is aware of the need to be gracious and kind as he carries on life in this world. He has learned to conceal dishonor. The word for dishonor here parallels the Hebrew word for forgiveness. He chooses to forgive and show mercy and grace rather than demand judgment and justice for every slight. He has learned that the merciful are blessed, for they too receive mercy.
Learning to be a prudent and wise man in this way will help you live much longer. The word prudent here is the Hebrew word "arum" which has the idea of being sensible. A sensible man knows that unless he wants his world to be in a continual state of stress, anger, rage, and bitter unforgiveness - he needs to let insults and vexation they can cause roll off of him. By this he keeps his blood pressure down - and his friendships up. If you are prone to become angry and blow off steam in almost every situation beware. You are ruining your own life and living like a fool. Be wise - be understanding - and be aware of the fallen world in which you live. Show mercy and grace - for it will bring you joy even in the midst of a world filled with plenty of ways to become frustrated and angered.
“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 wise will inherit honor, But fools display dishonor. Proverbs 3:35
Proverbs is all about the difference between the wise man and the fool. It is one of the major themes throughout this book. Therefore it should not be too suprising to see at the close of chapter three that we have a comparison between the wise and the foolish. The comparison that we see shown to us is what these two are receiving for their choices. The wise man receives honor - while the fool gets dishonor. What is most interesting though is how these two ends are described for us.
The wise man is said to "inherit" honor. The Hebrew word "nahal" which is used here means to take property as a permanent possession. This was the word that was used to describe how Israel was to receive the promised land. The whole idea of inheritance also brings into focus that there is going to have to be a death for us to receive what God gives us. This points us to the sacrifices that were made when the Mosaic covenant was established. There was no covenant without blood - and without death. But for us the death is not ours - but the death of the sacrifice made on our behalf. Throughout the Old Testament that was the death and sacrifice of the animals upon which they had laid their hands and confessed their sin. But this was just a picture of what was to come. It was a picture of Jesus Christ who would take sin upon Himself and pay the full price for it. As a result, we would be able to inherit salvation - and honor from God. Truly, as the passage says, the WISE will inherit this honor. This reminds us that the ultimate wisdom from God, as stated in 1 Corinthians 1:21-24
is Jesus Christ as Him crucified. "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to
know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, 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." The wise turn to Jesus - who is the wisdom of God unto us - as well as our righteousness and our redemption.
The fool though is said to "display" dishonor. Here is a wonderful illustration of not just truth - but even of salvation and how we can know that we are saved. The wise inherits honor, but the fool displays his dishonor. Here we have a picture of the fool. Since he has no wisdom by which he can be honored in God's sight - all he has left is to live out his days displaying the dishonorable way that he lives. He shows forth what is in his heart - which is sin and dishonor. He has no work of grace going on inside of him - which is part and parcel of why he lives the way that he does. The lack of grace - the lack of salvation - the lack of wisdom - all will be disaplyed daily in a lifestyle that greives God. Dishonor will be given to God in how he lives because he is lost. So what we see throughout his life is not grace working to show honor - but foolishness and sin revealing dishonor.
What do people see in us? What are we revealing or displaying to the world around us. If we were burnt in a fire - we would display the effects of the fire in our bodies for the rest of our lives. If we worked out 3 hours a day - there would be a display in our muscles of the fact that we have done this. What we see in the physical is also true in the spiritual realm as well. When we live by God's wisdom - or better said IF we live by God's wisdom - it WILL be seen in our lives. We will display an honorable life. If we are NOT displaying an honorable life, we should not lie and tell people we are living by His wisdom. IF we are being a fool - and living by the principles of the world - we will display dishonor in our lifestyle. If we are living in a way that dishonors the Lord - it is proof that we are living by foolish principles.
There are many who ask the question, "How can I know that I am saved?" They may ask, "How can I know that I am doing God's will?" They want some kind of definitive thing that they can do once and say they know that they are saved. Yet God's Word tells us in a myriad of ways that the proof is in the lifestyle. This does not mean that we are saved by works - because God's Word is clear that it is only by grace we are saved. But . . . if there are no works - no change - no godliness - no living for God's glory and honor . . . we can honestly say that there is probably no salvation. If there is a continued lifestyle that displays dishonor to God - and dishonor towards His Word - dishonor when it comes to a righteous life - then we can know that we are living as a fool - and honestly - we don't know God through the grace He has given us in Jesus Christ.