Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.
Vision is something that is truly necessary for those who want to walk in God's way. Some view vision as some kind of "on the spot" leadership or direction from God. Yet this passage seems to be saying something different. Let's take a look today at what it means to have vision - as well as where it comes from in our lives.
The warning here is very simple - where there is not vision, bad things happen. We read here that the people are unrestrained without it. The word "vision" is from the Hebrew word "hazon" which means a revelation, a vision, and oracle - which all points to a divine communication. We see that this must be a communication from God - because the second half of the proverb speaks of the law. Without a word from God - a true one - the people will live unrestrained lives. The word unrestrained paints an interesting picture for us. It comes from the Hebrew word "para" which means to be let loose. Exodus 32:25 uses this word to describe how the people of Israel were completely unrestrained when Moses was up on the mountain getting the 10 commandments from God. He told Aaron that he had let the people get out of hand. The idea was that they were morally and spiritually out of control. They had made a god of their own with their gold, and were currently worshipping that false god with a feast that was morally bankrupt. It resembled something more like a drunken orgy. That throws a great deal of light on this statement in Proverbs.
When there is no word and no revelation of God - the people will quickly become bankrupt morally. They will get completely out of hand in how they view spiritual things and that will lead to a looser and looser set of morals by which they live. As said here - they will be unrestrained. It is that revelation of Who God is that will help keep us in check morally. And for the people of Israel that involved the law of God. We read that the happy man is the one who keeps the law. But for Israel this was not just a mere set of rules and regulations by which they had to live. It was more than that - it was a revelation of the heart and mind of God. It revealed to them just Who God was.
Knowing God by God's revelation of Himself did two things for Israel - and it does these two things for those of us who are wise enough to learn from it as well. First, we are more restrained spiritually and morally. We are restrained from making a God in our own likeness and after our own desires. This, according to Romans 1, is what we will do if we do not have a revelation of God given to us from which to learn these things. We will make a god just like us - who will act just like us - and in the end, will approve of how we wanted to live. If you think this is wrong - just look at the Greek gods of mythology. They were as debauched as any human - and their actions resembled fallen men more than they did a loving, benevolent, holy God. No God, no restraint - Know God, know restraint. The second thing that we are blessed with in knowing God's revelation of Himself is happiness. The word for "happy" is "eser" which means to be in a state of joyful bliss. It refers to the kind of long-term happiness that comes from knowing and walking in God's favor in our lives.
A wise man is one who regularly refers to God's revelation of Himself. He does not make his own God who then approves of how he wants to live. He learns to relate to God because of Who he sees in Scripture. Some things are not to be left to our human minds - and the nature and character of God is one of them. Knowing Him by His revelation of Himself creates true joy in our hearts - and a true fear of God that will help us make good moral and spiritual choices.
A false witness will perish, But the man who listens to the truth will speak forever. Proverbs 21:28
How long do your words last? There are many people who sat a whole lot - but whose words don't last very long. There are others who actually spend more time listening than they do speaking. It seems that they obtain wisdom much more often - and that their words are remembered far longer.
Here we have the false witness presented to us first. He is the man who speaks lies. He may not be lying on purpose though. He may just be listening to those who do not know the truth. He also may have bought into a system that is based upon false knowledge - or one that denies the veracity of Scripture. False witnesses tend to gather to themselves a number of people who will listen to their words. Scripture warns about a time when people will not tolerate sound words. They will instead gather to themselves teachers who will give them what their itching ears what to hear. They don't want the truth because the truth will cost them. Therefore they prefer those who will tell them what they want to hear. The problem though with such false witnesses is that they will perish - and those who listen and follow them will perish alongside them. Paul warned young Timothy to watch his life and his doctrine closely. He said to persevere in these things - because by doing so he would not only guarantee his own salvation - but also the salvation of those who listen to him as well. That is the saddest aspect of those who listen and gather false witnesses to themselves. They will wind up with the same sins, the same judgment, and in the same hell as their teachers.
There is a second man presented to us in today's proverb . . . a wise man. He is one who listens to the truth. It is interesting that while the false witness is all about speaking, the wise man is far more about listening. He listens to the truth. What is being said here is that he listens to the Word of God. James told those in his letter to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. He knew that a wise man becomes wise because he chooses to listen far more than he does speak. Therefore he knows the truth - and can speak it when it is needed. We see that in today's proverb. While the false witness perishs - the wise man who listens to the truth speaks forever. His words far outlast his days. How can a man speak this way - having his words last forever? It is not through the wisdom of this world and the scholars who love this world. It is by speaking the Word of God. This man's words last forever because they are God's Words. God's Word is eternal. We read in Psalm 119, "Forever O Lord, your word is established in heaven." We read again in Peter's first letter, "The grass dies, and the flower fades, but the Word of our Lord endures forever." Want to speak in a way that will last? Then speak according to God's Word - or even better - just speak the Word itself. That is the way to speak lasting words that will truly impact those who hear you - not just for a day or a week - or even a year. God's Word lasts forever!
The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, Searching all the innermost parts of his being. Proverbs 20:27
Here is a proverb that wisely reveals to us the workings of the Spirit of God within a man. One might ask how this imparts wisdom to us. We must remember though the definition of wisdom. That definition is seeing things as God sees them - and thus making decisions that are in concert with His will and purposes. With wisdom defined in this way we can easily see why a verse showing us the workings of the Holy Spirit in man is very valuable to grasping wisdom in our lives. Such information allows us to better understand how God imparts and gives us His wisdom.
The first thing we learn is that the "spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord." A lamp is something we use to give us light. What is being said to us is that the lamp of God is the spirit of man. When God wants to reveal Himself and make Himself and His wisdom known to man, He does so in and through our spirit. By the working of the Holy Spirit - Who speaks in our spirit - we are made aware of the mind and heart of God. Watchman Nee in his amazing volume on the working of the Holy Spirit, The Spiritual Man, spoke of how the Holy Spirit worked in us through our intuition, our conscience, and through something I'll call "our knower." Let's take a look at these three features of our spirit in concert with God's Spirit.
God reveals Himself to us primarily through His Word. As we read and know His revelation of Himself in the Word, the Holy Spirit will speak to our conscience. This might also be referred to as conviction. We are convicted of truth and our conscience speaks to us. This is not some kind of "devil on one shoulder - angel on the other" kind of experience. Instead is it a settled understanding of some things. First is might be that soemthing it true - true about God - true about who we are in Christ - true morally - true in any number of ways. Our conscience speaks to us and we know that it is true (because we see it in God's Word). We also might see that something is sinful. God's Word points out an action, an attitude, a word spoken - and our conscience bothers us as we come to the settled conviction that either we have sinned, or that something is sin. Another way this works is when we are convicted about something as the will of God. Our conscience prods us to act - to speak - to turn away from some temptation or toward an act of obedience - serving in some way - witnessing - and any number of other aspects of walking in obedience with God.
The second tool used by the Holy Spirit is our intuition. This really also fits the idea of our "knower." This is when the Spirit of God works in our spirit to help us just 'know' that soemthig is true. This would speak to the working of God to simply through an intuitive knowledge - to bear witness with the truth. One thing about this 'intuitive' aspect of God's working must be said. That is that God's Spirit will NEVER contradict God's Word in what He grants us as intuitive knowledge. Probably the best way I can describe this working is that we have a sense that someting is wrong - or something is warning us that we are about to sin. There is also a way where we just know that something is God's will and that we should act. Again - this is one of the more subjective ways the Spirit of God works - so this must be tested with God's Word - and a working knowledge of it.
We need to note how God's lamp works in this proverb. We read that it, "searches all the innermost parts of our being." God's lamp - our spirit as the Holy Spirit reveals truth to us - searches us out. Even to the very innermost parts of our being this lamp lights things up within us. The reason this is needed is at least in part because sin has made it difficult to know our own hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us that the heart is deceitful above all else and is dsperately wicked. We are told immediately afterward, "I the Lord search the heart." Thus this working by God's lamp is vital to us knowing the truth.
It is wise to regularly - even daily or hourly - submit to the teaching, leading, and searching of the Holy Spirit of God. This work that God does is so very important if we want to know the truth. When we surrender to Him and allow Him to teach us - we know the truth. When we surrender to Him and allow Him to lead us - we will walk in the will and ways of God consistently. When we surrender to Him and allow Him to search us - we will be delivered from sin and from deceiving ourselves by following our hearts instead of being led by the Spirit and the Word. Wisdom - yes this proverb gives us great wisdom indeed.
He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD. Proverbs 16:20
Ever have problems paying attention to something? This is a common problem with just about everyone I've ever known. Many of us are avid day-dreamers who take excursions all over the world - or at least all over the recesses of our minds - every day. The problem is when distracted thinking affects how we approach and deal with God's Word and what the Lord is trying to say to us in our daily quiet time.
Today's proverb has excellent advice for those who want to be wise. Pay attention to what God is saying to you in His Word! That is the advice. Simple isn't it. Yet anyone who has ever had a quiet time go awry knows that simple in stating and complicated in obeying is the problem here. I've had quiet times where I spent the majority of my time turning down dog-eared pages in my Bible. I've had other ones where I will finish reading a chapter and wonder what is the world I just read. At other times I've been reading a chapter and been horribly distracted with thoughts poking themselves into my mind between every verse. All this can be downright frustrating at times!
Giving attention to God's word means that we do more than just read over it. The word for attention means to consider something. To place our entire attention toward it also is part of what this word means. Distractions are normal, but when they come we need to stop reading and deal with them. Otherwise we will be in danger of just reading over words - without truly paying attention to them.
Giving attention to the Word also means taking a little time to consider, meditate, and learn from it. I've been guilty in the past of just wanting to read a lot of the Bible - and not think on what I am reading. This particular blog was a way of battling that problem. Writing these posts have made me slow down and truly consider what a verse means. Consider keeping a quiet time journal where you can focus on one verse, or a few of them. That will help you pay attention to what God is saying to you.
The blessing that comes from this is that you will find good. The good that you will find is varied. Some days you will find a promise in God's Word that you can claim. Other days you will find instruction or teaching about some aspect of God or His will. On others you will experience rebuke or correction that will lead you away from a sin and back into sweet fellowship with the Lord. Still others will yield a fresh glimpse of God's glory and character that will blow you away or thrill your heart. There is so much good that comes from approaching the Word as more than just something to check off on your day. You need to approach it as you would approach Him - because that is exactly what you are doing!
There is another blessing that comes from doing this as well - and it is explained for us at the close of this proverb. You will be blessed because as you understand God's will and ways and person better - you will be able to trust in Him! When He gives a command you can trust Him to provide the power to keep it. When He offers rebuke or conviction you can trust Him to grant repentance and to lead you into freedom from the sinful action. When He offers hope or encouragement you can trust Him to bring you through the situation which has caused hurt or pain. There are so many ways that God can make you truly blessed as you have a fresh opportunity to trust Him and rely upon what He has said in His Word. May you be blessed indeed as you continue having daiily times alone with Him - as He speaks to you - as you pay attention - and as you are wonderfully blessed as He encourages you onward into every new day of trusting Him and seeing Him work out His will in your life!
“Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at my doorposts.” Proverbs 8:34
Wisdom had regaled us with tales of creation and what it was like to watch and be a participant in the very creation of all that God has made. We have seen from Wisdom's statements and from an examination of the world around us, that we can trust Wisdom and what God says to us through His Word. Now we hear Wisdom calling us to be a listener - to be one who watches and waits for what God has to say to us. Just as God has been true about His creation of this world - so He is now calling us to listen to what He has to say to us about life itself - and how to live it.
Blessed is the man who listens to me. This is God's promise of happiness for those who listen - who heed what He has do say. The word for blessed means one who is happy. The happiness experienced is not a transitory happiness based on getting our own way and living for what we want to live for day to day. It is a happiness at a much deeper level - more than happiness. This is about a deep-seated joy that comes from knowing and walking with God. It comes from knowing Him - and knowing His blessing in our lives. But this blessing is conditional - it is for those who listen to Him. We need to open our ears and more than that, our hearts, to what God desires for us. There needs to be more than basic hearing. Let me explain with a less than gracious example from my own experience.
I am a guy - which usually means there are times I have "listening" issues. My wife is very gracious in spite of my listening disorder. There are times when she is talking to me (come to think of it - I also have four daughters who struggle with this "lack" of mine as well) that she will pause and ask me if I am listening to her. My response is to repeat the last sentence she has just said. This is not amusing to her at all. She did not ask if I heard words that she was saying to me - she wanted to know if I actually listened to her. This, my dear fellow males, means was I listening for the purpose of furthering our relationship. Was I listening so as to hear more than just words - was I hearing her heart. If I had honestly answered that question I would have had to say no. I was not listening - I heard some stuff - but I was not really hearing with understanding. I was not hearing to have a relationship. To put it in a way that maybe we can understand - I was not truly "getting her." That would have required listening. It would have required zeroing in on what she was saying with an intent to know what she said, why she said it, and respond in an intelligent and caring way that expressed that I loved her . . . more than the football game that I was currently watching. (Wow - that was far more cathartic than I thought.)
God wants us to LISTEN to Him. He wants us to do two things each day. First He wants us to be "watching at His gates." The "gate" was the place where important decisions were made. This was serious stuff - because it was at the gate that the wisest and most influential men gathered. God wants us to listen and watch for the really important stuff in life. We need to watch for Him - because He will give us guidance on the major decisions and major life choices that we face each day. But he also calls for us to be "waiting at His doorposts." What a wonderful picture that this is. The doorposts referred to the opening of the house. This speaks of two things. First it speaks of intimacy - of a relationship where we can talk about everything in life. God tells fathers to talk to their children in this way. He wants us to speak to our kids when we get up and go to sleep each day. He wants us to talk to them about Him when we go out and come in. He also wants us to write on our very doorposts the Word of God - so that is what we see when we go out and come in. This is every day life - and the wonderful blessing of having a friend with whom we can talk when we are going through our day.
The second thing this points to is redemption. We wait for God at the doorposts of our house. This was the place where every year the Jewish family would put blood for the Passover. This blood was left on the doorposts overnight. Over time the obedient Jewish family would wind up with permanent blood stains on their door frame. But oh what a wonderful picture this is of how we wait for God. Wisdom reminds us that we are God's people. We are bought with a price - and we are redeemed. When we wait for Him here - we experience intimacy - but we also are reminded that we are intimate because we are redeemed.
Wisdom calls us to walk with and know God. This is done in every area of our lives. It is in the big stuff - and in the little stuff. It is in the huge decisions that will direct our lives - but it is also in the little decisions that set the daily course of where we will walk today. The thing wisdom asks of us is that we listen. That does not mean being able to quote Bible verses by rote - but not really know what they mean. Listening means coming before God and hearing Him with a bent to know His heart. When we do that - we will see that this is the true way to a deep abiding happiness that will last throughout a lifetime.
Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your mind to my knowledge; Proverbs 22:17
All throughout the book of Proverbs we have little sections devoted to calling people to wisdsom. Here is another one. From this verse all the way through verse 21 we are called to give ourselves to the "words of the wise" as we walk through life.
The call here is to hear what the wise are saying. Something that we should realize is that as we walk through life God is going to bless us with those who are wise. Unfortunately the cutlure of the west has turned from learning from the elderly - and thus has cut off from ourselves a wealth of wisdom and understanding in the process. There is much to learn from someone who has walked through life many years. If nothing else -we can learn from the fact that they've faced things we have not - and that they are failed at things and learned form their mistakes.
The call is to incline our ear and hear these words. This is in some ways a call to humility. We have to submit ourselves to their words if we are going to learn anything. If we think that we are the fountanhead of wisdom itself - we will be too arrogant and too apt to "lean on our own understanding" to listen to what someone else has to say. There is much to simply learning to shut one's own mouth and hear what others have to say. That is why God admonishes us through the book of James to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. The wise old saying goes that God gave us two ears but only one mouth. By this He is saying that we need to listen twice as much as talk. That one thought alone, if adhered to, would grant us a great deal of wisdom.
The thing though that the wise old sage offers to the youth is that not only should he listen, but he shoud also apply himself to understanding what he has heard. This is where a great deal of wisdom is gleaned. We not only listen, but then later we take the time to mull over what has been said with a view to truly understanding it and applying it to the various situations that we face in life. It is not enough just to listen - we must apply what we've heard as well. This application process happens as we also truly seek to grasp the very root truth of what we've heard. This means going to the level of the worldview that wisdom teaches us. That worldview is one of knowing and valuing to the utmost what God has to say to us. Wisdom is best defined as seeing things like God sees them. This means that we take what we've learned from God not just as information, but as a framework to understanding everything in the world around us. This is the way to wisdom - to see and to grasp things from God's perspective - and then to live as He would direct us.
Prepare plans by consultation, And make war by wise guidance. Proverbs 20:18
Some think that living a godly life means relying on the Holy Spirit to the point where you make no plans at all - you are simply led by the Spirit to do whatever is next on the Spirit's agenda. But, as with all extreme positions, this runs contrary to the whole counself of Scripture and what God has to say about planning. Here we have a verse in Proverbs that promotes planning - but not from a fleshly standpoint - but rather from one that urges us to be wise and to consult with others as we make plans.
Planning can be a blessing or a curse. What is key in determining which you are going to experience is your attitude and desire in what you plan. The word "prepare" means to establish, set up something, to be firm, or to prepare. It has the idea of being steadfast in a direction or being founded. The idea here is that our lives are not to be flighty, but truly focused and set in a clear direction based upon Scripture. The word "plans" gives us even a more clear direction and understanding of the idea of planning here. The Hebrew word here is "mahashabah" which means a purpose, a thought or an intention. This gives us an interesting line of thought - which is this . . . God wants us to think. He wants us to think about our lives - to consider things - to take the time to reason biblically about the purpose for which we are doing things and the intent behind them. When you consider planning from this perspective it takes on a whole new mindset. Godly planning would involve prayer - consulting with God and with the Scriptures about the plans that are being made.
The last word that is used in the first part of this passage is "consultation." This is the Hebrew word "esah" which means to get advice, discernment from others, or to seek out the judgments of others. This means seeking out advice, counsel, and not just relying on how you think about a matter when making plans. Finding wise men and women who can help you grasp not only Scripture, but also good biblical sense is so important when making plans. But too often the one thing we forget when reading a passage like this is that we ned to consult with God in prayer. Without this important step, we will most likely make unwise plans.
The second half of this passage is interesting in that it tells us that we should "make war by wise guidance." When I read this I see two things that immediately impress themsevles on my mind. First is a physical reality - war in the physical realm. Adam Clarke made a marvelous comment on this when he said, "Most of the wars that are undertaken are wars of injustice, ambition, aggrandizement, and caprice, which can have had no previous good counsel." James 4
counsels us that the reason for the wars and conflicts among us are too often nothing more than a desire to get when we cannot get what we want through godly means. This is why a war should never be entered into without wise counsel.
The second meaning I see here has to do with spiritual warfare - its reality and its engagement. When we engage in doing God's will - even to the point of planning and setting a purpose in doing what God wants - we need to understand that we are going to face spiritual warfare. The evil one is not going to sit still when believers are planning an attack against his kingdom and his territory. That is why we need to make war - spiritual war - with wise guidance. Our enemy, the devil, is a wiley foe. He will oppose us openly as we preach the gospel, seek the salvation of the lost, and labor to see disciples of Jesus Christ raised up and eventually sent out to do additional damage to his interests. That is why we need wise consultation with God. We need to know we are doing His will, acting according to His Word, and are laboring and fighting by His Spirit. When we do this we are sure to prevail and to bring glory to God.
Planning is not an ungodly thing. Instead it is an opportunity to draw near to God - draw near to other wise saints who know Him - and to set our hearts and purposes according to His heart and purpose. Rather than be a trip into selfishness and self-driven goals and 5 year plans - it is to be a time to engage with God Himself and with His most precious people who seek His face. This can be even a time of reviving and realigning ourselves with Him - His purposes and plans - and even His power as we come into agreement with what He wants done and how He wants to accomplish it.
The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Proverbs 18:15
The search for knowledge is an interesting thing to look at in the Scriptures - as well as in the world. The world wants knowledge - but it is a different kind of knowledge from a different source. The knowledge that he world desires is what is called worldly knowledge. It is a knowledge that ignores God's Word - and is in opposition to it. It is knowledge that denies God's existance as creator - denies the moral realities of the world - and encourages man to continue to live independently from God.
The knowledge that is encouraged here in Proverbs is that which is gained by not only knowing God and His Word, but also being able to take what you know and use it to guide you in making decisions and in pleasing God in every situation that you face in life. We see here that the mind of the prudent acquires knowledge. Mind here refers to our thinking and reasoning - but it affects the heart and the core values that guide our decision making. The wise man mentioned here is the one whose mind and heart is prudent. What is meant by this is that he is constantly seeking the ability to look at two things and see the difference between them. He is a discerning man who does not take everything at face value. He looks into things so that he may acquire knowledge before he makes decisions - or even decides how to view something in life. If there is any way that this man can get knowledge in this way - he is trying to acquire it. This word, acquire speaks of purchasing something in order to possess it. This man wants knowledge - and he will pay whatever cost there is to get it. When you read ths do not think of money - but think of time, study, and diligence in seeking and knowing the Word of God. It is often costly in time and effort to get the kind of knowledge that yields discernment as well. You just cannot open and book and get it. It comes by knowing the Word in a way that helps us to see things as God sees them.
The wise man also tunes his ears to seek knowledge. Note here that we move from our minds to our ears. What is different about this word is that it is saying something far more than just listening with our physical hearing. The New Testament often uses the phrase, "hear what the Spirit is saying." That means being able to hear with far more than just our physical ears. It speaks of the ability to hear God. The word seek emphasizes it even more. This is the Hebrew Word that speaks of seeking God's presence. Daniel 9:3
speaks of this kind of seeking when we read of Daniel doing the following. "So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by
prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes." When we "seek" for knowledge we are giving our attention to it. We are praying and crying out to God to give us His knowledge and His heart for things. At times this involves even fasting and special concern for gaining the knowledge that God has for us.
Knowledge is important for the man wanting to be wise. It will involve reading and study like all other forms of knowledge, but it will require more. It will require that we have a heart for God - and desire a spiritual knowledge that God gives us from His Word. But the reward for such a search is that we wil be able to walk through life being able to discern what to do and how to do it in a number of situations. We will have a discernment that will allow us to see beyond surface issues and get to the very heart of a decision or a response to others. the place you se this the best is in the life of Jesus. His knowledge of the Word and of His Father's heart gave Him the ability to cut through any kind of lie or misinformation. He truly could answer not just the question of a man - but the heart and motive behind it. That is the wonderful discernment that comes with the knowledge God gives us as we seek it and Him diligently.
"But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil." Proverbs 1:33
Although the past eleven verses have been ones that have had a message of warning and correction, the last verse in this admonition gives us an encouraging lift. That is the blessing of listening to God's warnings. They may be tough, but in the end He also offers us a positive look at what it means if we live a life that obeys and honors Him. That is what we will examine today as we look at the last verse of Proverbs chapter one.
We immediately see the transition that is made here. But . . . is such a wonderful word when seen in transitions where God has been trying to make a point. Foolishness has been shown for how unwise and destructive that it truly is throughout these verses. But now God is going to turn things around with one verse. There is proise of punishment and consequence for those who reject God's wisdom and Word - but for those who will listen - there is blessing.
The word used here to call us to listen is a wonderful word. It is the Hebrew word "shama" and it means not just to listen with ones ears - it means to have what we listen to affect us so that we obey and regard what it is that God has said to us. Two famous biblical passages use this word. The first is in Deuteronomy 6:4
where God introduces the Shema. "Hear O, Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" After this God calls Israel to love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. This passage became so famous among Israel that the word listen was codified - and the basic confession of Israel was named, the Shema. It is a reminder for all time for her people to place love for God above all other things in life! The second place where this word is used in a famous way is in Isaiah 1:2
, "Listen O heaven, and hear O earth; for the LORD speaks, Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me." This is a passage where Isreal has rejected God - and God calls all of creation to listen to the warning that is offered - a warning that calls men to never abandon and turn away from the Lord. In both of these passages "shema" is used to call us not just to listen to anything - but to listen to something and Someone of absolute importance.
We are called to listen to God - and here, of course, we are called to listen to His wisdom. The ones who listen in this way are ones who will "live securely." This phrase meant that a person could live with a calm assurance that God would protect and keep them. Wisdom has a way of setting our hearts at ease, knowing that God's wisdom will always yield what is best for us. The promise is also given that we will be "at ease from the dread of evil." This ease again describes for us a state of security, peace, and rest. It speaks oddly enough for this state to overcome someone even at the moment of death. It is a peace that cannot be disturbed because it is given by God Himself.
The Lord gives warnings - and they can involve somewhat extensive cautions against wisdom and against walking in rebellion to His Word and ways. But know that such warnings are given to us because of God's great love and mercy toward us. Yet in the midst of such warnings - and in the midst of what some might call, "negative messages" we can know that God's desire is for us to walk in His ways and thus to experience all His blessings. To act like sin does not exist if we do not name it is the height of foolishness. The wise man knows that such warnings are welcome to us for they remind us that we must cling to and love the LORD our God with all that we have and all that we are. Such warnings are blessings in disguise for they keep us from walking in foolish and unprofitable ways. Embrace the negative messages that warn of our propensity to walk in the flesh and in our own strength. When we keep such wisdom close to our hearts, we will find that these messages are close friends with God's favor - and those are friends that are worth keeping indeed!
"Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; Proverbs 1:24
We are examining the first chapter of Proverbs and seeing why it is not always the best thing to only have positive messages in the church and in our Christian lives. Here we see the reality that some do not receive what God is saying to them. They refuse to turn to God as He issues a call to them through His Word and His wisdom.
Too many get bent out of shape when they hear that God has to call us for us to be saved. They pretty much freak out when they are told that on their own they would never come to God because they are dead in their sins. They do not realize that God in His mercy does call men to Himself. But the truth is that even when God calls - men reject Him. Even when He allows them to hear His counsel, His reproof, His encouragment to turn from their sin to follow Him - they reject it. That is what is made clear here in this section of Scripture. God tells us that he called - but the fool refuses that call. The idea of refusal here involves a rejection not just of the message - but also of the Messenger.
God is showing great mercy and grace to men in stretching out His hand to them. Their sin should receive a stretched out hand - to discipline and bring them under God's judgment. But that is not what the Lord is trying to do here. He is wanting to instruct - to make His words known to those He calls (vs. 23). As He stretches out His hand in mercy, what does He receive? Nothing . . . no one pays any attention to what He is saying. This coincides with the truth in the New Testsament that, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23
). It also is a testament to Romans 3:10-12
which says, ". . . as it is written, there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one." Men, by their very nature reject God. Due to their deadness in sin, they will refuse Him and reject Him. But there is an even more amazing truth that this.
It is an amazing thing to read here that men reject and refuse God. It is astounding that they do not even pay attention to what He is saying. But what is more amazing is that immediately after He is rejected God does not let judgment fall in that very moment. But God is merciful in that He responds with further mercy. But this passage is not a reminder of that mercy. It is meant to be a stark reminder of how foolish it is to reject God when He does stretch out His hand and offer counsel, reproof, and instruction.
What should we learn from today's Proverb of the day? We learn that to receive God's wisdom and offer of instruction is the greatest of mercies. We learn that Jehovah God does this over and over again - offering mercy and grace that is rejected by sinful men. But the real question for us today is what are WE going to do when we are aware that God is wanting to give us His Words - and correct us from a way that is not in accordance with His will? Are we going to refuse and reject Him? Are we going to see His outstretched arms - and not even pay attention?
It might benefit us greatly to read a passage from Hebrews 2
that offers a warning to us - a warning that we should pay "much closer attention" to the times where God is speaking to us. Hebrews 2:1-3
offers us this godly counsel on this matter, "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" May we learn to listen with great passion and intensity when the Lord speaks to us - and may we not be guilty of neglecting so great a salvation when God offers not just His grace in Christ initially - but when He continues to save us from sin as He sanctifies us daily by His Word and His Spirit.