"As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man." Proverbs 27:19
How do you know what a man truly is? According to today's proverb this is known simply by knowing his heart. It is not the outside image that someone presents to us that truly reflects who they are. It is what they are in their hearts that matters - and that truly reflects who they are.
When we bend over and look into a calm pond on a clear day, we will see reflected in water the image of our face. That image will be a faithful reproduction of who we are - at least what our face looks like. We can trust what we see in that image. Then we read that just in the way that this happens - the heart of man reflects man. But the question we need to ask is this, "What do we see when we look into the heart of man?"
The answer to the above question has everything to do with when you are looking into the heart of man. At times we look into the heart of man and we see very wonderful things. The heart of man can reflect the glory of God. The heart of men can experience the depths of love, compassion, kindness, and relections of the God who created us. At other times we might cringe in horror as we see the depths of depravity in the wars and atrocities that have existed in the heart of men. The heights and depths we see from the magnificent beauty in a painting or a poem to the darkness of the most horrendous acts of violence and injustice must give pause to some who do not have the perspective of the Scriptures from which to understand these tremendous differences.
The Word of God helps us understand why mankind has such a Jekyll and Hyde history. We are the direct creation of Almighty God, and as such have astrounding capacities that reflect His character and person. Yet, we sold our birthright for a mess of porridge, when our head, Adam, chose to disobey God. That moment in history is called, the Fall. Without the Scritpures we will not grasp how far we fell in that moment. The glory of God we were to reflect was marred. The result is a world in which death reigns - and in which we see the heart of man at one moment blessing someone, and in the next cursing them. James tells us, out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing, my brothers, this should not be. Yet because of sin that is what happens. This reflects our hearts - for Jesus Himself said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."
The heart of man reflects the man. That is the reality in which we live every day. And if we are honest with ourselves, we are often shocked at the things that are in our hearts. We may want to do the good, but in the end the very evil we hate seems to rule in our hearts. We may do good one moment - and in the next find ourselves with the most heinous of thoughts running through our minds. What are we to do? The heart reflects to us that we are fallen - we are sinful - we are in need of change. In this regard, and this one alone, I encourage you to listen to your heart. You will not hear such things unless the Holy Spirit is convicting you of the sin which is indicatve of our fall from God. Listen to what God is saying to your heart - and embrace the truth. This truth is that your heart reflects that you are guilty before God - in need of His mercy and grace. The truth is that you need the grace of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. You need your sins to be forgiven and to be made acceptable in God's sight by what Jesus Christ did at the cross. You need new life - to be born again - and to experience God's life which is the only life that can change us and reflect a different image in our hearts.
Jeremiah the prophet brought us a message from God. His message was that the heart of man is deceitful above all else, and is desperately wicked. No one can understand his own heart. But God is the one Who searches the heart - Who helps us understand our need - and Who then meets that need in what He has done through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we can only see our hearts in that light - in the light of the mirror of God's Word - then as our heart is reflected to us, we'd see our need and run to Jesus Christ for forgiveness, grace, and new life.
Like a trampled spring and a polluted well Is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked. Proverbs 25:26
A spring or well holds such promise. When we come to one or hear of one there is the hope of clear fresh water. We can drink and be refreshed. Yet to come to one and find it trampled to where it is dirty and filled with mud and pollutants is such a disheartening thing. This is true in the realm of water - but how much more so when applied to the lives of godly men.
This trampled spring or polluted well is actually a godly, righteous man who surrenders and gives way before the wicked. Giving way has the idea of wavering, wobbling and shaking before one falls. The fall is imminent and that is what all the movement indicates is coming. The Hebrew also indicates it can be a foot slipping or a fire flaming out.
This picture in the Hebrew is applied to a righteous man who faces the true test of his righteousness. THE test is when he stands before the wicked. He chooses to face such a test by walking in righteousness, and that might cost him dearly. The test may be as little as the disagreement of others - and it may be as large as facing martyrdom for his stand. Regardless the situation, this righteous man chooses instead to give way - to wobble and totter in his views. He changes his mind - or acts contrary to it. His pollution and trampling come as a result of not standing firm in his convictions. He does not hold to the Word in such situations - but gives way before the world instead.
There are so many men and women in history who have given way before the wicked. They have chosen the way of peace - at least peace on this earth. There will be no peace for them in the end when they stand before God. But they do not want to rock the boat. The conclusion of such matters is that a life that could have been so refreshing to others is trampled and polluted. Now all it does it disappoint those who needed a refreshing drink. What they could have offered is ruined - because they chose to waver in their faith before the wicked.
There is another way that we give way before the wicked. It is not as public as the outright denial of Christ contained in a renunciation. Yet this kind of "giving way" happens in a secret tribunal - the one that comes up in our hearts when wickedness comes and asks for our obedience. There are secret forays into sin - and secret moments when we give way before the wicked. Such things are not public displays - but they nevertheless muddy he waters of our heart. It might be a little while lie we chose to indulge in - or a look that begins innocently, but ends in an adulterous heart. It might be a way we've cheated or cut corners at work to not give our best for God's glory and the testimony of His name. Whatever it is, it tramples our well - and muddies the waters of our heart so that we cannot give as clear a drink of clean, life-giving water to others from the well of our hearts - that should be flowing outward with the rivers of living water of the Holy Spirit.
There is hope for those who have thus fallen in the New Testament. Peter gave way before the wicked - and that could have been the final message of his life. Fortunately for him Christ came and offered grace and forgiveness. He called Peter to repentance - and then back to usefulness. In no way do I want to lessen the truth of this passage - that righteous men need to stand in righteous views when the wicked come wanting them to compromise. Godly men need to remain godly when the ungodly want them to "tone it down" and lower their standards (which most often means to lower the standards of Scripture). We do need to stand firm and hold to the Word rather than the world. But, when we do fall, it is good to know that when we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive them. Nevertheless, we need to be wise and stand firm when confronted by the wicked. To do otherwise may mean allowing a well or spring that could offer many a fresh drink of the water of the Word, nothing more than the muddy, polluted waters of sinful compromise with the world. There are plenty of places where you can be served a drink of that kind of swill. May God help us to be men and women who stand firm on the gospel - which grants us power to stand - and also gives us grace to get up even if we've made the mistake of giving way before sin in our lives. May we be wise and choose righteousness and holiness so that the waters of our heart not be muddied with the pollution of sin and compromise.
Many plans are in a man's heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand. Proverbs 19:21
There is a practice among Christians - and honestly - I am ashamed to admit that I have followed this practice at times in my life. The practice of which I speak is that of making plans - carrying them out - and then later blaming them on God or on the leading of the Holy Spirit. Let me give you an example of this practice. There was a time when I really wanted to do a certain thing. Over time this plan, which was in my heart, began to dominate my mind and my thinking. One day I decided that I would do it - and honestly - without really taking it to the Lord and seeing if it was His will or not. As "the plans of my heart" continued to be implemented, I would tell people that God had led me to do this - or that the Holy Spirit put this on my heart. Well, as with all plans of men that arise out of their flesh - the plans of my heart crashed and burned. But now my resposne was to tell people God was responsible for leading me into them.
This kind of thing happens again and again in the Christian world. There are people who promise and swear that God is the One who led them into a certain choice or action - when it is pretty clear from a study of Scripture that this choice is unscriptural. I've had people tell me that God was leading them to divorce their wife. I've had young ladies tell me that God was the one who led them to date a non-Christian. They joyfully asserted that God was going to bring their young man to Christ. In the end - someone was converted - but it was not the non-Christian. That is why today's proverb is so important for us to understand.
There are many plans in the hearts of men. These plans reside in a heart that is fallen - and in a heart and mind that desperately needs repentance. As a result, as Paul has said, their understanding is darkened - and they are unable to come to godly decisions. "But I am a Christian," some will assert - as if simply being a Christian guarantees that we will always make decisions in concert with the will of God. The fact is that if we are not renewing our minds with the Word of God we are prone to fatal errors in judgment. The fact is that if we are not denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Christ - we will be sadly mistaken about a myriad of things. The fact is that if we are not trusting in the Lord with all our heart, not leaning on our own understanding - acknowledging Him in all our ways - He will not be directing our paths. The fact is without these things happening daily - and even hourly - we will be directing our own paths. The "many plans" that dwell in our heart naturally - will be what lead us.
The proverb today tells us that it is, "the counsel of the Lord" that will stand in the end. What is the "counsel of the Lord?" In previous posts we have seen that this word "counsel" refers not to advice given that we can either choose to follow or not. It is not just God's opinion on something that we can reject. The word means counsel that is given that is expected to be followed. This is God's Word - the Scriptures - and when God offers His counsel on a matter - that matter is decided. To do anything else is now disobedience and rebellion against God. I know that sounds harsh to our post-modern way of thinking - but what has post-modernism brought us that will stand in the end?
This proverb is kind of a warning to us. The warning is this . . . you have many plans in your heart. This fact is not denied. The problem is that your plans are not guaranteed to stand. They may be good ideas or they may be bad ones. You may even have plans that succeed according to the ways of this present world. But the fact is that the only plans that will stand are God's plans. Nothing else will stand - ever. And please understand that God is speaking on an eternal basis. It is one thing to have our plans blessed in the short term - but quite another for them to be blessed now, and forever more. Psalm 73 speaks of how David saw the wicked prospering and almost lost his faith over it. But then he came into the sanctuary and into God's counsel. He saw that although their plans were doing well for the short term - in the long term there were serious - even infinite problems with their way of living. In the end they were destroyed and consumed. They fell all at once - and there was no recovery for them. Their plans - all those plans that were in their heart - led them to a short term prosperity here and now . . . but to an eternal judgment in the long term because they had no regard for the counsel of the Lord.
Here is a quick way to make sure your plans are blessed beyond the short-term. Consider how your plans will fare at the judgment seat of Christ. Think using the Scriptures. Think and consider your plans with an eternal outlook. I can guarantee you that a billion years into the afterlife - no one will be patting themselves on the back in hell. They won't be joking about how good they had it back during the 60-70 years they were alive and doing their own thing - living according to the "plans that were in their own heart." They won't find it comforting to see how they "outsmarted God" for a few years while they ignored all His warnings about their choices and behavior. What will be of comfort for all eternity is the fact that God's counsel stood - and will stand forever. The plans of His heart will be established and therefore, it is that counsel and those plans that we should seek to know and follow.
He who has a crooked mind finds no good, And he who is perverted in his language falls into evil. Proverbs 17:20
If you know someone with a perverted mouth - it is because it flows from a morally bankrupt mind. Even as I reread this statement, something within me just recoils from such a strong statement as this - and yet - when we truly understand what God is saying here in Proverbs - that is exactly what is being communicated.
The first thing we see here is a man with a "crooked mind." The word for "crooked" is the Hebrew word "iqqesh" and it means to be perverse, twisted, and crooked. The idea is that of someone who has a moral, religous, and social perversion by which their mind works. They do not think thoughts that are aligned with decent morals. They despise not just morals - but also religion and any kind of social contract by which men seek to live together in a decent fashion. They highly despise the idea of morals that are the result of religious principle. They hate such things - seeing themselves as free moral agents to determine whatever morals or lack of them they want. The consequences of such moral mental suicide is that they cannot find any good. This really is not that shocking since they would deny the existance of any kind of universal good or absolute truth. To them truth is relative to the situation - and since they hate moral goodness - it is not difficult to see that they revel in the evil and the godless things of the world - and tend to shy away from anything else. Thus - of course they would reject the good - and not be able to find any in society.
The second thing we see is a man who is perverted in his language. Perverted language is language that seeks to throw down, overturn, destroy, and wander from accepted biblical norms of how we should speak. There is a lot of disagreement on what this means in today's society. We've slowly grown to be the first society historically in the church to embrace cursing from the pulpit. The excuse that is so often used is that of saying that words are just words - we are the ones that make them curse words - or at least bad ones. What I find a little disingenuous about all this is that even the world system used to have a set of words that they would not allow on television and movies. It has only been over the past couple of generations that these accepted norms have been overturned in favor of the current "delightful" fare that we've embraced in our day. As you can tell, I am of the opinion that such language is totally unacceptable not just for use in the pulpit - but for use in every day life. It seems to me that as our society has retreated from God - we've also retreated from being circumspect about the things we say. To confess my own sins - I've watched my own speech begin to be down-graded, if you will. The Holy Spirit is in the process of encouraging (and often rebuking) me as He seeks to have me live above the moral cesspool of the accepted speech of my society.
The danger here is that we are warned that such speech DOES come from a mind that is being twisted away from the truth. The other danger is that when we do this we are warned that we "fall into evil." Whenever the church thinks it can reach the world by aping the world's behavior - we watch the opposite happen. First, we do not reach the world - but oh, how the world "reaches" us. We watch the same value systems - which might better be called "value-less" systems - that are in the world truly invade the church. When we do not watch our mouths - we will allow a kind of reverse-infection to occur in our hearts. The word used for mind in the first part of this verse actually means, "heart." Therefore when we do not watch our mouths - it is evidence that our hearts have been captured as well.
Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Therefore is it too strident a thing to say that if we have a perverse mouth - it arises out of a twisted and deceived mind? Our mouths simply reveal what is in our hearts. It would be to our benefit to watch our mouths and be careful what is allowed to come forth from them. In the end - we might look more "appetizing" the world if we do - but could that be simply because we lose the distinction of speaking in a holy manner that embraces purity and righteousness.
Let me say one last thing though - unless some get the idea that I think we are to be the public censure of all that is unacceptable speech-wise. We are called to be salt and light. That means we embrace holiness - not as a means of beating the lost to death - but as a means to be different and to be a thirst-creator in our world. The lost WILL become thirsty for what we ARE - and therefore will want the One who has changed us. Our purpose is to allow holiness to be revealed in our lives as a thirst-agent. We are not to use holiness as something to shame the lost into feigned obedience to God. That will do more to harm the gospel than reveal it. So . . . my admonition to you from Scripture is to have a mouth that is radically different than the world. Let your mouth not be filled with perversion - and your heart filled with deception and twisted morals. Instead let it be filled with Your Lord - who, by the way, did not descend into such language anywhwere in the gospels. He simply lived for God - spoke for Him - and although rejected by some - was embraced by many who saw His actions - His words - and His heart - and became incredibly thirsty for real holiness. May God make us those same things in our generation.
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!
Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it, But the discipline of fools is folly. Proverbs 16:22
There is an artery that carries the blood from our hearts to the rest of our bodies. We know it as the aorta. The passage for today from proverbs uses a phrase, "fountain of life" which is "mekor chaiyim" in the Hebrew. This was the phrase used often as an allusion to this artery which carries the blood from the heart to distribute it to all the extremities of our bodies. It is used here though in reference to the one who has "understanding." As the aorta is the life-giving channel to the whole body phsyically - so understanding is the life-giving vehicle to our moral and spiritual well-being. Therefore it is pretty important that we know what it means to have understanding in our lives.
The word "understanding" here is the Hebrew word "sekel." This word means, "having intelligence and good sense." But the intelligence mentioned here is more than just book learning about various subjects. It means to have understanding and insight into things that comes from more than just mere educational learning. The Bible says in 1 Chronicles 22:12
that only the Lord can give us insight and understanding. This is given so that we can obey God and please Him - which is the greatest understanding of things in light of eternity. Job 17:14
reminds us that God can give this understanding and insight - or - take it away whenever He so chooses. The result of having this kind of godly, God-given insight and understanding is that it helps us to be patient and forgiving (Proverbs 19:11
). Those who have such insight will be praised - and will turn from perversity in their lives (Proverbs 12:8
). You come away from the definition of this word seeing that God grants this insight as we get into His Word - understand it - and gain insight into both His character and the character of mankind. The knowledge of both of these things is what grants us patience to deal with the failings of others patiently. We grasp the power of forgiveness as we experience it from God at levels that will infinitely dwarf any forgiveness that we will ever have to give others for their trangressions against us. We will also find that such biblical insight gained from our heavenly Father will turn us to godly, holy lives - and turn us from lies, deceit, and anything which perverts and twists our path from God's ways and plans. In this end - this is a conduit for life - God's life in its fullness.
The discipline of fools is folly. The general agreement on the scholars is that "musar" which is the word here for "discipline" has the idea of instruction. It is how we use the word discipline when refering to a field of study. We are in the discipline of Mathmatics. That means that we are studying this field - and intentionally harnessing ourselves to a disciplined practice of doing math every day - so that we learn the field of study - or in this cast the discipline of Mathmatics. The passage says that the learning or instruction of the fool is folly. This is why a fool is such a pathetic figure in Proverbs. He remains a fool because that is all he disciplines himself to be - a fool. He so delights in his folly that is it all that he ever learns and pursues. In the end - he only becomes a bigger and bigger fool. Since folly is his life-blood, the flow of his choices, attitudes, and actions only solidify the result that he will be a bigger fool tomorrow than he is today. His only real hope is that the grace of God rescues him from his foolishness - and brings him to the place where he values wisdom and understanding. There must be a heart change for him to begin to experience an "aortic-change" in what flows through him as his life-blood. Honestly - this is the gospel - God reaching into the hearts of fools - changing them by His grace. Taking out their heart of stone (the heart of a fool). Granting them by His mercy and infinte kindness a new heart of flesh. This heart values wisdom and understading . . . and then, seeing the change as this new heart values understanding - which then becomes the new life-blood that flows throughout him. Only that kind of change - changes the hearts of fools. Otherwise, their discipline of study remains folly - which confirms them as lifelong fools. Their end is the ultimate place of all fools - next to the ultimate fool of all eternity - in a lake of fire that is wholly popluated by all the fools who said in their hearts, "There is no God."
Better to have life - and to have a heart that because of grace and the gospel pumps out understanding - insight - biblical knowledge - and discretion. Thanks be to God for the "aortic-change" that brings life to us - and causes life to flow into every apsect of our entire moral and spiritual being!
The wise in heart will be called understanding, And sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. Proverbs 16:21
How can we increase our influence and persuasiveness with people? That is the question that Solomon answers today in our proverb. It has to do with being wise in our hearts before we decide to open our mouths. It also involves us learning to discern what do say in different situations in life - then saying it competently.
The wise in heart will be called understanding. Wisdom enters our hearts when we turn to the Lord as our primary source for learning and understanding our world around us. Proverbs chapter 2 reminds us that as we seek God for His wisdom and open our hearts to what He desires to teach us, "Wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you." (Proverbs 2:10-11
) When we have wisdom enter our hearts - we will be able to distinguish between things that honor and please God, and things that are worldly and please our flesh. When we have this ability the Spirit of God will teach and train us in the way of wisdom. The passage here says that we will gain a reputation over time - of being a discerning person. That is what the word "understanding" means here. It means to be someone who due to wisdom - can now understand situations and circumstances that cannot ordinarily be understood from human wisdom alone.
As this discernment increases and begins to catch the attention of others, There will also be multiple opportunities to speak that wisdom to benefit those around us. But Solomon offers us a little instruction. If we will use pleasant and sweet speech when speaking that wisdom to others - we will have our persuasive abilities increased. A harsh word or a mean-spirited one will stop communication before we can ever communicate wisdom. That is why we are warned to increase our persuasiveness by speaking with kindness. We are to speak the truth - but speak it in love. If we do not - often we will be tuned out and our opportunity to influence people for the Lord will be stopped.
We need to be men and women both of wisdom and of gracious communication of it. That will allow us to have the maximum amount of persuasiveness as we share the truth. Too often people want to share truth - but with too harsh an edge. Love people and speak the truth to them. As you do you will gain a repuatation for speaking sound and good things in your counsel. You also will have that counsel regarded - and appreciated by many who will call you a person of great discernment.
Bright eyes gladden the heart; Good news puts fat on the bones. Proverbs 15:30
It is a good thing to be bright-eyed and fat-boned as a Christian. Ok, there is a sentence you won't hear everyday. Yet the fact is that today's proverb tells us that this is a good thing - and that the wise man will fully embrace it. Therefore it would definitely be good to understand just what this proverb speaks about - so that we can be blessed in this way.
Bright-eyed . . . We hear of people who wake up each morning being "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed." This is an expression that refers to someone who wakes up and is truly awake. The idea of being bushy-tailed refers to a squirrel who when his tail is bushy means that he is fully alert. These are English expressions, but what we are dealing with here is a Hebraism. It was an expression that meant something to a Jewish person - just like our sayings mean something to us.
This proverb is a "restated" proverb, meaning that each half restates the other. Thus this brightening of the eyes - is similar to the good news that puts fat on the bones. So we can know that the effect on the eyes here is from seeing good things. What is fascinating though is looking at the word "bright" in the ways that it is used in other places in the Old Testament. The overwhelming use of this word is in reference to the light of the seven-fold lap in the tabernacle of Moses. The reason this is fascinating is because of the imagry that this picture. The lamp was filled with holy oil - a picture of the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit. The lamp was the only source of light in the Holy place. It illuminted two things in that room. There was the table of showbread - which is a type of God's Word. There was also the altar of incense - which is a type for us of prayer and worship. Now in light of these things, let's look at at this proverb again.
What is the news that fattens our heart? It is when we have the full measure of the illumining work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When that is the case we have Him opening the Word to us. We have Him opening our hearts to pray and to worship God. This would definitely make our hearts glad. This is the best news of all - God is worthy - God wants us to make our requests known to Him - God wants to speak to us through His Word!
This also makes wonderful sense when we see what the Hebraism, "fat-bones" means. This particular Hebraism means a sense of prosperity. When someone has fat on their bones - they are prosperous and blessed. It is good news that does this. Indeed there is a sense that this proverb can simple mean having eyes that are brightened by seing good things and ears that hear good things - makes us glad and prosperous. But there is also a deeper spiritual meaning that takes us to a different level. When we hear and see the good news that the Scripture tells us about God - it brings joy to our heart and spiritual fatness to our bones.
It is a wise thing when a man submits himself to the work of the Holy Spirit. This will brighten his eyes and bring great gladness to his heart. He will see the gospel, which indeed is good news. He will see the truth of God which will put some serious fat on his bones. He will find himself prospering greatly in the Lord - blessed with spiritual growth - and delghted in the goodness of God. No doubt about it - it is a good thing to start your day with a quiet time where you seek the Lord - and submit yourself to the Spirit of God as a teacher and guide. Doing that will truly make you a bright-eyed and fat-boned Christian!
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. - Proverbs 15:28
Look before you leap. There is a proverb outside Scripture that reminds us to seriously think about the steps we take, because once we take them we cannot get them back. Our proverb today is similar to this except it deals with what we say. One might say that this proverb could be said this way, "Think before you speak!"
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer. We should note right from the start that the "heart" of the righteous is what is pondering his answer. The godly man does not allow his mouth to run its own course without the management of the heart. He wants to speak from the heart - not shoot from the hip. The problem about shooting from the hip when we speak is the carnage that results from drive-by speaking. This wise man thinks and considers what he is about to say. He takes the time to meditate on God's Word before he speaks his own. He discerns what is needed for the situation and speaks according to what God wants. This godly man speaks as God directs in Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear." Ultimately this man speaks those wonderful, edifying words that are like "apples of gold in settings of silver" which are words spoken at just the perfect time.
The wicked allows his mouth to have free reign in his life. This is a dangerous thing because left to itself a mouth can be dangerous. We read in the third chapter of James, "So the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fireon fire! And the tongue is a fire: the very world of iniquity, the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, ans set on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell." These verses warn us in the starkest terms of the danger of allowing our mouths and tongues to gho unchecked in what they say. When we do this it is inevitable that our mouth will "pour out evil things." The heart of the wicked man will be fully expressed by his words. The result of this will be much evil and pain in the world. Consider how many horrible things started with evil words pouring out of a wicked man's mouth. Think for a moment how Adolph Hitler mesmerized entire crowds in Germany by his wicked words. Then consider what the end of his leadership brought to the world. We may not ever do the damage of Hitler, but much harm can come from unwise, un-considered words.
Precious ones, God wants us to think before we speak. It will bring blessing to us - and will benefit those who are the recipients of our words. May we submit what we say to our Lord every morning. May we ask the Holy Spirit to bridle our tongues so that they do not speak of themselves. May we surrender all we say for God's purposes and God's specific leadership so that they can truly edify those who hear them.
Evil thoughts are an abomination to the Lord, But pleasant words are pure. - Proverbs 15:26
Thoughts and words actually come from the same place, from the heart. So as we look at today's proverb, we can see that out of the hearts of men come evil thoughts and plans. Knowing that the Bible teaches that the heart is deceitful above all things and is desperately wicked, we can know that such thoughts and plans reside in the breast of every man alive. The thoughts of man's heart were at one point so wicked that God decided to destroy the earth in the days of Noah. That is how much of an abomination these things are to Him.
We read next that pleasant words are pure. This might be a little hard to understand unless once again we take a biblical viewpoint. Words that come out of the mouth originate in the heart first. Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Thus when someone has pleasant words - they come from a pure heart. There are thoughts behind them that are equally pleasant as well.
Thoughts and words are very important to the Lord - and should be to us as well. Jesus made it clear in the Sermon on the Mount that there was far more to a man than just his actions. There were the things he thought and did in his heart. A man might state emphatically that he has never committed adultery, but if he looks at a woman with lust in his heart, Jesus says, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. These things are vital for us to grasp because they take religion out of merely acting good - and puts it where it should be - that our hearts are transformed to be good at their core. This is wisdom that cannot be refuted.