The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle. The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal: Proverbs 30:1
Here we have an interesting verse in Proverbs. It is generally accepted that this person named Agur was an actual man - and that his students, Ithiel and Ucal were also real as well. Thus this is probably part of the collection of wisdom that Solomon had. He was probably greatly impressed by this collection of wise sayings and incorporated it into his own collection as well.
What do we know of these three men. Well, beyond the meaning of their names and this particular collection of sayings - nothing. Yet God used them to offer to us an entire chapter of Agur's wise sayings. In fact, Agur is called, "the oracle," which means that Solomon considered him a prophet - or at least a man inspired by God to put these sayings from Him into a list of sorts. Let's take a closer look at their names and what they mean.
Agur means collector or gatherer. This name probably designates that he was a collector of wise sayings - but the "son of Jakeh" refers to his father. Jakeh means to be on one's guard - and this particularly before God Himself. Thus the idea here is that of piety - guarding ourselves before God - and guarding others so that they walk in godliness. Thus, when we grasp Agur's full name - he would be considered to be the gatherer, the son of the man who guarded piety - who desired to walk in holiness and purity before God. If a name meant anything - and in Hebrew culture it did - then this was quite a man God used to collect these sayings from God and then declare them as an oracle from God Himself.
Not only did this man offer these wise sayings as much needed wisdom - he took the time to state them to others. Ithiel and Ucal were Agur's students. Ithiel means, "with me is God" while Ucal means "to eat or to devour." These are quite the names of his students. Evidently his students wanted the presence of God in their lives - and also had a hunger for the things of God. At least this is what their parents hoped and desired for them when they named their children.
We come back to this verse - apart from trying to gain information from the names themselves and see a very important principle of discipleship here. At face value, we have a situation where a godly man - even a prophet or oracle of God is taking two others under his wing for the purpose of declaring to them the things God has made known to him. This is the heart of true discipleship. Life on life ministry is so important. It is not enough to just try to read the Bible - we so desperately need for godly men to pour their lives into younger men and pass wisdom to them. Jesus did it with 12 - Paul did it with Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Epaphroditus and others. If we are wise, we will do it too.
The other thing we learn is that this kind of discipleship only happens as godly men take the time to spend a life gathering wisdom from God for the purpose of living a godly, holy, God-glorifying life. That means a life devoted to reading, studying, and knowing the Word of God. This means other things that waste our time need to be set aside for the Word. In our day we have young men who are experts at video games - who spend countless hours playing them. They will not be wise. There are others who waste countless hours watching television - and in our current culture - who use netflix to watch entire seasons of shows for days at a time. They too will not become wise. A choice has to be made to become an Agur, an Ithiel, or a Ucal. The choise has to do with time - with what is eternal - and with whether we desire to be worldly-wise - or Word-wise.
A slave will not be instructed by words alone; for though he understand, there will be no response. Proverbs 29:19
Ever wonder how to deal with someone who works for you - but is not really willing to listen all that well to what you tell them? That is what today's proverb addresses. It speaks of the workplace and relationships within it. This especially relates to those who have employees who are either not working - or - are guilty of slipshod work or work that is counterproductive to what the business is seeking to accomplish.
There are those who will not be instructed by words alone. Solomon speaks to his sons about this fact. Finding a good employee is often a difficult thing to do. There is an attitude that is being fostered today among those who are in the laboring class that will prove to do great damage to our nation - and in fact it already has. That attitude is one of jealousy and envy toward the business owner - and anyone else who makes more than they do for their work. This leads to an attitude where the worker does not listen to his boss when he instructs him on what to do. This brings about poor work habits - a poor work ethic - and an even poorer attitude toward authority. This will cost us millions in lost profit and the benefit that would come from it in future business expansion and growth.
The problem though is not in whether the employee can hear or not. Note from the passage before us that he hears fine - he even understands what has been said to him. The employee has a serious attitude problem though - and refuses to respond to his employer. This lack of respect will result in the worker also not taking the boss seriously. In the end he will do his work with the same attitude with which he listens. So what is an employer to do when these things happen to him?
First, the employer (at least the one in this culture) needs to know that such attitudes will always exist. As long as there is a sin nature in man there will be jealousy and envy in the work environment. The wise employer will work to defuse such things so that the work environment is more healthy. Decrying the sin in workers will do little good - because sin will always be present. What the employer needs to do is to find ways to defuse the problem.
A wise employer seeks to hire people of character. You do background checks and seek information from other employers for this reason. If someone has a bad attitude - don't hire them. They will only bring that bad attitude into your workplace as well. If someone has a history of causing problems in the workplace - they will have that same problem in your situation as well. When you have people with good character - reward them and do all you can to keep them around.
A wise employer also will incentivise his workplace. Just as no employer starts a business for the purpose of providing employment for others - no worker gets a job for the joy of working alone. The employer starts his business to make money. He puts in the hours, makes the sacrifice, and labors hard to make a profit for himself and for his family. He grows the business so that it will expand his profitability - so he can provide better for his family. The worker is motivated by the same thing. He does not work for the joy of working alone. He wants to provide for his family - and would like to see that provision become greater over time. When the workman knows that he will be blessed as the company is blessed - he will work hard. The wise employer will not merely instruct with words - he will make a case for his employees that if things become more profitable for the company, things will be more profitable for everyone who works for the company. Words alone won't elicit response - but a share of the bounty of the company over time will.
A wise employer will also build a servant's heart in his people. He will do this first by his own example. He will not be so detatched from his people that they think he does nothing but play and collect a check. He will spend time with his people - and will let them know that he is a servant to the company as well. They all work together to serve their clientel. That attitude needs to spread to every level of management in the company. It also needs to spread to everyone who works in any position there is. They are not there to be served (which will lead to a bad attitude as they want more and more done FOR them) but to serve, and by so serving to make the company more successful. They are a success when their clients are happy.
Ultimately - the wise employer will let his employees know and see that he does not work for himself - he works for God. This will only be for those employers who submit themselves to God and realize that everything they have is from God. Not only will their employees be judged for their performace - even they as an employer will be as well - by God. God warns both employee and employer that they are responsble to Him. They will have to answer for their actions in the end before His throne. When an employee sees that even his boss submits to God - and wrestles with what is right before Him - it will give the employee a sense of confidence and safety knowing that his boss is not a law unto himself.
Words alone do not often bring about a response when we speak them. Words and promises are cheap - when they are not backed up with character and action. But when we speak the basic self-interest that exists within all of us - and do so with character, godliness, and a servant's heart toward those we lead - we will see response where previously there has been none. Whether it is in reference to a slave - a paid worker - or even family and friends, people want to know that they are doing something that will matter - and will profit them in the end. The truly wise boss will do this - and will let his employees know that the ultimate goal of any business venture in which he is involved is to serve their clients unto the glory of God. Want to have them listen, hear, understand, and respond? Live like this!
If a king judges the poor with truth, his throne will be established forever. Proverbs 29:14
Just recently we finished an election cycle in the United States. The pattern for many years now has been that the candidate with the most money usually wins the election. Thus, for an American leader, the addage is that whoever can court the most wealthy people and gather the most money will rule over the land. It is not so much how one will rule - or what they plan to do in this country - as it is how many of the wealthy come to their $5000 a plate each fundraisers. One must keep the wealthy happy - or else you will no longer have the money to win an election.
Things were not always like this - in fact, today's proverb gives wise guidance to the leader or king who will hear it. That advice is not based upon men making you or keeping you as their leader. It is insted about caring for things like compassion toward the poor and truth. These are things that have long been trampled under the foot of American political process and theory. Yet God still considers them very important in a leader.
The king is to judge the poor with truth. That is his responsibility. It is an easy thing to forget - especially when the poor do not have the means to protest or challenge an unfair ruling in the courts. It is even more difficult when the one you rule against is rich. The wealthy don't appreciate truth in those situations. But a ruler may not face a challenge greater than maintaining truth when it comes to disputes between the wealthy and the poor. God's wisdom is to judge with truth - then it will not matter what a man's position in life is. Only one thing matters - and that is that truth is upheld.
The promise of God is equally as clear. When you judge the poor with truth - your throne will be established forever. God rewards the king who qppreciates truth and justice more than power and position. The people of that nation will greatly appreciate their king, and will joyfully support him. It is hard to overthrow a king who acts this way because he is very popular among the people.
There was a king in Israel named Ahab who decided that he wanted a piece of land next to his palace. The land was owned by a man who took great pride in his families' inheritance. Though the king offered to purchase the land, the man refused because he desired to keep the land in his family. At this point the king pouted like a two year old because he did not get his way. Others acted on his behalf and got him the land - although it meant departing from the truth and judging unrighteously. So aggregious was this situation that they chose to have the man killed in a false court proceeding. When the king was informed that the dirty deed was done, he went to claim his new garden next to his palace. He was met by the prophet Elijah whom God informed of the entire sordid affair. What was going to be a time of rejoicing over his new land - turned into a horror story. The prophet informed the king that God was going to judge him and his wife for their wickedness - and their unwillingness to treat the poor with truth and justice. Jezebel, the queen, would be eaten by dogs - and the king and all his entire family would be killed and not allowed to rule Israel any longer. This is what happened when the king decided to oppress and abuse the poor. He, his kingdom, and even his legacy were destroyed.
Leaders can get cocky and decide that they are beyond the reach of justice and truth. Nothing could be further from the truth. God will eventually bring even kings and rulers under his bar of justice. Therefore it is good for kings to know that one of the measures of the fitness of their kingdoms is how they treat the poor. Do that with justice and your kingdom will endure. Cast justice to the curb - and you might just find yourself sitting next to those who have previously robbed of justice.
A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding, But he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days. Proverbs 28:16
When a leader becomes an extortioner either through bribes or through taxation - he is not a wise leader at all. Today's Proverb has to do with governing officials and how they receive the money with which they work - and by which they are paid.
We are presented with a leader who according to Solomon is a "great oppressor." The word "oppressor" is very interesting because it, along with the second half of this proverb, opens up the meaning for us. The Hebrew word is "masaqqot" and it means one who oppresses by extortion. Zhodiates' dictionary defines this word this way, "It indicates a leader abusing his people by forcing them to pay money or contribute goods against their will. This he then uses to enrich himself and those ruling with him.
An unwise leader is one who decides that the money of the people he rules is his money. It belongs to the government - and therefore to him and those who serve with him. There are numerous instances where government leaders tax their people - and use that money to enrich themselves. They also use it to enrich those who support them - making sure that anyone who is their friend, supporter (or in our society, voter, campaign contributor) is rewarded richly for their efforts. In the times of kings this group was their nobles and knights - in today's society it is donors and voters. God allowed for His people to be taxed for the purpose of their governmental leaders. He also warned the leaders not to oppress His people by taxing them exorbitantly. Bribes also were expressly forbidden by God. The proverbs are filled with wisdom that promotes hard work and labor so that we can be blessed and become more and more financially blessed by it. Nowhere in Scripture does God encourage government to take confiscatory taxes from the people and redistribute it to those whom the government desires to bless.
We are told that any leader who does this kind of thing is lacking understanding. To understand something meant that you had gathered data together and were putting the pieces together so that you got a much bigger picture of things. In the context in which we find this proverb we are speaking of God's wisdom and knowledge being gathered so that we have an understanding of things beyond that of just this earth. It is seeing far enough into the future to make a wise decision and follow wise actions. The financially oppressive leader truly lacks any vision into the future.
Government leaders have authority - but it is high level authority to lead and serve people as God would have them go. Their role, like any other is to serve the people - and bless them with how they lead a nation. Unfortunately for some people, their leaders see their authority and misuse it to get rich or to stay in authority by oppressing the people with ridiculous, oppressive taxes. The king and his officials live lavishly off the people's money - and care little for the plight of the average man. They think the tax money of the people is their own to use as they see fit. They then see fit to line their pockets and their supporter's pockets. Often this is done as the rest of the nation suffers under the load of larger and larger taxed amounts.
We are told that the one who hates this kind of unjust gain will prolong his days. Two things we see here. First, God calls this kind of ungodly confiscation of the goods of hard working people "unjust." It is not good - and God does not approve of it. Second, we see that this kind of activity in government will not last long. The people will inevitably rise up and call for this to stop! History has shown that leaders who oppress their people with extortionary taxes will eventually be overthrown. Kings and queens have been beheaded - dictators overthrown, and elected officials voted out of office because they were making themselves rich on the people's taxes. Unfortunately for us, we've watched over the years as our leaders on both sides of the aisle have voted themselves to wealth and to pensions that are beyond imagination - while taxing us out of more and more of the money we earn. Over the past four years alone - the Washington D. C. area has grown in wealth and luxury, while the populace is either given the wealth of others through taxation - or taxed barren to provide such things.
As I studied this passage - and looked over history - I saw again and again leaders who loved their unjust gain. This was the case whether the government was a monarchy or a representative republic like our own. Men are greedy and want to be rich. They will do so even while falsely championing the "little guy" in their speeches. The one thing that we can be sure of though is that these governments will not long endure. They will fall just like all the others have over the years who have oppressed their people with their taxation and schemes to be rich on the people's dime.
The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1
Who controls world history? That is a question that makes some people squrim in their seats. The reason it does is because it seems easier to say that history is at times in Satan's hands - or at least it is in no one's hands than it does to say that God is sovereign over all history. If God is sovereign over all history - then the questions about evil and about suffering become far more complicated to us. God is sovereign over all human history - and at all times the hearts of all kings and rulers of this world are like channels of water in his hands. This proverb is true - He turns the hearts of these kings wherever He wishes. If then this is true, what are we to do with the Hitlers and others like him in this world - and in the course of history?
What do we do with the Pharaoh's who oppressed and enslaved Israel for hundreds of years? What do we do with the kings who conquered Israel and Judah - and leveled the temple to the ground? If you have a God Who functions according to the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel, these things become very difficult to deal with in terms of the sovereignty of God. God is more than just a cosmic sugar daddy who has come to give us everything we want if we just claim it. He is a God Who is working toward His own purposes and plans. He is a God who is concerned with the manifestation of His grace - yet Who does it while maintaining justice and righteousness. These are deep issues that find their only final answer in the end when we gaze at God's beauty, glory, wisdom, and majesty for all eternity. Yet - there are whispers of His workings for us in Scripture while we live here on earth.
The way God moves kings is always in accordance with His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. It always has been and it always will be. There are times when God moves the hearts of kings to deliver His people - much like He did with Esther and Mordecai. These are glorious times when we see God protecting His covenant people and showing that He is the One with the last word. There are other times when the king acts - and even in the king's wrath God delivers - as with Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. In situations like these God does not move the king's heart until after that king has seen God's power and might. But there are other cases like that of Nebuchadnezzar destroying and carrying away God's people. These are times when a king is used for the purpose of disciplining and correcting God's people. Kings are used for a myriad of purposes by God for His ultimate plan and purpose. Even the ultimate worldly king, the antichrist, will serve God's ultimate purposes of bringing judgment on the earth and saving His covenant people, Israel.
Kings serve God's purposes and plans - even when they themselves do not know it. They serve God even though they may even deny His existance and rebel against Him. We must remember that even the New Testament tells us in Romans 13 that there is no authority except from God. Paul goes on to remind us that all authorities are established by God. Our problems come when we think that these authorities are here for our blessing alone - misonstruing Paul's admonition to Timothy which says, "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." (1 Timothy 2:1-2) Some mistakenly think this admonition is a carte blanche to us to always have kings and rulers who bless us. Yet Paul's own life was taken by an ungodly ruler when he died. Persecution came upon the church again and again in the early days of its existance. We are to pray for such things - and ask God to move the king's heart. But ultimately God's plans and purposes will prevail. Remember here we are told He moves the king's heart - wherever HE wants it to go. That will mean for both blessing and for discipline - for good and for bad - for times of peace and also times of conflict and yes, even persecution and great difficulty.
The one constant for us is not that everything goes well all the time. This is a recipe for spiritual disaster and a severely stunted spiritual growth rate. Our one constant is that God is working all things after the counsel of His will - His good purposes - and His glory. This is a constant becasue we know that He is good and in Him is no darkness, no sin, no evil, and no wrong. Therefore regardless of our current situation - and in light of today's proverb - regardless of our current leader here on earth - God is still sovereign. He is in control and all things are working toward His ultimate end of summing all things up in Christ Jesus. He WILL work whatever we think is good, bad, or anywhere in between toward His ultimate purpose for us as well. That purpose is not for us to be rich or live in perfect health - and to never have problems. His ultimate purpose for us? It is that we are conformed to the image of His Son. It is that our character and lifestyle look more and more like that of Jesus every day we live! To that end He will move kings and rulers, despots and even maniacal dictators to work with Him so that we, and all other believers in all ages and all places, will be to the praise of the glory of His grace!
If a ruler pays attention to falsehood, All his ministers become
wicked. Proverbs 29:12
This proverb reminds us that when we are in a position of authority - often what we want to hear is what we are going to hear. That is why it is so important for rulers, both religious and secular, learn to shun falsehood, lies, and deception in the counsel that they receive. For, as this proverb says if they listen to this kind of thing - all that they will hear in the future is this type of counsel. The end of such a swing in the opinion brought to this leader will be that all his subordinates will become wicked.
To "pay attention" to falsehood here means to listen with an intent to obey or heed the advice given. It has the idea that as the falsehood is offered, rather than reject it, the ruler listens closely and does so with a desire to obey. This means that the ruler's heart has a predisposition to what is false rather than what is true. The Word of God says that a godly ruler winnows the wicked from his presence - and makes sure that falsehood will not be spoken to him as advice.
The worst aspect of this ruler's choice to pay attention to falsehood is the affect it has on his ministers. They will become wicked. Such a ruler tends to not appreciate men who will tell him the truth. To be such a man means that you will speak the truth - even if the ruler to whom you speak it becomes angry and doesn't want to hear it. Such was Daniel - before he was thrown into the lion's den. Such were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego before they were cast into the firey furnace. The king only retracted his actions and his words after he had witnessed God's miraculous deliverance of these men. Only in the case of David do we see a man who is willing to hear the truth - even if it meant a humbling of himself in repentance for his sin.
We need to pray daily that our leaders will be men who value truth rather than falsehood. Included in this prayer is that they will heed biblical truth when it is directly related to legislation that is pending. Such is the case when it comes specifically to both the abortion issue as well as laws concerning sexuality, decency, and morality. Too often over the last 30+ years our elected officials, including our president, have not even considered the Bible when making such decisions. Outside of President Reagan, most of the pro-abortion Republicans have been paper tigers who spoke boldly but carried no stick whatsoever. We've watch laws concerning public decency become nothing more than the latest retreat from biblical morality. It has been disheartening to see issues of heterosexual morality, marriage, and now homosexuality made while completely ignoring the counsel of Scripture. In fact I would have to say that currently one would find themselves shouted down and called the most horrible names to even assert strongly a biblical stance on these issues. It is almost as if these issues are non-issues any longer. They are definitely not the front-burner issues that they should be. We think the greatest issue is the economy - and yet God WILL NOT bless our economy as long as we continue to abort 4000 babies a day and condone as an acceptable sexual lifestyle what He calls an abomination. We need a president and a Congress who once again listen to and value the truth. Until we do - not only will they be making wrong decision after wrong decision, but they will also be surrounded by more and more aids who are wicked - because their bosses listen to falsehood.
It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, For a throne is established on righteousness. Proverbs 16:12 God's Word has a great
deal to say about the role and actions of those who are kings, presidents, and prime ministers of nations. Whereas the current crowd who don't know the constitution or the words of our founders would say that there is a wall of separation between church and state - our constitution speaks of no such wall. But even if it did - the ultimate document by which we know and walk with God is not the United States Consitution - but the Word of God, the Bible. And when the Bible speaks on an issue - it is right. So let us take a few moments to see what the Scriptures have to say to us about the role of kings and presidents - and whether character (both private and public) matters.
We read here that it is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts. That should pretty much seal the issue for us on the character of those who lead us. The Clinton administration, in the midst of its worst moral crises, told us that it did not matter what the president did in his private life - it only mattered what he did as president. The sad thing is that the post-modern mindset had already set in - and too many aped that same phrase and excused acts that should have been rebuked in the highest office of our nation. The truth is that it is an abomination when a leader commits acts of wickedness. The idea here is that of an individual act that is contrary to the justice and righteousness of God and His Word. Anything outside of what He says - is wrong - and wicked.
We are not our own moral free agents. God calls all of us to a standard in His Word - and that standard is not lowered for those in politics. If anything, it is raised because those who lead us are more in the spotlight of the nation. When they commit wickedness - eventually the nation knows. And when someone of the stature of President Clinton is committing adultery against His wife - it is a horrific thing. His example will be followed by many others. He may have parsed his words carefully trying to make light of his actions - but the truth was that he was with an intern in sexual situations. This was an act that in any other context (such as a school or a lesser official) would have resulted in an immediate termination of their position. Instead, he side-stepped the real issue - and decided to muddy the waters by stating that, "everyone does it." Everyone does it - because they are following the example of their leaders. When they make light of adultery - pretty much everyone will as well. Now, before you think this is just an article blasting President Clinton and Democrats, know that the Republicans have been guilty of their own wickedness and sinful choices. Too often we try to excuse them as well - and the result is that the entire nation is given to act in ways similar to those who lead us.
These wicked acts have horrific consequences - and not just for the family of the man involved. We read here that a throne is established on righteousness. A throne is weakened when its moral authority is weakened. If a man cannot be trusted on lesser issues - how can he be trusted on the major ones? Thus we learn that sin and wickedness cost us not just in family matters - not just on economic ones - but they weaken the very foundation upon which our republic rests. Our forefathers told us in their very own written documents that our nation is based on the 10 commandments. Washington told us that you cannot separate good political leadership from godly, moral principles. Without godliness and a desire to be obedient to God, the very foundations of our nation will begin to crumble. It is any wonder then that in recent years we've watched as moral crisis after moral crisis has moved into how our government deals with finances. That has undermined the foundations of our economic structures - and we've had crises with companies - with the banking industry - with the housing industry - with loans - and now we are teetering on the brink of financial destruction as a nation.
How did we get here? It began as we decided that we no longer needed our politicians to be godly men who followed a very decided moral code and way of living. As we fell asleep and were not shocked that those who were leading us completely lacked honesty and integrity - these very sins began eating away at the very foundation pillars of our republic. The only way back is to see such things restored. We need men of God to return to the kind of leadership in our homes, in our churches, and eventually in our government. It is only then that we will once again be horrified at the abomination of leaders who commit wickedness - and return to a way of doing politics that laughs to scorn those who would dare to lead without strong moral principles upon which they walk daily and make their decisions. Then we are find that once again our nation will have strong foundations - one's established on righteousness! May God bring those days sooner rather than later to the United States of America!
He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, And the rod of his fury will perish. Proverbs 22:8
The other day something truly amazing happened. I had planted a batch of tomato seeds, and after a couple of months I went out and harvested a whole bucket full of orages from the vines that grew there. Now if you are someone who is even the least bit familiar with agriculture, you know that this last statement was false. If I planted tomato seeds into the ground - the only thing I will harvest from them is tomatos. There is an unbending principle at work here - whatever you sow is what you will reap. That principle is what is at the core of what is taught in today's proverb.
Here we have a man who is sowing iniquity. The word used here is a pretty tough word. It means unrighteousness, injustice, or wrong. This doesn't sound too bad until you begin to look a little deeper into the word and its usage. It is used to describe violent injustice and outright wickedness. Keil and Delitasch state that this word means, "unsympthizing tyranny, cruel misconduct toward a neighbor." It describes the actions of one who wants the person who feels his wrong to feel the fury of his anger. The second half of this proverb makes that clear. The iniquity that he is sowing is manifest in the "rod of his fury," which is felt by those unfortunate enough to be his victims. These kind of actions are usually those of a despotic king - or a person who is misusing their authority.
When one sows like this - they are going to reap vanity. The word for vanity here is the Hebrew word "aven" which means emptiness or nothingness. It can also mean sorrow, trouble, evil, or mischief. The idea here is that this despotic individual thinks he is going to reap the power of his authority - when in reality he is going to reap nothingness. The thought behind this nothingness is that of utter destruction. We've watched as this has happened right before our eyes. Saddam Hussein thought he was building an empire - but what he received in the end was a rude awaking in a hole - and the end of a hangman's noose. The Word of God warns in Galatians 6:7
that God will not be mocked - whatever a man sows he shall also reap. If he sows to the flesh, as he is here, he will from the flesh reap corruption. No one can outrun the hand of God and the principles upon which the Lord has founded this world.
The wicked man thinks that the rod of his fury will make others bow down and obey him. He rules only with fear - and trusts that fear alone will bring him the results that he desires. But the proverb tells us that this man - after all his furious tiraids - will perish. All his fury will do for him is ensure that his place in history is set as a terrible ruler or leader. His memory will not be blessed - men will curse it and use it as a byword. They will remember him not as a wise man - but as a fool. There lies the man who thought he could rule the world through wickedness and through fear. No one fears him now - and what awaits him is the utter vanity for which he worked. Having spent his life living for himself and for his own arrogant pursuits - he will die facing the fury of the One before Whom he will stand and give an account for his actions. Having rejected His love and His offer of mercy and grace through Jesus Christ, unfortunately for him, the fury of God will never cease.
Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool, Much less are lying lips to a prince. Proverbs 17:7
Here is a proverb we all wish our elected officials would read each time we have an election. How interesting an election it would be to watch all our our candidates speak the truth. It would be viewed as a joke to speak of those seeking election as truthful men. One joke I've heard asks, "How do you know when a politician is lying?" The answer is, "When his lips are moving." That give us all that we need to know that this proverb would be such a blessing if it were heeded by those who seek elective office.
We would not expect excellent speech out of a fool. The very character and nature of the fool lets us know that we should not be expecting the most wise of statements from him. When I listen to most comediens, I'm not expecting much more than foolishness. I don't listen to them expecting to hear stirring oratory - or amazing statements that I will never forget. The fact that this person is a fool pretty much means that expecting anything but foolish and ignorant talk will only lead to disappointment.
The second half of this proverb though helps us to see what God wants in our leaders. Lying lips are not fitting for a prince. Those who lead us ARE to have character and integrity. Too often we've listened to the lies that godless politicians tell us when they say that we should not expect them to lead by example. We are told that they don't have to have character - they don't have to speak the truth. They don't need to be faithful to their wives. They don't need to have any integrity. Yet the facts of Scripture tell us that it is not fitting for princes to lie. It is not a good thing to have leaders who have no integrity. We should expect them to speak the truth. Think with me for a moment and realize that we have a serious problem in our government today. We have leaders who are expected to lie to us. We shouldn't put up with this - but should demand that we have people of character and integrity in Washington. Imagine with me what it would be like to have truth spoken in our capitol. Imagine laws based on something other than people trying to be elected again - laws based on what is best and what is ultimately needed and true. This is why we should remove liars from our government and replace them with men and women of integrity. We need to see restored once again the idea that it is NOT FITTING for our leaders - our princes to lie!
Do not give your strength to women, Or your ways to that which destroys kings. Proverbs 31:3 Here is a wise mother's advice to her son - and it is all the more poignent because we know it is the advice of Bathsheba to her son Solomon. What is Bathsheba's advice? She tells her son not to give his strength to women. What does it mean to give one's strength to a woman - or in this case to women? The word strength here means to have strength and influence. It has the idea of someone who has a great deal of influence over you - over what you do - and over how you expend your strength. Bathsheba knew from her own sin that it was devastating when a king gives undue influence to women in his life. David chose to give himself and his strength to pursue immorality with Bathsheba. He chose then to give himself to a cover-up of that sin. In the end, David gave himself over to a laundry list of sins including lust, adultery, lying, deception, murder, hypocrisy - and many more just because he decided to give women his strength and influence in what he did. This led to disaster in his kingdom, in his family, and in the history of his life. God's grace overcame all this as David repented and turned back to the Lord. But oh, what a dark chapter of his life was written when he gave undue heed to women. Now, before anyone thinks this is women-bashing, I want to make certain in what situations one is and is not to heed the influence of a woman. In the case of godly mothers and wives - HEED THEM AND LISTEN TO WHAT THEY SAY! God makes it clear that the influence of a godly mother is vital to a young man. When God gives him a godly wife - it is a good thing the Lord has done. Many a man has been greatly blessed by the influence of a godly wife and mother. But that is not what Bathsheba is saying here. And before anyone thinks this is a rant from a male chauvenist pig - remember - Solomon's MOM is the one giving this advice to him! The kind of women Bathsheba warns against are the ones who lead a man into sin - or at least greatly encourage it. She says to stay away from the "ways" that destroy kings. What a loaded statement this is! Think of all the men who were destroyed by their involvement with immoral women! By the way - the kings chose to be immoral as well - because it takes two to become involved in consentual sexual relations. If we need any examples of this, they abound in our world today. In 2010, the governor of South Carolina was destroyed by his involvement with a South American mistress. Tiger Woods reputation and fame will forever be marred by his involvement with prostitutes. These situations destroy men - and the higher the man - the greater the potential for disaster. Oh, how we need to hear these words from Bathsheba - words of warning most likely tinged with shades of her own regret. Too bad Solomon did not listen to his mother. His latter years were spent in the midst of this ruin - as he sought many wives and many concubines. Solomon probably thought he had it made sexually with somewhere around 1000 different women catering to his every whim and desire. The problem is that he didn't have it made - he made a mess. His immorality and unwise actions didn't just betray his mother - they betrayed all of Israel and more than anyone else - the Lord his God. Because he did not heed the words of his wise mother - Israel was divided and eventually fell. At the core of this fall was a disregard of God's warnings against sexual immorality. Interesting isn't it - we can either be blessed by adhereing to godly wisdom - or we can crash on the rocks of those very warnings. So tell me - which direction are you headed?