That you may observe discretion And your lips may reserve knowledge. Proverbs 5:2
One of the ways that we know that we are being discreet in life is by what comes out of our mouths when we speak. What is fascinating about this passage is that the overall gist of the fifth chapter of Proverbs is that it deals primarily with the issue of immorality and those who fall into the trap the adulteress.
One of the reasons why we need to gain wisdom and understanding is so that we may watch out to be discreet. The word "observe" in this passage means to guard and be careful. Zhodiates states that this word basically means to be on your guard. What you are guarding is "discretion." Yet the word is different than the discretion that is mentioned most often in the book of Proverbs. It means a thought - or the thoughts in our minds that are used to make up our plans. There is one major point though that needs to be distinguished about this word. It most often means evil plans and schemes that are contrary to God's ways. What Solomon is warning his son to watch out for in life is evil plans and schemes that begin to formulate in his mind.
When it comes to maintaining purity in our lives, what happens in our heads is vitally important. We need to watch over our minds and what is running through them. Actions begin as thoughts - which in time turn into plans and schemes. The reason we watch and guard our minds is to make sure that when lust and immoral thoughts try to push in - we deal with them. It is not just enough to push these thoughts out - we need to bring them to the cross. The Word tells us to mortify these things - and that means to kill them! Nothing short of this will do.
The second half of this proverb says that when we watch over the development of evil plans and schemes in our heads - it will help us to watch over our mouths. Our mouths will speak "a knowing" when we guard our minds. This knowing is once again primarily a discernment - but one that is specific to the situation. Remember that here this refers to sexual immorality and the wiles of the adulteress. We are warned in the very next verse that the adulteress captures men with her words and her flattery. These things often cause men to be deceived in their hearts and minds. The flattery of a woman giving them attention strokes their pride and their ego - something very dangerous to a man who doesn't watch what enters and walks through his mind. In time his pride and ego can lie to him and fill his mind with thoughts of further flattery. He begins wanting to spend more time with this woman - at lunch and eventually at secret meetings he keeps from his wife. We all know where this is going - toward an eventual adulterous relationship with this woman. Yet the real danger started with the thoughts that ran through his mind - and the words he began to speak to this woman because he didn't watch and guard against the adulterous thoughts that were fostered in his head. He may not wake up until the damage is irrepairable.
It is vital to our spiritual progress and protection to keep a close eye on what is going through our minds. This is the stuff that can cause us serious problems. What begins in just a seed form in our minds will eventually sprout and bear disastrous fruit. Better to deal with seeds by being wise - than have to cut down entire forests because of a lack of watchfulness.
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.
The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29
This proverb explains for us who God is near and the ones from whom He keeps His distance. It is a frightening thing to me to read that Jehovah is far from the wicked. Note that this does not say that the wicked man is far from God - but that God is far from him. Since this proverb has to do with prayer - we are talking about a wicked man and his prayers (if he has any at all). The only prayer that God will hear from a wicked man is a prayer of repentance. Otherwise we can read in numerous other places that God is sickened and wants nothing to do with his praying. Later in Proverbs we learn that, "He who turnes away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination." (Proverbs 28:9
) A wicked man would frequent a prayer meeting as often as an at-large criminal would frequent a police station. But when the wicked do pray, God will not hear. We read another terrifying passage in Proverbs chapter 1 about the prayer of the wicked.
"Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD. "They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof." Proverbs 1:24-30
This passage warns those who think they can mock God and live with no fear of Him. It warns them that when calamity comes, they cannot turn to God only for deliverance from it. This is how the wicked pray - they turn to God when disaster comes, but then mock Him when everything is well. We read that God Himself will mock them in that day. He does not do so because He is vindictive. He does this because He knows that such praying rises from a heart that is wicked still. Therefore he will not hear. He is far from such praying. He even considers it an abomination to Him.
Fortunately, this proverb does not end with the statement about the wicked. God reminds us that He does hear the prayer of the righteous. There is a twofold way we should understand this. First, we need to see it positionally. The "righteous" is not righteous because of his deeds. We read in multiple places throughout Scripture that the righteous man shall live by faith. He is made righteous by faith in God's provision for sin. He is granted righteousness as a gift of God's grace. He cannot make himself righteous because he is steeped in sin. All he is fit for is punishment and wrath. God, though, has come to the rescue with blood of a spotless lamb that speaks on his behalf. This lamb was a physical one in the Old Testament, but that was just a shadow of the glory of God's grace to come. God sent THE Lamb when Jesus Christ came to earth and gave His life on the cross for our sins. That was sufficient payment for us - and God offers with it the very righteousness of Christ as a gift of His glorious grace. That is why He hears the prayer of this man (or any man for that matter). He stands in a divinely-provided righteousness that speaks effectively for him. Thus God hears!
The second way this passage should be understood is by a practical understanding. God hears the prayer of the saved man who practially embraces the righteous ways of God. We cannot, even as Christians, ignore obedience to God and expect God to hear our prayers. We read in the Word that if we regard sin in our hearts, we know that God does not hear us. Some complain of much prayer that seems to be ignored by God. But prayer that is ignored is prayer to One that we've offended by our choice of sin rather than righteousness. It is only when we take refuge in 1 John 1:9
- confessing our sins - that we can once again be heard.
Our Father is a prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God. But we must understand that He is God, not a shabby version of Santa Claus. There are principles involved in how God hears and answers prayer. They are not complicated principles - but they are principles that are strictly adhered to as we approach Him. The key to answered prayer is walking and asking according to His will. If we allow sin to enter either our walk or our requests, we will find that our praying is ineffective. Embrace righteousness - both positionally and practially and you will find prayer a delight. You will also find a God who is eager to hear - eager to work - and eager to answer.
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, But humility goes
before honor. Proverbs 18:12
Humility is the thing - therefore embrace humility! When you are not humble, you are headed for trouble - for afflication, for a fracture or a breach in some way. God says that He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble in the book of James. Here that truth is reiterated - just in a little more terrifying way.
When a man's heart is haughty - bad things are going to happen. The word "haughty" here is the Hebew word "gabah" which means to be high, exalted, or arrogant. This word is used of thing like a high tree or vine - but it is also used of Almighty God. Here it does not have the meaning of arrogant - but simply someone high and exalted - and rightly so. But when a man takes on this attitude and this demeanor, he is headed for trouble.
God says that right before destruction comes upon a man his heart is this way - haughty and lifted up - full of himself. Such a heart condition does not mean that he is right on the verge of destruction. That would be a misinterpretation of this proverb. What it is saying is that right before God brings destruction upon a man - he will be haughty. Consider the king, Belshazzar from Babylonian times. He was very arrogant - so arrogant that during a big party he had the cups and bowls brought in from God's Temple - and he and his party guests drank their wine out of them. As they did, they praised the God's of silver and gold. This was about as arrogant as someone could get. But Belshazzar did not know that this would be the last banquet he would ever hold. It would be the last party he would ever host. That night a hand from God came and wrote on the wall of the room where he was having his wicked shindig. The message on that wall told him that in the midst of his arrogance God had rendered final judgment upon him. He had been put in the balances of God's justice and righteousness - and had been found wanting. Because of his arrogance and pride he was going to have his kingdom handed over the Medes and the Persians. Suddenly Belshazzar's arrogance was confronted - but not with opportunity for repentance. He was confronted with destruction. That night his defenses were breached, his captiol city captured, and he himself was slain in the onslaught that ensued. He had nothing with which to defend himself. All he had was his last moments of arrogance and pride - oh, and terror as the breech came.
Reject haughtiness and thinking highly of yourself. It is a trap of monumental proportion. It was the sin for which the devil himself was judged when he was the annointed angerl that led the praises of heaven itself. This sin is deadly above all others - therefore utterly abandon it and embrace god-honoring humility instead. This proverb does tell us that before honor - there is humility. Since I am writing this a week before Christmas, I will use the ultimate example of humility to illustrate this truth. Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. He has ever been with the Father and the Spirit and is God of very God. As such He actually deserves the praise of all creation for all eternity. Yet He chose to obey His Father and be born as a baby in Bethlehem. He left the glories of heaven and took on the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. He became the God-man. As such He humbled Himself infinitely. He did not demand honor and glory and praise - which we all due Him. He chose instead a path of obedience, humility, and eventually humiliation as He bore the sin of the world on the cross of Calvary. Being found in form as a man he humbled Himself and became obedient unto death - even that awful death on the cross. Here is someone who deserves honor and respect - praise and adoration - yet He chooses humility. As a result we read in latter verses in Philippians 2
the following words - also a fulfillment of this very proverb.
"For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11
There it is in what God did through and for His Son. Jesus chose to humble Himself - and before the honor God gave Him - was that marvellous attitude and practice of humility. God raised Jesus from the lowest place to the highest! God will honor those who embrace obedient humility to Him. Therefore wisdom is this . . . it is embracing humility and obedience to God in all that we do. That is the very best way of knowing that God will honor you in due time - as you continue to embrace a self-effacing, god-glorifying, Christlike humility and obedience to Him.
The eye that mocks a father And scorns a mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it. Proverbs 30:17This proverb is one of those that seems a little harsh when you first read it - especially if you've ever been disrespectful to your parents. Your average kid might say, "You mean to say that if I scorn my parents, I'm doomed to have scavenger birds peck
my eye out and eat it?" Since we know that not every rebellious child and teenager has had his eyes destroyed by a flock of ravens and eagles - we know that this passage has more to teach us than just a scary warning that probably would not work on kids anyway. But just what is this proverb trying to show us?
The key comes in understanding why a bird - especially a scavenger would have any interest in an animal's eyes. You see both of the birds mentioned in this passage are scavengers. That means that they both eat dead things. But one practice that ravens have as they approach carrion is that they need to be sure it is dead. That can mean the difference in having a meal and being one to the raven. Therefore when a raven suspects an animal to be dead - he goes straight for the eye. The raven lands near the animal and sees if the animal makes any movements. Then when the raven detects that things are clear for the most part - he subjects the animal to the ultimate test as to whether it is alive or dead. He pecks at the animal's eye. If an animal does not move to protect the eye, it is dead. As the raven picks out the eye of the animal - it assures him that the animal is dead. Often early in the meal that follows, a larger predator - which is where the young eagle comes in - will arrive and take over the meal from the raven, who wisely knows when he is outmatched.
Now, let's take what we've learned from nature - and apply it to what is said in this passage. When a young person feels his oats enough to begin mocking his own father and mother it is a very dangerous sign. The reference to the raven and the young eagle is not a direct threat - but rather a reminder. He is spiritually dead. This is not so much a threat of future aviary retribution - but of the spiritual reality of where this young man or woman is. God promises us that the one who honors his mother and father will live long on the earth. Great blessing is in store for the child who learns about respect, honor, and submission in subjection to his parents. These are vital lessons to learn if he or she is going to be successful in life - and after life is over. These come through properly relating to one's parents. If we don't learn them in the home - we will face learning them out in the world where the cost to learn them is far higher than it is with mom and dad.
One last thing that we need to note here is that we are not talking about open rebellion here - but the "eye" that mocks father and mother. This is as much a look as it is an action. I remember my mother telling me not to look at her in that tone of voice. It was a little bit of a joke - but not really. She knew, and so did my father, when my eyes were revealing what was really going on in my heart. The eyes are the window to the soul - and reveal much of what is truly going on in our hearts. Thus we need to be careful to not only watch our words concerning our parents, but also the way our eyes function as well. Quite often we might be obeying in our outward members - but our eyes reveal another story altogether. Remember then, that when the scavengers come looking for the dead - they come looking for those who are dead in their eyes. When a wise man seeks to determine whether someone is spiritually alive or dead - he can learn much in how a person treats their parents.
He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9So, how does God view the prayers of those of us who are actively disobeying His Word? That is what we learn today in the proverb of the day. This is going to be a proverb that confronts those who think God hears their prayers - when they are actively disboeying a command of the Word of God. It is
also going to be a time when we realize that God sees issues of obedience to His Word in stark black and white - not in a plethora of grey.
When we disobey the Word - we are in effect turning our ears away from listening to it. Here in Christian America, we think that having heard the word with the ear alone is akin to having obeyed it. The most rebellious places in America are not the bars or the strip joints. The most rebellious places in America are the parking lots of her churches. This is where far too many saints of God go after hearing the truth preached by their pastors - and justify letting it go into one ear and out the other. They hear the Word - but it never penetrates their hearts. Some will even justify their present disobedience - while praising what was said by the preacher. Thus the American practice of thinking we've obeyed, when we have only heard something - is continued weekly.
When we do not obey - we are turning our ear from listening to the truth. The term here for turn away means that we go away from the Word - we desert it - we quit the Word, meaning that we hear, but do not DO it. We turn aside from it and do not allow it to do a work in our hearts.
When we do not obey the Word - God considers our prayers and abomination. Whoa now! Did we read that right! God considers prayers uttered by the disobedient to be an abomination. We thought that word was just reserved for homosexuals - didn't we. But God is holy - not just anti-homosexual. He is pro-holiness all the way. Thus, when we are not pro-holiness (read here pro-obedience, pro-godly, pro-doing what God says when He says it) - we are in effect, anti-God. He is shocked and appalled by our lack of listening and obeying. He is horrified that we would actually turn a deaf ear to what He has said. He considers such things an abomination!
There were a group of people that Jesus was hardest upon in the gospel accounts. To the shock of most people, this group was not the classic sinners. He was not hardest on the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the scum of society, or the usually suspects we consider when we wonder who a "hell-fire-and-brimstone" preacher would single out in his preaching. Jesus was hardest on religious hypocrites. He reserved His most scathing comments for those who practiced religion outwardly, but inwardly ignored the Word. By the way - this is where the pray-er, but not obey-er would be put by our Lord. The one who turns his ear from listening to the Law, by not obeying it - IS the hypocrite. And contrary to our popular habit of thinking that the hypocrite is anyone other than us - it IS us. Whenever we engage in pious prayers - without having obeyed the Word that God has spoken to us recently - we are an abomination.
Wisdom tells us that we are to hear and heed the Word of God. This will give our prayers wings that will fly them to the very throne of God. May we always watch our hearts to make sure that we are hearing, obeying - then praying. This is the proper order of things.
Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, "See, we did not know this," Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work? Proverbs 24:11-12Here is a couple of verses that seem a little dramatic to us at first glance. How often in our society do we see people being taken away to their death and staggering to a slaughter? We need to remember though that the proverbs not only speak of physical realities but spiritual ones as well. So how can we learn from this particular proverb?
There is the obvious slaughter to those who know Christ that is coming on the horizon. That event is the judgment seat of Christ - and the day when all men shall give an account of themselves to God. Too many think that on that day God's mercy will prevail and God will allow all men into heaven - or - they just deny God altogether. The problem is that the time of mercy - where God is showing amazing mercy to mankind is NOW - not then. Every day God has indignation with the wicked (Psalm 7:11) - and as a righteous Judge - He is showing unimaginable mercy by not consuming the wicked each and every day that He withholds the just consequences of mankind's sin. So contrary to popular thinking, God is showing mercy NOW - but in the day of judgment that general mercy shall no longer remain
. All there will be on that day is grace for those who have run to Christ - and infinite, eternal judgment to those who chose to remain in their rebellion, thinking their own works will bear up in the judgment.
There have been other slaughters in history. To the Germans who watched the Jews being carted off to the slaughter houses of the Third Reich, they were responsible to do something. To those who watched the awful specter of ethnic cleansing in country after country in our world, they were responsible to speak out against it and do what they could to stop it. In our own nation there has been a silent slaughter that has been going on since 1973. Abortion has dwarfed the slaughters foisted upon society by the likes of Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Mau, and Pol Pot. Sadly, this slaughter continues at a rate of 4000 a day - all legally - and now even paid for by our government. We've exported our murder of the innocents through the auspices of the United Nations and their wicked population control efforts. So for us to say that such a slaughter is not happening in our enlightened century - is to simply close our eyes to the truth that the wickedness of man has only multiplied to where they have come up with far more efficient ways to slaughter the innocent.
God's call to us in the midst of the slaughter of the innocent is to hold them back. You can hear the cry of heaven saying, "Stop this! Hold them back from such a slaughter." Just like the heros of the past who spoke against slavery - and the racism that desires to cleanse the world of others unlike themselves - we need to speak out and act to stop the slaughter. To do otherwise is to be complicit with the murderers themselves. We may not be the actual executioners - but our inactivity and unwillingness to take the cause of the innocent empowers them to continue the slaughter. I find it the most perverse of activities that people camp outside prisons protesting the death sentence on the most vile of criminals - but justify abortion even up to the day of a child's birth. There has never been a more disgusting form of execution than that perpetrated upon the victim of a partial birth abortion. Yet for the most part - our society remains unmoved by this most horrific of injustices.
God's Word to those who sit silently by and watch the evils of a slaughter of innocents is terrifying. The Lord speaks first to those who claim ignorance. They say that they did not know this - they knew nothing of a slaughter of this kind. They say this not because of actual ignorance - but as a ruse to cover their culpability.
God's answer to them is simple. He who weighs hearts will consider this. God is saying to the multitudes who want to ignore such things that He knows their hearts. He weighs all hearts - and knows exactly what we know and what we do not know. The term weigh here is used of God's process of moral evaluation. The Lord says that a man's ways are all good in his own eyes - but God will weigh his motives and the "end" of his actions. God weighs our hearts by what happens as a result of our actions. Even when we choose to deceive ourselves - God is aware of the truth we refuse to embrace. If this is so in the little perjuries of our souls - is it not even more accurate in the major sins which we wink an approving eye toward by our inaction? God knows it because He keeps our souls - a term that speaks of how God watches over all that we do. There never has nor will there ever be something we've thought or done that He does not know intimately. This is a terrifying thought to those who think God will forget our sin. To help us grasp this even more clearly the writer of proverbs tells us He is the one who will render to every man according to his work. This term render is one that is sobering because it means to turn back or to return to another. In other words, what we have done and what we have allowed - will be done and allowed upon us for all eternity.
This is true with the physical injustices that we see in the world - but it also will be true for those who do nothing for those staggering toward judgment without Christ. The ultimate injustice spiritually is when we refuse or cowardly back away from sharing Christ with the multitudes staggering toward the judgment seat without anything to pay for their sins. What an injustice we perpetrate when we enjoy salvation ourselves, but do nothing to stem the fearful judgment that will come upon others. We need to speak - speak for the wicked injustices that are happening in our generation - and speak to those who do not know Christ.
I read a statement somehwere that said, "Daddy, what were you doing when they were killing babies?" Each generation that passes is often asked by history what they did to stem the tide of evil in their generation. We look back on Hitler's Germany and wonder why they did not speak out? We look at the horrific murders of the communist regimes of Stalin and Pol Pot and wonder why no one spoke out. And at the judgment seat of Christ the loudest thing we will hear will be the sound of our own silence in sharing the gospel as billions face the ultimate judgment of eternity. In light of such ultimate moments we need to ask ourselves, "Why do we not lift our voices to speak for the ones being led to the slaughter?"
When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7You mean to say that if my ways please God, I will never have an enemy? That is how too many people view this proverb. But the proverb itself assumes that we will have enemies when we are walking with the Lord. Then what does this proverb mean - and how can we know when God has done this on our behalf.
This passage teaches us that when our ways are pleasing to God that God does some wonderful things in our lives. He takes those who are our enemies and makes them to be at peace with us. It does not mean that we don't have enemies, it means that they are at peace with us instead of warring or seeking to destroy us. They may still be our enemy, but they will choose peace rather than to be in open conflict with us.
The stories of this are many in our society. J. Vernon McGee speaks of a man who hated him, but who was heard saying to others, "I hate the man, but he preaches the Word of God." That kind of thing is what this proverb is saying to us. The world will continue to hate us - but due to our lives being pleasing to God, they will see godly character in our lives. I know of situations where the ungodly came to the aid of believers not because they agreed with our theology or teaching, but simply because they knew the character of the person and vouched for them.
Let me take a moment here and say something about what this points to in the human condition. Why would the world be at peace with us when we choose God's ways? In fact, why should God's ways even be viewed positively? Ever wonder why our world values things like peace and joy and what we call good character? Think about it for a moment. Why, if we are supposed to be the result of survival of the fittest, do we not value a more cut throat kind of existance? Why would we value the weakest - and embrace values that would allow others to take advantage of us? Why shouldn't we value the thief and the one who crushes all others on his climb to the top? These should be things we value and admire if we are simply a process of evolutionary processes. Why shouldn't we admire Adolf Hitler and even thank him for trying to get rid of the more errant DNA in our worldwide gene pool? The truth is that we don't admire these things - we consider them evil and wrong - even among the most ardent evolutionists. Even thsoe who live this way have mighty struggles with their own behavior - somehow just knowing deep within themselves that they are not living right. But I want to ask this incredibly important question, "Who told them this?" The answer, though the world hates it, is in the Bible itself. Romans 2 speaks of the way that our conscience works in either approving and condemning our actions and attitudes. This is the mark of God in our world. It is the hidden proof that we are His workmanship - we are His creation. His original design - though badly marred by sin - still is written on our hearts. We may try to sear it from our memories and ignore it in our actions, but it still remains deeply written within us. When the ungodly are at peace with us due to our choice to act on God's character-transforming Word - it is only a testimony to this very spiritual DNA that is a remnant of His creative work before the fall.
God does not promise we won't have enemies. In fact just the opposite is told to us. If we desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, we will suffer persecution. Jesus faced enemies that desired and conspired to put Him to death. To say that God promises a carte blanche freedom from having enemies is to say that Jesus did not please the Father - and evidently His ways were not pleasing to God. Nothing could be further from the truth. God does not promise freedom from enemies - He promises that when we do have them - He will choose to even make our enemies to be at peace with us. This is why we should choose the wisdom of God's ways and walk in them. There is a desirable-ness in how we live. There is an honesty - a joy - a freedom - a peace that will make even our enemies say good things about us. When this happens, we can know that God in His grace has worked in our lives - taking even those who oppose us - and making them testify of His grace that works in us when our ways are pleasing to Him.
A servant who acts wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully, And will share in the inheritance among brothers. Proverbs 17:2When I read this proverb, I think of biblical situations of sons and servants. Sons in the Scriptures have acted shamefully. Consider Absalom who rebelled against his father and acted very shamefully. Absalom led a revolt against his father David - took over the kingdom - and subsequently had sex with 10 of David's concubines on the roof of the palace in the sight of all Israel. His shameful acts eventually led to his death on the battlefield among the trees of the forest. The books of Kings and Chronicles show again and again sons of the kings who acted with great shame and disgrace. Their kingdoms amounted to little as God had to become Israel and Judah's enemy due to their sin and rebellion against Him. Eli's sons in 1 Samuel acted disgustingly and shamefully by sleeping with women at the tent of meeting - and disdaining the sacrifices of God. These actions led to their death - and the devastation of Eli's house forever before God.
Just as there are these sons who acted shamefully - there have also been servants who acted with great honor before God. Consider Abraham's servant, Eliezer, who took his son and made sure that he had a wife. This servant trusted in the Lord to provide the right bride for Issac. Elisha was a faithful servant to Elijah, washing his hands and learning from his master until the day that God allowed Elijah's mantle to fall on Elisha. God even gave to the faithful servant of Elijah a double portion of his spirit. There are a multitude of examples of faithful servants - and shameful sons.
The servant who acts wisely and respectfully will eventually rule over the shameful son. A truly wise father will not give all to his son if his son is a fool. It is better to transfer wealth and influence to a godly and wise servant - than to a son who will only waste that wealth and destroy any future for a family business. That faithful servant often will share in the inheritance among all the other brothers - not because of a blood relationship - but due to a lifetime of service to the master.
This proverb is primarily meant to describe the master/servant/son relationship that was prevalent in middle eastern society at that time, but there is also an important principle here for us today. In this situation the son took advantage of his relationship with the father and dishonored him. He acted shamefully and brought disgrace on his father's name and house. The servant acted wisely and respectfully and was honored for it - even to the point of sharing in the wealth of the father - and the inheritance. Thus we can learn two important lessons.
Lesson #1 - Workplace wisdom! We need to learn that when we manifest a servant's heart to our employer - showing both wisdom and respect in the workplace - honor will come our way. How often have you heard of a situation where nepotism placed a son in a position of authority - only to have that son act shamefully and disgracefully on the job. In the end - a wise father will overlook this brat and place a faithful servant in charge in the end. This won't always be the case - especially when the father is negligent and overindulgent of the child. But know this . . . there are men who see the demise of their company when put into the hands of a disgraceful son - and will choose a faithful servant/worker instead. Therefore cultivate a servant's heart toward your master/employer. Honor him and respect him - giving him hard work and wise choices concerning what you do and how you do it. Work hard to make the company and your boss a success. In time you will become invaluable to the company - and possibly may be advanced over a disgraceful son in the end.
Lesson #2 - Life! Cultivate a servant's heart in all that you do. In this proverb the man with the true servant's heart is honored. You will never regret developing and manifesting a servant's heart toward others. Even if you are not honored on earth or at your job, God Himself will honor you for living this way. Embrace the role of servant whenever you can. Oh, one last thing to remember as well . . . when God Himself came to this earth to accomplish His greatest work . . . He did not come as boss or as a spoiled brat who got His own way, He came as a servant. In the end - God highly exalted Him for His sacrifice, obedience, and servant's heart! That pretty much lets me know that we can expect the same from God if we embrace that same role all our days for His glory and honor.
The wise of heart will receive commands, But a babbling fool will be ruined. Proverbs 10:8There is great wisdom in learning to listen. The art of listening is for the most part a lost art. I remember ministering to a young man at the University of Memphis. Even though he did not know Christ, he did know how to listen. As we ministered to him again and again he sought to take in every single word that was spoken to him. He did not want to defend himself or put in his two cents worth unless the one speaking to him had finished what they were saying. No interruptions happened when you spoke to him - and he was the picture of good manners and politeness. I also remember asking him after a couple of visits if he had always been this way. His answer was that he had not - but at a point in his life he knew he would learn much more if he would learn to listen well. Thus he made it his ambition to listen as well as he possibly could. There were struggles - he said the worst was having his own mind run after what he wanted to say next rather than actually hearing what the other person was saying. This was one situation where a lost person was used by God to bring amazing conviction to me - because I am what is called a verbal processor - therefore I have a bad tendency to talk to much - or to chomp at the bit to put my two cents into every conversation.
Solomon spoke very wisely when he said that the wise of heart will receive commands. The wise man is the one who desires to listen - and to listen well. He is definitely this way when he hears those giving him commands. A businessman will tell you that too much time is spent in business dealing with those who don't listen well to commands. They don't listen to the actual words being spoken to them and as a result get things wrong. In business - and believe it or not in all of life - this is costly. If the person would take the time to receive the command and do so with great precision - much good would come of it. This is a matter of spiritual life and death when it comes to listening to the commandments of God. Oh, how we need to tune our ears to what God is saying and has said in His Word. That one skill and practice will save us much grief - and much pain.
Why don't we listen well? The proverb instructs us in this by saying that we don't listen well because we are too eager to talk. "A babbling fool will be ruined." The fool spoken of here is one who hates wisdom and morality - and who walks instead in his own folly. This man babbles when he speaks. He does not want to listen to commands - he wants to give them - or at least mock them. This is the one who immediately interrupts when someone speaks of the Lord and begins babbling about his hatred of the Lord. He may take the direction of science or philosophy - but behind it is a disdain for the things of the Lord.
The problem with this babbling fool is that he never does hear God's commandments - at least not hearing with the intent to obey. Because of this the Word says that the direction of this person's life is toward "ruin." He will experience "labat" - which is to be thrust down or torn down and ruined. This word is used three times in the Old Testament and all three times it speaks of those without wisdom and understanding. All three times is speaks of the ruin that comes to them because of the disregard for the Word of the Lord. This one wants to thrown down the commandments of God - but in the end, he himself will be the one who is thrown down.
Wisdom is learning how to listen - how to receive commands. This will help us spiritually forever - but it will also help us daily. The fact is that all throughout life we will be receiving commands and requests to do things. If we learn to listen to them well and carry them out diligently - there will be great blessing!