She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. Proverbs 31:18-19
The wise and godly woman here knows the taste of success. When it says that she "senses" her gain is good - God uses the word for tasting something. She works hard, which we see consistently in the previous verses. But more than that, she tastes that what she is doing it good. The things that she sells to the merchants brings her gain - it helps her to earn money. She knows and tastes the success that hard work brings. It is important that people experience the fruit of their labor. I am not one who believes in the economic systems of socialism or communism. Those two systems tout a false idea of community goods that are shared by all. The problem is that such systems kill the benefits of hard work and labor for the individual. In the end, the collective works only as hard as they want to - and since they receive nothing but the same allotment for their labors - they are not motivated to excell at them. The result of tasing the fruit of your labors will be far less labors. When we are allowed to taste that sweet fruit, we are motivated to labor harder, smarter, wiser for the good of our own benefit - and by that for the good of our family and others around us.
This godly woman knows that her gain is good. Here we have another confrontation with the current thoughts on economics. In our world gain is bad! How dare Capitalists relish the fact that they are making a profit. We wrongly call them evil - yet it is their "so-called profit that allows so many others to enjoy benefits. This godly lady knew in her heart that hard work would yield good things - and would bless her - bless her family - bless others who bought them - and eventually would bless her community. When governments try to "equalize" the playing field - what they mean is that they are going to promise everyone the same outcome - because that is what they say is fair. What is amazing is that they want an equal misery for the masses - but for themselves luxury. Every socialist and communist leader has evidenced the sin nature. They talk a certain egalitarianism among others - but they themselves will have the most. They will have the best of everything. What they deliver to the people is equal poverty and misery.
It is self-interest that will drive men and women to their best efforts. They must receive some reward for hard labor - and once they taste this fruit - they will want more. This results in hard work - work ethic as it is called. This woman knows that. Because she tastes that her gain is good - she works hard. She labors into the night as her lamp can testify. She stretches out her hands to make clothing - which is what the terms distaff and spiindle indicate. This is because she is working toward her own self-interest. In this case that means her own clothing - the clothing of her family - and clothing that can be sold to others to earn more money for the welfare of her home. This is the kind of work God encourages - and blesses. May He give us wisdom to reject the false philosophies that promote powerful government officials who speak of equality and egalitarianism - but who only deliver a corporate misery to the masses as they live high on the hog themselves. May we instead see the value of hard work, frugality, and wisdom in taking what God gives us and using it for the benefit of our families. The fascinating thing about this kind of life is that as families (Which are the basic unit of society in God's economy) multiply with these views, a village, city, region, and even nation is blessed and prosperous as a result.
A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished. Proverbs 28:20
Get rich quick schemes usually come with some form of sin involved in it. The quick riches come at the expense of others. The lottery is such a scheme - everyone is buying a chance to strike it rich - and only one does. All the others waste their money. The lottery is for those who are bad at mathmatics or who are wanting to get rich so that they can quit working. Either way - their riches come with a burden of sin. That is what today's proverb counsels against.
Let's look at the last half of this proverb first. The one who makes "haste" to be rich is going to face punishment in the end. It is never wise to be hasty in decisions or in following schemes that others hatch to make you rich. The corporate world is filled with those who learn to become rich on the backs of other's misfortune. Companies are bought and gutted for the purpose of making the investor rich - and people in the Stock Market are always talking of plans whereby you get rich quickly. The problem is that in every case - someone has to pay a price for your quick wealth. The phrase at the end of this proverb that reads, "will not go unpunished" is a Hebrew phrase that also means, "will not be innocent." The idea is that some form of sin is entered into that leaves them guilty - and eventually will lead to them being punished. Just know that every scheme that makes someone rich hastily - will leave them with an aspect of guilt in the end.
God is not against people becoming rich. God promised riches to the patriarchs and to Israel if they would follow Him with all their heart. He also warned them that when they became rich they would have a tendency to forget God and trust in their riches. God is against those who make haste to be rich - and cut corners morally to do so.
The Lord wants us to be faithful. Work is NOT EVIL! There are so many who think work is some sort of evil activity that came with the fall of man into sin. Work was something God gave man in the garden before the fall. Therefore to do faithful work puts us in a position for God to bless us. That is why The Lord says here that the faithful man will abound with blessings. Those blessings may include financial riches - but for many it does not. The blessings abound in numerous areas. I am blessed with my work associates - and the friendships that have been built over the years. I am blessed with projects that we do together that bring a very real sense of accomplishment. I am blessed with less temptation because my hands and my mind is busy doing work. I am blessed with being able to see my children learn the value of a strong work ethic because they've watched their father do what he learned from his father. I am blessed with a good night's sleep because I am tired and ready to go to bed each evenring. For some there is a blessing of an expanding business where others can be blessed with employment. And there is the blessing of serving others in your work - and building more and more of a servant's heart. Regardless of whether the blessings are financial or through moral character building - there is such a blessing that is ours when we embrace faithful work. May God help us to once again embrace the value of lifelong faithful work - and shun the get rich quick schemes that always involve some aspect of guilt and sin.
He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. Proverbs 28:19
Do something worthwhile. Do something that will provide for you and for your family. Work hard at it and work consistently at it. When you do this you will be blessed with plenty for your family. You may not become rich or wealthy in the world's eyes - but you will have provided well for your family. Today's proverb helps us to understand that hard work will be rewarded with plenty of provision.
Work ethic is something that is not natural to fallen mankind. It is something that needs to be instilled in children from a young age - and then encouraged as they grow older. Finally, a strong work ethic needs to be lauded in the public eye so that the entire society may be blessed. If we do not do this - the second half of this proverb will begin to infect an individual, a family, and from there, an entire society.
God does not want us to follow what He calls, "empty pursuits." The King James Version refers to this as "vanities." What does it mean to follow an empty pursuit. At its core, an empty pursuit describes itself. It is something we do - or something we pursue - that in the end leaves us empty. It is something that is not productive. We give time and effort to it - but in the end it gives nothing back. The end affect of this kind of "empty pursuit" is that we wind up with plenty of poverty. These kind of pursuits take from us, but give nothing back when we've finished them. And from the term used here - we have to "pursue" them. We chase after them - and they have at least the promise of something valuable. The truth though is that when we catch them - we are left with a harvest of air. They give us nothing.
I'm about to sound like a really old man to many who read this - so I wanted to offer a fair warning. The video game industry is one that has been slowly planting a crop in our society, that when fully harvested, will provide nothing. I am blown away when I talk with high school and college students who spend hours and at times entire days playing these games. They immerse themselves in these things and when they come up for air - they have nothing except a bountiful basket of poverty to show for it. One of the most dangerous parts of this trend is that it also manifests itself in addictive behavior in other ways. We have an entire generation (and if we are honest with ourselves, at least two now) who are bound up in activities that produce nothing. Between the video games, the time spent on facebook and twitter, as well as the growing trend to get on sites like Netflix and others that offer entire seasons of television shows (which are watched almost all day long) we are becoming a society that is following massive numbers of empty pursuits. What that is yielding is an ever growing populace that shuns hard work - and is completely entertainment-crazed.
It is probably an appeal that may fall on deaf ears, but we need to shut down our games, get off the internet, and give ourselves to something called "hard work." If you have not noticed, our nation is coming apart at the seams. We see a pervasive laziness and lack of work ethic that will only bring us plenty of poverty in the end. Our educational institutions are dumbing down their programs and requiring less of their students. If you think I am eggagerating, look at how we rank in the world in things like science, math, and overall productivity. I am not against recreation and times of play - but our play used to be getting out and doing something with others. Now it is dominated by sedentary games that focus on fantasy, violence, or seeing our avatar get with it at some video activity. May God grant a revival - not just of religious activity - but one that also yields a return to a godly work ethic. If we don't do this, we will see the poverty a-plenty that God predicts. If we do return to the blessing of hard work, we will see a blessing that will last far beyond our own lives. It will bless many generations. Here's to hard work!
He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Proverbs 28:13
Here is a proverb that agrees perfectly with what is said in the New Testament. We read in 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is the truth of 1 John 1:9 stated in another way. Whereas the 1 John passage states this truth in the positive only, this proverb also warns us of the consequences and danger of not dealing with our sins.
The Concealer . . . First we are told about the fate of the one who conceals his transgressions. The word "conceal" means to cover - and has the idea of a cover up. This man is hiding his transgressions (word meaning a sin or rebellion - here against God and His Law and His way). Thus the concealer is not willing to bring his sin to light before God. He therefore hides his rebellion thinking that God does not see him. This same word was used to describe how Joseph's brothers tried to hide their sin when they dipped his coat in goat's blood and brought to Jacob. There was an attempted cover up by Joseph's brothers which eventually came to light. In the same way, we are warned against covering up our sins. They will come to light - and the way this happens in by a loss of the blessing of God.
Psalm 32:5 also speaks of his particular sin of hiding and trying to cover up our sin. The Psalmist says, "I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord"; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah." When he was trying to hide his sin from God, the Psalmist had nothing but grief and pain. When he faced his sin before God he received forgiveness. Hiding our sins is not only counterproductive - it is also ridiculously foolish. We serve a God Who is omniscient. He knows all things. When Adam and Eve tried to hide in the garden - it was out of shame and rebellion. The problem for them was that God could still see them - and did even as they committed the first sin. Cain answered God rebelliously when God asked where his brother Abel was. Cain must have thought God did not see - but he did - and Abel's blood was crying out to God from the ground. Moses thought he could kill the Egyptian and hide him in the piles of grain - but God saw - as well as some other Hebrews. HEre is a fact you should always remember. We can never hide our sin from a holy, omniscient God. He truly sees all! He warns his people, "Be sure that your sins will find you out!"
Proverbs tells us that this man who is trying to conceal his sin will not prosper. Prosper is the Hebrew word "tsalach" which means to succeed or to be victorious. This word has the idea of breaking out or breaking through - and has a military aspect to it. It spoke of how an army would break through their enemies - which was a sure sign that they were about to win the battle and defeat them. Proverbs says to us is that concealing our sins is way to ensure we will NOT PROSPER. God wants us to confess and forsake our sin. When we choose rebellion and sin against God, we are in serious trouble. We are facing judgment if we do not know Christ - or discipline if we do. What we need is grace - we need God's compassion. That is exactly what Proverbs is wanting to teach us. God wants us to know how to obtain His compassion when we sin?
How do we obtain God's compassion and restoration? First, we confess our sins and rebellion. What is fascinating here is the word that God uses to describe confession. The Hebrew word is "yadah." This word means to throw towards - to cast something towards. Here it means to throw off our sin and cast it towards God. It means that we are throwing all our sin and rebellion to God - with a desire for Him to show us forgiveness and compassion. What is wild is that this same word is used for praising God - meaning that we are casting our hands up into the air and casting our praises toward God. God does not want us to try to hold our sins close to us - He wants us to cast those sins away from us and toward Him for His compassion and grace!
There is a second thing that puts us in line for God's compassion and forgiveness. Some teach that all we need to do is to confess our sins and everything is fine with God. That is partially true. There is suppose to be a second attitude present. If it is not - I do not believe the Bible says that we will receive forgiveness. That attitude or action is to forsake our sins. This word means to abandon, desert, leave behind, completely neglect and STOP. When we come to God seeking His compassion and forgiveness - we need to come with a heart that says, "Please forgive me God . . . and I also want to forsake and abandon my sin." This is the kind of heart that finds compassion and forgiveness before God.
This verse is vital in us knowing the fellowship and grace of God. It is so important for us to grasp the call of God to deal with our sins and rebellion. I honestly believe that just as 1 John 1:9 is such a blessed verse - this verse in Proverbs 28:13 is as well. Oh that we would hear this and heed it as well. It would throw open to us the door to God's grace, mercy, and compassion that we need every day of our lives.
The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and each is tested by the praise accorded him. Proverbs 27:21
One of the wisest things ever said to me was said by a Australian professor at the seminary that I attended in Memphis, Tennessee. He told us that the most difficult test we will ever have in life is to experience praise and success. That will test you in ways you are not ready to handle - unless you have truly embraced the humility of Christ in your life. Today's proverb tell us the same thing - that we will be tested by the praise that is given to us.
The picture that is painted for us is that of a crucible and a furnace. These two things are used to refine silver and gold. The process begins with the base ore being put into the crucible. As the heat increases the valuable metal sinks into the crucible, while the junk rises to the top. The one refining the ore scraps the slag from the top of the crucible. Over time more impurities come to the top - and each time they are scraped off revealing purer and purer silver or gold. So the picture that is painted for us is that of a purifying process brought on by heat and stress on the metal.
In a similar way, we are tested when praise and success comes our way. We are faced with a choice when this happens. We can either believe our own press and think we really are awesome - or - we can be realistic about things and know that any goodness in us is solely due to God's grace and goodness. The opposite of this response is pride. We begin to take pride in ourselves and our accomplishments. We have the audacity to think we are the cause and the wisdom of our own works. Yet any good thing seen in us is the grace of God at work.
I've watched this process in the my own life and in the lives of others. Nothing tests us like praise that comes our way. I watched a very successful church that was praised begin to think they deserved the praise for what they were going. It was a trerrifying thing to watch God first remove His presence from the church - and then begin to discipline the church for their arrogance and pride. The moment we think that anything but God's grace is responsible for our success and praise, in that moment we have miserably failed the test.
A wise man knows that his first response to praise should be one of two things. Either he expresses gratefulness to the one who had praised him - or he immediately deflects the praise offered to God Who is truly responsible for what has happened. Let us therefore be wise and immediately take any praise given to us - and give it to God. May we realize that truly any good seen in us is a result of the grace and mercy of God. That is the way to pass the test of praise offered to us.
In a multitude of people is a king's glory, But in the dearth of people is a prince's ruin. Proverbs 14:28
A king is not a king unless he has a kingdom over which to rule. A kingdom will not exist where the people are not fruitful and multiply. Therefore it is wise for kings to encourage their people to grow in number. Today's proverb handles this situation - but the implications of this proverb are fascinating, especially when applied to what is happening in both the United States and Europe.
The simple meaning of this proverb is obvious - a king needs people to have his kingdom flourish. When there is a multitude of people under his rule - he is blessed, but when there is a declining population within the kingdom - it points to the ruin of his son. The son will have a far smaller kingdom over which to rule - or possibly none at all.
As I stated at the beginning of this post, this has amazing ramifications for both our nation and the nations of Europe. Both places have declining populations when it comes to the original population of the countries. As a result of this both of these regions are trying their best to maintain population growth by immigration. The problem is that as the numbers of immigrants grow, they are having more and more influence in the policies and direction of the nation. Give this direction a few more years - and soon Europe will be different - completely different than their forefathers. The United States is not that far from this development either. Why is this happening to these once great nations?
For a king to continue to rule over his own people, he has to encourge his own people to multiply in their families. If they do not, the indigenous people of the land will begin to dwindle in numbers. The result of this will be that a different group of people will begin to rise up and rule the land. All this happens because the people do not have children. Or, in our case, they only want 2.4 children or less. That is what has happened in our nation. We have become a people who do not believe that having multiple children is a blessing. This all began with people espousing a worldview that did not value children. We became a people so interested in our own comforot and our own pleasure that we decidd that children were no longer a blessing of the Lord. We came to the conclusion that the man whose quiver if full of children is not blessed at all. In fact, we decided children were a burden - an unnecessary burden - and within a couple of generations - an unwanted burden.
According to the humanistic worldview - this was a wonderful development. We were supposedly choking the world to death with our overpopulation - our poluting - and our urban sprawl. So when people bought this unbiblical view, they stopped having childen, or they did what was necessary to reduce the number of children they have. Everything seemed wonderful and the planet would be saved. But over time, the dearth of children began to weigh heavy on our society. Now we face problems as our system is imploding. It is doing so because we no longer have far more families coming up, because we do not like or enjoy the thought of having multiple children. Programs like Social Security require a larger generation of younger people than in the older generation. Even our national character - is shifting from being European and western to being either Mexican or Islamic.
A wise set of leaders would have had a biblical worldview. That worldview remembers that God said to be fruitful and multiply. The whole concept of overpopulation is foreign to God. He promises to supply our needs if we will live for His glory and obey His Word. But since those things have been jettisoned just as we have done with His view of children and family - we are facing the "dearth of a people."
An interesting thing about this passage is that it says that the prince is ruined by this. The king is to rule not just with an eye toward himself - but toward his sons - and his grandsons. That is a fascinating thing to see here. It is fascinating because one of the curses of our current political fabric is that we only see the immediate future as important. Most of our elected officials actually only see the next election cycle as important - therefore they plan only to keep people fat and happy til past the next election. All the while as we are doing this - the princes of our future (our children) are having their future ruined by the selfishness of the current generation.
Wisdom means that rulers think ahead - they think long-term - and honestly, they should think biblically. To do otherwise is to think in a way that God will not bless. This, more than the economy or any other factor, is what will bring about the blessing or the dearth of our society and its people. We should always remember the verse, "Blessed are the people who are so situated. Blessed is the nation who's God is the Lord."
Adversity pursues sinners, But the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity. Proverbs 13:21
When we sin, we are setting loose a nemesis who will hunt us down to bring us the adversity that our sin produces. That is a rather disconcerting thought - but still one that is true. When we decide to depart from the Lord for a period to pursue the fleeting pleasures of sin, we are paving with our own hands the road that adversity and retribution will walk to our door. This is why the wise man considers the end of a choice before he makes it.
Consider David in regard to this matter. He thought he was only lingering on the sight of Batsheba bathing for a lustful look. He did not know that the look would lead to a desire which would lead to a choice to bring her to his chambers. He did not know that this choice would lead to adultery with another man's wife - which would lead to a pregnancy that promised a scandal in the kingdom. He did not know that asking her husband to return from battle would lead to seeing Uriah's character and godliness far exceed his own. He did not know that this would lead to his order to have Uriah killed by the hand of the Ammonites as he reacted in panic about what to do. He had no idea that all of this would lead to a year of his life spent in spiritual agony as the Holy Spirit convicted him of his sin - and drained him of life itself. He couldn't even imagine that his little look - his brief indiscretion of lust would lead to two dead sons, a raped daughter, and 10 women locked away as widows for life. He did not see in his departure from pure eyes that several men would be killed with Uriah at the wall - and that thousands would die in a battle between himself and his rebellious son. If anything David thought this "little look" might result in a brief departure from God's will. He had no idea that he was paving a superhighway for adversity, pain, and regret that would last for many years to come. He was clueless that in that moment he was releasing a beast that would pursue him relentlessly until adversity would nearly overwhelm him as he trudged up a mountainside, cursed by a fool, and feeling that he was one because of the sin that had finally caught up with him. Indeed adversity pursues sinners.
We are not left hopeless though with this proverb. We are also reminded that the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity. David was pursued with adversity by his sin - but he was also blessed for his godly obedience. He deserved death for his transgressions, yet God showed him mercy. He was able to amass tremendous riches and wealth for the construction of the temple during the time of his son Solomon. He was blessed not just during his time on earth - but for all time by the fact that one of his descendents would be the Messiah. There is tremendous blessing that will come to the godly.
There is no better illustration of this than the gospel message itself. We read here that "the righteous" will be rewarded. Yet our problem is that we are sinners - not righteous. There is no way we can be righteous by our works or by God's law. But when we were helpless Christ died for the ungodly. He can make us righteous - having been the One who became sin for us - so that we might be made righteous because of God's gift of salvation. Because of the gospel we are righteous in God's sight - but only because a gift of God's grace was bestowed on us when we responded in repentance and faith to the gospel message. Our passge here reminds us that the righteous will be rewarded with "prosperity." The word for prosperity here means entering into a wholeness and restored relationship with God. Too many think prosperity means money and wealth - but we must remember that the greatest riches we can have are those that come in spiritual blessings arising from a renewed relationship with God.
We face one of two choices - which results in one of two ends. We can choose sin and rebellion which sets off a chase in which the sinner or rebel will be hunted down for a visit from adversity. We can also choose to embrace God's way of righteousness through the gospel. This will set off a much different kind of pursuit. This sets in motion the grace of God working in us throughout out lives here on earth. His grace will bless us with spiritual prosperity here on earth - but also will culminate with His blessing on the day of judgment as well. The wise man knows that sin and rebellion set loose the hounds of adversity. That is why he chooses instead to set loose the spirit of blessing in his life by the gospel.