A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 16:31
Hooray for the "hoary-headed!" Sorry, a brief return to KJV language. This means the grey-haired man is the wise man. But before we equate wisdom to everyone with grey hair - and wicked motives to everyone who uses "Just for Men" to get grey out of their hair and beard - maybe we should examine everything in this proverb.
What is the second half of this verse referring to . . . an older person - or a crown of glory? It refers a little to both - but mostly to the crown of glory. There is only one other key passage where this admonition is given in connection with being older. It is found in 1 Peter 5:1-4
- and the admonition here refers to "elders" in the church. Oh, but there is much we can learn from it.
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your
fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of
God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 1 Peter 5:1-4
Note that this passage speaks of older me who do the following. First, they are active in the local church - serving at the highest levels of leadership - which means that they also exhibit the highest levels of servanthood to others.
Second, they voluntarily lead a life of giving and serving others - certainly a wise thing to do - and a godly thing to pursue. What do you VOLUNTEER for in working at the church? Where do you serve God and others there? Do they have to beg you to serve - or do you joyfully volunteer - even to clean toilets if that is necessary. This is wisdom on display!
Third, they serve according to God's will - not their own ego. Older men who learn to do this will be a blessing for hundreds of years in God's church - because younger men see powerful men who subdue their ego in preference to God's will. Too many churches have been destroyed because unwise men tried to serve God in the power of their own ego - thus serving the church became all about them and their desires for what THEY wanted the church to become. These men turn more into church "bosses" than churchmen who are servants of God's will first and foremost.
Fourth, they serve the church and others without thought of money. They are selfless men who do not desire salary and benefits - just blessing to God's people.
Fifth, This do this with eagerness - they LOVE serving God and His people. This goes back to serving God joyfully - even chomping at the bit to help in some way . . . or . . . being dragged griping and moaning because you have to sacrifice in some way your own wants to serve others - who honestly - ought to be serving you! Yeah, this way of living is the fool's way. A wise man knows a little serving in this life - means blessing in the next.
Sixth, older, wiser men serve God as examples to the rest of the flock. They don't lord it over those they lead - they lead in such a way that others follow - because they see the example of servanthood in their leaders.
So . . . this is most likely the way this old dude got his horey-headedness - or grey hair. He got it learning to serve God - not himself. He also knows that the one who does this will be rewarded by the "Chief Shepherd" - read Jesus - Who will give him the "crown of glory" when He comes. Not a bad way to be rewarded - but then again - not a bad way to live our lives either!
He who winks his eyes does so
to devise perverse things; He who compresses his lips brings evil to pass. Proverbs 16:30
A wise man can read people's faces and expressions - with the result being that of being warned against those who are planning perverse and evil things. In the Jewish world the winking of an eye was considered an evil thing. This kind of facial movement was consistently condemned as we read in Proverbs 6:13
as well as in Proverbs 10:10
where we learn that the one who winks an eye is doing so to cause trouble. Even in Psalm 35:19
this is seen as an ungodly thing, where we read of those who "wink maliciously" as they plot evil. Such a wink is considered part of the shiftiness of those who are plotting and scheming against others. Therefore the godly man who is wise will note such things and weigh their words on the basis of their signals.
Note that the "winker" is one who is devising "perverse things." The word for "perverse" is "tahpukah" which means to deviate and distort God's ways. It is interesting that when men are acting perverse, they are first seeking to pervert God's ways. They are deceptive in their intent and are corrupt as they speak. There is a perversity in their hearts that disregards God's Word and His ways as they plot their evil and their conquest of others.
We are also warned about those who "compress their lips." We are told that they do this to bring evil to pass. The picture that we should get is someone who is putting their lips together and pressing them tightly. This expression, as we are told by several Hebrew commentators, is a sight of anger, rage, bitterness, and disgust. The one who does this has no good planned. There will be an "evil" that will come to pass from such a man.
Wise men notice a man's visage and face. The face of those who are godly and loving will be one that is glowing and hides nothing from others. They are usually people filled with joy and with the peace that arises from having a relationship with God where they have been justified and declared righteous in His sight by the gift of His grace. The wicked man cannot hide the evil that resides in his heart. It is etched into his face - and in the tightness of one whose true motives cannot be brought to the surface for fear that they will be exposed for what they are - perverse and filled with misery and evil. Read a face, dear saints of God, and you will often understand a heart.
A man of violence entices his neighbor And leads him in a way that is not good. Proverbs 16:29
This proverb has to do with those who are considered, "men of violence." It would be good to understand what this title or name means before we go further in understanding this particular proverb.
The "man of violence" is an interesting term - since this term is actuially used as the name for a terrorist group or organization. The word for violence is "hamas." The word means an action of violence or wrong-doing. The word implies cruelty, damage, and injustice. It is often coupled with words that speak of physical violence involving the use of a weapon - and is also used to describe acts of oppression and violence that could be described as extremely evil in nature and intent. Keil and Delitzsch's Old Testament commentary on this verse mentions that the violent purpose behind such actions often included felonies, robbery, extortion, and even murder).
What I find fascinating is that this passage warns that this "man of violence" will seek to entice his neighbor to get involved with him and with his acts of evil. When caught this will mean that this neighbor will be an accessory to his crimes. That is why there is a warning to stay away from a man who is talking about such things.
Be careful WHO leads you - and know WHERE they are headed before you agree to go with them. The phrase, "A way that is not good," used here meand one that is in stark contrast to the good way - the way of God. We are also warned that it is altogether evil and destructive in where it goes.
One other thing I want to throw in at this point is a warning about a man who begins going down a path of anger. He will begin this path with passion and with many complaints against those whom he feels have not been fair with him. Since we are in a presidential election year - I want to offer some advice to all of us who are in the process of determining who will lead us for the next four years. I am very concerned with what our President is currently doing. There is a lot of time being spent dividing groups of people - the haves and have nots - the races - the religious and non-religious. A great deal of time is being spend whipping up a great deal of anger against various groups of people who are being painted as scape goats. No truly wise leader goes down this path. It is a path that will lead first to the marginalization of various groups - but will eventually go to the point of demonizing these groups. In the end - even violence will be permitted against these groups because they have become the enemy of a political party or candidate. This is also why I am leary of Governor Romney - and to some extent many on the Republican side of this equation. Too many are using negative attacks against their opponent - calling them names - and using political epithets that are not going to help calm our political discourse. As this verbal virtiol continues it will do NO ONE in our nation any good in the end.
A word of warning is wise at this point. We need to learn from history - that the way we are going - with men of violence starting their attacks with words - will only turn to eventual attacks physically upon others in the end. If we choose to ignore this now - we will only pay the price later when these men of violence entice us to act out upon those we think are responsible for our national demise - or honestly - our personal one. Very few of these men care anything about our nation - or else they would not turn to such godless ways. They would know that a nation divided against itself cannot stand. But then again when they turn to be men of violence they are only interested in themselves. In the end they will lead us in a way that is not good - and one that will only satisfy their own lust for power.
Wise men shun those who call for violence - in their words or in their deeds. They know that To be led by men like this is only to start down a path that is not in agreement with that of God our Father. They would choose instead to be sons of God - peacemakers if you will - whose greatest desire is to see peace exalted through the work of Jesus Christ. May God give us men like that to lead us!
A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends. Proverbs 16:28
There are those who through their falsehood and gossip cause great harm to the relationships of others. This can be the case even with intimate friends. The first action of this man is to spread strife. The way that this man does this is through lies and slanderous falsehoods. He starts by lying to one friend of the other about the actions of their "so-called" friend. Those who will not listen to gossip will shut down this kind of ruiniation of another.
The slanderer is just as dangerous - but his falsehood and lies have a far more sinister goal in mind. He is not content to just spread strife and discord. Look at the proverb for today and not that the one filled with slander - does so not just to cause arguments - but also to separate a man from his friend. He has a target in view - and that target is a friendship of which he is very jealous. Why else would he desire to see this relationship destroyed.
Once someone can penetrate your mind with slanderous gossip - it is hard to remedy the situation. The desire is to serarate a man from his friend - so that the one who sabatoged this relationship can see it destroyed. That way he can have a better one - or at least keep the two former friends from making his relationships look weak and feeble. There are some who just are not happy unless they are making others miserable.
Be careful around such perverse, small-hearted people. They are filled with bitterness and hatred because they usually want what you have with a friend - but cannot get it because of their ungodly ways and how they are unable to maintain a relationship due to their own selfishness. Avoid these people like you would avoid the plague!
A worthless man digs up evil, While his words are like scorching fire. Proverbs 16:27
There are those who seem to love digging up dirt on others. These are the ones who love gossip and betrayal and slander. But such a man is a very wicked man. The proverb for today says that a "worthless" man is the one who digs up evil. That word "worthless" is the term, "beliyal" in the Hebrew and it means someone who is a scoundrel and who has no good in himself. This man plots to find and to expose evil in others.
We are told that when this wicked man gets the right information to slander and destroy others, he lets it forth in a belching flame of fire. He scorches the earth with his inflamatory language with every intent on destroying his adversaries and causing their reputation to go up in the flames of his evil rhetoric. The term used here are that his words are like scorching fire. The literal is that his lips burn like an uncontrolable fire. We are warned agaisnt such things in James 3:6
where we read,
"So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet
it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very
world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our
life, and is set on fire by hell. James 3:5-6
This is why we need to set a guard over our lips and our mouths. Our tongues are a fire themselves and can be the very world of iniquity. If we do not learn how to control our tongues we may learn all too late that our tongues can defile our entire lives and be set on fire by hell itself. That is why we need to make sure that we use our tongues for good rather than for wickedness. May God take our tongues and tame them by His Spirit so that, rather than being a scorching fire set abaze by hell itself - we become one whose words are a healing balm from the Lord Himself!
A worker's appetite works for him, For his hunger urges him on. Proverbs 16:26
Did you know that the Bible does not support the idea of a welfare state? There is plenty in the Scriptures that support giving to help out the poor and disadvantaged. But the idea of providing a living for someone without them having to work - especially when they are able to work - is foreign to the Bible.
God's Word encourages us to work - and to work hard. Beginning with God encouraging man to work the garden - prior to the fall - and continuing through the New Testament where Paul tells us that if a man will not work, not to let him eat - God is adamant about people giving themselves to worthwhile endeavors in life. We've seen several verses already that rebuke the sluggard and warn him to apply himself to work hard. God also encourages us to enjoy our work in the book of Ecclesiastes.
God's Word states that a "do nothing" mindset will destroy a man's character - and eventually his life. Welfare will eventually create not just a sluggard, but a person who feels that they are entitled to getting things without working. This entitlement attitude will not just destroy an individual - it can destroy entire economies and states. When the state either cuts off these entitlements or even downgrades them in size - the lazy rise up and riot because they have grown to expect something for nothing.
The whole idea of incentive and hunger is necessary for a society to have a good work ethic. The incentive causes the worker to become more dependable and productive. He works harder and better and in the process not only blesses himself - but his company and even his entire nation. The hunger for food is one way that this is seen - and the hunger for even better things can be a continued way this is beneficial. First we work so that we can feed ourselves and our families. Over time our families are fed, but we want even better things for them. This comes not out of greed, but out of a true desire to bless our families - even beyond the scope of our lives. The incentive to see our children have a better life is a good thing.
Our society is falling apart because it has ignored these things. We have begun to adopt a mindset toward socialism - where the government takes care of all the people. God did not intend for this to be the case. He meant for men to care for their families - and for the state to only have a limited role in governing our lives. The family is the basic unit of society - and the place where values and work ethic is to be taught and encouraged. Even with our children we are to use incentive to help them see the need to work and to labor. When a child is spoiled by his parents - that child is given everything they want - without having to work for what they receive. The child does not appreciate these things - and even has resentment when the parent either cannot or will not provide something they demand. The child never learns a solid work ethic - which damages them for life. They don't work hard - get fired from multiple jobs - which they always equate to a problem with the employer. The problems they have even enter into their marriage and family - because they are unwilling to work and do what is necessary to bless a family. Everything is about them and what they want. Thus they destroy not just their own lives - but in time multiple generations which follow in their footsteps.
The incentive and drive to work - and work hard is a matter of godliness in the end. It is encouraged by God granting to us an appetite - and a hunger for food. If we are coddled and protected from hunger and need. If we are given everything and never made to work for what is necessary. If we are spoiled as children - and even as adults - we are headed for a disastrous end. The older we get, the more selfless we should become. The selfishness of a little child is not to be encouraged - but worked out of them. If this is not done - not even their hunger can get them to engage in profitable work. When multiplied over the face of a region - and even a nation - this will lead to the fall of that nation. Let your hunger and your thirst be a motivation to work hard - and to encourage others to do the same. It may seem hard at first - but you will see the wisdom of God's Word in encouraging work and labor as a way to bless ourselves and others around us.
There is a way which seems
right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 16:25
Ever since the fall of man we've been making the wrong decisions as a race - and - as individuals. The whole world was turned upside down at this event - and man has had his thinking on right and wrong completely ruined. That is what today's proverb deals with - and it is one that we should take very seriously - especially when it comes to spiritual matters - and more than anything, when it comes to salvation.
There is a way that seems right to a man. We truly blew it when we decided to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Ever wonder why this was such a huge blunder. I mean, isn't it a good thing to know the difference between what is good and what is evil? But this is not what entered into the heart of Eve, then Adam when they partook of the fruit of this infamous tree.
They ate of something forbidden by God. In fact, there was only one rule in the garden - just ONE! They were not to eat of the fruit of this one tree. But they chose to eat - and by eating brought the entire creation into futility by their choice to sin against God. We will NEVER be drawn closer to God through disobedience. That is something you can take to the bank every day you live. They were not eating of a tree that would help them know the difference between good and evil. This was not a discernment tree which would help them choose good things the rest of their life. They were wanting to partake of good and evil - they wanted the knowledge of both. The way that seems right to a man is a way that experiences good and evil - and therefore man can choose which he wants. The problem is that once he chooses to DO evil - to ACT evil - to WANT evil - he will be enslaved to it.
There is a way that seems right to a man - which includes knowing evil intimately so he thinks he will be able to choose what is best. But the reality is that the end of this way is the way of death. Jesus said that whoever sins is the slave of sin. We cannot "dabble" in this stuff enough to see the wrong of it - then consistently choose against that wrong. The wrong enslaves - and warps - and lies - and deceives - and in the end, kills.
As we look at this proverb, there is another danger in the "way that seems right to a man." This again proceeds from eating and participating in the knowledge of good and evil. Once the pair had eaten of this fruit - they knew both good and evil. That knowledge made them think that they could reject the evil, choose the good, and become acceptable to God. What was birthed at the foot of this tree was man-made religion. What came to life within the wicked breast of man in that hour was the idea that man can make himself acceptable to God by his works. Do more good than evil - and God will have to accept you. There was a false idea of God that was perpetrated by the devil there - and it was the height of wickedness. Satan said to Eve, that she would not die when she sinned - but that in having the knowledge of good and evil - she would be like God Himself! She herself would then be able to determine what is good as well as what is evil! Birthed in that infamous moment was the lying games of human philosophy as well. The thought that by the working of our own minds we could determine good and evil - as our own little gods!
Since man thought that he could determine what is right and good - there was no need for God. There was no need for the Almighty to grant revelation. We were good enough in ourselves to determine for ourselves what was right and what is wrong. Since that time the heart of man has been a veritable idol-factory. We are experts at fashioning gods of all kinds. Man is hopelessly religious - finding some god that he can worship. Problem is that according to Romans 1
- he finds worship in all the wrong places - looking for god in too many faces. Actually he even looks for God in animals - four-footed creatures - bugs - and in various self-styled versions of himself. Man eventually will have a god of his own making - who will look like, act like, and condone a lifestyle just like the one he is currently living. Anyone who has looked at the pitiful gods of the Greeks and Romans has realized that they were more lecherous and despicable than the men they supposedly ruled over on the earth. We think there is a way that seems right - but it only confirms our previously embraced wickedness and desire for sin.
Hope for mankind lies not in the fashioning of another parthenon of gods, but in communication and mercy from the One True God. There is a way that seems right to man - to each of us - but it is infinitely flawed by sin and selfishness granted to us by our descendants. We are the products of Adam and Eve - and we are after their likeness - and after their sinfulness. Hope comes when we see that God sovereignly reaches down to us and reveals Himself through His Word. There IS a way that is RIGHT - but that way belongs to God and to His revelation of Himself to us through the Scriptures. There is a way that does not lead to death - it leads to life. But that way is through God's provision of life through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. What we need is not our own ideas. We need the life of God - the righteousness of God - and the kindness of God which leads us to repentance. God has made a way - but it is His way. He has made a way - but He did not consult with us as to what it was going to be. When man was embroiled in his sin - in fact before man ever existed or had sinned - God provided a lamb, slain from the foundation of the world. Salvation was - and ever is His idea - His provision - and His act of mercy and grace to us. Oh, that we will remember that - and daily worship Him for His wonderful grace in Jesus Christ.
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." That is a quote from my dearest mother - and from mothers for generations. My mom was not wanting me to refrain from saying the truth if it was hard - but she was wanting me to learn the principle behind today's proverb of the day. That proverb tells us the wonderful value of speaking pleasant words to others.
The word for "pleasant" here is the Hebrew word, "noam." This word means something beautiful, pleasant, and delightful. The word was used to speak of things that were sen or beheld that were of this nature. The word is used in Psalm 27:4
of the splendor of the Lord. It means to say something that creates delight in someone - yet the words do this because they are wise words as well. The word is also used figuratively of a shepherd's staff and the comfort that is brings to the sheep as it guides them in a good way.
When we speak these pleasant words, we are speaking of God's wisdom - but speaking it in a way that befits the term "honeycomb." We remember a former proverb that told us that more flies are caught with honey than with vinegar. The idea here is that a wise man speaks his words of wisdom - but does so remembering that a harsh word stirs up anger - but soft words can break a bone. Therefore he tries as often as possible to speak pleasant words as he offers the wisdom of God to others. We read here that these words are like a honeycomb. This presents a wonderful picture of nature for us - that points to the value of these pleasant words.
A honeycomb is a wonderful thing in the physical world. It is the place where bees store their honey when they work gathering nectar from flowers around them. They honeycomb was considered the nectar of the gods by the early Greeks because of all the healing properties that they found in it. First it is very healing to skin - even fuctioning as a wonderful antiseptic for skin wounds. It is also healing in that it has been found to have a tremendous amount of anti-oxidents within it. There is also an aspect of honey's usefulness that applies to allergies. In the early days of history people would chew on the honeycomb to help relieve severe allergies. Allergists today say that if we will get local honeycomb and chew on it one to two weeks prior to spring, our sinus and eye allergies would be greatly reduced.
The blessing here is to the soul and the bones of the body. The bones are the source of our blood supply - therefore were seen as the very life-force of the body. Therefore what we are told here is that we become such a blessing to others when we speak gracious and pleasant words to others. Such words will be a soul-healing thing to those who hear them. Just as honeycomb is healthy for our bodies - so beautiful words are to our souls.
Think with me for a moment or two of the majority of words that we hear in our world today. We are currently in an election cycle in our country. We cringe as we realize that once again we are going to be bombarded with the most negative statements made by each candidate about their opponents. The air is heavy with the negativity and the stench of character assassination. This seems to spill over into our world as just about everyone gets caught up - not in pleasant and beautiful words - but in the dark, evil, damaging words of the campaigns. It has gotten to where the two sides are so hateful to each other that there is no middle ground - or ways that we can even speak of the other side without incurring the wrath of someone thinking that we are selling out.
Let me encourage you in the midst of this time to do something to counter our culture. Do you very best to speak as many "pleasant" words as possible to one another. Take the time to notice something good about as many situations and circumstances as possible. Make it your goal to look for the pleasant every single day and speak of it glowingly. Do your utmost to find as much to say about the goodness and grace of God as possible. This way we can be a healing influence in a society that desperately needs a little good news that actually nourishes our souls!
The heart of the wise instructs his mouth And adds persuasiveness to his lips. Proverbs 16:23
One of the maladies that I face in my life is that I engage my mouth too often without fully engaging my mind as to what I am going to say. That particular malady results in another and that is that I find my foot often lodged in my mouth shortly after the first malady manifests itself. Needless to say today's proverb was eye-opening to say the least. I learned that what truly needs to be engaged before I speak is my heart - which is to be what instructs my mouth before it engages in saying what "ought" to be said.
The heart of a wise man instructs his mouth what to say. Some might say that if this were the case all we would say is, "thump, thump" in a rythmic fashion. (Oops, there I go again!) But the Hebrew concept of the heart is a wondeful one. The heart refers to the immaterial inner self - or what the Holy Spirit would refer to as man's spirit. This is considered by the Hebrew mind to be our inner nature - the workings of our mind as it is instructed by the Holy Spirit using as His primary text, the Word of God. Thus the mouth is instructed by none other than the Holy Spirit Himself - who takes the Word and uses it to instruct us, through our spirit, so that our mind is taught. This working then brings to our mind things that should be filtered out - or in some cases filtered in.
Scripture, for example, instructs us in Colossians 4:6
, "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." What a great instruction for our mouths. Therefore, as the Spirit does this He asks us, "Hey Bubba (sorry, I live in Arkansas and this is pretty effective here), is what you are going to say gracious? Does it have a little 'salt of the gospel' in it - so that it will make whoever is hearing you thirsty for God - and the gospel?" Something else the Spirit of God might ask is this, "Yo Bubbba, did you think about what this person truly and lovingly NEEDS - or - are you just spouting off what you want to say to them?" These are things that will truly alter how you speak - because in all honesty - not even our words belong to us. We were bought with a price - therefore we are to glorify God with our bodies - which, by the way, includes our mouths!
Here is another way our mouth can be instructed by the wisdom of the Spirit of God. He may choose to remind us of Ephesians 4:29
which says, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word
as is good for edification according to the need of the moment,
so that it will give grace to those who hear." So this time the Spirit of God may chime in with something like this. "Dude (this is when I am in California), is what you are going to say wholesome, or does it smell like rotten fruit or nasty-smelling fish! Are you going to build up your friend - or just confirm him in the same worldly ways that his other friends speak? Like, you totally need to think about what he NEEDS right now! Have you even heard what HE'S been saying at a heart level in this conversation and others? Don't be a total bogart man - give him some grace - some love brother - some real helpful, encouraging, gospel-smelling stuff!"
Now, apart from the regionalization of all this in my language - there are a few VERY important things we can learn from just these two examples. We learn how the Scriptures would be used by the Holy Spirit to instruct our mouths. First, note that in both examples the Lord wants to instruct us to think of others
as we open our mouths. Second, note as well in both examples that the Lord wants us to have our words abound with grace
as we speak. Lastly, there is either stated or implied that our words are to be used to build others up - not tear them down
. You can take these three things to the verbal-bank! We ought to write them on the inside of our mouths, so to speak, so that we are reminded that any word that proceeds out of them should be - 1) others-minded, 2) filled with grace and the gospel, and 3) encouraging! Can you imagine the difference that would make in a matter of days in the things we say!?
The rest of today's proverb reminds us that when we do this - our hearts will help us to have additional "persuasiveness" added to everything we say. I have known people like this in my life - and they are amazing people. They are the E.F. Hutton's of the spiritual world - and in many ways the world in general. When they speak - people listen! The amazing thing is that this is not because they have "earth-shaking" things to say every time they open their mouths. It is more because you will be blessed and uplifted whenever they speak! You want to hear what they say - because it nourishes your very soul to hear it.
Precious ones . . . let us not be people whose mouths are instructed by our culture - or by our own selfish motives - or by the evil one who would love to use our mouths for his own destructive purposes. Let us be people of the grace-filled, love-overflowing, life-encouraging, Spirit-instructed mouth! Let us embrace hearing what our hearts have to say about what words we should use. And as we listen to this soul-nourishing instruction for our mouths - may we submit our hearts to be ruled and governed by the Holy Spirit of God. May His tutelage dominate our conversations, our statements, and our answers so that others may be blessed - made thirsty for the God who speaks through us - and hungry for the same gospel grace that has changed our hearts, which is the very reason that our conversation is so different!
Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it, But the discipline of fools is folly. Proverbs 16:22
There is an artery that carries the blood from our hearts to the rest of our bodies. We know it as the aorta. The passage for today from proverbs uses a phrase, "fountain of life" which is "mekor chaiyim" in the Hebrew. This was the phrase used often as an allusion to this artery which carries the blood from the heart to distribute it to all the extremities of our bodies. It is used here though in reference to the one who has "understanding." As the aorta is the life-giving channel to the whole body phsyically - so understanding is the life-giving vehicle to our moral and spiritual well-being. Therefore it is pretty important that we know what it means to have understanding in our lives.
The word "understanding" here is the Hebrew word "sekel." This word means, "having intelligence and good sense." But the intelligence mentioned here is more than just book learning about various subjects. It means to have understanding and insight into things that comes from more than just mere educational learning. The Bible says in 1 Chronicles 22:12
that only the Lord can give us insight and understanding. This is given so that we can obey God and please Him - which is the greatest understanding of things in light of eternity. Job 17:14
reminds us that God can give this understanding and insight - or - take it away whenever He so chooses. The result of having this kind of godly, God-given insight and understanding is that it helps us to be patient and forgiving (Proverbs 19:11
). Those who have such insight will be praised - and will turn from perversity in their lives (Proverbs 12:8
). You come away from the definition of this word seeing that God grants this insight as we get into His Word - understand it - and gain insight into both His character and the character of mankind. The knowledge of both of these things is what grants us patience to deal with the failings of others patiently. We grasp the power of forgiveness as we experience it from God at levels that will infinitely dwarf any forgiveness that we will ever have to give others for their trangressions against us. We will also find that such biblical insight gained from our heavenly Father will turn us to godly, holy lives - and turn us from lies, deceit, and anything which perverts and twists our path from God's ways and plans. In this end - this is a conduit for life - God's life in its fullness.
The discipline of fools is folly. The general agreement on the scholars is that "musar" which is the word here for "discipline" has the idea of instruction. It is how we use the word discipline when refering to a field of study. We are in the discipline of Mathmatics. That means that we are studying this field - and intentionally harnessing ourselves to a disciplined practice of doing math every day - so that we learn the field of study - or in this cast the discipline of Mathmatics. The passage says that the learning or instruction of the fool is folly. This is why a fool is such a pathetic figure in Proverbs. He remains a fool because that is all he disciplines himself to be - a fool. He so delights in his folly that is it all that he ever learns and pursues. In the end - he only becomes a bigger and bigger fool. Since folly is his life-blood, the flow of his choices, attitudes, and actions only solidify the result that he will be a bigger fool tomorrow than he is today. His only real hope is that the grace of God rescues him from his foolishness - and brings him to the place where he values wisdom and understanding. There must be a heart change for him to begin to experience an "aortic-change" in what flows through him as his life-blood. Honestly - this is the gospel - God reaching into the hearts of fools - changing them by His grace. Taking out their heart of stone (the heart of a fool). Granting them by His mercy and infinte kindness a new heart of flesh. This heart values wisdom and understading . . . and then, seeing the change as this new heart values understanding - which then becomes the new life-blood that flows throughout him. Only that kind of change - changes the hearts of fools. Otherwise, their discipline of study remains folly - which confirms them as lifelong fools. Their end is the ultimate place of all fools - next to the ultimate fool of all eternity - in a lake of fire that is wholly popluated by all the fools who said in their hearts, "There is no God."
Better to have life - and to have a heart that because of grace and the gospel pumps out understanding - insight - biblical knowledge - and discretion. Thanks be to God for the "aortic-change" that brings life to us - and causes life to flow into every apsect of our entire moral and spiritual being!