The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD. Proverbs 21:31
May 1940 was a defining moment for the western world. These were the days that opened the 2nd World War. Hitler's Blitzkrieg had destoyed the French lines and were quickly encircling the English army for the purpose of anihilating it. That is why His Majesty King George IV requested that May 26th should be observed as a day of prayer as they committed their cause to God. The scene that Sunday was breath-taking. Churches were full beyond measure - and lines ran outside their buildings and into the streets. Their cries went up to God - and God acted in His power to grant victory to those who honored Him.
Today's proverb has to do with victory in battle. God is sovereign - even over the battles and wars that are fought on this planet. And the evacuation from Dunkirk is an example of God working miraculously to determine just who would win WW2. If the Germans had destroyed the English Expeditionary Force in those days - the battle for Europe would have effectively been over. But God engineered several miracles to determine who would win the battle that day.
Three major miraculous events took place because of the prayer offered that day. First was Hitler's halt of the Panzer divisions that could have crushed the British. They were less than 10 miles from overrunning them and destroying them when Hitler, who had been ruthless in his pursuit and quick "Blitzkrieg" tactics, suddenly had them stop. He would rely on air power to finish the job. The second miracle was that a storm came up over Flanders that was so severe that it effectively grounded the entire German air-force. The Luftwaffe could not opeate in this area - and stayed on the air fields. The third miracle was that an unnatural calm came over the English Channel between England and France - in spite of the storms raging on the French side. This calm enabled the English to bring every boat conceivable to Dunkirk to ferry the Elglish Expeditionary force back to England. These boats along with the rest of the English Navy took British soldiers over the channel for three days - as they were covered in a dense fog that prevented the German Luftwaffe from flying and destroying them as they crossed.
There were other miracles in those days. Some beaches were attacked in thsoe days - yet it was evident to miraculous proportions that the troops were being protected by the providential hand of God. When about 400 men were being machine-gunned and bombed, systematically, by about sixty enemy aircraft, one man who flung himself down with the rest reported that, after the strafing was over, he was amazed to find that there was not a single casualty. Another man, a chaplain, was likewise machine-gunned and bombed as he lay on the beach. After what seemed an eternity, he realized he had not been hit, and rose to his feet to find that the sand all around where he had been lying was pitted with bullet holes, and that his figure was outlined on the ground. Truly astounding things wre happening on every hand - and it was very apparent that God's intervening power was responsible for it. In the writings of Officers and men alike there were a myriad of statements that they were seeing the hand of God, powerful to save, delivering them from an enemy that should have destroyed them.
All England declared June 9th a day of Thanksgiving for God's mercies. On that day the people of England read and sang Psalm 124 which is a Psalm that speaks of God's deliverance. It was thought that it would be amazing if England could save 30,000 to 35,000 soldiers in their retreat. Yet God, by His sovereign power, allowed them to save over 335,000. No one doubted that God had worked miraculously on England's behalf.
This is what God is trying to say to us in Proverbs 21:31. The horse may be prepared for the day of battle, but Jehovah is the One Who will determine who will be victorious. Old Testament law forbid Israel from relying on horses in battle. So, when horses are mentioned here, it can be easily assumed that the armies of the wicked are using them - not Israel. These horses may be prepared for the day of battle - but they do not assure victory. Who is victorious is determined by God Himself. Hitler surely had the superior force - both in army and in air-force. But the British had God - Who answered their prayers when they humbled themselves before Him. Truly it was a Ninavesque day of repentance and prayer on May 26th, and God answered in like fashion to their prayers.
Victory was determined by God in the month of May 1940 - and God is still determining who will win in the end. God has not changed - nor will He - when it comes to the outcome of any and every event. The question is not whether God will work on our behalf. The question is whether we will turn to Him - believing that victory is not determined by how big the army or how awesome the supposed cause. Victory belongs to God - and He will give it to whomever He wishes. May we be wise to always seek His favor in everything we do.
There is no wisdom and no understanding And no counsel against the Lord. Proverbs 21:30
This has got to be one of the most discouraging passages for an atheist or an agnostic. Here they are doing all that they do against the Lord - thinking there is a wisdom that they can have that is not of God - an understanding apart from Him and counsel that goes against what He says.
Yet the facts speak for themselves . . .
No wisdom against God . . . When you hear words that contradict those of the living God in Scripture - it is not a wise thing you are hearing. There may be people who say things that accidently agree with God's Word in the midst of their foolish ramblings. Some may consider them wise - but only because they agreed with a principle found in the pages of Scripture. But when they contradict God's Word - there is no wisdom in that.
No understanding against God . . . Understanding means a discernment, a reasoning or a skill with facts that gives one the ability to see what is coming. Since God is the One Who is from all eternity - and Who knows the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning - one would think we would get the fact that He is all-knowing. Thus . . . He knows the future - and His Word will always reveal the best course - the one in keeping with understanding. Ever wonder why the so-called "experts" can take all their studies - all their learning - and come up with such inane conclusions? Ever wonder why all the prognosticators get it wrong again and again? It is because they do not turn to God for wisdom - and out of that wisdom gain understanding. They think they can come up with conclusions that disagree with God and still be right. But there is no understanding that is against the Lord. Let them make their forcasts - but we know from the Word of God how all things will go and even more important - how they will all end.
No counsel against the Lord . . . The word counsel here means advice - but even more than that - a plan or a plot. There are those to whom the world goes seeking advice. People like Dr. Phil and Oprah and her constant lineup of false prophets seem so wise - so understanding - and therefore the masses cling to them and to their plans. They think that they will be blessed by following them. But the fact is that there is no plan against the Lord. Oh there are actually thousands of plans and plots against Him - but none that will succeed in the end. I find it fascinating that Oprah and all her spiritual advisers come up with the same basic idea - that we are god and can make our own truth. As we accept that and work within it, we will become better, more balanced people. What do I find fascinating about this? It is the same advice given in the garden. "You will not surely die, for God knows that in the day that you eat, you will become like God, knowing good and evil." That is the same lie that Satan used to deceive Eve. That counsel did not work then - and surprise - won't work now either.
There is something that truly irks me is when I go to a movie or see a show or read an article that drips with man's arrogant self-congratulation over his own counsel. The arrogance of mankind is astounding when we think of how man gathers his own wisdom - makes his own forecasts - and then sets out on a plan - yet God is nowhere mentioned or accessed. Generations have come and will march into dust so sure of themselves and their plans. Yet the ultimate test is the judgment seat of Christ. It is the day when all the plans of man will come to an end. On that day we will know as we have never known before that there is no wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel against the Lord.
I hear the words of the psalmist ringing in my ears:
"Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence And rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in
the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! Psalms 2:10-12
Now there is wisdom - there is understanding - and good counsel that will stand well throughout eternity. Get ready to face the Son - honor the Son - worship the Son - for in the end the only wisdom, understanding, and counsel that will matter is that which is in agreement with His.
A wicked man displays a bold face, But as for the upright, he makes his way sure. Proverbs 21:29
We have shown to us here two ways of confidence. What distinguishes them is two important things. The first is pretty obvious - which is that one involves a wicked man while the other is upright. The other is a little more subtle because it involves attitudes and ways that they approach the confidence that they have.
The wicked man, we are told, displays a bold face. A better way to say this is that he displays his confidence with arrogance. He is a man who is not open to rebuke or correction. He is not open to anyone opposing his ideas or where he stands. This is due to a hardened heart. His confidence is a show - and often is not based on fact but on being able to bull their way through life - making others back down due to their confidence - even if it was based on false premises.
The upright man is about truth. Note that the wicked man just "displays" a bold face. His confidence is an act that he keeps up before others. The upright man is interested in making his way "sure." He wants facts and a confidence that is based out of doing God's will and living in His ways. He makes his way sure by making it biblical, god-honoring, and god-glorifying. He seeks a God-oriented confidence not based on himself and being able to make others think he is confident. It is based on knowing God - and being confident that no matter what happens - if God is pleased he has done what needs to be done. He doesn't want to be "right" in his own mind, he wants to be right with and before God. What is important is being "sure" that God is pleased.
As I close today's post, I want to share a little about the word "sure" because is it such an important concept for us if we want to understand biblical confidence. The word "sure" is from a Hebrew word that speaks of a firm, strong foundation. Confidence in our lives is not based on our works - but on God's grace that changes us. Worldly confidence is founded on the shifting sands of achievement based on this world's standards. God, though, says that what will we be profited if we gain the whole world, yet lose our souls? The core of confidence is knowing that we are living for something (or in our case Someone) that will never be subject to the destruction of moth or rust - something that cannot be stolen or taken from us. Thus to live for what is "sure" is to live for what God's Word teaches us is eternal. And as my former pastor, brother Al in Auburn, said - that is the Word of God and the souls of men.
The wicked may put on a bold face in their lifestyles, their wealth, their short-lived happiness, and their godless choices, but these things are not sure. They WILL fade away. They WILL pass away. They WILL burn in the end. When time passes away and is exposed for the shadow world it truly is. When eternity establishes itself as the true substance - then we will iknow that the upright man made the right choice. He did not merely try to convince others of his confidence. He had a confidence rooted in God' grace, God's Word, and in God Himself, the Ultimate Reality.
A false witness will perish, But the man who listens to the truth will speak forever. Proverbs 21:28
How long do your words last? There are many people who sat a whole lot - but whose words don't last very long. There are others who actually spend more time listening than they do speaking. It seems that they obtain wisdom much more often - and that their words are remembered far longer.
Here we have the false witness presented to us first. He is the man who speaks lies. He may not be lying on purpose though. He may just be listening to those who do not know the truth. He also may have bought into a system that is based upon false knowledge - or one that denies the veracity of Scripture. False witnesses tend to gather to themselves a number of people who will listen to their words. Scripture warns about a time when people will not tolerate sound words. They will instead gather to themselves teachers who will give them what their itching ears what to hear. They don't want the truth because the truth will cost them. Therefore they prefer those who will tell them what they want to hear. The problem though with such false witnesses is that they will perish - and those who listen and follow them will perish alongside them. Paul warned young Timothy to watch his life and his doctrine closely. He said to persevere in these things - because by doing so he would not only guarantee his own salvation - but also the salvation of those who listen to him as well. That is the saddest aspect of those who listen and gather false witnesses to themselves. They will wind up with the same sins, the same judgment, and in the same hell as their teachers.
There is a second man presented to us in today's proverb . . . a wise man. He is one who listens to the truth. It is interesting that while the false witness is all about speaking, the wise man is far more about listening. He listens to the truth. What is being said here is that he listens to the Word of God. James told those in his letter to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. He knew that a wise man becomes wise because he chooses to listen far more than he does speak. Therefore he knows the truth - and can speak it when it is needed. We see that in today's proverb. While the false witness perishs - the wise man who listens to the truth speaks forever. His words far outlast his days. How can a man speak this way - having his words last forever? It is not through the wisdom of this world and the scholars who love this world. It is by speaking the Word of God. This man's words last forever because they are God's Words. God's Word is eternal. We read in Psalm 119, "Forever O Lord, your word is established in heaven." We read again in Peter's first letter, "The grass dies, and the flower fades, but the Word of our Lord endures forever." Want to speak in a way that will last? Then speak according to God's Word - or even better - just speak the Word itself. That is the way to speak lasting words that will truly impact those who hear you - not just for a day or a week - or even a year. God's Word lasts forever!
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, How much more when he brings it with evil intent! Proverbs 21:27
When I first read this passage I thought to myself, "Why would the wicked even want to sacrifice?" Then as I meditated on the passage and read through John Gill's commentary on it I began to see the reasons why this would happen. This will be a very eye-opening proverb if you had the same question as I did - because at the core of the wicked man's sacrifice is his own self-deception in regard to God and the true purpose of religion and religious observances.
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to God becasue the wicked think they can do an end run around God's law by offering it. They walk through religious actions thinking that it pacifies God - yet allows them to continue to walk in a way that ignores His glory and disobeys His law. One of the ways that this was done in the former (and in some places it continues to this day) days of the church was through the practice of confession and penance. The religious person would go to a priest and confess their sins to him. Then the priest would give them some kind of religious punishment - to recite some religious writing or saying so many times. This would be their penance - or payment for their sinful actions. The religious person would then recite the required things - pay the required price - do the required works - and then go on their way. The problem was that often the religious person had no intention of stopping the actions they confessed as sin - they were just paying up to the point of the past week - so that they could soothe their guilty conscience before going out to another week of sinful choices and behaviors.
Two problems exist with this view. First, is there is no REpentance going on in their life. God requires repentance for His people. They are to come sorrowing for their sins - but also with a desire to turn from them and do them no more. The second problem is even greater - becasue no amount of human effort will ever pay for sin. Only the blood of Jesus can do that. Even having repentance won't work - without faith in Jesus Christ and what He did to pay for our sins by the blood He shed on the cross. We do not need some kind of continuous religious rite to come to God at the start of each week - we need the full on gospel! We need to turn from sin in repentance and turn to Jesus Christ as the ONLY way that our sin can be forgiven. Then we go away from our time with God with a new heart and a new spirit - one that is not going back to its old ways like a dog to its vomit, but rather one that embraces God's ways - as they are now written on his heart. This new man in Christ is different - and walks in the power of God and the regeneration of God to change and walk in godly paths.
The second half of this passage goes even further in what the first half says. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to God. But there is even a greater wickedness, which is when they bring it with an evil intent as well. What this speaks of is the deceived one who brings his sacrifice - but does so thinking he is deceiving even God - and can trick God into doing evil for him because of it. We have a biblical example of this very thing in the Old Testament.
In the book of Numbers we run into two characters that baffle many of us. The first is a man called Balaam, who was a seer - a sooth-sayer of sorts. There was also a king named Balak who desired to hire Balaam to get God to curse Israel so that he could defeat them in battle and keep them from taking his kingdom from him. Balak sent important people to Balaam - and eventually got him to come to him. Balaam was a wicked man who thought God's Ok to go (after God said He would NOT curse Israel) was also an OK to make a lot of money from Balak by using a sacrifice to God to get God to do evil to His people. After a rebuke from a donkey who acted to save his life - Balaam listened to God a little closer - and was warned to only say what God said - or what God put into Balaam's mouth to speak. Three times Balaam offered the sacrifice of the wicked to God - hoping against hope that he would be able to do what Balak wanted - and make a fortune in the process. Three times the sacrifice of the wicked - offered with evil intent - was turned against Balak and Balaam in order to bless Israel. In the end, Balaam tried to destroy Israel with his wicked counsel - by getting the women in Balak's kingdom to go and commit adultery and fornication with the men of Israel. Fortunately the godly son of Aaron, Phinehas, brought God's judgment to an ungodly Israeli man who was about to have an adulterous relationship with one of the daughters of Moab - and delivered Israel from their insanity.
There are still those like Balaam and Balak who think that they can pay God off to do what they want Him to do. They will try every kind of religious game and exercise possible to do this. But the end will always be the same - that God - who hates their sacrifices - will not be bought off or deceived to do things after their will. He will instead look at their offerings as abominations - and will curse rather than bless them. The fact is this - God is ultimate and supreme - He is sovereign and the One Whose will will be done. It is wisdom to shun the sacrifices of the wicked - to shun the idea that we can pay God off by some religious offering. The wisdom of God is this - to come to God as He has designated. We are to come through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We come not to get our own way - but rather to be transformed by an intimate relationship with God and do His will for His glory.
The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, For his hands refuse to work; All day long he is craving, While the righteous gives and does not hold back. Proverbs 21:25-26
The wrong kind of desire in our lives can kill us according to this proverb. It is the desire of the sluggard that puts him to death. That seems strange because my first take on this would be that it is the lack of desire that would be his demise.
The word for desire here is the Hebrew word "ta-awah" and it means to crave greedily. It indicates something that is attractive to the eyes - and therefore is desirable to the person who sees it. In the second verse of our proverb we are told that all day long the sluggard is craving. The literal here is that he is "desiring desire." So what is going on here that is so dangerous for the sluggard? The second word used for "craving" here means to be coveting - to strongly desire something that someone else has. Thus, we see from both verses that the sluggard is filled with a desire and a covetous craving for things.
What kills the sluggard is that he is content with desiring and craving. He has plenty of desires, he just does not do anything to actually fulfill them. Consumed with desire, lust, and greed - he "craves" himself to death. Let's look at this a little closer.
We read first in verse 25 that the sluggard refuses to work. This one is a dreamer - but not a worker. In fact he refuses to work or give hismelf to the kind of labor that would eventually cause him to prosper and succeed. When he "refuses to work" there is a rebellioin present in his refusal. This word was used of Pharaoh's rebelliousness toward God in refusing to let Israel go. Thus this is an outright rejection of work. And as he refuses to work - he begins coveting what others have who do work. His desires continue to grow - even while he does nothing to solve his situation. In the end his own desires are his demise. He is consumed with longing and with desire for things - but will never attain them. He sits in his chair longing - ever longing - but never doing. Thus he dies of intense desire and want - but will never lift a finger to get the things he desires.
We are told at the end of this proverb that the righteous has a fundamentally different way of living than the sluggard. The righteous gives and does not hold back his generosity. He is not one ever filled with longing - but with a desire to bless others. The wicked, slothful man holds back his desire to give - because he wants all he has for himself. The strange thing is he has nothing because he won't work for it. The righteous works hard for what he has - and yet does not allow desire to kill him. He is looking for ways to give to others - to bless others - and to invest in others. He will not only know physical life - but he will also know spiritual life too. He will be a life-giving rather than just a stuff-wanting force on earth. He will not hold back his desire to bless others - and will be overjoyed and fulfilled again and again as he does.
"Proud," "Haughty," "Scoffer," are his names, Who acts with insolent pride. Proverbs 21:24
Here we have a proverb that gives us a great deal of information about the proud man. There are four terms that are used to describe this proud person. The last of them speaks of the actions of this person - the first threee of the heart or mindset that gives rise to such pride.
The actions of the proud person are said to be those of insolent pride. The word insolent means to presume or to assume that you are right. This person is has presumptuous pride - he is already filled with himself - but to a level where he thinks he is always right and everyone else is always wrong. It can be a frustrating experience to come upon someone like this because they almost never think they are wrong. Everyone else is wrong - and their ideas - their thoughts - their desires are the best. What leads up to a person thinking and reasoning like this? We are told there are three attitudes that bring such a way of living to the forefront of someone's life.
We are told that this person is "proud." The Hebrew word used here is "zed" and it speaks of pride itself. It is the word used most often in the Old Testament to speak of pride. There are three specific aspects of pride that are contained in this word. The first is that of presumption. The proud man presumes always in his own favor. As was said earlier - he thinks he is always right and everyone else is wrong. The is especially the case in regards to authority. The proud man thinks he has all the authority in the world to speak. He is the expert and everyone should listen to his wonderful ideas and thoughts. The second aspect of pride is that it is both rebellious and disobedient. The prideful man sees know reason to obey anyone except himself. Therefore if God's will (or anyone elses for that matter) opposes what he thinks he wants to do - he arrogantly assumes that his will is better and does it in rebellion and willful disobedience to God's. The third aspect to pride here is closely tied to the second - and that is a willful decision to do whatever it wants. The proud man doesn't respond to God - he responds to himself.
Haughty is the second word that is used to speak of the inward working of the proud man. This is the Hebrew word "yawhir" which means to be full of ourselves. The proud man is narcissically self-centered and self-assured at all times. This guys has an ego the size of an entire city - and that ego makes him think that all that matters is what he wants.
The third word used is "scoffer." This is the Hebew word "liyus" which means boast, scorn, mock, or deride another. The proud man mocks everyone else - and all ideas that do not agree with his own. He speaks in contempt of these things - and mocks them mercilessly to make them seek goofy in comparison to his own wonderful thoughts. This is even more so in reference to God and God's Word. He mocks it as an old, outdated book - as ideas that arose from hucksters and charlatans. He has no respect for God or for His Word which reverals God to us.
When these three motivations are put together it leads to a very arrogant proud person to is so prideful that it reeks. It is these things we need to seek to avoid - because as Scripture says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. A wise man recognizes these things in his own life - and then humbles himself for God to do a deep work in his character so that he does not live his life in a sad, unusable prideful way.
He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles. Proverbs 21:23
All of us can identify with a situation where we said something that got us in trouble. We let a comment slip or we say something before seriously thinking about what we were about to say. Regardless of what was said - it ended in trouble - in someone's feelings being hurt. Extreme situations can land us in a doghouse that is very difficult to get out of . . . all because we were not cautious enough about the things that we said.
Today's proverb tells us to guard our mouth and our tongue. The word used for guard is a strong word meaning to set a watch guard or a military sentry over our mouth and our tongue. We are not just casually watching what we say - we are placing well-armed guards over our mouths to make sure that they do not run off on their own. Considering that Scripture tells us that the power of death and life are in our words - that James tells us that our words are like a fire and that they can be set our very lives on fire - it is a wise thing to put some guards there. After re-reading this last sentence I'd set some ninjas aided by a few Navy Seals there. I remember an old Last Days Newsletter written by Keith Green that had a picture of machine gun toting commandos peering over the molars in a person's mouth. That is the kind of watchfulness we need to have when it comes to our mouths and our tongues.
The one who does not guard his tongue and mouth will face troubles. Think about the last time your mouth got you in trouble. Imagine again the kind of difficulty it caused you emotionally. Try to remember how your soul ached as you realized you had once again inserted your foot in your mouth and swallowed it up to your kneecap. The wisdom of God warns that our soul will have troubles. That is our mind, will, and emotions - and most likely all three will face difficulties when we speak apart from God's wisdom. I've known of situations that lasted only a few hours - but others that are still going years and even decades later. A wise man learns from such things and holds his tongue. He is wise and shuts his mouth - contemplating the things he is about to say. To do otherwise is to court problems that can range from a few awkward moments to a life altering relational disaster.
A wise man scales the city of the mighty And brings down the stronghold in which they trust. Proverbs 21:22
Throughout history there have been battles won and cities conquered more due to the wisdom of men than due to the strength of their army. From these historical events we learn why it is better to be wise than just strong. Wisdom can bring down city walls and demolish fortresses once thought impregnable.
It was not the strength and power of Menalaus' Spartan army that brought the mighty city of Troy to its knees. His army fought for 10 long years seeking to destroy that city and did not prevail. It was, however, the wisdom of an older Greek warrior that he used that eventually won him the city. That wise Greek warrior was the one who came up with the idea of the Trojan horse. This horse was build as an a false offering to the offended Trojan gods - but was filled on the inside with Greek soldiers. They waited until the middle of the night and crawled out of the belly of the horse to open the gates of the city to the rest of Menalaus' army - who subsequently sacked and destroyed the city. Thus it was wisdom, not power that won that battle.
In like manner it was wisdom that brought down mighty Babylon. Balshazzar sat within the walls of that great city certain he was safe. Yet it was the wisdom of the Medo-Persian army that won the day. A branch of the Euphrates River wove through the city like a canal. When the general of the Medo-Persian army diverted the water to where the river dried up - there was a entrance under the wall of the city where the water once flowed. The Medo-Persian army followed the dry canal bed into the city. The Babylonians were defeated and their city taken before they even knew what was happening to them.
Over and over again history records wise men who bring down the strongholds of the mighty. Every time it happens men are shocked that once again the battle does not always go to the strong or to the one with the largest army. The battle goes to the wise - and more often than not to the ones who trust in the Lord. Gideon was a marvelous example of God's wisdom using a far smaller army to defeat one hundreds of tiems larger than their own. The idea of holding torches, blowing trumpets, and the war shout of the men was used by God to defeat a much larger army.
We also need to remember that God is able through His wisdom to tear down any strong man's stronghold in which they trust. Too often we become intimidated by the world and by what seems to be strongholds of thought - strongholds of besetting sin - strongholds of ungodliness - and a myriad of other strongholds that the enemy of our souls has erected in our society. But it is through God's wisdom that these are torn down and overcome. Remember then, dear saints that Jesus Christ is made unto us - wisdom. It is through Him and through the gospel that we can tear down any mental, spiritual, or physical fortress that holds men in bondage to sin, self, or Satan. Do not cower before any man - any doctrine - or any sin that lifts itself up agaisnt the knowledge of God through the gospel. God will prevail - and His spiritual weapons can demolish strongholds and any lofty thought brought up against the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hold fast to His wisdom and to His way - for that is the way to prevail and win any victory that must be won!
He who pursues righteousness and loyalty Finds life, righteousness and honor. Proverbs 21:21
What are you pursuing in life? It is not unusual to hear someone say that they are pursuing a career in some field of endeavor. When we hear someone say this we know that they are puting their energies and their time into study and practice of that discipline. It means that they have a goal in front of them and that goal is what guides them in much of what they do. Thus the question begs to be asked, "What are your pursuing when it comes to spiritual things?"
God points us to wisdom by telling us that there are two things that are very worthy of pursuit when it comes to spiritual matters. These two things are righteousness and loyalty. Today we will take a closer look at what it means to pursue these two things. We will also see in the rewards that God says come to those to follow this pursuit the reason why this is exceedingly wise.
When God says to pursue these things He uses the word, "radaph." This word means to chase or to follow after closely and with great effort and energy. The idea is that one is not just to pursue - but one is to overtake these things. The mindset is that we will not be content with a life without righteousness and without loyalty. These are things we must have - and thus in our pursuit we are passionate and totally committed. This is not a hobby or just something to add to our resume. This is a hot pursuit that is pleased only with the eventual 'catching' or 'having' of these things. Nothing else will do.
We pursue righteousness - which in Hebrew is "tsedequah." This word means righteousness abstractly - but when applied to how we live our lives it speaks of moral rectitude - of a desire to have our lives measure up to a standard of right and good that is found in God and in His Word. It speaks of living a life of justice in how we relate to others and especially how we relate to the poor and unfortunate. The word refers to a moral standard that is not set according to the world and its views. The moral standard and sentiment we embrace is that which is found in the pages of Scripture. Yet the righteousness we seek is not by law. The Scriptures which speak of this righteousness say that we obtain it by faith. It is not a set of rules - it is a person - the Lord Jesus Christ. Ultimately we pursue Him for only He can transform us and make us righteous.
We also pursue loyalty. The Hebrew word used here is "chesed" which refers to more than just a loyalty. This is the word that most closely relates to the New Testament word grace. It is the word that is used to describe God's love and commitment to His covenant people. It is easily translated, "covenant-love." Paul says to us in the New Testament to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. What we are to pursue in life is the grace of God. We live by grace - and advance in life by grace. In pursuing grace - we are kind of pursuing the One who is pursuing us. We pursue love and commitment. We pursue a selflessness that is evidenced by the love of God in Christ Jesus. Kind of cool here to see that even in an Old Testament proverb we are told to pursue righteousness by faith and a God who gives us such a righteousness by His loving, selfless grace.
What will we find when we give ourselves to such a pursuit? We are told of three things. First is that we will receive life. "Chayim" is the word for life here - and it simply means life itself. We are made alive when we pursue these two wonderful things. Consider the New Testament call to us - that when we pursue Christ, Who is the ultimate source of life - the ultimate way of life - and who is the life itself - we receive eternal life. This is the life of God, Who alone is eternal. We have a quality of life that can only be received from God Himself. Second in our set of three blessings is "righteousness." This is the same word as was used earlier - and it simply means that in seeking and pursuing righteousness - we receive righteousness as a gift by faith - through the grace of God. This does not mean we attain righteousness by our own choice of lifestyle. The fact is we are given righteousness by a gift of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We are stunned to learn that when God gives us this gift - we are just as righteous as Jesus Himself - by God's wonderful gift - and as a result of that - we can be transformed to reflect that righteousness in all our ways. The third in this list of glorious benefits is honor. The word for honor here is "kavod" and it is the word God uses for glory. When we pursue the proper things - it is to the glory of God - and we receive from it the honor of His working in our hearts. What a glorious gift is ours - to receive the glory of salvation - the glory of God's righteousness - the glory of being at peace with God - the glory of His marvelous transformation of our lives. This is ours when we pursue the One Who in His mercy pursues us by grace.
Want to know what to pursue in life? Pursue God! That is the ultimate answer when all is said and done with today's proverb. It is a wise thing to pursue God - and to pursue His righteousness by His grace. This is both the ultimate pursuit in life and the ultimate prize! Oh the glories of pursuing the One Who pursues us! Oh the joy of capturing the One Who by grace captures our hearts. Pursue, dearest saints - pursue for you will find as you do - that you are gloriously pursued by the One Who loves you more than you could ever dream of being loved!