An unjust man is abominable to the righteous, And he who is upright in the way is abominable to the wicked. Proverbs 29:27
The godly and the ungodly take very divergent paths. This is fairly elementary to anyone to see. But what we often do not see is that not only are these paths different - they are also disgusting to each other. The word that is used in today's proverb to describe the view that they have of each other is "abominable." The word used here is the Hebrew word "ebah" which means anything that is offensive or what is an abomination to someone else. In Scripture God uses this word to describe those who depart from His Law. Often the word is used for more grevious sins - like idolatry, child sacrifice, and homosexual behavior. What God is saying to us is that there is a radical and serious difference between those who desire to live godly and those who do not. Let's look at little further into this as we seek to understand God's wisdom for us today.
The "unjust" man ("awel" in the Hebrew) is one who deviates from God's way. This kind of behavior and choice is usually set in contrast to words like righteous, upright, and justice. There is a basic injustice in the one who deviates from God's way - and God, being just, will have to bring judgment and punishment to the one who does so. This is why the unjust man is abominable to the righteous. The godly man sees that the unjust man is unjust first and foremost to God Himself - then from that infinite injustice flows all other lesser injustices to others. Since we know that the righteous man is not so because of his own works but due to God's grace, the righteous man knows the cost of this ungodly behavior. That cost is God's Son, crucified on the cross (to the Old Testament saint it was the promise of this in the sacrifices of the Law). To embrace such behavior is to treat God's gift - the sacrifice made to forgive us and remove us from under God's wrath - as worthless and empty. This is an abomination to the righteous man.
The same is true of the ungodly man toward the upright. What the ungodly see is a man who is "upright in the way." This phrase communicates the path of the godly man. What the ungodly sees is a guy who is seeking to walk according to a set of rules that are different than his. He is seeking to be upright - which means to do what is good and what is right. That alone is offensive to the ungodly man. His worldview involves him deciding what is right and good. It even involves him changing his views to match his lifestyle if he desires. To have what he considers an arbitrary set of morals set by God - which is then viewed as ultimate truth is untenable to him. That would mean his own views of right and wrong are in error if they are different than those God has given. His value system cannot tolerate this - becasue his value system is that of the book of Judges. He does whatever is "right in his own eyes." He is a law unto himself. He does not judge anyone else (unless they judge him or get in the way of him doing what he wants to do) and he expects the same from everyone else (of course always giving way to what he wants if there is any contradiction). Thus the "way" or lifestyle of this guy who is so arrogant as to call his way "right" is an abomination to him. It offends him to the core of his being!
Paul told young Timothy the following in his second letter to him, "Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Timothy 3:11-13) Often we focus only on the last of these three verses - that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. This was only a conclusion for what Paul had already said in verses 11-12. In those verses he spoke of his teaching, conduct, purpose, and faith. Paul was persecuted becasue he chose to live in "the upright way." That way consisted of two things - both of which are vital to understanding Christianity.
First is the 'way of salvation.' The upright way will never be lived out by effort and striving. Righteousness and upright living is attained by grace, not by our works. God MAKES us upright by an act of His mercy and grace. That comes through the gospel - and only through the gospel. The world finds this incredibly offensive and very narrow minded. But that is the truth. That is how God has addressed sin - and that is, according to Jesus Hismelf, the only way, truth, and life - the only way to the Father. The second truth of the upright way is that we live and walk it out in a paradox - we work as God works within us. We are called to obedience - and we seek God's power by which we can then walk in that obeience. We are to make choices - strong and bold choices - even as it is God who works in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Living a godly life involves a glorious tension in our lives. We are to do it - and He is to do it within us. We cannot think we do it on our own - and we cannot think that He will do it for us without our cooperation.
The wicked find this whole scenario ridiculous and an abomination. To them it is ridiculous because there is no God - or if there is, their god agrees with them. They have a god of their own making - who looks and acts just like they do. Any other God is unacceptable. The word "wicked" here is telling. The word is "rasa" and it means to be guilty - a wrong-doer, criminal, or a transgressor. It means someone who is wrong! The reason the wicked hate the upright, and find their way abominable is because as they watch them - they know they are wrong. They do not want anyone telling them they are wrong. Their reaction to this is to fume within and rage about how judgmental the Christian is - even if the Christian is not saying anything to them. Their very lifestyle is a rebuke to them. If the Christian speaks out - then they explode - because their guilt rages within them.
There will always be a radical distinction between the righteous and the wicked. There will also be a hostility to the way each other chooses to live. That is the wisdom that God is seeking to impart to us through today's proverb. Therefore the constant effort among Christians to make the gospel unoffensive is silliness. We can be gracious and kind in how we communicate the gospel - but to make it unoffensive to the wicked is impossible. There will always be the offense of the cross of Christ. There will always be the offense of God asserting that He is God and He is absolutely right on moral matters (and all others he touches upon as well). Thus the constant effort to make Christianity unoffensive in its essence is a fool's pursuit. It would be wise for us to abandon it and return to living it simply before the lost, loving them from the heart, and doing all that we can to share the message of the gospel with them. We do so not becasue we think we are superior. Perish that thought. We do it because we've received grace and desire for them to receive it as well. We want them to be saved - made rightoeus by grace - and abandon their abominable way to embrace a life lived by the grace of God unto the glory of God.
When the wicked rise, men hide themselves; But when they perish, the righteous increase.
Here is a proverb dealing with what happens when wicked men come to power. Such was the case when wicked king Ahab and his equally horrible wife, Jezebel ruled over Israel. Just as this proverb states, men began to hide themselves. This was especially the case with godly men. They knew that under Ahab and Jezebel's rule godliness would not be tolerated. Thus the prophets of God hid in caves. It was the godly Obadiah who helped feed these men in their distress.
Let's take a closer look at the "wicked" mentioned in this proverb. The word used here is "rasa' which means someone who is wicked, guilty, criminal and a transgressor of God's Law. It is the antonym of the Hebrew word "saddiyq" which is the word describing the righteous or godly in a society. The wicked are mentioned as those worthy of the death sentence - and often are considered beyond being ransomed. They accept bribes - and in several Old Testament passages are murderers.
We have modern examples of such rulers in men like Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and a whole list of men who became dictators and ruled with terror over their people. Such men would not tolerate those who opposed them - choosing to kill their opponents rather than deal with any dissention from the rank and file of their nations. In almost every case dictators rise in nations where there is existing law. But these men ignore and eventually usurp the written laws of their nations for their own self-styled leadership. In time they cast the ruling documents of their nations aside and begin ruling by their own decree. Truly this is a time when men hide themselves in fear. It is also a time when darkness reigns in nations. Such rulers are truly a blight to their countries.
Such leaders seldom step down. They usually are killed or overthrown. This is why we read that of them perishing. The word used here means to be destroyed and includes the idea of being overthrown or executed. When this happens the rightreous will increase. This speaks of them increasing openly. Their hidden numbers grow even as ungodly rulers reign. We know that the blood of the martyrs in any society become the seed of the church. Christianity grew far more rapidly in China under repressive communist rule than when they were free. But this growth is underground. When the godless ruler perishes - then they come out and publically and make themselves known.
With the most recent election a choice was made in our nation to embrace a certain moral direction. That direction is in opposition to God's stated morality. The two areas where this is seen most clearly are in an unprecedented expansion of abortion and homosexual marriage and rights. This will, in the end, assure President Obama that his legacy will be one of being a wicked ruler. But there is another area of his rule that is brought out by this passage. The word for wicked, as stated earlier, means to be a transgressor of law. What concerns me most about our president is his unwillingness to submit himself and his administration to the Constitution of the United States. He has ignored it in much of what he has done. This is not a good thing - and if not confronted by our other elected officials - will lead to a man who will act more and more like a dictator in his second term. I realize these are strong words - but can anyone honestly debate their accuracy? As a pastor I truly am apprehensive about the days ahead - and the manner in which gospel-centered churches will have to operate. It may become a time when men - godly men - will either have to stand and possibly be arrested for their biblical stands - or they may have to hide themselves. Now is the time for us to examine our hearts - strengthen them in God's grace and truth - and be ready to stand for what is godly and biblical in regards to true righteousness. May God grant us grace to stand - and continue standing no matter what the cost.
He who hates disguises it with his lips, But he lays up deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart. Though his hatred covers itself with guile, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. Proverbs 26:24-26
This proverb is about how people can hate you in their heart while all the time speaking what seem like pleasant words from their mouths. It has to do with deceitfulness, guile, and ultimately . . . wickedness. A wise man read these things and learns that just because someone is "for you" with their words does not mean that they are really with you in the end. There are some who speak wonderful words in public, but their feelings and their support in private is a wholly different matter.
Most people do not speak openly about their hate of another. To do such a thing would immediately characterize them in a very negative light. It would also expose them in such a way that they would have no more influence with that individual - or with anyone who thinks favorable of them. Therefore it is better for the ungodly man to disguise his hatred. This, according to God's wisdom, is done with his lips. He speaks graciously of the one he hates, All this is done for the sake of appearance only. The whole time he speaks graciously and kindly of this man - he has quite another thing going on inside his heart. We are told that he is laying up deceit in his heart. He is deceiving others - and in some ways even deceiving himself. He hates the man he speaks kindly of - and considers him an enemy.
We are warned that when we come to a man like this, we need to look into his heart. There is lying within his heart - and there are also abominations - 7 of them to be exact. What are these abominations? There are a couple of possibilities. Jesus spoike of seven woes in Matthew 23. These were curses on the Pharisees and Saducees for the hypocrisy that they practiced. Here we have a man who hates his friend or acquaintence, being the picture of hypocrisy by speaking well of him and yet hating him in his heart. The seven thing Jesus speaks of may be similar to the abominations in this man's heart. This also may be related to the seven things God says He hates in Proverbs 6:16-19. The list here is full of things God absolutely despises. The way I lean on this is that the number seven used here speaks more of perfection. There is a perfect hate - that leads to a perfectly abominable attitude and heart filled with evil and hypocritical actions and thoughts toward this one who is hated.
The warning here I think is twofold. First of all, don't be a man like this. Don't be someone who speaks hypocritically of another - saying positive, gracious things about them while all the while holding hatred and wicked, abominable thoughts and plans in your heart. To live this way is so harmful to our spirit. It is also to embrace attitudes that are completely foreign to Almighty God and those who are transformed by the Holy Spirit to be more like Christ daily. The second lesson for us is learned as we hear a warning from God. Such a man as this will be exposed in the end. His hypocrisy and his falsehood will be revealed. The assmbly will see the duplicity of this man - for God Himself will expose him in the end.
Consider this one example as we draw our thoughts about this proverb to a close. Judas was the ultimate example of this proverb. He was with Jesus for three years - and yet in the end sold him for a slave's price as he betrayed the Lord. During that time Judas never exposed himself publicly as an enemy of Christ. Even his betrayal was false as he betrayed the Son of God with a kiss. He was unwilling for his heart of hatred and greed to be exposed publically - and yet it was exposed. In the gospels we learn that Judas was a thief who stole money out of their money box. He was a man who criticized the beautiful expression of Mary's love when she anointed the Lord's feet with her perfumed oil worth a year's wages. Judas spoke only because he knew such a stash would have netted him so much more money he could embezzle later. God fully exposed Judas' hypocrisy - revealing in the gospels all the lies, deceit, and guile that he hid for three years. In the end he was exposed - showing both his hypocrisy and his horrific end - hanging from a tree dead and hopeless.
Do not be a betrayer - a liar - and a fraud in your friendships. Speak the truth - and if it is hard truth to hear - speak it in love. Don't hide things by sounding one way with your friend - and a wholly different way when you are not physically with him. This is a lifestyle that God calls an abomination. Be a true friend - an honest one - and one who is the same whether seen or unseen. Such a friend is like The Lord.
He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. Proverbs 26:27
This is not a proverb that explains why bad things happen to Wylie Coyote - even though at first glance it might. It is actually about those who plan to do evil to others. Those who set traps to catch others and have bad things happen to them are warned in this proverb that what they do will eventually happen to them. Let's take a look at what this means - and also see an example or two.
Those who dig a pit do so to catch someone in it. In biblical times people would dig pits and cover them for the purpose of catching more than just animals who would fall into them. These pits would be dug and covered with camouflage as well as wetted down on the sides so that whoever was caught in them would not have opportunity to escape. Those who caught the person would then either take them captive as a slave - or kill the one who fell into the pit. The reason a stone would be rolled is to be put on a steep hill so that it could then be rolled down to kill or badly injure someone who was coming through the valley. This was a tactic of thieves who wanted to steal what travellers would have as they went through valleys and along roads that were next to hilly or mountainous areas. The idea with a pit or with a stone was to injure or kill someone for evil purposes.
God warns that those who do such things will fall into a pit themselves. God also warns that the stone that is rolled with come back on them. This is not a reference to an actual pit or an actual stone rolling on them - but was a warning that God was going to hold them responsible for their wicked actions. A good example of this would be the story of Joseph and his brothers. The brothers threw Joseph into a pit with the original intention of killing him because of their jealous hatred of him. Joseph and his stinking varicolored coat reminded them every day that their father loved him more than them - so why not teach the little runt a lesson. Of course killing your brother is a little intense. In the end they decided just to sell him into lifelong slavery (their sibling rivalry was way more intense that what I remember with my brothers). They covered their tracks by dipping the hated coat in blood and telling their father that a wild animal killed Joseph. But the pit they dug - and the rock they rolled was going to come back on them one day.
The first "pit-experience" was when their father almost died from grief. Then there was the famine that came and caused them to have to go to Egypt where they had to ask for food from . . . wait for it . . . their snotty little brother who was now the second ruler of Egypt. What was very good for them was that their brother had far more mercy on them in their pit that they had on him when he was in theirs. They had rolled their stone on him - but he refused to roll his on them. He chose forgiveness rather than revenge.
The varied pits that you can fall into are as numerous as the ones you dig for others. It is amazing as I grow older to see all the various pits that people have fallen into after they've dug ones for someone else. It is a fact of life that what goes around comes around. That is the simple, one-sentence way to define this particular proverb. I just hope that we all remember that the next time we grab our shovels and start digging for someone else.
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 wicked is a ransom for the righteous, And the treacherous is in the place of the upright. Proverbs 21:18
When reading this proverb one gets the idea that the wicked pay the price for the salvation of the righteous - but that is not what the Scriptures are saying here. What is being communicated is that often the wicked pays the price for how they treat the righteous. That cost is usually to have their own evil plans come down upon their own head. The best example of this is found in the book of Esther.
Haman is the villian in the book of Esther. It is his evil mind that hatches the idea of getting revenge on Mordecai for his supposed irreverence by destroying not only him, but his entire race. Money is given to the king - a bargain is struck - letters are written - and soon the entire Jewish people are under a death sentence in the future. The rest of the book of Esther shows us God's sovereignty through the hand of His providence working again and again on behalf of His people Israel. In the end, the plot put in place by Haman comes down upon his own head - destroying not just him, but his entire family before the book ends.
Throughout history attempt after attempt has been made to destroy the work of God by destroying the people of God. Again and again God has worked wonderfully to deliver His people individually and coporately. Daniel is thrown into a lion's den for his audacity to pray to anyone besides the earthly king - and yet is delivered by the hand of God. Who is destroyed in this plot? The very men who planned and put it into place where thrown into the lion's den and crushed and killed once Daniel was lifted out. Nebuchadnezzar casts the three friends of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego into a firey furnace thinking to kill them in the process for not bowing down and worshipping his idol. Once his dastardly deed is done he is shocked to see the men walking around the fire with the pre-incarnate Christ unharmed - while the brave soldiers who threw them in are killed instantly in their task. Ahab sends 50 men to forcefully bring Elijah to himself - and yet fire falls from heaven and consumes two groups of them as they draw near. These historical accounts happen throughout the Scriptures revealing that the wicked and treacherous become the payment for their own wickedness while the righteous and upright are delivered.
It is an unwise thing to try to annihilate the people of God. It is also an unwise thing to attempt to kill His spokesmen, the prophets. Those who try will learn an oft taught lesson that God will deliver His people - and bring the ways of the wicked upon their own heads and even at times on the heads of their children and followers. The truly wise man honors the upright and the righteous - knowing that their defender is strong - and also knowing that He can take any plot and any plan and turn it around so that the destroyer becomes the destroyed.
A wise king winnows the wicked, And drives the threshing wheel over them. Proverbs 20:26
If a leader of a nation is wise - he will know that leaving the wicked alone to do what they want will ultimately be very bad for that nation. To do otherwise is to leave a group of people who have no regard for law or for any kind of self-restraint for the good of others around them. The wicked do not care if their actions cause problems and suffering for others - they just have a will to do what they want to do. This is why we the king is told that he needs to winnow the wicked and drive a threshing wheel over them. Let's take a look at what these two pictures reveal to us.
The word "winnow" is an agricultural term. It means to separate the wheat from the chaff in processing grains. The word came from the word for wind - because often the process for this involved beating the wheat on a threshing floor - and then tossing it into the air where the wind would blow away the chaff and the wheat kernels would fall to the floor where they would be gathered to make flour for bread. Because of this process, the word winnow came to mean other processes used to separate what is worthless from what is of value. That is what it means in our proverb today. The wise king uses the law to winnow the wicked in his society. He establishes and enforces law in order to separate the worthless elements from society. This makes for a law-abiding culture which can prosper. If he does not winnow out these elements of society - there will be a very detrimental effect on the culture. People who lie and are untrustworthy in life - will be this way in business. Some might wonder why this is important - until they see the kinds of things we have seen in the financial world where stock brokers bilk people out of their entire life savings by setting up a ponzi scheme to take other people's money. Dishonesty and a lack of integrity actually will cost a society . . . actually billions of dollars . . . which we've actually seen.
The king is also encouraged to drive a threshing wheel over the wicked as well. Whereas the word winnow has a separating aspect to it, the word does not bring to mind much violence. This is not the case with the threshing wheel. This was a heavy stone wheel that was pulled by oxen or horses (or in Samson's case, by a man) that would roll in a circle over wheat or corn that was put in its path. As the heavy wheel rolled over the grain it would crush the grain separating the wheat from the chaff. This was then further "winnowed" by letting the wind blow away the chaff as the grain fell to the floor. The picture though here with the threshing wheel was a violent one. It involved punishment and a crushing process. Thus a wise king will set up law so that it punishes the wicked for their actions. This will further eliminate the elements of a society that are evil and wicked - while preserving the godly who will submit to the law.
At this point I must make a point - especially because of the day in which I am writing this post. We currently have a very foolish president in the United States. I say this because he has recently made it clear that he has no respect for the laws of our land - or the Constitutional process by which they are established. He has chosen in recent months to disregard laws concerning the sale, distribution, and use of mariuanna. He has decided in dictatorial fashion that this is not good for us - and has decided on his own (with no act of congressional approval - or the approval of the courts) to not enforce the law. Almost every study ever done on the long-term affects of this drug is that it is a gateway drug to more serious and harmful involvement in the use of illegal drugs. He has also decided not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act - because he sees it as unfair. This is even though the law was passed with overwhelming support - and was signed by a fellow Democrat. He has unilaterally decided to also give amnesty to illegal aliens who have come into our country illegally (Yes that was bad grammar, but felt the need to emphasize the word illegal - meaning not legal - or said another way - breaking the law). These are just three things he has done - unfortunately the lack of any respect for the law is rampant in his administration. He has effectively made himself a law unto himself - choosing enforcement options at his own whims - with a complete disrespect for any kind of constitutional prccess. This is foolishness - and will damage our nation in the end. The populace will follow his example - and will also have a disregard for the law as well - except the parts they agree with - and want to keep. As a result there will be a rapidly growing wickedness that will at first creep into our society - but then later will flow into it like water from a broken dam. Pray with me for our president. Pray that he will be wise - and will see the wisdom in enforcing the laws as given - not just as he wants them to be at the time. Pray that he will see the wisdom of enforcing all our laws - regardless of whether he personally likes them or not. Oh, also pray one other thing - that the people of the United States will have wisdom this November to not re-elect anyone who does not show respect for our laws - and our constitution.
The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29
This proverb explains for us who God is near and the ones from whom He keeps His distance. It is a frightening thing to me to read that Jehovah is far from the wicked. Note that this does not say that the wicked man is far from God - but that God is far from him. Since this proverb has to do with prayer - we are talking about a wicked man and his prayers (if he has any at all). The only prayer that God will hear from a wicked man is a prayer of repentance. Otherwise we can read in numerous other places that God is sickened and wants nothing to do with his praying. Later in Proverbs we learn that, "He who turnes away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination." (Proverbs 28:9
) A wicked man would frequent a prayer meeting as often as an at-large criminal would frequent a police station. But when the wicked do pray, God will not hear. We read another terrifying passage in Proverbs chapter 1 about the prayer of the wicked.
"Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD. "They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof." Proverbs 1:24-30
This passage warns those who think they can mock God and live with no fear of Him. It warns them that when calamity comes, they cannot turn to God only for deliverance from it. This is how the wicked pray - they turn to God when disaster comes, but then mock Him when everything is well. We read that God Himself will mock them in that day. He does not do so because He is vindictive. He does this because He knows that such praying rises from a heart that is wicked still. Therefore he will not hear. He is far from such praying. He even considers it an abomination to Him.
Fortunately, this proverb does not end with the statement about the wicked. God reminds us that He does hear the prayer of the righteous. There is a twofold way we should understand this. First, we need to see it positionally. The "righteous" is not righteous because of his deeds. We read in multiple places throughout Scripture that the righteous man shall live by faith. He is made righteous by faith in God's provision for sin. He is granted righteousness as a gift of God's grace. He cannot make himself righteous because he is steeped in sin. All he is fit for is punishment and wrath. God, though, has come to the rescue with blood of a spotless lamb that speaks on his behalf. This lamb was a physical one in the Old Testament, but that was just a shadow of the glory of God's grace to come. God sent THE Lamb when Jesus Christ came to earth and gave His life on the cross for our sins. That was sufficient payment for us - and God offers with it the very righteousness of Christ as a gift of His glorious grace. That is why He hears the prayer of this man (or any man for that matter). He stands in a divinely-provided righteousness that speaks effectively for him. Thus God hears!
The second way this passage should be understood is by a practical understanding. God hears the prayer of the saved man who practially embraces the righteous ways of God. We cannot, even as Christians, ignore obedience to God and expect God to hear our prayers. We read in the Word that if we regard sin in our hearts, we know that God does not hear us. Some complain of much prayer that seems to be ignored by God. But prayer that is ignored is prayer to One that we've offended by our choice of sin rather than righteousness. It is only when we take refuge in 1 John 1:9
- confessing our sins - that we can once again be heard.
Our Father is a prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God. But we must understand that He is God, not a shabby version of Santa Claus. There are principles involved in how God hears and answers prayer. They are not complicated principles - but they are principles that are strictly adhered to as we approach Him. The key to answered prayer is walking and asking according to His will. If we allow sin to enter either our walk or our requests, we will find that our praying is ineffective. Embrace righteousness - both positionally and practially and you will find prayer a delight. You will also find a God who is eager to hear - eager to work - and eager to answer.
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. - Proverbs 15:28
Look before you leap. There is a proverb outside Scripture that reminds us to seriously think about the steps we take, because once we take them we cannot get them back. Our proverb today is similar to this except it deals with what we say. One might say that this proverb could be said this way, "Think before you speak!"
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer. We should note right from the start that the "heart" of the righteous is what is pondering his answer. The godly man does not allow his mouth to run its own course without the management of the heart. He wants to speak from the heart - not shoot from the hip. The problem about shooting from the hip when we speak is the carnage that results from drive-by speaking. This wise man thinks and considers what he is about to say. He takes the time to meditate on God's Word before he speaks his own. He discerns what is needed for the situation and speaks according to what God wants. This godly man speaks as God directs in Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear." Ultimately this man speaks those wonderful, edifying words that are like "apples of gold in settings of silver" which are words spoken at just the perfect time.
The wicked allows his mouth to have free reign in his life. This is a dangerous thing because left to itself a mouth can be dangerous. We read in the third chapter of James, "So 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 fireon 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, ans set on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell." These verses warn us in the starkest terms of the danger of allowing our mouths and tongues to gho unchecked in what they say. When we do this it is inevitable that our mouth will "pour out evil things." The heart of the wicked man will be fully expressed by his words. The result of this will be much evil and pain in the world. Consider how many horrible things started with evil words pouring out of a wicked man's mouth. Think for a moment how Adolph Hitler mesmerized entire crowds in Germany by his wicked words. Then consider what the end of his leadership brought to the world. We may not ever do the damage of Hitler, but much harm can come from unwise, un-considered words.
Precious ones, God wants us to think before we speak. It will bring blessing to us - and will benefit those who are the recipients of our words. May we submit what we say to our Lord every morning. May we ask the Holy Spirit to bridle our tongues so that they do not speak of themselves. May we surrender all we say for God's purposes and God's specific leadership so that they can truly edify those who hear them.
The wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing, But the righteous has a refuge when he dies. Proverbs 14:32
God is going to deck the wicked. That is the basic idea that is being communicated here in today's proverb. The word wicked describes those who are law-breakers. The Law spoken of by this word is God's Law. The wicked have no regard for God's law - and honestly for any other law as well. They are rebellious and find themselves resisting and standing against any law that tries to restrict their freedom to do whatever they want. This is what will deck them in the end.
The second half of this proverb points us in a very interesting direction. We are told that the righteous has a refuge when he dies. Thus the proverb is not just dealing with things here and now - it is pointing us to when we die. What is going to happen to the wicked and the righteous when death comes? The righteous man will have a refuge in that day. His hope is in God's remedy for sin - the Lord Jesus Christ. His refuge is Jesus. He looks to Jesus Christ to give Him a righteousness that will stand on that day - and he rests in that as His salvation. The wicked will find that all they have on that fateful day is their own wickedness. What they will learn too late is that that evil will deck them on jugdment day. They will be accountable for their choices and their actions - which were wicked. What a horrifying day that will be for all those who trusted in themselves and their own righteousness. They will not have a refuge, but their very own doctrines will cast them to the ground.
In what are you trusting to stand on that day? Are you trusting that there won't be one - because that is a vain and empty choice. Are you thinking your good works will be weighed against your bad ones - and if there is more good you will make it? That is a foolish choice for it is not by our works that we are saved. Are you trusting that God is mercy and good and will overlook all your evil? That is unwise for it ignores the righteousness and justice of God. The righteous man knows the way - because he knows first and foremost of all that the righteousness upon which he stands is not his own. He gains that righteousness by faith, not by works. He looks to the Lord Jesus Christ to be his righteousness. Therefore he will stand and will have Christ's gifted righteousness as his refuge on the jugdment day. Again I ask, "In what will you be trusting on the great day of God's judgment. Trusting in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and risen from the dead will not stand. Take refuge in Jesus - in the One Who makes you righteous by grace.