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.
Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart. Proverbs 25:20
There are three things mentioned here in this passage - all three of which are wrong. The first two are examples, while the third is what the proverb is seeking to help us understand is wisdom. This proverb is one that I would call a "considerate" proverb. God is trying to get us to understand what being considerate means. The situation is that of someone who is troubled or sad about a situation or situations in life. The trouble has reached the point of troubling their heart. When this is the case, we need to understand that we need to be gracious and kind. A person who sings songs to someone who it troubled - is being inconsiderate toward the person. They will not think it a blessing to have happy songs sung to them. Even less would be the suggestion that they join in singing, which would then be presented at the perfect thing to help them get out of their emotional doldrums.
This kind of action is compared to someone who takes off their outer garment on a cold day. This would not be a blessing. The person would immediately react negatively to the cold and want to wrap up again. The other instance mentioned is someone who pours vinegar on soda. There would be an instand negative reaction as the soda vinegar mixture would begin bubbling up ruining both the soda and the vinegar. The purpose of giving these two examples if to remind us that as we would think either of them an unwise thing to do - so we should realize that someone who is dealing with a troubled heart should not do so by singing happy songs.
A wise man ministers to someone based on their need - not based on his own feelings at the time. A man is troubled not just because he is not feeling good emotionally. He is troubled because there are genuine issues that are unmet. He needs godly counsel. He needs someone who wants to understand him and the circumstances that have him so troubled. That kind of loving counsel will minister to him effectively.
Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot Is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble. Proverbs 25:19
Speaking as a man who has actually had a bad tooth and an unsteady foot, I can say that it must not be a good thing to put confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble. Today's proverb deals with who to trust when times are difficult. The one you want to trust is one who has proven himself faithful - and who has done it over the long haul of life.
A bad tooth is something that is very tricky. I had a tooth that was cracked. It was a hairline crack the entire length of the tooth. This made for a very interesting time eating - and especially drinking something cold. The problem was that the tooth would be fine a lot of the time. It was just when something hit it and opened the hairline crack that things got interesting. My dentist couldn't find it when I went to him about it. He looked and looked, but just couldn't seem to get the hairline to open so that he could see if it was that particular tooth that had gone bad. Then he was able to shoot some liquid where it went into and opened the crack. Needless to say, I began to levitate off the chair in tremendous pain. Thankfully, he was able to remove the tooth - and life has been much better. That experience helps me understand the need for good teeth - not bad.
The same can be easily said for the character of who you trust in a time of trouble. You do NOT want someone who is faithless in that moment. The faithless man is the one who will either run - or possibly even turn on you in trouble. He will not be faithful to stand and fight. He will not be faithful to stand and encourage you. He will not be faithful to stand back to back and watch your back and your blind spots as trouble passes by in life. That man is not to be trusted with your difficulties and trials. For that you want a faithful friend!
Similarly, you don't want someone who is like an unsteady foot. The Hebrew word here specifically speaks of a "slipping" foot. You want a foot that is steady - especially in times of trouble, trial, and storminess in your life. You want to plant your foot and know that it is steady and strong. You want to know that it will not slip - but will be a foundation that though all else is giving way - your foot will be steady. As I said at the begining of today's post - I know something about an unsteady foot. This particular story is somewhat embarassing because it also evidences my propensity for doing some fairly dumb things.
We live in northeast Arkansas - where in the winter we are in the habit of having some pretty nasty ice storms. One winter recently we had a doozy - which dropped about 5-7 inches of ice on us. The problem with ice storms is that they weigh down trees and break their limbs. This ice storm had broken a huge limb off of one of our trees and dropped it into our bedroom. The limb fell in such a way that it pierced through the roof and was sticking through our bedroom ceiling. Seriously lacking wisdom, I made my way onto the roof of our home (which was covered in ice) to get the limb off the roof. With a chainsaw (I know the level of stupidity is rising) and a tree saw, I went to remove the limb. I was able to accomplish this easily and lowered the chainsaw and saw with a rope to the ground. Then I went to get off the roof. The problem was I had pretty much flattened the ice on it to where it made a great slide - which, by the way, is not what you want your roof to be when attempting to get off of it. That is, unless you want to get off quickly - which was what happened to me. What was pretty sure footing on the way up - was not an icy slide on the way down. To say I had an unsteady or slipping foot is an understatement. I survived the fall off the roof onto my driveway (just missing a car hood) and decided that any other limbs could remain as a decorative touch to my roof if they damaged it. I was going to wait until the ice was gone. But, for our purposes today, this was the example of a slipping foot. Not something to trust on an icy roof - or in icy conditions in your life either.
We all are going to face difficulties and trials in life. There will be trouble if we are fallen humans, which we are, in a sinful world - which it is. Therefore there is no need to compound our trials and difficulties by having to rely upon someone who is untrustworthy and unfaithful in the midst of them. This is where you need true friends who are reliable. It is also a reminder to us on an ultimate level to consider Almighty God as the ultimate friend in all circumstances. The false gods of this world will fail you for they are infinitely unfaithful to stand in the ultimate day of trouble - the judgment day. In that day you want the "friend who sticks closer than a brother." You want the Savior whose blood speaks better than the blood of Abel. You want the foundation that will stand when the storms come and the floods burst against the house of your life. You want Jesus Christ - King of kings - Lord of lords - the True and Faithful One Who will stand. And in a lesser, yet very applicable picture for today, you want the Good Tooth and the Steady Foot - both of which Jesus is every day for all eternity. Trust Him - for He will never forsake you - or fail you!
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 wicked messenger falls into adversity, But a faithful envoy brings
healing. Proverbs 13:17
Recently we've watched as the "Wiki-leaks" betrayals have become public. These were betrayals because they were the release of secret government documents that should not have been released to the public. Their exposure - as the exposure of any message that a messenger should have kept to himself, or delivered faithfully only to those to whom he was sent - is a betrayal of the highest order. Let us take a closer look, though, at why such things happen in every generation.
We learn that it is a "wicked" messenger who falls into adversity. This is a messenger with a propensity for his wickedness. It is that wickedness that makes him fall into adversity - first with those who wish to use him for their own purposes. They know of sordid details of his life. Many who have been wicked messengers were involved in adulterous affairs with double agents - or had financial problems - or drinking problems. Whatever the case - their wickedness was a flaw that their enemies used to get information from them. They finish using them when they are eventually caught by their own government. Then their lives are filled with even more misery as they are jailed or even executed for their crimes against their nation.
Whereas this is true of nations, it is even more true of those who preach a false gospel. They are wicked messengers because they preach peace to people, when there is no peace. They preach a gospel of man's works, when man cannot be made righteous by his own works. They preach a gospel of self-effort when no amount of man's effort will ever make him right with God. It is either by God's grace - or man will face the wrath of God for his sin. This kind of wicked messenger falls into adversity because if nothing else - he will fall into the hands of an angry God in the judgment.
A faithful envoy brings healing instead. He is faithful with the message with which his superiors sent him. This is a blessing to those above him. In the case of the gospel he is a faithful messenger of the gospel. This indeed brings about eternal healing - as the breach between man and God is closed by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This faithful envoy brings exactly what man needs. He speaks the truth about man's condition before God - sinful and rebellious. He speaks truth about God's nature - that He is holy and just - as well as merciful and loving. He speaks the truth about Jesus Christ - that He is the God-man who came to earth to pay for our sins. He speaks the truth about salvation by grace alone, through faith alone. He faithfully calls men to repentance and to put their faith in Jesus Christ rather than their works or in man-made religion. This man truly brings the healing of man's soul from his eternal malady of sin. The wise man is the one who embraces this role of speaking the truth - and who faithfully offers the healing of God to a world that desperately needs it.
The merciful man does himself good, But the cruel man does himself harm. Proverbs 11:17
There is a way to live that will guarantee that we will be greeted with good from others. There is also a way of living and interacting with others that may give us an advantage in the short term, but in the long term will do us tremendous harm. The difference between these two lifestyles is found in how they treat others - especially when someone has done something wrong to them.
Our proverb begins by introducing us to someone called "the merciful man." This is the man who is gracious to others when they wrong him. He is called the "merciful man" because he delights in showing mercy to others. Mercy is best described this way. Not getting what we deserve. That may not sound all that great until you realize that the context for mercy is when you do something wrong, or act in a way that merits punishment. The man who shows mercy to others is willing to endure beging wronged. He does not always demand "fair" treatment when it comes to himself. He does not demand his pound of flesh whenever he is wronged. By doing this the Bible says that he does himself good. The literal Hebew here reads, "he does good to his own soul."
There are actually two benefits to being a "mercy-man." The first benefit is that others who receive mercy from you are far more likely to show you mercy as well. Jesus, in the Beattitudes, said this same thing. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." When we show mercy, others are more apt to show us mercy as well. The second benefit is one we receive inwardly. The passage says that we do our souls' good. When we react with anger to every supposed slight and wrong, our spirit and our emotions are in a constant turmoil. That is not healthy for us - because stress levels will be elevated all the time. But when we learn to show mercy (and not take ourselves so seriously in the process) it will do wonders for our stress level.
The end of today's proverb deals with the problems that the "cruel man" brings upon himself. We read that the cruel man does himself harm. The Hebrew word for "cruel" here means someone who is fierce and who lacks any kind of sensitivity, compassion, or mercy towards others. Since we have an example from our news, I will use it to illustrate this. Ghadaffi was the leader of the nation of Libya. He was a living example of a "cruel man." He ruled with an iron fist over his people. He was not known for his wonderful acts of mercy, but rather for his horrible acts of cruelty. The day came when he no longer had an army to protect him. The media informed us of his last moments on this earth. He hid in a drainage pipe, hoping to escape those who were hunting him down. When they found him they treated him just as he had treated others. I won't go into detail as to what was done to him, but it was a horrible end. His cruelty was the example that was set for the people of his country. No wonder when he was caught he was subjected to the same lack of compassion and kindness he was known to use upon others.
The way we respond to others will prepare the way for our own treatment in life. That is why the man who chooses to show mercy will have good come upon him for his choice. The cruel man has a much different end. Having chosen a lack of compassion throughout his lifetime of interaction with others, he has nothing except the overflow of his own cruelty awaiting him in this life - and the full measure of God's wrath in the next.
All the days of the afflicted are bad, But a cheerful heart has
a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15
Your attitude often will make all the difference in how you experience the events of your life. For some, their mindset is that if anything bad can happen, it will. For others, they take everything that comes to them - and somehow make even the worst of things beneficial. Their mindset is to take the proverbial lemons and life and turn them into lemonade.
We first read of the pessimist. "All the days of the afflicted are bad." This is the person who not only sees the glass as half empty - but who also figures that there are people who are working to make sure that it eventually empties further. They consider themselves afflicted - CONSTANTLY! They see themselves as "the afflicted" - which here is the word "aniy." This word means to be poor, oppressed, miserable, in constant want and need. It is a sad thing to watch someone like this because like the proverb states - they see every day as a bad day. These are the constant complainers. In church we would be tempted to ask them to lead in a word of complaint or criticism - rather than to ask for them to lead in prayer. They always seem to have a sad story to share - a problem that seems overwhelming - a way that they have been treated horribly - or something they see wrong. Don't misunderstand, there is a place for these things - and we do not need to squelch people's ability to share in difficult times. But the "afflicted" here never ceases to have something like this. To find them content and grateful for their lives - is next to impossible. They are always ready to be the grand marshall in the bummer parade!
The second half of this proverb contrasts another person. This is the one who has a "cheerful heart." Hebrews called this a "good" heart. It was someone who was happy, who was glad. They often chose to be happy, glad, delightful, and pleased. Their choice to be this way was a matter of their own heart. This is the person who simply chooses to be happy in their lives. They will look at difficulties and problems as opportunities to grow - or even better ways that God is working to conform them to His image. They see every situation as a potential wonderful thing God is working in their lives. They grasp that not eveything in life is going to be pleasant - but they take the same hard knocks that make the afflicted see every day as bad - and turn them into a reason to be thankful, grateful, and filled with joyeous expectation of what God is going to do to glorify Himself in every situation. They truly do understand that, "all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, and who live according to His purposes."
The Bible says that these folks - the cheerful ones - have a continual feast. They tend to be happy no matter what happens to them. They see God's providential hand in everything that happens to them. They are thrilled to watch Him do what only He can do - and are willing to wait for Him to act - even if it means a prolonged period of difficulty and trial. They take whatever God's sovereign hand gives them - and make it into a gourmet feast.
To be a cheerful, grateful person is far better than to be one of the continually afflicted. People want to be around the first person - and honestly - struggle with the second. It is not hard to be around someone who genuinely needs encouragement because they are having a tough time, but when someone is always seeming to have a tough time it becomes hard to know what to say. What often needs to be said is that the "afflicted" needs to see God as sovereign in all their affairs. They need to hear that God does work these things out for good - if they will allow Him to conform them to the image of His Son. They need to hear from the book of James that they are to consider it pure joy when they encounter various trials. God wants us to be joyful people - not miserable ones. Paul admonished the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord - and that to say that same thing to them was not a burden to him - but was indeed a protection to them. Joy is part of the inheritance given to every believer. This does not mean that we can never have hard times - but it does mean that if we see ourselves as the continually afflicted whose every day is bad - something is wrong with our perspective. The Lord does not want us living on the scraps of misery - but wants us to enjoy His presence, His perspective, and the continual feast that comes by being in His presence.
Wounds and disgrace he will find, And his reproach will not be blotted out. Proverbs 6:33
Adultery is always stupid. That is the premise we are following in these last verses of Proverbs chapter 6. Here we see that adultery is stupid because it will eventually yield punishment. This refers to a day when adultery was a punishable offense in a nation. In some nations it still is a punishable offense. Where it is, the rates of adultery and divorce are far lower than in nations where marriage is no longer protected by law.
The wounds, disgrace, and reproach that are spoken of here are all due in part to the public punishment that came with adultery in biblical times. A simple review of the laws against adultery help us to see that this was considered a very serious sin. First we have God stating that this particular sin was part of the 10 commandments. "You shall not commit adultery," is found in Exodus 20
where God gives the commandments to Moses. Later in Leviticus 20
we see where God makes it clear that adultery was considered a capital offensein Israel (and in God's sight). "If there is
a man who commits adultery with another man's wife, one who commits adultery with his friend's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." If we were to trace the damage done to not just the marriage but to families and societies through adultery, we might not look at this as too strict.
There used to be a time when adultery was seen as a very disgraceful thing. It was easy to see that what God said here is true. The reproach from being and adultery would not be able to be blotted out. There is a stigma to those who break their marriage vows by having sex with someone who is not their wife. This stigma is natural - and it is only as we have turned from God and from His truth that we have decided to try our best to erase that stigma from our society. Jeremiah's prophecy is filled with rebuke for the adultery that was rampant in the land. In Jeremiah 23:14
we read this prophetic word to God's people, "Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; And they strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one has turned back from his wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah." This sin, when it was ignored by God's people and by their prophets, would "strengthen the hands of evildoers." When adultery is tolerated by a society and treated as no big deal, we read that no one turns back from their wickedness. We find a soceity where the most basic bonds of relationship break down - and thus any kind of trustworthiness also breaks down with it.
In recent years we've heard a chorus of those who tell us that it does not matter if one of our elected officials has committed adultery and divorced their partner. We view it as part of the normal landscape that this happens, and in so doing, destroy the foundation upon which the home - and thereby society in general is built. The complete lack of character in our elected officials is a testimony to the truth of the Scriptures when it comes to adultery and being faithful to your vows in your marriage. We've watched as again and again that if these men and women won't be faithful to the closest bond and promise that they have made, why would we think that would be faithful to a vow to adhere to and defend the principles in the Constitution?
Some may say that this is too harsh. Jesus Himself forgave the woman who was caught in the very act of adultery. To this I would say a hearty, "Amen!" He did forgive her - and He forgives those who commit adultery today. But our problem is that we've degenerated to a point where we question if adultery should even be classified as sin. We've come to the point where we want to give the forgiveness without also stating the other thing Jesus said that day, "Go and sin no more." We watch as elected officials lie to our faces on televison that they did not have sex with that woman - and then expect the forgiveness and absolution without any repentance and confession. What we should realize is that whether we embrace it or not - adultery is going to cause very serious problems for an individual - and for a society that seeks to sweep it under the proverbial moral rug.
Adultery is always stupid. It always has consequences. It always will involve disgrace and reproach - at least in the eyes of God (and that is what counts in the end). The wise man sets a very clear boundary in his life when it comes to adultery. He not only sets a boundary, but he also sets a reminder that crossing this boundary will result in bad consequences. And since our society no longer sees fit to protect marriage in this way - we will have to do even more on the personal level to have reminders, boundaries, and warnings in our hearts to protect us from it.
And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. Proverbs 23:34
Drunken fools are unstable. This could have multiple meanings, but in this verse in Proverbs it actually only means that they are physically unstable. The drunker the fool gets, the more he is unable to control himself. He will eventually stumble around and fall down a lot. This is because of how alcohol affects both his brain and his muscles. Both are adversely affected and are hindered from functioning normally. In dealing with the previous verse we saw how both sight and muscles are weakened and disfunctional when the blood alcohol level of a person rises. The lack of sight - and the inability of the brain to handle the direction and regulation of our muscles is what causes this instability.
The actions of the drunken fool are compared to those who lie down in the middle of the sea. This first phrase refers to one who has sunken down into the sea. Similar words were used of Jonah and his fall into the depths of the waters in Jonah 2:4
- thus this is a picture of a person who is either drowning or in danger of drowning. He is lying in the midst of the sea - which is literally the heart of the sea. In his intellectual confusion he slowly passes into a state of unconsciousness - where he is no longer in control of his life. The drunken fool drinks until he is fighting a battle with being conscious. Even if he is conscious physically, often the drunk cannot remember what he did the night before. Some fools who have lived like this even find that they have injured someone, impregnated or have been impregnated by someone they don't even know, or in severe cases have even killed someone. Truly just as the man sinking in the heart of the sea is no longer in control of himself - so the drunken fool has lost control and places himself in grave danger.
The second statement here is that he is like someone who lies down on the top of a mast. This place mentioned here is the crow's nest or lookout mast on a ship. These are not made for anything except standing. When a man is standing in one he can hold on and can determine direction and warning for a ship. For a man to be lying down in such a place is foolish on several counts. First of all, doing this means that he is most likely lying down on top of the nest itself - with no way to hold himself stable. Since the motion of the ship on the sea is greatly exaggerated here, he is more likely to be thrown from the nest into the sea or to his great injury or death on the ship below. The drunken fool is similarly in danger because drunkenness greatly impairs his ability to protect himself and guide himself safely wherever he is. He too is in danger of injury or death in his drunken state. The second way this is foolish has to do with being watchful. If you are lying down on top of the mast you are not watching. The ship could run aground and face terrible problems when its lookout is asleep or lying down on the job. If enemies approach he is supposed to be the first line of warning. But since he is lying down on the job - he is subjecting the ship to a condition of having no lookout at all. The drunken fool is similarly abandoning watch over his life, his family, his friends, and most especially his testimony. He is a man adrift with no one at the helm - wandering through life with no direction as well as no protection. Some who choose to live this way, ruin their lives in the course of one night.
The wise man does not impair himself willingly. He keeps his wits about him and keeps watch over his life and testimony. He knows that drunkenness will severely blind him to everything around him and also will leave him without any discernment or prudence in his decision making ability. Therefore he avoids drunkenness like one would avoid the plague. He knows that rather than being drunk he is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. That way he has a teacher and a guide who can keep him safe. He knows that under the influence of This Spirit he will not have to wake up in the morning wondering what happened and whether he will need to be ashamed of the previous night's activities.
The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, But as for
a broken spirit who can bear it? Proverbs 18:14
There are two kinds of sickness that can come upon us. One is a sickness that we can endure and bear - but there is a second type mentioned in the Scripture that is impossible to bear without the work and grace of God being upon us.
We are told that the spirit of a man can endure his sickness. This sickness mentioned here is the word used for various illnesses that come upon us due to the face that we live in a fallen world. The entrance of sin into our world ruined it. It also introduced sickness and death into our world as well. But a man's spirit can help him endure his sickness. I am about to share something that will cause some to react badly. If we live in this world, we are going to face illness and sickness. Because of the fall of man and the entrance of sin into our world - sickness also came into it as well. What I mean by this is NOT that anyone who is sick must have sinned. That is false doctrine. But what I do mean is that when sin entered the human race - death did as well. Now all things are running down - aging - and generally falling apart. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that things are moving from order to disorder. That is true in our very makeup itself. Our cells are breaking down - our DNA is liable to mutation (which is never good) - and we will slowly fall apart until we physically die. This is fact. Those who think we can go through all of life simply confessing divine health - and therefore never having to be sick or adversely affected by the degeneration of our world or ourselves are sadly mistaken. They to will die due to the sin of man.
Now, before I completely depress you, let me return to our proverb today. Our spirit can help us endure sickness. There is an inner strength that is granted to us in our spirit that helps us deal with the fact that we are human. We will make it through sickness. I've seen the extreme of this in believers who glorify God in the midst of terminal illnesses. There is something so alive and strong in them - even in the midst of their last days. They conquer death - even as they face it. That is the power of God working in our spirits.
But the Proverb does warn of a second sickness that is unbearable to the human condition. "But as for a broken spirit who can bear it?" The word for broken here is so telling. It does not refer to what we experience at the end of a romance - the famous broken heart of romantic movies and novels. This broken spirit is one that is stricken and scouraged. It refers to more than just suffering. It refers to when we come to see that everything we can live for in this life means nothing. It is the brokenness that God actually seeks to bring us to in life. It is a brokenness that cannot be cured with more stuff or more power. It won't be solved by a new romance - or another boyfriend or girlfriend. This brokenness goes to the very depths of our spirit. It is God telling us that we cannot be self-repaired. We need Him. That is why the wise man poses the question, "Who can bear it?" No one can - except he turn to God. Only He can reach to the very core of our deadness and cause our spirit to come alive. This work He does by the Spirit of God as He applies the gospel of Jesus Christ to our broken condition. Then we find ourselves fixed - and actually far more than fixed. We are reborn - and our spirit comes alive as the Holy Spirit grants us the very life of God.
The wise man knows as he sees and endures the sicknesses of this present world that something is terribly wrong with this world. The death that reigns over this present world points us to a much deeper death that reigns over our souls. This brokenness of spirit can only be repaired by God. He has given the cure in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And . . . a wise man knows to turn to God for His ultimate remedy for a broken spirit.