Now then, my sons, listen to me And do not depart from the words of my mouth. Proverbs 5:7
Wisdom is something that should passionately be spoken to our sons. It is something they should hear from us with a sense of urgency and importance that should ring from what we say to them. If we do not speak with this kind of passion we may have our children go the way that the son in laws of Lot went.
We read in Genesis of this sad event in Genesis 19:14, " Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, "Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city." But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting." Unfortunately for Lot - a passionate plea to late seems like little more than a bad joke. The lack of passion concerning the immorality and ungodliness of the people was palpable. He rarely spoke out, though his righteous soul was tormented by their behavior. But Lot decided not to speak too stridently about sin in his day. The result of his lack of conviction about the sin that ran rampant in his town was that no one took him seriously when he came with a warning about God's judgment. He never seemed too disturbed about the sin before - so maybe he was overreacting to the situation at hand. In the end the men who would have been his daughter's husbands laughed him off - and were destroyed when the fire and brimstone fell from heaven.
This is why we need to speak with the passion of this father. When he says, "listen" he uses the word that speaks of listening to obey. He wants his words regarded, heard, and followed. When he says, "do not depart" he uses languate that is strong. The idea behind this admonition is like a military leader urging his troops to not desert him or quit fighting. Strong words are employed by this father to call his sons away from sexual immorality. Do we use words this strong when speaking with our sons on such issues? Do we use any words? Do we even speak with them about such things?
Our sons need us! We live in a day of loose morals and lying promises. The morals of our day are loose because our nation has abandoned the words of the Lord. Schools forbid us from speaking such things to students. In the places where an abstinence message is allowed - a Scriptural one is forbidden. It seems almost insane to keep such a message from our young ones considering that over 40 different incurable sexually transmitted diseases run rampant in our society. But the real danger, according to our lawmakers, is that someone might harm them by speaking a religious message to them. What is allowed more and more is the lying promises of our soceity. Safe sex is promoted - with the thought that they are going to be sexually immoral anyway. The problem is that the so-called safe sex message relies primarily on condoms - which have a 1 in 6 failure rate. Their message of safety is about as effective as playing russian roulette with a six shooter. Come on - there's only one chance in six someone is going to blow their brains out! Keep your morality off of our pistol! We'd consider such talk sheer insanity if it were uttered to our kids about playing russian roulette. But for those who offer the same message with an incurable sexually transmitted disease - well, that's open thinking and progressive education. Honestly . . . sounds like a gathering of idiots to me.
Dad's - this was NEVER to be a matter handed over to school and governmental officials. Sex education and far more importantly sexual morality was and still is to be taught by a father to his son. That way we can not only teach them about their sexuality as a gift from God. We can also let them know of the perversion of it by the Fall - and the dangers that come from ignoring the Word of God.
She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable, she does not know it. Proverbs 5:6
Here is another in a list of warnings given to the man who would think of committing adultery. It is part of the description of the adulteress. Before I go into this particular verse I do want to make a comment or two for the ladies. This passage does describe for us the woman who either leaves her husband to have sex with another man - or a single woman who enters into relationships with married men and thus is committing adultery with him. I do not in any way want you ladies to think that any man is receiving a pass here. This passage is dealing with this issue from the perspective of a warning to sons. Fascinating that this warning comes most likely from David to Solomon - two guys who learned much from the wrong side of this issue. David's warnings to his son Solomon were for the most part unheeded in the end - and Solomon's sin was the undoing of Israel. So you can see that the cost of mistakes in this area are great. Fortunately for us - the grace of God and His forgiveness are greater. Nevertheless - a whole host of problems come when a young man is foolish enough to be ensnared by the adulteress. Oh, and ladies . . . the greatest snare for him is not the woman herself - but his own lusts that wage war in his soul. His greatest battle is with godly self-control, obedience to the Scriptures, and not living out of his flesh as a source. But, with all this said, it is a wise father who speaks to his son about these issues - even if it is from hard lessons learned.
The adulteress, like anyone who is willingly cooperating with sin, is not watching for eternal things. The passage states in the Hebrew that she is not watching the path of life. The actual Hebrew word here is "palas" and it means to ponder or to calculate the weight of something. One of the ways this word is used is to weigh out a path and see what it will bring to us in the end. The adulteress is not thinking about eternity - about the judgment of God at the end of life when according to the Bible, all men and women will have to give an account of their choices and actions. The word "ponder" here does not mean just a casual thought - but to stop and think seriously about something. She is not thinking about where her actions are taking her. This is kind of a "duh" statement considering we just read a verse earlier that her feet are swiftly moving towards death and her very steps (indicating a direction taken) are taking hold of the place of the dead. Think about this for a moment. Does anyone who is entering into sexual immorality seriously stop and think about the diseases they are opening up to in their lives? Does anyone entering into adultery seriously stop and consider the havoc coming in their marriage - in their family - in their children's lives? There is not a lot of pondering going on here. Honestly, what IS going on is actions based on lust and desire. Sexual immorality usually involves shutting the "ponderer" down and living by the impulses of our flesh instead. It involves shutting down our brain and our spirit - and thinking with our loins instead.
The adulteress also is unstable. The word for unstable here means to stagger and walk crooked. It has the idea of someone who is swaying in and out of a path. Rather than ponder and consider the path of life - she is wandering and staggering off the road. Jeremiah 14:10 uses this same imagery to indicate that there are those who love their wandering. God told Jeremiah, "Thus says the LORD to this people, 'Even so they have loved to wander; they have not kept their feet in check. Therefore the LORD does not accept them; now He will remember their iniquity and call their sins to account."' This is the same sentiment we sing about in the hymn, "Come Thou Fount" when we say, "prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the Lord I love."
This speaks of a "willful" wandering. The adulteress though, is wandering not toward sin with the assurance of God's gracious discipline. She is willfully wandering toward a yawning abyss without seeing its gaping jaws. Her ways are unstable - wandering - staggering toward destruction - but she does not know it. So althought she promises so much through her offer of pleasure, albeit illicit. She does not know even herself where it is eventually leading. For the man foolish enough to be attracted to her wiles and follow her into sin - he simply is walking hand in hand with her to that yawning abyss with its gaping jaws - so step in and be devoured.
Pretty scary description here isn't it? That's the point that David is trying to drive home to young Solomon his son. Remember, David wound up killing Uriah as well as several other soldiers by proxy - had his daughter raped by one of her half brothers - had that son killed by another son (who used his proxy methods to accomplish the deed) - had 10 of his concubines raped in public by his son on a rooftop in front of the entire nation - and had that son die in an effort to usurp the kingdom along with all the soldiers who fell in that battle as well. Kinda cost David far more than he thought to have that one night of hidden passion? Maybe David was wanting Solomon to ponder more than he did - to avoid a similar fate? Maybe whether from success or failure in our moral lives we should do the same with our sons and daughters as well?
An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression. Proverbs 29:22
A man who flares his nostrils and who is easily filled with passionate anger about things is not going to be a godly or wise man. That is what today's proverb teaches us. Let's look at how anger that is not controlled by the Spirit of God can be a very dangerous thing in our lives.
The "angry man" in this proverb is one who often flares his nostrils. That picture to the Hebrew was a picture of a man who often became angry. We read that this is not wise because such a man often stirs up strife. His easily angered temperment will be the source of much fighting. He will not be long suffering and patient. He will grumble and complain thereby stirring up strife and anger in others. This will lead to a situaiton where he seems to be constantly surrounded by others who are angry - or who have grievances against the ones he is angry with as well. There will be a controversy swirling about him that never seems to die down. Problems and broken relationships will be all around him as the proverbial pot is always being stirred.
This man is likened to a "hot-tempered" man. His temperment is set so that it will boil over very easily. He becomes angry quickly - and that anger will lead to arguments and problems often. Contrary to this is the man surrendered to the Holy Spirit whose fruit is peace, patience, gentleness - and - self-control. Slights and problems roll off the Spirit filled man like water off a duck's back. He is a peacemaker and as such is known as one of the sons of God.
King Saul had these bad traits in his life. He perceived a slight when the women sang that He had slain thousands and David ten thousands. Jealousy and envy bred anger in King Saul that boiled over in many angry and hot-tempered acts. He was well known for dealing with his anger not by patience and long-suffering, but by throwing spears. He threw them at David because of his jealousy. He threw them because he did not want to deal with his own sin - and came to hate David for how God was with him. He eventually threw them at his own son because he dared love and protect David. His hot-tempered ways led him to kill all the priests in the city of Nob becasue he raged against the priest seeking The Lord on David's behalf. His uncontrolled anger led him away from God and into abounding levels of transgression and sin. That is what our proverb warns against today. We are warned that an uncontrolled temper let loose in fits of anger will land us in an abundance of sin. If we are not careful we will wind up like Saul whom God would not answer - and whom God removed because of his sin.
Patience is a virtue. It is a godly thing to be able to handle a slight - an insult - a perceived put down - and act graciously and godly - without a descent into a fit of anger. A wise man knows that it is not the estimation of men that matters - but the Word of God. Be careful therefore to learn graciousness, kindness, and the ability to be slow to anger. That is the heart of our God - and when we are filled with His Spirit and instructed by His Word - our's as well.
He who pampers his slave from childhood will in the end find him to be a son. Proverbs 29:21
What is the proper way to treat a employee? As we have done for most of the proverbs dealing with slavery - we look at them through the prism of employee and employer relationships. There is much wisdom for people who are in business and who have employees if they will learn from these proverbs. What can we learn from today's proverb in this respect?
The warning here is that an employer should not "pamper" their employees - just as the man in this proverb is told not to pamper his servants. The word "pamper" here means what is means today - to treat someone in a way where they are not disciplined and made to work as they should. There should be expectations on those who work for an employer. When I worked at UPS we were expected to load a certain number of packages per hour. When our work output went below that number - we were going to have a visit from a supervisor or boss - who would make it plain to us that we needed to work harder. This was not employer abuse - it was an employer making sure that we knew that we were expected to produce a certain amount of work for the hourly pay that we received.
What is dangerous is when an employee or servant is allowed to be lazy and undisciplined at work without any kind of repercussions. This is pampering a worker. Allowing a worker to do shoddy work without rebuke is pampering them. Allowing a worker to be consistently late to work without rebuke is pampering the worker. Allowing a worker to abuse their fellow workers and supervisors without rebuke and punishment is pampering the worker. These things will hurt a business - or even cause it to fail. There needs to be an understanding of proper workplace behavior and proper workplace expectations. But our society is beginning to implode on itself because it rejects such things. People are getting to the point where they expect a paycheck - but do not think that they should work hard for it. Ours is a world where people feel they are entitled to a living - and a good one at that.
The Bible is clear on the fact that, "if a man won't work - don't let him eat." There are also verses that say to let someone get hungry - and they will be willing to work. The business world is rough - and if we are going to have a strong economy people need to know that HARD work is required. We act today as if the words "hard work" are curse words - when in fact that are blessed words. It is good for us to have to work hard.
When an employer does not have the proper expectations on his laborers, he will in the end wind up with sons rather than employees. What is meant by this is a certain kind of son - a spoiled one. He will wind up with people who do not want to work - but expect to be well paid and well cared for by their employer. One might call this the "spoiled brat" syndrome. You treat laborers a cerain way and before long they will not be workers - but rather spoiled brats who constantly complain about their wages, about their work load, about their work environment - and just about anything else they can think of to complain about. No matter what the employer does, it is not enough.
A good employer knows the balance between caring for his employees and calling them to work. He knows that he does need to be considerate and wise with things like workplace conditions and wages. He wants to bless his labor force - but he also wants them to work. There are Scripture passages that call the employer to be gracious and kind to his workers - but here he is warned of the dangers of having a plant filled with spoiled brats - rather than people who know how to work hard so that the business will be profitable. It is a delicate balance - but one that needs a serious swing toward a stronger work ethic in our day.
When the wicked increase, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall. Proverbs 29:16
There is a principle at work here - and one that has been seen again and again in the world. The more the wicked increase in a society, the more that the society will turn toward wickedness. This is not a recent phenomenon - it has been happening ever since the fall of man. In fact, one of the most powerful examples of it was not long after man fell into sin.
We read in Geneis chapter 6 of this kind of situation. "Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose." The progression here is fascinating to see. First the wicked began to multiply. You might wonder why I think the wicked multiplied - and not the godly. The reason for this is because man is sinful - and will always orient himself toward his sin and ungodliness unless God intervenes by His grace to change things. The next step was that the wicked began to modify - and they modified God's intention for marriage. They married at will - based on something other than God's plan. This led to the wicked multipliying even more. The god-desired role of the family was perverted and rather than pass on godliness - men began to pass on and even grow in his wickedness.
We read in verse 5 of that same chapter of Genesis, "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Two more things began to happen. The wicked began to magnify their wickedness. God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth. The original intent for creation was to magnify the Creator, God. Now it was filled with men who magnified the creation, man. The second thing that happened was the the Wicked began to meditate on their wickedness. Every intent of the thoughts of their heart became evil continually. God's desire was for men to meditate on Him and His Word - instead, they meditated on their godless desires - which led to even worse conditions.
The wicked then turned to mayhem and murder in their wickedness. God said the following to Noah about this in verse 13 of chapter 6 of Genesis. “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth." James warns us in chapter 4 of his letter that the cause of our fighting is our lusts that wage war within us. This leads us to even kill so that we can fulfill our lusts that rage for more within us. The sad ending of all this is that the choices of the wicked led to the condemnation of the wicked. God destroyed that generation.
As we turn our attention back to our proverb - we see just what Solomon is communicating to his sons - and to all who would read these words. When the wicked increase, transgression among men increases as well. But in the end the righteous will see their fall. Wickedness cannot reign long in a land - it consumes it to a point of catastrophe. It did so in Noah's day - and we read that as it was in the days of Noah, so also it shall be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man. The ungodly will always be ungodly - and the wicked will seek to multiply their wickedness. But what is there for us to learn from this - just don't be wicked? No, there is a message for us today - one that will magnify the grace of God in the gospel.
How can we keep the wicked from increasing? Every time a child is born - another ungodly heart enters the human race. We are fallen - and we multiply into more fallen men and women over time. The answer lies in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the ONLY way that we can stem the tide of the wicked multiplying on the earth. We must multiply! We must be about sharing Jesus Christ with all who are around us. We must take the one thing that can take a wicked heart and transform it into a godly one. That one thing is the gospel of Jesus Christ! Jesus sent us into the world to make disciples of all the nations. As the early church took that mandate seriously they multiplied disciples - leading them to Christ - baptizing them as they identified with Christ - teaching them to obey all Jesus commands - and then doing it in each and every generation until the end of the age. This, and only this, can stand against the wicked and their wickedness multiplying in a society! May God give us grace to accept no substitutes in this matter - no political or social or military option which in the end will only fail. May we see that the glorious mandate to minister the gospel - and make disciples IS God's only answer for our world!
The poor man and the oppressor have this in common: the Lord gives light to the eyes of both. Proverbs 29:13
At first this proverb may sound like a simple statement - something everyone would know. It might also seem as if it is not addressing the real issue to anyone who is living underneath an oppressor. To them that issue would be telling the oppressor to stop oppressing them! But this proverb does exactly what is necessary to address the oppressor. It may not do like we would want - and it may not give us the instant relief we'd like from all oppressors - but God addresses them sufficiently.
What we have here in this proverb is a veiled threat. It is not an empty one - it is just spoken in a way that is not . . . not very "schwartneggaresque." We would like for God to make an "in your face" threat to the oppressor. Tell him stop or I'll smack you upside the head! Tell him that if he keeps oppressing - God will show him what real oppressing looks like! That's what we want. Yet God's statement here is subtle - yet strong.
The Lord addresses the fact that the oppressor and the poor man he oppresses have something in common. He tells the oppressor that the Lord gives light to both of them. That phrase refers not to physical sight - but to giving life itself. To say that God gives light to our eyes means that we are alive because of Him. Now, let's look at how this is a veiled, yet very effective threat. God is telling the oppressor that although he thinks he is a moral free agent - and can do what he wants - that is not true. The reason he is alive - is the same reason the poor man whom he oppresses is alive too. God gave them both life. So how is this a threat?
The oppressor thinks "he" determines who lives and who dies. He is a bully - just on a much larger level. He does not think he will be held accountable - even as he holds the poor man accountable to his oppressive demands. But now God is saying to the oppressor - you are exactly like the poor man you are abusing. I gave light to both of your eyes. Now for the threat. It is implied. God is saying to the oppressor - I gave light to your eyes - and I can take it away. You, my dear oppressor, are NO DIFFERENT than the one whom you oppress. You can't give anyone life - so your power is severely limited. Then God says, "I, on the other hand, give life to anyone who is alive. My power is utterly unlimited. You would do well to remember that."
Sometimes it is the subtle things that can knock us to the ground. Real power does not need to bluster to be recognized. God has His moments of truly "throwing down" and proving He is God beyond any shadow of a doubt. Burning Sodom and Gomorrah off the face of the earth is one of them. Splitting the Red Sea and crushing the greatest army on earth in the midst of it was another. Opening the earth and swallowing Dathan and Abiram could be considered another. Even throwing huge rocks from heaven and destroying those who fought with Joshua might be a fourth. But there are also times when the quietness and subtlety of God are as loud as the thunder of Niagra's mighty falls. It is in those moments that authority is expressing itself in mercy. For the oppressor this is good - for it gives him a chance to repent of his oppressive ways and to turn and embrace the mercy given to him. It warns him to repent and begin showing mercy to thosw who have previously received none from his hand. A wise man would respond immediately because there will be a day when the subtlety of God will end. In that day - he will want to realize how weak he is - and take refuge in God's mercies. The other option is wholly unwise to embrace.
A man who wanders from the way of understanding Will rest in the assembly of the dead. Proverbs 21:16
To wander from God's way of understanding is a very dangerous thing to do. Here in today's proverb we see just how dangerous this can be. According to Solomon the eventual end of the man who does this is a final resting place among those doubly dead.
The word "wander" is key to understanding this passage. This is the Hebrew word "taah" which means not just to wander off - but to err and go astray. The primary meaning is to err and to make a mistake. This word is used most often of thos who err or who are being misled in a moral or religious sense. It is the word used in Isaiah 53:6 when the prophet tells us, "All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him." To wander is to go astray of God's moral path - and to incur iniquity in His eyes. Therefore to wander is to go astray of God's path and God's will for us. The wandering going on here is that of erring from the "way of understanding." This phrase speaks of someone who no longer has discernment or any kind of spiritual insight. And since the phrase begins with the word "way" - it refers to someone whose very way of life turns from any spiritual insight and discernment gained from a relationship with God or from His Word. Instead, this guy chooses a life guided by selfish desires and longings. There is a biblical word for this - it is the flesh. A life guided by our flesh is never going to end well.
The picture we get now is not just someone wandering away from a single situation where advice is offered, but rather a situation where as a way of life he is turning from God's will and Word. This is basically the condition of a lost person. They reject the wisdom of God - the Word of God - and the way of God. They instead choose the world, their flesh, and the lies of the devil.
This proverb is given as a warning. We are told what happens to someone who lives this way. The man who lives this way "will rest in the assembly of the dead." For those who think this is a reference to spiritual death - or a lack of spiritual life and blessing here and now - the actual word for death here is, "departed spirits." This is a warning to turn from rebellion and purposeful rejection of God's will and way. The end of such a lifestyle is a life spent with those who are "doubly dead." They have died in this life losing their physical life - but infinitely worse they are devoid of spiritual life when they die physically - so - the place of their eternal dwelling is hell. That is why it is so important to reject the heart and mind that reject God's Word and way. To continue in it is to continue toward an abyss where there is no return. Far better to embrace God's way and Word now - to embrace repentance from our own fleshly mindset - to embrace a turn from ourselves to God - from our way to His. To reject this is to choose to "rest" in the assembly of the dead. If you know anything about hell as it is described in Scripture, you know that this eternal destination will be anything but restful.
The path of life leads
upward for the wise That he may keep away from Sheol below. Proverbs 15:24
The wise will have an upward bound life. That is what this passage tells us. It promises both an encouragement for the wise - that their path will lead upward. It also gives a warning - that the unwise path will end in Sheol, the place of the dead.
In His commentary on this verse Phillips makes the comment, "Darwin would have us believe that our feet are set surely on the upward way, that may is progressing by slow but sure degrees from protoplasm to paradise." This is the belief of those who account randomness and no purpose whatsoever for our existance and our origin. Unfortunately, both science and sociology tell us a much different story. They tell us a story consistent with the Biblical narrative.
Science reminds us through the second law of thermodynamics that we are in a constant state of decay. Things are not coming together into more order and more stability - they are moving from order to disorder. We look at the astounding complexity of life and see that it screams to us of an intelligent design infinitely higher than that of man. Science also tells us that something is wrong with this world. Things keep dying. It is as is this world has been cursed so that what originally was made - is now devolving into greater and greater chaos. Disease, sickness, pain, and suffering are the norm as we grow older individually - as well as our world grows older corporately.
Social Sciences also do not point in a direction that is good. The history of man is not a history of us getting wiser and wiser. It is not a history of mankind embracing new heights of goodness and mercy. On the contrary, the 20th and 21st centuries have witnessed a cruelty and evil that almost cannot be matched by previous generations. The endless wars and evils of our generation strike us in ways that at times takes the breath away. More people have been brutally murdered and systematically executed than ever before. We've found modern ways to exterminate our children, killing over 250 million of them since the inception of that horrific procedure. We call it population control - God calls it genocide of the innocents. The way of the fool leads to the place of death - that is what we know from experience. The way of the fool leads to pride and arrogance as he says there is no God.
The path of life goes upward for the wise man. He sees things as God sees them. He is blessed no matter what situations and privations await him in life. He knows that this life is not all that there is. In fact the Scriptures teach him that this life is just a fleeting breath. He is like a brief puff of wind that rustles the leaves and he is gone. Therefore he lives for God's will rather than his own lusts. Amazingly, this kind of choice fills him with joy - no matter what he faces in life. For him the worst he will ever face is in this life. He knows that things lead upward for him - until the day that he will embrace eternal life in all its fullness. He tastes it now, finding it sweet and delightful to his soul's palette. But how he yearns for the full meal. This grants him the joys of knowing life and of sterring clear from spiritual death and its ultimate companion, hell.
Things on this earth are not getting better and better. They were ruined by the entrance of sin brought on by man's rebellion and disobedience. Things are falling apart on this earth and will continue to do so until the day God brings an end to this fallen existance. Living for only here and now is therefore the utmost foolishness. The wise man knows this, because he knows God. The wise man therefore lives for eternal things. He lives because of His Creator's mercy in providing salvation through Jesus Christ. He also lives FOR His Creator and Lord - knowing that this is the pathway that leads upward - path this cursed ground - into the very presence of God in glory. Oh, precious ones - take this path!
He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. Proverbs 14:31
God is very serious how He views the poor - especially when people choose to oppress them and take advantage of them because of their poverty. The warning that we are given here is about oppressing the poor. The poor by their lack of money and influence are people who have a difficult time finding a way to deal with people who trample their rights. They have no money with which to address the legal system. They have no power among elected officials to influence them outside of their one vote. History has proven that there are a couple of groups who oppress the poor. These two groups are the rich and those who want to maintain political power. The rich do so most often by not offering the poor a living wage when it is within their power to do so. In an interest in getting richer, they take the wages that the poor should receive and keep them for themselves. God offers dire warnings to those who do this. The second group are those who use political power to oppress the poor. Even within our government it is advantageous to prevent the poor from bettering themselves by setting up a welfare state that encourages dependence. This is often not recognized as oppressing the poor because it maintains the illusion that the person in political power is helping them. But any system which traps people in poverty is oppressive, even if it oppresses by handing out what at first looks like free money.
Those who oppress the poor are taunting God. Taunting is such an ugly thing. When those who have an upper hand mock those less fortunate, it is disgusting. The Hebrew word indicates a mocking and open reproach of someone else. This is done in a way that deliberately desires to agitate or humiliate someone. The truly frightening thing about this kind of taunting is that the one doing it is infinitely less powerful than God. Usually the stronger one taunts the weaker. Here although the person is stronger in what is openly seen (i.e. the powerful oppressing the poor) they are probably unaware that their actions are taunting the living God. This is the most foolish thing anyone could possibly do. I get a picture of a bully taunting a small child, unaware that their incredibly strong and huge brother is standing behind them watching the whole thing. In that situation, as well as the one mentioned here in Proverbs 14
, someone is about to get a serious beat-down.
The wise man has mercy on the poor. He uses his position of strength and wealth to help them. The word mercy has the idea of being treated in a way we do not deserve. Therefore the wise and godly man remembers how God has treated him - and uses that as a barometer of how he should treat the poor. Maybe someone has become poor due to their own sinfulness. Even in this case we should show mercy and seek to help. This honors God because it reflects His own character in our actions. Whereas the fool taunts God by oppressing and taking advantage of the poor - the wise man wants a reward larger than the riches or power he can get on the backs of the unfortunate. He knows that in the end it will go well with the one who honors God.
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27
Ours is a society that craves safety. Some think that carrying a gun at all times or having a top notch security system will provide them safety. But for the man of God these things, although providing some measure of safety are nothing compared to the fear of the Lord. According to today's proverb that is the most effective security system known to mankind.
The fear of the Lord is described here as a fountain of life. The Hebrew words used for the phrase, "fountain of life" are "mekor chaiyim." This phrase literally means, "the vein of lives" and referred to the aorta which is the artery which carries the blood from the heart as it seeks to pump it throughout the entire body. Without our aorta we would be dead. I remember a very terrifying moment when my own father was found to have a seven inch long annuerism on his aorta. It was a life threatening condition of the worst kind. If my father's aorta burst - the very fountain of life in him would be cut off - and he would have died within seconds. The medical staff were able to do surgery and repair his aorta. But it was a reminder to me that without the "vein of lives" functioning, we will not live long. I am not saying that without the fear of the Lord we will die in mere seconds, but I am saying that the fear of the Lord is essential to us having the life that God provides. Here in today's proverb we read that the fear of the Lord is what helps us to avoid the snares of death. What are these "snares" that are mentioned here?
The Hebrew word for "snares" is very telling. The word is "moqesh" and it refers not so much to the snare itself, but to the bait which is placed in the snare. The word literally means the bait placed within a snare or trap - without which the animal would never come near it. It is the bait that makes the trap effective. The bait tempts the animal to come near even when his own instincts tell him the situation is dangerous. Unable to quell his own lusts for the free food, the animal draws near. The end is a trapped or dead animal. This parallels our problem with sin. Our desires draw us toward things that will eventually damage and destroy us. But we cannot seem to shake the lusts of our flesh, eyes, and prideful love of the world enough to turn away. We are bllind due to our sin. But this is where the fear of the Lord becomes a life-giving fountain to us.
The fear of the Lord is the respect and honor that we have of Him and of His Word. It is the willingness to respond to the Holy Spirit when He warns us about something we are about to do. We listen and obey when we fear the Lord - but we ignore Him when we have no repect or honor toward the God who made us. For those who do this, there is only death in the end. They may have an initial experience of pleasure in their sinful choice - but be warned that they will stand in the judgment for their actions. Any sinful action will be eternally regretted on that day. But know also that sinful choices, although their poison may not be felt immediately - also have consequences here and now as well.
Today's society, and unfortunately many in the church, think that the fear of the Lord is a thing of the past. They ignorantly say that we are a people of grace in the New Testament. The Old Testament idea of fearing God is out of step with who we are supposed to be. What I find interesting is that the book of Acts tells us that the church benefited greatly from the fear of the Lord. In Acts 9:31
we read the following, "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. " The fear of God is a New Testament truth that will bless God's church. In fact the fear of the Lord is linked here with the "comfort of the Holy Spirit." It was the combination of these two that worked together by God's grace to cause the church to increase. But there is one more thing that will bless us as we look at the proverb for today.
The fear of the Lord is said to be a "fountain of life." There is another parallel that is such a blessing to see here. In John chapter 7 Jesus spoke of the way that the Holy Spirit would come to those who believed in Him. He used the picture of fountains of living water that would flow from the innermost being of those who experienced the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This is what we have learned today in Proverbs. It is another way that the Holy Spirit is linked directly to the fear of the Lord. We need to realize that one of the ways that the Holy Spirit works in our lives is to bring us the fear of the Lord. We have a respect for God - a desire to honor Him and not to displease Him. This makes us very receptive to His Word which tells us what He wants us to know. Both are the same fountain. As we fear God the Holy Spirit works in us to teach us God's Word - and then to urge us to listen and respond to what God has said. All this comes together to turn us from the snare - from the bait of Satan which seeks to lure us into His traps and his snares of death. May God give us grace to fear Him - to experience the Holy Spirit's teaching and warning - and to avoid sin as a result.