Proverbs 15:25 The LORD will tear down the house of the proud, but He will establish the boundary of the widow.
One of the quickest ways to cause God to act in judgment is to mess with widows. By the way the corollary to this is that messing with orphans is not very smart either. Probably the second quickest way to incur the disciplinary action of God is to be proud and arrogant. Therefore the ones’ warned in this proverb are facing the proverbial “double-whammy” because of their actions.
The first thing we see is God’s promise to “tear down” the house of the one who is proud. The Hebrew word for this tearing out is frightening because it has the idea of tearing out or tearing down. God is promising the proud man that He Himself will tear him out of his home – and tear down his entire house. The word house here is more than just someone’s domestic address. It actually means God will destroy an entire family. One’s house meant more than just the physical structure in which one lived. It meant the house, the land, the businesses, the children, and even the future generations of a family. As God has warned before in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” The New Testament says the same thing in James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 – God is opposed to the proud – He arrays Himself as an army ready for battle to fight them. But the reason for this warning has something more to it. Their source of pride seems to be a house built on the backs of widows.
This proverb is a single unit – the pride mentioned here is due to the abuse of widows. Widows did not have very many rights in the times of the Bible. Israel stood out among other nations and other religions because of God’s concern for the rights of widows. The right God is protecting is that of their right to the land of their family.
We need to remember that Israel was an agrarian nation – a people of the land. The two chief occupations in Israel were those of farmers and shepherds. To either of these groups land was indispensible. Permanent markers measured the land that God had established when Israel was given the land. So important was this gift of the land that God made it clear that the land was His, not theirs. Every 50 years God decreed a Jubilee. At this time every family would return to its land – and the land would return to them. God gave land to them and fully expected His boundaries to be honored – perpetually.
Now we come to the second part of this proverb. God will establish the boundary of the widow. Since God set up the original markers by decree – to move them was a grave sin. To move the boundary of a widow was even worse. Some, who were arrogant towards God, would move the boundaries of widow’s land so that they could enlarge their holdings at the expense of a widow who had few if any legal rights. To say that God would be displeased by this is a massive understatement! He would be furious. Destruction would come to the prideful, arrogant person who would do this. God also would fight to establish the actual boundary for the widow. The arrogant man who would do this would forfeit not just his illegal land grab; he would face destruction for his entire family.
So what can we learn from this proverb for today? First of all we learn that only a very prideful (and I might add stupid) person messes with widows. But since we don’t have the same problem of moving boundary stones among our crimes today – how do we interpret and apply this to our lives? Second, we need to defend the rights of widows and orphans. This is an absolute for us as Christians. If I may add something here – we also need to fight for single moms. There are women who were faithful to their husbands who were divorced because of infidelity or just because the guy didn’t want to be committed to his wife. We need to stand up and defend their rights. Unfortunately I’ve had to sit in courtrooms where horrific injustice was committed because an ungodly man had an ungodly lawyer who helped him get an ungodly settlement that left his wife high and dry. We need to fight against such injustice. Church discipline is one way to do this – making men take responsibility for their actions. Another way is to learn more about those running for or being appointed to positions as judges. Such actions may cost us in our communities – but the favor of God in these matters is worth it.
Proverbs 10:5 He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.
At first glance this looks like a common proverb concerning agrarian matters – or something along the lines of an admonition about hard work. Let’s begin our look at this proverb in this way.
Anyone in agriculture will agree that there are only certain times when a person can plant, grow, cultivate, and harvest crops. The wise farmer takes this into account when planning when to work and when to take his leisure. Summer is the time for a farmer – or in this case his son – to work hard at producing a crop. The words used here are interesting though. One does not gather in the summer. One usually is working hard in the field on things like weed control or maybe some type of irrigation if the growing year is particularly dry. Yet God is saying to us that a person who is gathering in the summer is acting wisely. Here is the lesson for us. Summer is a time when the sun is hot – and it is easy to slack off in our work. But it is a very important time for the farmer. It is when the crop is being watched. It is when the farmer is showing great care on matters such as weed and pest control – and drought. Working at this time is exhausting and hard. But – it is also a time where if you do what you are supposed to do – you will guarantee a harvest.
The word “wisely” here is the Hebrew word “sakal” which means to act with prudence, insight, and understanding. For the wise son – he sees hard work – even hot, difficult work. But what he also sees is work that WILL be rewarded if he sticks with it. He may have to remind himself that the hard work now pays off later in the harvest.
The second part of the proverb speaks of the shame coming to the son who sleeps during harvest time. The word sleep here indicates a deep sleep – even a sleep with snoring. The harvest is crucial to a farmer. He MUST work hard and gather the harvest because if he does not, there is great risk of having it rot on the vine or stalk. There is a risk of losing it all if he does not work hard to gather it. A son who leaves all the work to his father is a truly shameful son. What we learn from the proverb on the surface level is that there are only certain times when work can be done – and it is a wise person who works hard during those times. The one who decides to be lazy, undisciplined, and slothful in those times is a fool. There is great value in hard work – and that value is only increased when the one working realizes the times when applying yourself to the work is even more important.
It would be a disservice to not mention the spiritual parallels that this proverb has with the New Testament call for us to be involved in a spiritual harvest. In Luke 10 and John 4, Jesus reminds His disciples that the fields are white unto harvest spiritually – and that we are to cry out to God that He would send out laborers into His harvest fields. You see, now is the summertime and harvest for men and women to be cultivated for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now is the acceptable time to go forth weeping, sowing our precious seed – knowing that we will surely come again rejoicing with our sheaves (i.e. those whom we’ve seen God draw and save as a result of our obedience). To be asleep spiritually in this – or any generation is a shameful thing. We should be working with our Lord – sowing the gospel among those who are lost. We should be speaking to them and praying for them that the wicked one would not blind their eyes to the glory of God in the face of Christ. We should be laboring in the Lord’s vineyard knowing that a harvest is coming if we do not faint. Oh to be the wise, prudent sons who see the end from the beginning and labor to rescue those shoes sins will destroy them. Oh to be about the work of sharing Jesus with the lost so that a glorious harvest of righteousness, peace, and men and women who are born again may be gathered on that wonderful day when He comes for His own at the end of the age! Let us therefore work while it is still the day – for the time is coming when no man can work.
Proverbs 31:16-29 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle.
This is the third day that we have looked at qualities of the excellent wife. In the verses we look at today we see that this particular woman that Bathsheba is describing for her son is an industrious woman. Let’s look at the ways that she walks out her industriousness.
First we see that she knows real estate – or at least how to “consider” a field in which she plans to plant a vineyard. The word here for “consider” is “zamam” and it means to speak to oneself in a low voice or a quiet one. The concept here is that of deliberating on something. It meant to formulate a plan of action – from beginning to end – and then counsel with yourself to make sure that the plan is a good one. It represents the inner thought process one has as they seek God and even converse within themselves when making a very important decision. For the excellent wife, this decision concerns whether a field is worth purchasing. This includes the thought of whether the field is acceptable for agriculture (in this case to plant a vineyard). Then it moves on to whether she has the money to make the purchase – as well as whether the field is going to be profitable in the endeavor. This lady is not a wall-flower – and neither is she so delicate that she shuns hard work.
The second thing we see is that this woman is strong. She has girded her arms with strength. This strength is not from going to the gym all the time – but rather from good, old-fashioned hard work. She is planting a vineyard – working a field, then coming home to grasp the distaff and spindle to make yarn and eventually fabric from which to clothe and bless her family. Whatever the work – it is a good thing to have a wife who knows how to work hard. All this is delightful to her – for she senses that her work is good. She sees that the things she is doing are going to be a blessing to her family. She is earning money from which they can be blessed. She is planting a vineyard from which they can get grapes, grape juice, and wine. She is working hard to turn the lamb and sheep’s wool and cotton into cloth and eventually garments for her, her family, her servants, and even those to whom she sells them later in the passage. She even works in the evening time – not having her lamp go out at night for the purpose of blessing those whom she loves.
The excellent wife knows work – knows strength that comes from work – and senses and knows that a good work ethic is a blessing to her and to her family. First there is the direct gain to herself that comes from it. It is a good thing to desire to bless ourselves with our work. There is a self-interest that God has built into each of us that is beneficial to us if we use it to work hard. That self-interest though must go to bless others around us as well. The excellent wife wanted to bless her husband, her children, her servants, and even the men and women in the city as she worked hard to produce things of benefit. That selfless self-interest is what drives a beneficial economy. Things like socialism and communism have NEVER blessed a country and its economy. That is because they do not encourage work ethic. They do not encourage a selfless self-interest to be productive. They encourage instead a growing dependence on government as the driver of all things – and the one that determines who gets what in the end. Everywhere that has been practiced it has encouraged laziness and greater dependence on someone to give us more and more – even if we did not work to get it. The excellent wife knows that her example of hard work will do more than give the family a few more shekels. She will promote that same hard working ethic in her children and in others around her. She will provide goods for others – and will show people that hard work and frugality does bring blessing on those who practice it. In the end, the excellent wife knows that there is more to this than raising grapes . . . she needs to raise children and their children to many generations with the same hard-working mindset. That will last far longer than a bunch of grapes or any other products she labors to produce.
Proverbs 28:27 He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.
One of the things the Scriptures are certain about is the responsibility of the people of God to give to the poor. This proverb relates this responsibility in a way that reminds us of the Covenant God made with His people. That covenant often gets a bad reputation for being all about "thou shalt not's." Some think it is a religious buzz-kill - that only tells us what we cannot do. Those who think this way don't realize that there is great deal in the Old Testament Law that speaks of showing compassion and mercy.
Israel was an agrarian society - and as such there were a number of laws that encouraged them to provide for the poor. One of the things that they were told was to only harvest the land once - and not go over it a second time. This was the case with ground crops as well as things like olives and fruit, which are grown on trees. The extra was to be left for the poor. This was one way they gave to the poor - as well as with what were called, "alms" which were specific financial gifts given to care for the poor in society.
God intended for the poor to receive more than just money or food. The church is better equipped morally to help the poor than the government. Governments most often just give out money. Unfortunately this leads to government programs that do more to harm than help the poor. The phrase a hand up - rather than just a hand out comes to mind. Government has made laws that actually award immoral behavior by offering more help to those who have children out of wedlock. These kind of laws may help with the hand out - but they have a bad tendency to lock people into assisted living - rather than help them to eventually become self-reliant and self-sustaining. When the church offers help, they can address immoral behavior in a way that government cannot do. This is the way God desires for the poor to be blessed. He desires for a person's moral choices to be addressed, for often a moral choice leads to a blight on our financial state.
We are told here that the one who gives to the poor will never want. Another proverb states that when we give to the poor, we are lending to the Lord. When we do this - God will be sure to bless us and meet our needs. The second half of this proverb addresses what often happens when the poor are neglected. We do this by closing our eyes to the problem and to their needs. We simply shut our eyes - and then shut our hearts to their plight. This, according to God's Word, will bring to the one who does it, many curses. First there is the curse, which comes from not obeying God's law. That comes with a withdrawal of blessings from God. But there is also a curse that comes from the poor as well. They watch as the rich pamper themselves and ignore their situation. In some situations this reaches a fever pitch and results in revolutions and other violent confrontations. The French Revolution was such a reaction to the abuses of the rich.
God desires for His people - and His church - to care for and love the poor. Because the church has abdicated her role in this - the government has taken over this task. The result of our disobedience in this area is that the government begins to take greater and greater amounts of money to give to the poor. In the end, we are cursed with over-reaching government intrusion into our finances and our lives. We are also cursed with a government that in time realizes it can control the people through ever increasing gifts to the poor. This leads to a curse on those with any level of financial security in society, because the government must increase its revenues to continue the giveaways. This is why God wants His Word to govern such charity - because without something to guide us - our natural sinful tendencies will lead us to use our gifts to secure power or influence.
He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. Proverbs 28:19
Do something worthwhile. Do something that will provide for you and for your family. Work hard at it and work consistently at it. When you do this you will be blessed with plenty for your family. You may not become rich or wealthy in the world's eyes - but you will have provided well for your family. Today's proverb helps us to understand that hard work will be rewarded with plenty of provision.
Work ethic is something that is not natural to fallen mankind. It is something that needs to be instilled in children from a young age - and then encouraged as they grow older. Finally, a strong work ethic needs to be lauded in the public eye so that the entire society may be blessed. If we do not do this - the second half of this proverb will begin to infect an individual, a family, and from there, an entire society.
God does not want us to follow what He calls, "empty pursuits." The King James Version refers to this as "vanities." What does it mean to follow an empty pursuit. At its core, an empty pursuit describes itself. It is something we do - or something we pursue - that in the end leaves us empty. It is something that is not productive. We give time and effort to it - but in the end it gives nothing back. The end affect of this kind of "empty pursuit" is that we wind up with plenty of poverty. These kind of pursuits take from us, but give nothing back when we've finished them. And from the term used here - we have to "pursue" them. We chase after them - and they have at least the promise of something valuable. The truth though is that when we catch them - we are left with a harvest of air. They give us nothing.
I'm about to sound like a really old man to many who read this - so I wanted to offer a fair warning. The video game industry is one that has been slowly planting a crop in our society, that when fully harvested, will provide nothing. I am blown away when I talk with high school and college students who spend hours and at times entire days playing these games. They immerse themselves in these things and when they come up for air - they have nothing except a bountiful basket of poverty to show for it. One of the most dangerous parts of this trend is that it also manifests itself in addictive behavior in other ways. We have an entire generation (and if we are honest with ourselves, at least two now) who are bound up in activities that produce nothing. Between the video games, the time spent on facebook and twitter, as well as the growing trend to get on sites like Netflix and others that offer entire seasons of television shows (which are watched almost all day long) we are becoming a society that is following massive numbers of empty pursuits. What that is yielding is an ever growing populace that shuns hard work - and is completely entertainment-crazed.
It is probably an appeal that may fall on deaf ears, but we need to shut down our games, get off the internet, and give ourselves to something called "hard work." If you have not noticed, our nation is coming apart at the seams. We see a pervasive laziness and lack of work ethic that will only bring us plenty of poverty in the end. Our educational institutions are dumbing down their programs and requiring less of their students. If you think I am eggagerating, look at how we rank in the world in things like science, math, and overall productivity. I am not against recreation and times of play - but our play used to be getting out and doing something with others. Now it is dominated by sedentary games that focus on fantasy, violence, or seeing our avatar get with it at some video activity. May God grant a revival - not just of religious activity - but one that also yields a return to a godly work ethic. If we don't do this, we will see the poverty a-plenty that God predicts. If we do return to the blessing of hard work, we will see a blessing that will last far beyond our own lives. It will bless many generations. Here's to hard work!
When the grass disappears, the new growth is seen, And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in, The lambs will be for your clothing, And the goats will bring the price of a field, And there will be goats' milk enough for your food, For the food of your household, And sustenance for your maidens. Proverbs 27:25-27
These last three verses of Proverbs 27 are additional commentary on verses 23-24. Thus they deal with keeping watch or being aware of your flocks and herds. These verses are practical commentary on that activity. They are also very helpful to us who desire to build and maintain a godly work ethic in ours or any other society.
The first statement here seems like common sense to us. It speaks of the fact of the seasons and how one who tills the ground needs to be aware of them. When the grasss disappears, then the new growth is seen. There will be a time each year when the grass of the field dies in the fall and winter. The farmer is also reminded that during this time the herbs of the mountains need to be gathered into the barns. Again, this may seem like something that does not need to be said. The reason it is said is because, due to the fall, men are undisciplined and lazy. There is only a brief window of time that this can be done - and if not done at this time - the farmer will lose yield. If left undone for a long period of time - he will lose everything to decay, mildew, and decomposition.
This has something to say to us. We may not have grass oriented crops like hay, wheat, or barley. We may not have herbs on the mountains that should be gathered and put away for use in the next year. We do have responsibilities that fall to us though. Many of these things need to be done promptly. How many have received a late notice on a bill because we did not pay it "in season." Will this keep us out of heaven? No it won't, but for many it will mean anywhere from 20-50 dollars of lost wealth because we did not act "in season" to get something done that requires diligence in a certain time line.
More is said to us in verses 26-27, this time about principles of building and using wealth. Note that we are told that the lambs will be for our clothing. There is a reason to do all that the farmer does. He does not just grow grass. He diversifies into raising livestock. He has lambs that are for clothing. He has goats he milks not just for his own family to drink, but to sell so that he can buy a field with the profit. There is the wisdom of provision for oneself, and for the continued growth of wealth and provision for a family and a growing number of people who are dependent on your growing enterprises. Mentioned here are one's own household as well as one's maidens. Thus a wise man knows that the current level of wealth and provision today needs to be expanded as he expands his family and his business. What does this require? Hard work - and an attention to detail - at least an attention to doing things as they need to be done.
What is the wisdom for us today then, in light of these verses? The first wise thing we are to learn is that opportunity for blessings comes and goes. If we are not alert to the seasons of God's working, we will miss the blessing being unaware or lazy. Within the framework of His seasons, we need to act and work hard. The second piece of wisdom offered is this, our work blesses us for today - and for the future. The lifestyle lived from paycheck to paycheck is not a wise way to live. We work in such a way to bless us with today's provision - and to make wise choices for expansion of that provision as God blesses. The wise man lives in the moment and is thankful for what God has given him. There can be a danger of having greed enter our minds so that we make Nabalish choices to be selfish and self-centered. The rich farmer who thought his riches were only for his current enjoyment and pleasure found his soul in hell because he was not living for eternity. This, though, does not justify us in being foolish in expanding what we do for the sake of added family provision. There will be children and grandchildren. There will be expanded business opportunity that will bless additional employees. There will be changes in the market - changes in society - and changes even in the weather and providence. We should be wise enough to learn how to read such things and make adequate provision for them as God guides us.
Being godly and wise does not mean throwing our brains away. We can acquire business acumen and wisdom concerning how to be more productive. We can build a business while trusting and relying upon the Lord. That is what is being said here. May God give us wisdom to look to Him day by day - and yet still be wise enough to provide for an expanded future of blessings all as we look to Him for the blessings of today's provision and tomorrow's expansion.
He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit, And he who cares for his master will be honored.
Today's proverb will instruct us on how to be blessed by your master or your employer. For those who lived as slaves in the day in which this proverb was written, it applied to those who cared for their masters. In our day, when slavery is not practiced as it was in Biblical days, it refers to our relationship with our employers - of for that matter - anyone under whose authority we find oursevles.
The picture used here is that of someone who is tending a fig tree. The one who does this task will get to eat from the fruit of the fig tree. There may be an encouragment here to serve over a long period of time, due to the fact that a fig tree is a tree that lives a long time. It is also one that matures rather slowly. A great reminder for us who have been conditioned to think a certain way in our "fast-food" society. We think if we serve a week, or month, or even a year or two, we should be rewarded richly. The use of the fig tree should point us to faithful service over the long haul - not just a few weeks, months, or years. When we serve faithfully over a long period of time - our master or employer will consider us worthy to be honored. This is especially the case with wise employers.
The word used for "cares" in the second part of this verse is the Hebrew word "samar." This is a word that means to watch over, keep, preserve, or guard. The idea is not of grudging service. It points to a careful watchfulness. IT refers to those who pay closer attention to what their master needs. It also reminds us that this kind of "care" is not done with a bitter, resentful heart. It is done with a loving watchcare.
There is another reason to live this way towards those in authority over us. When we do this, we are leaving the sweet savory aroma of Christ with them. They watch how we love and serve them - and wonder at what it is that motivates us to live as we do. There will most likely be some kind of reward or blessing for that hard work - but there will be something far more valuable than silver, gold, or awards. There will be the questions that we can answer as they ask, "Why do you work harder than anyone else? Why is it that you work this way without complaining? Why do you live this way - with such a different work ethic as well as a desire to honor me as your employer?" These are the questions that they should be asking as we work as unto God in their business. When they do ask, our reply will be first to give glory to God for our work ethic - and then to turn to the gospel whereby our hearts were transformed to be different than the rest of the world. You see, our work ethic - our willingness to work as unto God - our desire to care for our master/employer with love and hard work - are all for the purpose of glorifying God and the gospel of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. So . . . let me ask you in closing - through your work ethic have you glorified God today? Has how you worked made a way for the gospel that has changed your heart? You see, we do not work to bless our master for the reward of his favor alone. We work for our Lord and Master first and foremost for the glory of His grace and mercy. The fact that our earthly master notices and rewards us are just perks that come as we live to make much of our Heavenly Master.
Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool. Proverbs 26:1
Israel was an agricultural nation - therefore when God communicated wisdom to them He often used pictures they knew in their agrarian society. That is what the Lord is doing in Proverbs 26:1. He is speaking of things that any farmer would immediately know is not fitting - or is very wrong. But what is even more wrong than that is the idea of giving honor to a fool.
There is an order to nature. God gave nature an order with the seasons that come to us each and every year. We move from spring to summer, then to fall to winter every year. When these things are out of place they are not just an anomaly, they are harmful. Snow in summer is not just a strange thing, it is a dangerous thing. Crops could be destroyed by a summer snow. Some plants won't grow or have their growth greatly stunted by events like this. Rain in the harvest is devastating. The harvest is typically a dry time where as plants mature and bear their fruit - then then dry and are prepared for harvesting. Rain makes this nearly impossible. Continued rain can even destroy crops by having them rot in the fields. Any man or woman of Israel would know this - and would say that "no fitting" is not strong enough to convey the problems such situations would bring.
What God is trying to indicate is that just as there is a physical order to creation - there is also a moral order to mankind. This moral order is once again His doing. To follow Him is wisdom - to ignore and even spurn Him is foolishness. Thus to give honor to a fool is not only turning over this moral order - it can be very harmful. A fool will deny the things of God. We read that the fool says in his heart there is no God. His works are ungodly and harmful to himself and all those around him. Thus when a fool is honored, he not only holds his foolish views himself - he infects others with them as well.
Our country currently is honoring fools in abundance. A series of atheist authors have been honored by having their works reach the best seller list. Hundreds of thousands have read the works of these fools who declare God is not great. An entire generation of young people have found atheism to be cool. The shocking statements of these men catch their fancy and thus they have read them - and subsequently followed them as well. Yet rather than see a renaisance of thought and blessing come to our land, just the opposite has happened. The glaring lack of character along with the nuclear attacks on any kind of moral code have brought great destruction to our land. The several crises that have arisen in recent months have not come from Christianity and moral turpitude run amok. To the contrary, they have come from people ignoring morals and workplace ethics. The supposed smartest among us from the Ivy League schools are at the very center of such ignoble actions.
What we learn from this is exactly what God is trying to tell us here. It is out of place to honor fools. It is unwise to exalt them and give them a greater platform from which to speak. To do so will be very harmful to ANY society. So, as it snows in summer - and rains in the midst of our harvest - may we recognize the fools among us. Even more important though is recognizing and realizing that their exaltation and honor has and will continue to bring great harm to the moral order God has established. Good things will not come of these unwise choices - and we will know this - if we listen to natures warnings, as well as God's.
Like clouds and wind without rain Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely. Proverbs 25:14
Have you ever met someone who boasts of incredible abilities to do something, only to find out when you actually need those services that they were inflated beyond their actual size by the imagination of the person's mind? That is what today's proverb deals with. It warns us about the dangers of eggeration - especially when it comes to skils of abilities that we possess (or maybe don't possess).
I live in Arkansas - and that means that in the months of July and August there is a lot of excitement when any clouds show up to our west. That is because we are hoping that in those clouds there will be a little known commodity called rain. What is truly discouraging is when the sky grows cloudy - and even sometimes dark - and the result is . . . nothing. There is the promise of rain, but the actual wet stuff itself never falls. The clouds come - the winds come - and nothing else comes with it. Our hopes are raised and we become very excited about the propect of rain, only to see dust stirred up and trees bend in the wind, but the main act, rain, just is not going to show today.
This is the metaphor that God uses to describe a man who boasts of skill - who boasts of gift that would help others - only to learn that he is eggagerating and lying of these things. You believe and hope in this man - only to learn that he is full of hot air - and little else. Some folks put their whole hope in such people and are crushed by the truth that their only skill is being able to tell tall tales of their supposed exploits. In the end their promise has as much worth as a 3 dollar bill. It may look good on the outside - even holding promise for being useful - but when you take it to a store, it is worthless. Beware of men who are all talk and little or no action. They will take your for a ride - and then leave you on the curb heart broken. Do not entrust yourself to someone unless they have shown by their words and their actions that they can deliver on what they've promised.
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.
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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