Proverbs 12:5 The thoughts of the righteous are just, But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.
Today we have a simple proverb that contrasts the righteous and the wicked. One of the things that the Word of God makes very simple is knowing the difference. Our world is confused about such matters and finds it odious that anyone - even God - would categorize people into two such groups. That is what happens though when men decide that they themselves will determine what is good and evil - which was the choice that was made in the fall of man. Man decided that he himself would stand as ultimate authority over good and bad - right and wrong. What is fascinating is that modern man has come to despise the whole idea of wrong, wickedness, and sin. There is no such thing for modern man. Maybe there is a lack of education - or a willful ignorance of the barbaric nature of anything like absolute truth. Nevertheless wisdom is gained by being able to detect differences - to discern right from wrong - and even to begin to see how men and women come to think, know and act according to what is just or what is deceitful.
The first thing God makes clear for us is that the righteous are clear in their thinking. Their thoughts are filled with justice. “But what is just?” you may ask. How does someone determine the difference between what is just and what is unjust? For the righteous man identified in Scripture, God determines what is just. Thus the thoughts of the righteous, which are just, are determined from what is written in the Word of God. This is not a problem for the believer who knows that God’s character is perfect, wise, loving, gracious - and yet also just, righteous, and holy. This also means that the righteous man will not be tainted by selfishness or by self-interest. He will desire justice apart from the corrupting influences of this world or even of his own selfish heart. That is a good thing because issues like greed, sensual lusts, bitterness, racism, and any other myriad of problems that have come due to the fall of man into sin will not dominate the righteous man’s judgment. He has chosen to die to himself and live to make decisions based on what God says it proper. One of the things God said to leaders and to those who were given the responsibility of judgment among His people was that they were not to act with favoritism or to take a bribe to pervert justice. They were to judge according to what God said and had revealed in His Word.
As God compares the righteous to the wicked there is a major difference. The counsels of the wicked are revealed to be deceitful. Their judgments are tainted with deceit and lies. Their judgment is clouded by selfishness and a desire to please themselves. They can be bought with the right price to pervert justice. The word “counsels” is important for us to see here. The word “tahbulah” meant counsel or wise advice. The problem for the wicked is that they ignore God’s advice and counsel and appeal to their own selfish and self-centered heart. That is why justice comes out wrong when they seek to offer it.
King Saul is an excellent example of how this works. When he began as the king he adhered to God’s counsels. He listened to the prophet Samuel and followed the Lord fully in the early years of his kingdom. But when he was told to destroy the Amalekites he decided to take counsel within himself. He destroyed everything he saw that was bad - but then decided to keep everything that was not despised. He even kept wicked king Agag alive - as a trophy for himself before other nations. God was grieved that Saul had moved from the wisdom of the righteous to the self-interest of a godless man. In time Saul would continue on his path of self-centered, wicked counsel. It would lead him to make an attempt to kill godly David some 24 times. It would goad him to murder the priests of the Lord when he thought they were working with David to overthrow him. The ungodly counsels of his own heart were so treacherous that when he was desperate to hear from God on the eve of the battle that would cost him his life, he turned to a witch and tried to speak to the dead to get answers for himself.
Who is your counselor in life? Is there a standard - a truth you turn to as you seek to live in this world? The wicked turn to themselves and to an ever-changing code of ethics based far more upon their own lusts and desires than on anything remotely close to wisdom. The righteous man has learned the secret of living by God’s perfect, holy counsel. He has learned to come to God and His Word and humble himself to obey what God says. Such a lifestyle may not always be the most comfortable - but in the end - it is the wisest way to live.
Like a madman who throws Firebrands, arrows and death, So is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, "Was I not joking?" Proverbs 26:18-19
I like to call this the, "Practical Jokes" proverb. That is because it describes what can happen when practical joking gets out of hand. Unfortunately, I've watched a few of these in my day and they can get ugly in a hurry.
The proverb speaks to us of a certain madman. This guy is out of control. He is throwing three things in his insanity. The first is firebrands - which are akin to something like a flaming arrow. This crazy guy is also shooting regular arrows. The third thing he is dealing in is death. The first two are easy to understand, but this last one is a little more cryptic. I see the final thing in light of what happens due to the deception. He is throwing around these things that hurt physically - but he is also throwing something that hurts emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. He is throwing "death" - he is killing relationships and injuring people so that they are dead to him emotionally. His actions are hurting things and killing someone's ability to be around him - interact with him - and receive anything from him. So we see three pretty rough things going on here. All three are destructive and can cause great harm. The interesting thing is that since he is a madman - his aim may not be the best. From how this is stated, it seems as if a rather random pattern is being followed in how these things are being shot and thrown. Thus he will not hit everyone, but when he does, it is going to hurt badly. It might even kill someone. What could this be describing? Let's look, because the answer is given in verse 19.
Verse 19 tells us that the comparison is to a man who deceives his neighbor - then tells him he was only joking. First of all we need to see that this man does these things to his neighbor. The term here implies more than just a casual relationship. Some passages imply a relationship as close as a close friend or even a lover. What he is doing to his neighbor is that he is "deceiving" him. The word here is "ramah" and it means to intentionally deal craftily with someone. Other ways it is used is to indicate lies, betrayal, crass jokes, and even pulling a trick on someone. That is definitely the case here in Proverbs 26:18-19. What is going on is that a trick or a crass joke is being played on a person by his neighbor, which is pretty much the definition of a practical joke.
If we did not know the nature of this proverb through the word "ramah" - things become much clearer as we see that after this man deceives his neighbor - he eventually lets him know about it by saying, "Was I not joking?" There it is - a practical joke, pure and simple. But why is this such a strong statement? Is God adamantly opposed to all practical jokes? From what I read here I cannot say one way or the other. This is just a warning about consequences.
A day is coming when the practical joker is going to play a joke on someone and it is going to blow up in his face. He is like that madman randomly shooting arrows. Most will fall relatively harmless to the ground. They won't hit any real target. But every once in a while he will strike something - actually someone. When that happens - problems are coming. In some cases real harm comes to someone in a practical joke. Somebody gets physically hurt - and at times it is a bad injury. In other situations the pain is much worse - because it is emotional and relational. I've actually watched relationships broken forever or for a long time because of a practical joke gone bad. These are very sad things to watch because the joke was meant to be funny (at least to the one doing it - and to everyone watching the person humiliated). But at times the humiliation breeds anger. That is why God warns us about it.
In all honesty - when I consider that most practical jokes are done to humiliate someone - or at least to laugh at their expense - I think that a wise man should probably avoid them. He knows that such an action may result in an offended brother. And from other proverbs he knows that if this happens that brother will be very hard to win back. That is why the wise man decides against such actions. But before you think I am a 'stick in the mud' on this issue - you should know that I have been the mark of many practical jokes. How do I respond them? I laugh with those who did them . . . sometimes threaten retaliation . . . and usually end up forgetting them and thinking, "You got me good!" It is good to have a sense of humor - and an ability to laugh at yourself. Just remember that some won't - and when that happens - it's going to be bad - very bad.
He who hates disguises it with his lips, But he lays up deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart. Though his hatred covers itself with guile, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. Proverbs 26:24-26
This proverb is about how people can hate you in their heart while all the time speaking what seem like pleasant words from their mouths. It has to do with deceitfulness, guile, and ultimately . . . wickedness. A wise man read these things and learns that just because someone is "for you" with their words does not mean that they are really with you in the end. There are some who speak wonderful words in public, but their feelings and their support in private is a wholly different matter.
Most people do not speak openly about their hate of another. To do such a thing would immediately characterize them in a very negative light. It would also expose them in such a way that they would have no more influence with that individual - or with anyone who thinks favorable of them. Therefore it is better for the ungodly man to disguise his hatred. This, according to God's wisdom, is done with his lips. He speaks graciously of the one he hates, All this is done for the sake of appearance only. The whole time he speaks graciously and kindly of this man - he has quite another thing going on inside his heart. We are told that he is laying up deceit in his heart. He is deceiving others - and in some ways even deceiving himself. He hates the man he speaks kindly of - and considers him an enemy.
We are warned that when we come to a man like this, we need to look into his heart. There is lying within his heart - and there are also abominations - 7 of them to be exact. What are these abominations? There are a couple of possibilities. Jesus spoike of seven woes in Matthew 23. These were curses on the Pharisees and Saducees for the hypocrisy that they practiced. Here we have a man who hates his friend or acquaintence, being the picture of hypocrisy by speaking well of him and yet hating him in his heart. The seven thing Jesus speaks of may be similar to the abominations in this man's heart. This also may be related to the seven things God says He hates in Proverbs 6:16-19. The list here is full of things God absolutely despises. The way I lean on this is that the number seven used here speaks more of perfection. There is a perfect hate - that leads to a perfectly abominable attitude and heart filled with evil and hypocritical actions and thoughts toward this one who is hated.
The warning here I think is twofold. First of all, don't be a man like this. Don't be someone who speaks hypocritically of another - saying positive, gracious things about them while all the while holding hatred and wicked, abominable thoughts and plans in your heart. To live this way is so harmful to our spirit. It is also to embrace attitudes that are completely foreign to Almighty God and those who are transformed by the Holy Spirit to be more like Christ daily. The second lesson for us is learned as we hear a warning from God. Such a man as this will be exposed in the end. His hypocrisy and his falsehood will be revealed. The assmbly will see the duplicity of this man - for God Himself will expose him in the end.
Consider this one example as we draw our thoughts about this proverb to a close. Judas was the ultimate example of this proverb. He was with Jesus for three years - and yet in the end sold him for a slave's price as he betrayed the Lord. During that time Judas never exposed himself publicly as an enemy of Christ. Even his betrayal was false as he betrayed the Son of God with a kiss. He was unwilling for his heart of hatred and greed to be exposed publically - and yet it was exposed. In the gospels we learn that Judas was a thief who stole money out of their money box. He was a man who criticized the beautiful expression of Mary's love when she anointed the Lord's feet with her perfumed oil worth a year's wages. Judas spoke only because he knew such a stash would have netted him so much more money he could embezzle later. God fully exposed Judas' hypocrisy - revealing in the gospels all the lies, deceit, and guile that he hid for three years. In the end he was exposed - showing both his hypocrisy and his horrific end - hanging from a tree dead and hopeless.
Do not be a betrayer - a liar - and a fraud in your friendships. Speak the truth - and if it is hard truth to hear - speak it in love. Don't hide things by sounding one way with your friend - and a wholly different way when you are not physically with him. This is a lifestyle that God calls an abomination. Be a true friend - an honest one - and one who is the same whether seen or unseen. Such a friend is like The Lord.
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.
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, How much more when he brings it with evil intent! Proverbs 21:27
When I first read this passage I thought to myself, "Why would the wicked even want to sacrifice?" Then as I meditated on the passage and read through John Gill's commentary on it I began to see the reasons why this would happen. This will be a very eye-opening proverb if you had the same question as I did - because at the core of the wicked man's sacrifice is his own self-deception in regard to God and the true purpose of religion and religious observances.
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to God becasue the wicked think they can do an end run around God's law by offering it. They walk through religious actions thinking that it pacifies God - yet allows them to continue to walk in a way that ignores His glory and disobeys His law. One of the ways that this was done in the former (and in some places it continues to this day) days of the church was through the practice of confession and penance. The religious person would go to a priest and confess their sins to him. Then the priest would give them some kind of religious punishment - to recite some religious writing or saying so many times. This would be their penance - or payment for their sinful actions. The religious person would then recite the required things - pay the required price - do the required works - and then go on their way. The problem was that often the religious person had no intention of stopping the actions they confessed as sin - they were just paying up to the point of the past week - so that they could soothe their guilty conscience before going out to another week of sinful choices and behaviors.
Two problems exist with this view. First, is there is no REpentance going on in their life. God requires repentance for His people. They are to come sorrowing for their sins - but also with a desire to turn from them and do them no more. The second problem is even greater - becasue no amount of human effort will ever pay for sin. Only the blood of Jesus can do that. Even having repentance won't work - without faith in Jesus Christ and what He did to pay for our sins by the blood He shed on the cross. We do not need some kind of continuous religious rite to come to God at the start of each week - we need the full on gospel! We need to turn from sin in repentance and turn to Jesus Christ as the ONLY way that our sin can be forgiven. Then we go away from our time with God with a new heart and a new spirit - one that is not going back to its old ways like a dog to its vomit, but rather one that embraces God's ways - as they are now written on his heart. This new man in Christ is different - and walks in the power of God and the regeneration of God to change and walk in godly paths.
The second half of this passage goes even further in what the first half says. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to God. But there is even a greater wickedness, which is when they bring it with an evil intent as well. What this speaks of is the deceived one who brings his sacrifice - but does so thinking he is deceiving even God - and can trick God into doing evil for him because of it. We have a biblical example of this very thing in the Old Testament.
In the book of Numbers we run into two characters that baffle many of us. The first is a man called Balaam, who was a seer - a sooth-sayer of sorts. There was also a king named Balak who desired to hire Balaam to get God to curse Israel so that he could defeat them in battle and keep them from taking his kingdom from him. Balak sent important people to Balaam - and eventually got him to come to him. Balaam was a wicked man who thought God's Ok to go (after God said He would NOT curse Israel) was also an OK to make a lot of money from Balak by using a sacrifice to God to get God to do evil to His people. After a rebuke from a donkey who acted to save his life - Balaam listened to God a little closer - and was warned to only say what God said - or what God put into Balaam's mouth to speak. Three times Balaam offered the sacrifice of the wicked to God - hoping against hope that he would be able to do what Balak wanted - and make a fortune in the process. Three times the sacrifice of the wicked - offered with evil intent - was turned against Balak and Balaam in order to bless Israel. In the end, Balaam tried to destroy Israel with his wicked counsel - by getting the women in Balak's kingdom to go and commit adultery and fornication with the men of Israel. Fortunately the godly son of Aaron, Phinehas, brought God's judgment to an ungodly Israeli man who was about to have an adulterous relationship with one of the daughters of Moab - and delivered Israel from their insanity.
There are still those like Balaam and Balak who think that they can pay God off to do what they want Him to do. They will try every kind of religious game and exercise possible to do this. But the end will always be the same - that God - who hates their sacrifices - will not be bought off or deceived to do things after their will. He will instead look at their offerings as abominations - and will curse rather than bless them. The fact is this - God is ultimate and supreme - He is sovereign and the One Whose will will be done. It is wisdom to shun the sacrifices of the wicked - to shun the idea that we can pay God off by some religious offering. The wisdom of God is this - to come to God as He has designated. We are to come through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We come not to get our own way - but rather to be transformed by an intimate relationship with God and do His will for His glory.
Differing weights are an abomination to the Lord, and a false scale is not good. Proverbs 20:23
It is interesting to see how seriously God takes the business dealings of His people. God desires for His people to be an example of His grace - and a testimony to things like honesty and integrity. There is no better place to see this than in the business dealings of a wise and godly man. Too often I run into the attitude that a man's business life is separate from his religious one. The fact of Scripture is that Jesus is Lord - not just of our "church-time," but of every moment we are alive. This means that the way that we act in business should also reflect God's glory to others.
In the society of Solomon's time everything was measured with weights and scales. Since it was primarily an agrarian society farmers and those who raised livestock would bring their goods to market where the crops and the animals would be weighed and valued. Once the price was established - even the money they were paid would then be weighed out so that they could be paid. When you realize this you can see why God speaks of differing weights and false scales. This was what unscrupulous businessmen would do to cheat the system. Their scales would have weights that were supposed to weight a certain amount, yet they would have two sets of weights - one accurate and another that would cheat their customers by being lighter than they should be. Others would have false scales that would underweigh whatever was put on them.
There are ways that men cheat today in business - and they are as varied as the ungodly men and women who use them. Some use kickbacks to get business - while others "cook the books" to embezzle money from their bosses. Some just steal from their business and hope no one catches them. But God is not just interested in the big-time offenders, He hates even the little embezzlements that happen and are overlooked. In fact God uses the word "abomination" to describe how He views dishonesty and a lack of integrity. This word means something utterly loathesome and hated. How does God feel about dishonesty and a lack of business integrity? He despises it - hates it - and considers it loathesome. Really can't be much more clear about something than that now can we?
God's character is impeccable. He is faithful and true. He has never failed to fulfill any of His promises or judgments for that matter. When He says something He means it - and you can bet your very life on it. He is infinitely honest and throughout all eternity He has a perfect record of integrity. Remember dear saints of God that God desires for us to reflect His glory to this world. It was why we were created - to know Him and to reveal His character and love to the world that is all around us. This is why the business world is a key place for a godly witness of integrity and honesty for Him. Rather than think that God separates this part of our lives from our relationship with Him - we should see that this is a perfect place to know Him - and make Him known. When I say this I am not referring to leading a Bible study or sitting down to share the gospel with co-workers - although these things are important in time. But before you do these things it is so important to be a godly example in front of all your colleagues. They need to see your faith as well as hear it. And being a man of integrity and honesty - a man whose word is his bond - a man who can be trusted to care not just for his own interests, but also for those of his customers - being that kind of man is how to truly glorify God in the workplace.
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal faithfully are His delight. Proverbs 12:22
God does not like lips that lie. That might be because the ultimate adversary He has is called a liar and the father of lies. It also might be because God speaks truth without any mixture of error any time He speaks. God is absolutely opposed to lying, liars, and any form of deception. He says in this proverb that he sees lying as an abominable act. The devil believed and held to, and eventually stated a lie when he fell from heaven. Since that time the adversary of God and our souls has attempted to build his own kingdom, one based upon lies and deceit. These lies oppose God and all that He is. That is why God finds ALL lying abominable. Every lie is a damning thing, for it was the lie that brought our condemnation, and it is a lie that condemns anew every moment of every day. Embrace a lie and you are embracing the devil and his program to bring you into the judgment of God.
God delights in the faithful. It is because of God's faithfulness that we are saved. It is because of how God held to the truth, even when it meant having to condemn His own Son for becoming the sin-bearer for mankind. Being a faithful one means holding fast to God's truth, which is THE truth. God delights in those who deal faithfully, because they are embracing His own character. Think about it for a moment. The devil lies to us wanting to get us to believe his lies so that we turn from God and His Word. We trust the devil because he promises us happiness and pleasure. The problem is that in the end his promises don't include the "fine print" of the judgment that awaits - along with the heartbreak and death that always come with sin. Godly, wise men deal faithfully because they know God's truth and they carry within them God's character in the person of the Holy Spirit. Therefore they live for the truth as well as live it out daily.
Wisdom is living out the truth. It is being faithful to God. It is speaking faithful promises. And ultimately it is sharing the ultimate faithfulness of God shown to us in the gospel. This is the life in which God delights. Wisdom is loving that life, living that life, and being an example of His faithfulness.
Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy.
What are you doing as you walk through life? Are you among those who are plotting evil or with the ones who are promoting peace. Today's proverb shows the contrast between these two things.
First we see those who are plotting evil. What is interesting about this is many who would fall into this category would not agree that they are plotting anything. Yet - because they choose to reject God's Word as truth - and instead make up an argument for their own truth - they are indeed plotting the demise of those with whom they speak. On the day of judgment they will learn the awful truth that their deceitful speaking misled many to where they now stand in the same judgment they do.
Our proverb describes the heart condition of those who devise evil. Their hearts are said to be filled with deceit. The word here is mirmah. It means to intentionally mislead someone by either distorting the truth or withholding the truth from them. The fact stands in all of history that God's Word IS truth. That eternal fact will never change. But there are those who do not acknowledge that God's Word is truth. They hold to another "truth" which is nothing more than error. Because they hold fast to their version of truth - they now hold fast to lies. This means that as they spread them - they are misleading others as to what is truth. They are also intentionally withholding from their students the truth of God's Word. This is deceitful - since truth is readily available to anyone who will read the Word of God with an open mind and heart. What is truly fascinating is the word used for the evil that these people devise. The word for "devise" used here means to plow or till the soil. Hosea uses this same metaphor when he speaks of how Israel was "plowing wickedness" and reaping God's justice as a reward for what they had sown (see Hosea 10:13). The so-called truth of the ones who deny Scripture - is nothing more than a falsehood and lie that is deeply tilled into the hearts of those who are their students. This plowing with falsehood and evil will one day reap a harvest of judgment if God does not intervene. They are simply plowing evil into the hearts of men - and that plowing will one day reap the wrath of God.
The godly man or woman is one who is a "counsellor of peace." These are the ones who bring the truth from the Word of God and present it to men. They bring the gospel to those who realize that they are facing a dire future in their sins. To be a counsellor of peace is to be a man or woman who presents Christ to the lost. There is no peace for the wicked - but for those who humble themselves - there is great joy and peace. May God make each one of us a counsellor of peace - and an individual who works alonside the prince of peace so that the ultimate message of God's peace, the gospel, may be understood - received - and the cause of great joy to those who hear it with faith.
Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment. Proverbs 12:19
Here is a proverb that seeks to teach us that it is not only better to speak truth than lies, but it is also far more permanent as well. Truth will stand forever. When we speak the truth we are speaking something that is not just true for that moment. Truth is truth no matter what the time frame or generation.
Here is something we desperately need to grasp in our current arrogance. Philosophers of the day hold that there is such a thing as truth for a generation - or for a person. That is nothing more than falsehood. Truth stands as truth no matter the time in which it is spoken. To have truth that is only truth for a time - or a generation - or a nationality - or an individual person is to state that in the end, there is no truth at all. If truth is changing due to the circumstances of the ages or the whims of the populace - it is not truth but rather is the preference of the moment, season, or century.
Truth by its very epistemological nature is always truth. Men do not know this because they reject God - Who alone can speak from Himself eternal truth, which we know in our world as absolute truth. He can speak such things because He is eternal. He is all places at all times, and knows all things everywhere at once. Can we truth any other one to speak with such knowledge and experience? There is none.
Truthful lips will be established forever. Although there is not truth that is applicable to only a single generation, people, or individual, there is the ability to speak truth in the midst of a generation - to a specific people - or even to an individual. When we do this - God will establish our "truthful lips" forever. Many have spoken and written expounding upon God's truth - and have blessed their generation. For those who have been preserved in print - they can bless multiple generations. God will establish their words for they submit to His. Remember this if you want to speak in a way that will be blessed forever. Speak according to His Word and He will establish yours.
There is another speaker - one who speaks lies. That lying tongue will only be for the moment. I think of all the books written, all the articles penned and typed, all the scripts that were authored, and all the plays, movies, and television shows that were ever produced. The ones that reject God and a biblical worldview are legion. In the moment in which they are written, men fawn over their authors - and have even developed sychophantic award shows during which they pat one another on the backs for their achievements. Too often we bow at the feet of those with an Pulitzer, an Oscar, a Tony, or some other form of self-congratulating award as if they deserve to be heard and heralded. Yet if their words do not agree with those of God - they will pass as so much more dust to dust. Their lying words that do not give glory to God will not be remembered past the annals of this earth. They will fade into oblivion as their authors, who decided that they did not need a Savior or the absolute truth of the gospel, spend eternity in endless flame and horror.
In every generation the wind of heaven blows and the grass fades. Every century has watched the flower fall to the ground and the glory of man buried under another civilization. Yet in the midst of all the years there is one thing that has never changed and will never change in a thousand more generations. The Word of our God stands forever. We are to speak according to a Word that will not pass away. We should state those things that will last forever. May God deliver us from lying lips - and instead grant to us faithful and truthful lips that delight in speaking His Word. Such lips as these will last forever - not because of their own worth - but because of the infinite worth of the Word that they speak.
He who speaks truth tells what is right, But a false witness, deceit. Proverbs 12:17
Today's proverb has a picture to paint for us about being a person who speaks truth and what is right, or a person who is deceitful and untrustworthy in what they say. The picture that is painted for us is framed by the Hebrew word used for "speaking" that is mentioned first in this verse. The word used here is the Hebrew word "puah" which means to breathe. It refers to how we breathe out. This is a word used in a poetic way in the Old Testament. In the Song of Solomon it speaks of the day breathing. This refers to how the shadows of morning flee at the appearance of the sun. Here in Proverbs 12:17 it refers to the way that we speak - but not just in a specific situation. It refers to our lifestyle - or - what kind of things come out of our mouths in every situation in life. Of course what we see in the rest of the proverb is that we either speak truth or deceit.
There are those who speak truth and what is right. "Truth" is the word "emunah" which refers to something true and faithful. The primary thing being communicated with this word is faithfulness. Through the rest of the Bible the word speaks of character - God's in Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 33:4, 100:5, and 119:90 - and that of people in 2 Chronicles 19:9, Proverbs 12:22, and 28:20. When someone is speaking truth - they are being faithful in what they say. The whole proverb says that they are speaking faithfully - and what they speak is finally defined as "what is right." What does all this mean in the end? The faithful man or woman declares what is right. The word for right is "tsedeq" which is the word that speaks of righteousness - or right by God's standard. It is an ethical word that referred to God's justice and righteousness as represented by the Law of Moses - and by the reaffirmation of God's Word by the prophets. Here, though, is how this works out for you and me in the 21st century.
Situational ethics unfortunately rules the day in our world. Everything is negotiable. There is no absolute truth - except what you yourself are comfortable in holding - and even that only applies to yourself (except when you are uncomfortable with your own standards - and then you can change those too). What is left is a society founded upon shifting sands. But as the people of God - the people saved by His grace - we will stand out like brightly painted, fully lit up sore thumbs! We are those who regardless of public opinion - hold faithfully to God's Word as our source of truth and what is right. We not only believe this in our thinking - we also faithfully speak it out of our mouths. In the midst of a world where the winds of change and compromise drive the public conscience wherever they blow - we are a biblical breath of fresh air when we speak. To some we will be a breath of death - but to those who are being saved - it will be a breath of life to life.
At this point I am going to say some things that will most likely offend people - yet they need to be said. Too often a statement is made like the one above - and yet people will interpret it according to their "situational ethic" mindset. Thus what is right once again is mired in personal opinion. A faithful truth-teller will speak up when it comes to biblical ethics and righteousness. That means that they will speak up about biblical sexuality. Biblical sexuality is abstinence before heterosexual marriage - followed by faithfulness to one spouse in that heterosexual marriage until death parts them. Thus a faithful truth-teller will oppose heterosexual immorality and homosexuality, as well as their off-shoots living together outside of marriage and homosexual marriage. A faithful truth-teller will state that abortion is wrong - in all cases. A faithful truth-teller will openly stand for racial harmony - and will view racism as evil and sinful. A faithful truth-teller will state that we are to oppose greed and selfishness by giving to the poor - but will also say that providing for able bodied people who can work is wrong. Everywhere God's Word makes an statement of ethical morals - the faithful truth-teller will stand - and will speak it. And . . . just in case a person decides to speak the truth - but not speak it in love - the faithful truth-teller will remind them that the spirit in which you say something (i.e. not like a jerk - and with grace and mercy - yet saying what is true even if the truth itself is offensive) is as important as the truth itself.
There is a second kind of wind that blows from the words that people speak. It is the false witness who speaks deceit. The false witness is the one who speaks lies and vanity. The word is used of those who were false witnesses in a trial - who lied on the stand. It refers to a person who says vain things and lives their life in vain. There is little or no other purpose to their existance than to live for themselves and love themselves. Their deciet is an intentional misleading of others by either distorting or withholding the truth from them. Their deceit is evidenced by the fact that there IS absolute truth - but they will not state it or hold to it. As offensive as some will take this - the false witness is the one who does not speak according to the ethical and moral standards held by God's Law and the entirety of Scripture. There IS a right and wrong! God gives it to us by His divine authority - and has revealed it to us in the Scriptures. Not holding to this - or trying to twist it in any way - is being a false witness.
When it comes to your words - what kind of breath flows from you throughout your day? Are you one who breathes forth deceit. Please understand that in our culture this person is the norm. They breathe forth the lies of our immoral and biblically unethical society. We hear them every day on the news - in our entertainment - everywhere. You and I are to be a breath of fresh air. They may not see it as fresh because they have been breathing in the sulfuric lies of the pit for a lifetime. But to speak lovingly and biblically is to speak fresh, life-giving air to those all around you. Speak the truth. Speak faithfully. Speak life-giving, fresh air to all with whom you come into contact! Be a faithful truth-teller!
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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