Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Growing up I remember many times when my parents would be concerned with who my friends were. One time in particular, they basically forbid me from continuing to hang out with a couple of guys. I was not too happy with the situation, but knew that disobedience to such a strong prohibition came with very real consequences. Little did I know but it would only be a couple of months later that they were caught shoplifting. I’m not sure what would have happened to me if I had been there with them – but that was not an issue because of the wisdom of my father and mother.
My dad never quoted this proverb outright to me – but he must have read it. More than once my parents would remind me that the company I keep would have direct implications on the character I later would possess.
Today’s proverb speaks of these very things. It speaks of a “walk with wise men” versus a “shepherding by fools.” First let’s look at the walk with wise men. The one who walks with wise men will be wise. The word for “walk” here refers to a journey or a walk from one place to another. The company during this walk was a wise man, or wise men. Proverbs 2:20 refers to it as a walk with good men and a pathway of the righteous. When looking for companions and mentors – we do well to look for people who have walked with God (Who Himself is the wisest companion to have on the roads of life). These people are characterized by the fact that they know God. This they have acquired over a lifetime of pursuing a relationship with Him through reading and knowing His Word. They have learned that obedience to God is the wisest way to walk – and seeing life through His perspective and Word is how to obtain this. Look for such people and surround yourself with them and their counsel. They will counsel you to walk closely with God – and learn to apply His Word to every situation in life. Their lives will have the sweet smell of God’s favor upon them (even if the world deems them less than a success by their standards). Such people will be humble, gracious, loving, kind – and yet strong and wiling to stand on God’s principles no matter what. The blessing for being around such people is that you will become one of them. The one who walks with wise men – will himself become wise. One thing I would add to this is that a wise man or woman will look for at least one wise man or woman with some age on them. The Word makes one wise – but wisdom over time is a rare thing to find. When you do – befriend the one who has it – and – listen to them often!
This one who grows wise in the company of wise men is contrasted with the “companion of fools.” The word companion here is the Hebrew word “ra ah” which means to tend or feed sheep – i.e. a shepherd of another. Here is one who is being shepherded by fools. He is fed and tended by them – having them lead him into their ways and their paths. The fools he considers friends and mentors are mentioned in several ways in Scripture. The word for fool is “kesiyl” and it means a fool or one lacking in wisdom. In Ecclesiastes 4:5 the fool is lazy, folding his hands in inactivity as his life wastes away. In that same chapter verse 13 uses this word to describe a young man who knows everything and will not be instructed by anyone around him. He even mocks those who offer wisdom – preferring His own foolishness to any advice or instruction. Psalm 49:10 refers to this fool as one who thinks his stuff will last forever and lives for it rather than any kind of spiritual pursuit of God. Proverbs 1:32 speaks of the fool as one who loves wayward living and not only ignores the wisdom of God – but in verse 22 we see him hating both the wisdom and the God who gave it. Psalm 92:6-7 reminds us that he also mocks the whole concept of God’s justice and judgment. Proverbs 3:35 reminds us that he displays his godless dishonor like a trophy – and finally Ecclesiastes 10:2 says that his heart (that hates wisdom) is always turning the wrong direction in life.
What happens to the one who has such foolish companions and mentors? The language here is a very pointed. He will suffer harm as a result of these leaders and friends. The word used here is quite descriptive. It is the Hebrew word “rua” – which referred to the deafening shout or blast that took place right before your enemy came upon you in battle. Such a shout was called a shout of victory – and to those about to be vanquished – it was the most terrifying sound you can imagine. Often those who heard it were not prepared for the devastating defeat they were about to receive. But when the shout rang out – their cockiness would be soon replaced by terror and fear. Too often that is how the foolish awaken to their folly. They are full of self-confidence and self-congratulation until disaster awakens them to their true state. The result of their poor choice of companions and commanders is ruin.
Unfortunately some will read this and mock – saying that they are doing fine. They will even point to a life where everything seemed pretty good for their friends and mentors. But whether we live in relative comfort, ease, and man-oriented success is not the measure of a man. The true measure of a man and the way he lived happens in the twinkling of an eye – in the moment after he leaves this world. We are reminded in Hebrews 9:27 that we have an appointment with death. This happens only once, “It is appointed for man to die once, then comes the judgment.” There is no second chance – no reincarnation to have another shot. When we die – we will either be present with the Lord – or wholly absent from His favor forever. In that moment it truly will be seen how wise it was to walk with people who are wise. And ultimately the One Wise Man with whom we should walk is Jesus Christ. It is by His wisdom we will escape so great a peril – so great a judgment – and forever enjoy so great a salvation. Walk with Him – be wise – and be blessed far beyond your days on this earth!
Proverbs 10:25 When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.
Tornados are very dangerous, destructive things. I should know because when I was around 4 one hit my house, ripping the roof off of it like a dollhouse. Fortunately we were in the basement of the home when it hit us and as a result were safe from its destructive force. The upper portion of our home was destroyed, but we were in the foundation of the house - and our foundation was strong and safe for us.
Our proverb of the day speaks of tornados and foundations. We are reminded of the destructive power of a whirlwind. The word used here is the Hebrew word “supah” which means a severe storm with very strong, destructive winds. For those in Israel they would think either of a type of hurricane that might strike the coast - or of the deadly storms that would sweep down the northern mountains into the Sea of Galilee, usually destroying almost anything that was on the waters. What is fascinating is that the whirlwind mentioned here refers to the judgment of God in every instance it is used except one. Thus the whirlwind mentioned here is the tempest of God’s holy judgment that will come one day. As a tornado or massive hurricane sweeps away everything before it - so the whirling judgment of God will sweep away the wicked.
In the midst of such a tempest the wicked will be no more. They will be taken and destroyed. But the righteous man will stand in that day. In fact the wise man reminds us that the foundation of the righteous is an everlasting one. Though the storm assails it, it is not moved. Such a picture immediately reminds us of our Lord’s teachings at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Two foundations are mentioned - one built on the rock, which is defined as those who hear and obey Jesus’ words. The other foundation - the one that represents those who hear but do not obey is a sand foundation. What is interesting is that both of these foundations experience storms and winds. But whereas the sand foundation is destroyed - the one founded on hearing and obeying God remains.
There are the normal storms of life that can wreak havoc on people’s lives. A foundation on the Word of God is strong in such times - whereas the sand foundation will crumble. But there is a storm coming - one that is beyond any storm known to man. It is the storm of the judgment of God. God is just and although He acts with tremendous mercy now - there will be a day when His ultimate justice will be satisfied upon rebellious mankind. The wicked may show a bold face - but there is something about an approaching force 5 tornado that reduces all men to shaking, trembling weaklings. There is something about the wrath of God that will melt all resolve and all facades of bravery. In that day the wicked will be swept away - carried off to destruction for all eternity. But what is truly amazing is the promise that the righteous have an everlasting foundation that will stand - even in that day. That foundation is righteousness that is from God on the basis of faith. That foundation is Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the payment of all sin. Only that foundation will remain - even as all others are forever swept away.
I have photo albums with pictures of the dreadful night that the whirlwind blew through Lockport, Illinois. There was destruction on a level that humbled even the strongest in our city. As a tornado bounced through my neighborhood it set its sites on my home. When it was over the home afforded no shelter as there were 2 by 4’s through the beds of everyone who lived there - and who truly would have died there. The only thing that stood on that night was the foundation - in which we took refuge from the whirlwind as it passed. There will be another day. It will be the end of all days as the ultimate whirlwind will descend. On THAT DAY we need to all know that once again, only the foundation will remain. And that foundation is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Take refuge in Him today!
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 29:16 When the wicked increase, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall.
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 Genesis 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 multiplying 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 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!
He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. Proverbs 26:27
This is not a proverb that explains why bad things happen to Wylie Coyote - even though at first glance it might. It is actually about those who plan to do evil to others. Those who set traps to catch others and have bad things happen to them are warned in this proverb that what they do will eventually happen to them. Let's take a look at what this means - and also see an example or two.
Those who dig a pit do so to catch someone in it. In biblical times people would dig pits and cover them for the purpose of catching more than just animals who would fall into them. These pits would be dug and covered with camouflage as well as wetted down on the sides so that whoever was caught in them would not have opportunity to escape. Those who caught the person would then either take them captive as a slave - or kill the one who fell into the pit. The reason a stone would be rolled is to be put on a steep hill so that it could then be rolled down to kill or badly injure someone who was coming through the valley. This was a tactic of thieves who wanted to steal what travellers would have as they went through valleys and along roads that were next to hilly or mountainous areas. The idea with a pit or with a stone was to injure or kill someone for evil purposes.
God warns that those who do such things will fall into a pit themselves. God also warns that the stone that is rolled with come back on them. This is not a reference to an actual pit or an actual stone rolling on them - but was a warning that God was going to hold them responsible for their wicked actions. A good example of this would be the story of Joseph and his brothers. The brothers threw Joseph into a pit with the original intention of killing him because of their jealous hatred of him. Joseph and his stinking varicolored coat reminded them every day that their father loved him more than them - so why not teach the little runt a lesson. Of course killing your brother is a little intense. In the end they decided just to sell him into lifelong slavery (their sibling rivalry was way more intense that what I remember with my brothers). They covered their tracks by dipping the hated coat in blood and telling their father that a wild animal killed Joseph. But the pit they dug - and the rock they rolled was going to come back on them one day.
The first "pit-experience" was when their father almost died from grief. Then there was the famine that came and caused them to have to go to Egypt where they had to ask for food from . . . wait for it . . . their snotty little brother who was now the second ruler of Egypt. What was very good for them was that their brother had far more mercy on them in their pit that they had on him when he was in theirs. They had rolled their stone on him - but he refused to roll his on them. He chose forgiveness rather than revenge.
The varied pits that you can fall into are as numerous as the ones you dig for others. It is amazing as I grow older to see all the various pits that people have fallen into after they've dug ones for someone else. It is a fact of life that what goes around comes around. That is the simple, one-sentence way to define this particular proverb. I just hope that we all remember that the next time we grab our shovels and start digging for someone else.
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 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.
The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the upright, But ruin to the workers of iniquity.
There is a lifestyle that comes with knowing and walking with the Lord. That lifestyle is laid out for us in the Scriptures as we read of the things that God loves and also the things that He hates. The proverb for today refers to these things as "the way of Jehovah." Let's take a look at this today and hopefully become wiser as a result.
The word "way" here is the Hebrew word "derek" which refers to a way, a path, a road - and is used often to speak of a way of walking or living. That is why when we see this word we should think of a lifestyle that one has due to the daily choices they make. The way or lifestyle of which we speak is that of the Lord. This word is Jehovah - which is the covenant name of God. So often in Scripture God will speak with His chosen people and lay out a covenant promise. These are usually worded as "if-then" statements. If you will follow the Lord, then He will bless you. What God seeks to do when He says these things is not set up a works mentality in our relationship with Him. What He is seeking to do is to encourage us to understand that making choices consistent with His Word and way will bring great blessing to our lives.
We are told here that this way of Jehovah - is a stronghold to the upright. The word for stronghold is the Hebrew word "maoz." It speaks of a fortress. That fortress is considered a shelter, a refuge, and a place of great safety. It is one that often worked in two ways. It provided natural defense points - but also was situated in such a way that one could easily see the enemy approaching. This gave those in the stronghold protection - and it gave them time to prepare for the coming enemy onslaught. Scripture indicates that God is that fortress - as well as our strength and defense (Psalm 27:1). As we walk with Him in His way - we will find a natural defense against sin - as well as warnings about the enemy and how he will seek to tempt us and get us to rebel against God. As we learn that "way" our lives will be changed by God's Word and His power. We will be delivered from sin - and will better know how to escape the lies of the devil daily.
But the same "way of the Lord" that is a stronghold to the upright - is ruin to those who choose to rebel against God. The word "iniquity" is very important for us to understand if we are to grasp the protection of God afforded to us by walking in His way. The word is from the Hebrew word "awen" and it means, "nothingness, mischief, emptiness, and vanity." The word is used to signify those who pursue meaningless things. They do not walk in God's Word or in God's way. They choose instead ungodliness - which leads them to chase after falsehood. God told us His Word is truth. That protects us - but it also speaks ruin for those who decide they prefer deceit and the lies of this world and of the devil. Another way "awen" is used is to signify an idol - which tells us clearly that those who run after iniquity have made a god of their own. They are worshipping an idol they have created - and prefer to have their idol confirm "their own" truth - as opposed to living by the truth of God - His Word. This is the ruin of the ungodly. They will receive no protection from God's way. Instead they will run headlong into God's wrath and judgment for their disobedience and deceitful choices.
Two ways are put before us in today's proverb. There is the way of making your own god and deciding your own truth. Such a way is foolish because it only amplifies the rebellion that is in the human heart due to the Fall of man. That way will ruin those who follow it. The other way is to choose a truth outside of ourselves. It is to realize the truth is not in us - it is in God. Therefore we choose to turn to Him. We choose to turn to the way He has given us His truth - the Word of God. We also choose daily to walk by His truth (the truth) knowing that by doing so we will have a refuge, a protection, indeed a stronghold to keep us from evil - and to keep us FOR fellowship with our loving, gracious God.
The rich man's wealth is his fortress, The ruin of the poor is their poverty. The wages of the righteous is life, The income of the wicked, punishment. Proverbs 10:15-16
To rightly understand the first proverb here in verse 15, we must push on to read it with the proverb in verse 16. If we do not do this, we will think that the acquisition of money is the end of man's existance. Although God encourages us to prepare for the future and to work hard so that through His blessing we may leave an inheritance to our children's children, this does not mean that gaining wealth is to be our highest aim.
We first learn of the fact that money can provide a measure of protection. The rich man's wealth is his fortress. There is much that a rich man can do to protect himself from harm due to his wealth. He is protected from much in life due to this. A fortress is a place one stays during an attack - it was a place of safety. For the rich man - his wealth can prevent him from a quick ruin by difficult circumstances. One example for us to remember is the wisdom of setting aside money for problems that we know will come in the future. The man who acquires some wealth can set aside money for problems that ARE going to come. In our society, if you own a car or other mechanical item, you are assured that a breakdown of some sort is in your future. If you spend everything you have - you will not have anything set aside for this difficulty. The wise man acquires wealth for this very purpose. He puts money away for the repair and replacement of such items. Therefore when a difficult time comes, he has money for these things. The poor man often is ruined by such situations. He does not know what to do and often sees ruin come to his financial picture because of debt he obtains seeking to fix or replace things or he just has to do without, which could be a very problematic hardship. Wealth can be a protection for us.
The problem with this proverb is that one might think wealth is the ultimate protection. Therefore we must gain wealth however we can. Such thinking is ungodly - and will lead to ruin, if not now - then in eternity. Therefore we have a clarification in the next verse. We are told that the wages or income of the righteous is life - which the income of the wicked is punishment. If we are seeking righteousness - a life that pursues God and desires to do what God says is true and just - we will be blessed. We may not have a tremendous amount of money - but we will have what is necessary at the end of the age. We will have life! The wicked though, however rich they may become, have a serious problem. Their income will be punishment. Thus a man may be tremendously wealthy by all outward appearances - but he may be dirt poor in spirit. The rich farmer in the gospels had enough to tear down his old barns and build new ones to fill with even more earthly riches - but the very night his soul was required - he was found destitute.
Remember that wealth and riches are defined in a number of different ways in Scripture. They may be physical wealth - or they may be spiritual riches in Christ Jesus. It is wise to remember that to be physically wealthy according to James is to be put in a humble place by God. It is difficult for an earthly rich man to enter heaven - because he has a bad tendency to trust his riches. To be poor is also defined different ways. Whereas it may be a bad thing to be financially poor - it is a blessed state to know that we are poor in spirit. Realizing these things will help us better define true wealth and true poverty.
On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found, But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding. Wise men store up knowledge, But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand. Proverbs 10:13-14
A godly mouth can be a great blessing to anyone who has one granted to him by the grace of God. Such a mouth, though given by God, must be disciplined to follow Him only - and not the foolishness of the natural man.
The wisdom of God is found on a certain kind of man. He is called a discerning man. The Hebrew word used here is "bin" and it speaks of someone who through the use of the Scriptures is able to determine the difference between what is of God and what is not. This discerning heart and mind instructs the lips of the wise man. We learn later in verse 14 that this man stores up knowledge. This knowledge is a practical knowing of God and of the world that is around him. Thus this wise man instructs his mouth with this knowledge. He learns to know much, but not always speak what he knows. He has learned that he can NOT say things and be a blessing. Thus he seeks to quell within himself words and statements that will unnecessaily disburb the peace in relationships. Many an argument and fight could be prevented if one or the other of the two combatants would have practiced this wisdom. They would keep their words to themselves - knowing that sharing their "knowledge" would be done more from pride than from love. We know from the New Testament that knowledge puffs up - but love edifies. We can share all our knowledge - and by doing so cause a disturbance as others react to our pride. The wise man stores up knowledge within - and only brings that knowledge out at the direction of the Holy Spirit - Who will direct him to use that knowledge to build up and encourage others.
We are also told of the fool - and his mouth. These two verses go together because they speak of the speech of one - and then the consequences of the other. The next verse reverses this order - trading the wise man for the fool in his speech - and the fool for the wise man in the reward or retribution that results. The consequences of the fool is a rod for his back. His words are the source of his punishment - for they evidence his foolishness and lack of regard for what is right. A proverb from the Talmud expresses this wonderfully when we read there, "that which a wise man gains by a hint, a fool only obtains by a club." The wise man learns - instructs his mouth and heart with that wisdom - and therefore avoids problems and public discipline. The fool chooses to let his mouth run - and with that overactive mouth - ruin comes to him.
Biblically we can remember the difference between Solomon and his son, Rehoboam. Solomon began his reign seeking God and requesting wisdom from Him. His son Rehoboam had an opportunity to win over the people - but chose the foolish counsel of his friends. That led him to speak harsh, unkind, oppressive words to the people. In the end he lost all but one tribe - which God granted to him because of His promise to David. But how the foolish mouth granted him much destruction and difficulty. The wise mouth, though, was blessed in many wonderful ways. So take the time to listen - and allow God's wisdom to sink deep enough into your heart so that it instructs your mouth on what to say. Doing this promotes blessing.
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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