Proverbs 13:13 - The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, But the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.
We are advised in this proverb to have a healthy fear of the commandments of God. This is not a slavish fear that God will strike us at any moment. But it is a genuine fear and respect that what God commands He intends for us to obey – and when He warns that a person who disobeys is choosing not just rebellion when they do – but ruin as well.
The proverb of the day today begins with a warning to those who despise the Word. Some try to make this a word spoken by a teacher or instructor – but in the second half of this proverb we are told of the one who “fears the commandment.” This refers to God’s commands in Scripture. So we are introduced to the one who “despises” God’s Word.
The word used for despise here is the Hebrew word “buz,” which means to despise, disrespect, or to hold in scorn or contempt. Here is the unwise person who hears God’s commands and has no respect for them. The person holds himself and the thinking of his own mind in higher regard than what God commands. He knows better how to live and what will make him happy than an ancient book. What is interesting is that this rebel is told that the more he despises it the more he will be in debt to it. That sounds like a strange statement until you grasp it from the Biblical viewpoint. If God has created man for His own purposes and plans – it is not odd to see that man has an obligation to obey His creator. If we understand that we will give an account to God on the Day of Judgment for our actions and for our disobedience to His word – then this begins to make perfect sense.
The more the person despises God’s Word – the greater debt he begins to accumulate to it. “Habal” is the word used here for debt and it comes from a root word that means to wind a rope tightly around something or someone – to bind them with it. The word itself is a root word for our word obligation. The idea is that as he acts and thinks contemptuously against God’s word – God nevertheless binds him to obedience to His Word. The more he disobeys the tighter is wound the case against him by the commands of God. He will not be free from this pledge until one of two things happens. Either he is redeemed from the debt he has obtained – or he is punished by the authorities when he unable to pay it. Suddenly the words of Jesus make perfect sense, “Forgive us our debts (indebtedness to God’s commands). As this proverb asserts – the more we despise the word by disobeying it – the greater is our indebtedness to that very command we despise and disobey. We claim freedom by our rebellious actions, yet nothing is further from the truth. Every disobedience only tightens the ropes that bind us as we await the day of recompense from the One Who gave that Word.
The one who fears the commandment will be rewarded! The fear here is one that respects and honors God. But it would be a disservice to everyone who reads this if it was not brought out that the Scriptures themselves warn us that is it terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Fascinating the context of this verse – so fascinating that I’ll give it to you below.
For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY." And again, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:26-31 (NASB)
The context of this verse is disobeying the Law of Moses – i.e. the commandments of God. We are reminded of the warnings given in the day to those who would rebel against God. But then we are told – a severer punishment is in store for those who trample the Son of God – regard the blood of Jesus as something unclean – and who insults the Spirit of grace (i.e. the Holy Spirit as He reveals to us the grace of God through Jesus – and His blood). Then we are told – it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Not exactly a proof text for those who wrongly assert the New Testament does not preach about the judgment of God.
The wise man tells us fearing the commandment is good – and a reward comes to the man or woman who embraces it. What is fearing the commandment? For us it is not a call to works. It is a call to the grace of God in Jesus Christ. The fact is that all of us have broken the commandments of God again and again. Thus what Hebrews 10:26-31 says is our destiny as one who has disobeyed God’s commands. But there IS HOPE! What God has done in Jesus Christ is wonderful. Jesus has given His life as a substitute and a payment for our rebellion and sin against God’s commandments. Thus to fear the commandment is to see our hopelessness in religious works and run to Jesus Christ for salvation. It is only in Him that we have an answer for our disobedience and rebellion against God’s law. But if that fear of the commandment does hasten our turn to Christ – we will find it is rewarded! The word for rewarded is such a sweet word to know. It means to be safe and secure. Does that not speak of what the grace of God does in our lives. We are taken from the role of the rebellious that despise the word – to those who fear the commandment and have run to Christ. Rather than fearfulness in falling into the hands of the living God – we experience salvation, grace, love, and comfort in falling into His hands. But these things come because we have run to Christ – whose sacrifice on the cross is placed to our account. Forgiven in full – given the righteousness of Jesus Himself – and born again are all credited to us. There is no more debt for it is gone in Him. He has paid the debt in full – moving us from terror to His everlasting reward – life in Jesus Christ!
Proverbs 5:12 And you say, "How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof!"
Pride goes before a fall . . . into sexual sin. This entire chapter is a father's advice and counsel to his son. The issue which is being discussed is that of sexual immorality - with an emphasis on the adulterous and immoral woman. Toward the end of his instruction Solomon tells his sons that there will come a day when their adultery will be brought to light by God. When that day happens, we are told that the one who followed after these sins will not be truly repentant. Instead he will speak of how he hated all that teaching about adultery being sin. He ignored all that garbage that the Bible had to say about morals. He will say it even as his life is in shambled about him - due to his sexual immorality.
The two words used in this verse are instructive to us about what our attitude becomes toward God's call for holy living. The first word is "sane" which means to hate. The word means to loathe, dislike, and even despise another, their actions or their words. Here the sexually immoral man hates the instruction of the Bible on sex. He also "spurns" reproof. The word for "spurn" is the Hebrew word "na'as" which means to revile, reject, and scorn. This word has the idea that the one doing this is very unhappy and angry as they do this. Thus when reproof comes their way - they can spew angry and unhappy words as they hate what they are hearing. I've had the unfortunate responsibility to confront people about sexual immorality - and have faced the vitriol that comes toward those who dare to speak against the spirit of this age, which fully embraces a full and free expression of sexuality without any limits.
A quick look at the Biblical record of people who were given over to sexual immorality shows that they were very rebellious to the message of God's Word. Whether that was an appeal to the Law of God - or the appeal of one of God's prophets, they hated when they were rebuked. Just like this passage says, they spurned God's reproof and would not listen to the teachers God sent them. Sexual sin blinds us to the truth - and the further we go into it - the worse that blindness becomes. All that is visible is the desire for more that knaws at those who reject the morality God calls us to follow.
God warns us in Romans chapter 1 that ignoring His commands concerning sexuality, (which are simply this - sex is only acceptable in a marriage relationship between a man and a woman - all other sexual activity - heterosexual immorality, monosexuality, or homosexuality are sin) ignoring them is sin. When we reject this - God gives us over to our sin - first in more bondage to fornication heterosexually - and eventually to homosexuality, as a sign that we are further being given over to our sin. What is a little frightening is that by the end of Romans - we have a society that has rejected pretty much all that God commands - and heartily approve of others who live as they do - rejecting God's way. There is a steady move away from God, away from listening to Him and His Word, and away from any kind of teachable mindset.
A wise man sees far enough into a sexually immoral lifestyle to know that it will hurt him in many ways. We've seen from prior verses that health and relationships are destroyed by it. Now we see that one's relationship to truth is greatly harmed by it - as well as their relationship with the God Who gave His Word to us. Some think they can tinker with immorality without consequence to their relationship with God. After reading and looking at today's proverb - the wise man knows better, and instead submits himself to God's Word. The stakes are just too high to ignore what God says here.
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!
There is no wisdom and no understanding And no counsel against the Lord. Proverbs 21:30
This has got to be one of the most discouraging passages for an atheist or an agnostic. Here they are doing all that they do against the Lord - thinking there is a wisdom that they can have that is not of God - an understanding apart from Him and counsel that goes against what He says.
Yet the facts speak for themselves . . .
No wisdom against God . . . When you hear words that contradict those of the living God in Scripture - it is not a wise thing you are hearing. There may be people who say things that accidently agree with God's Word in the midst of their foolish ramblings. Some may consider them wise - but only because they agreed with a principle found in the pages of Scripture. But when they contradict God's Word - there is no wisdom in that.
No understanding against God . . . Understanding means a discernment, a reasoning or a skill with facts that gives one the ability to see what is coming. Since God is the One Who is from all eternity - and Who knows the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning - one would think we would get the fact that He is all-knowing. Thus . . . He knows the future - and His Word will always reveal the best course - the one in keeping with understanding. Ever wonder why the so-called "experts" can take all their studies - all their learning - and come up with such inane conclusions? Ever wonder why all the prognosticators get it wrong again and again? It is because they do not turn to God for wisdom - and out of that wisdom gain understanding. They think they can come up with conclusions that disagree with God and still be right. But there is no understanding that is against the Lord. Let them make their forcasts - but we know from the Word of God how all things will go and even more important - how they will all end.
No counsel against the Lord . . . The word counsel here means advice - but even more than that - a plan or a plot. There are those to whom the world goes seeking advice. People like Dr. Phil and Oprah and her constant lineup of false prophets seem so wise - so understanding - and therefore the masses cling to them and to their plans. They think that they will be blessed by following them. But the fact is that there is no plan against the Lord. Oh there are actually thousands of plans and plots against Him - but none that will succeed in the end. I find it fascinating that Oprah and all her spiritual advisers come up with the same basic idea - that we are god and can make our own truth. As we accept that and work within it, we will become better, more balanced people. What do I find fascinating about this? It is the same advice given in the garden. "You will not surely die, for God knows that in the day that you eat, you will become like God, knowing good and evil." That is the same lie that Satan used to deceive Eve. That counsel did not work then - and surprise - won't work now either.
There is something that truly irks me is when I go to a movie or see a show or read an article that drips with man's arrogant self-congratulation over his own counsel. The arrogance of mankind is astounding when we think of how man gathers his own wisdom - makes his own forecasts - and then sets out on a plan - yet God is nowhere mentioned or accessed. Generations have come and will march into dust so sure of themselves and their plans. Yet the ultimate test is the judgment seat of Christ. It is the day when all the plans of man will come to an end. On that day we will know as we have never known before that there is no wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel against the Lord.
I hear the words of the psalmist ringing in my ears:
"Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence And rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! Psalms 2:10-12
Now there is wisdom - there is understanding - and good counsel that will stand well throughout eternity. Get ready to face the Son - honor the Son - worship the Son - for in the end the only wisdom, understanding, and counsel that will matter is that which is in agreement with His.
"Proud," "Haughty," "Scoffer," are his names, Who acts with insolent pride. Proverbs 21:24
Here we have a proverb that gives us a great deal of information about the proud man. There are four terms that are used to describe this proud person. The last of them speaks of the actions of this person - the first threee of the heart or mindset that gives rise to such pride.
The actions of the proud person are said to be those of insolent pride. The word insolent means to presume or to assume that you are right. This person is has presumptuous pride - he is already filled with himself - but to a level where he thinks he is always right and everyone else is always wrong. It can be a frustrating experience to come upon someone like this because they almost never think they are wrong. Everyone else is wrong - and their ideas - their thoughts - their desires are the best. What leads up to a person thinking and reasoning like this? We are told there are three attitudes that bring such a way of living to the forefront of someone's life.
We are told that this person is "proud." The Hebrew word used here is "zed" and it speaks of pride itself. It is the word used most often in the Old Testament to speak of pride. There are three specific aspects of pride that are contained in this word. The first is that of presumption. The proud man presumes always in his own favor. As was said earlier - he thinks he is always right and everyone else is wrong. The is especially the case in regards to authority. The proud man thinks he has all the authority in the world to speak. He is the expert and everyone should listen to his wonderful ideas and thoughts. The second aspect of pride is that it is both rebellious and disobedient. The prideful man sees know reason to obey anyone except himself. Therefore if God's will (or anyone elses for that matter) opposes what he thinks he wants to do - he arrogantly assumes that his will is better and does it in rebellion and willful disobedience to God's. The third aspect to pride here is closely tied to the second - and that is a willful decision to do whatever it wants. The proud man doesn't respond to God - he responds to himself.
Haughty is the second word that is used to speak of the inward working of the proud man. This is the Hebrew word "yawhir" which means to be full of ourselves. The proud man is narcissically self-centered and self-assured at all times. This guys has an ego the size of an entire city - and that ego makes him think that all that matters is what he wants.
The third word used is "scoffer." This is the Hebew word "liyus" which means boast, scorn, mock, or deride another. The proud man mocks everyone else - and all ideas that do not agree with his own. He speaks in contempt of these things - and mocks them mercilessly to make them seek goofy in comparison to his own wonderful thoughts. This is even more so in reference to God and God's Word. He mocks it as an old, outdated book - as ideas that arose from hucksters and charlatans. He has no respect for God or for His Word which reverals God to us.
When these three motivations are put together it leads to a very arrogant proud person to is so prideful that it reeks. It is these things we need to seek to avoid - because as Scripture says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. A wise man recognizes these things in his own life - and then humbles himself for God to do a deep work in his character so that he does not live his life in a sad, unusable prideful way.
Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts. Proverbs 20:30
Physical punishment . . . here is a topic that brings out the most strident opposition in a lot of people. When it refers to children some call it child abuse - and when it comes to the punishment of those who break the law the phrase "cruel and unusual punishment" is used. So what exactly is God's take on the idea of corporal punishment and some kind of physical response to disobedience and criminal activity?
There are two levels to understand this Proverb - that of the physical and the responsibility of parents and the state - and a purely spiritual level and how it relates to our growth in a relationship with the Lord. I'll begin with what is being addressed most clearly here - which is the response of parents and governing officials to disobedience and crime.
Our justice system has turned away from the biblical view of crime and punishment. We try to rehabilitate criminals without thought that they need to acknowledge that they've stepped over a very serious line in their behavior. The results are not encouraging at all. We have overcrowded jails and prisons where repeat offenders abound. We've gotten to the point where we have more people interested in the rights of the criminals than in the rights of those they infringed upon with their godless behavior. Our prisons therefore have revolving doors on them - and with the present focus, there are few who are rehabilitated while incarcerated. Put our current record next to one of a modern state that practices physical punishment for a crime. Several years ago a young American citizen was arrested from a crime in one of these states. He was convicted and sentenced to a caning. People in the United States, especially among liberals, went ballistic. Yet the facts should be viewed without all the hysteria. Their crime rates are much lower than ours. What they see currently and have seen in the past is that truly stripes and strokes do scour away evil in the heart. They do reach the innermost parts of a person. They are a very powerful deterrent to crime and disobedience.
The spiritual level is little diffeerent. God disciplines those He loves and, according to Hebrews 12, He scourges every son He accepts. How does God deal with His own children? He disciplines them with scourgings - stripes and strokes that scour away the evil of our hearts and make us think twice about being disobedient again. We are fallen beings and have a sad tendency to ignore God and His commandments and turn instead to what our flesh cries out for constantly. The way God deals with this is to bring us into discipline. Anyone who has ever experienced this discipline knows that it is stern but loving. There is no doubt that God loves us when He disciplines us - but He is dead serious about it too. He knows what is at stake - and is wanting to deter us from walking in rebellion and sin. These things will hurt us - and in some cases even destroy us - therefore He takes it very seriously a trip to the proverbial spiritual woodshed. But do not ever be mistaken . . . God does these things because He loves us. The same should be said for parents and for a society that crafts effective physical punsihments for those who break the law.
Physical punishment and corporal punishment may be unpopular with the liberal elements of our society - but in all honesty, they are wrong. Yes there need to be limits put in place - there needs to be a humane way to practice the death penalty - and there should be wisdom in a parents administration of discipline. Yet there also should be a full acknowledgement that the sinful nature of man will not respond to a call to reform alone. It is in the best interests of a family - and indeed a society to practice physical and corporal punishment. How do we know? The Word of God informs us.
POSTSCRIPT: Recently, individuals have quoted this article and stated that we teach child abuse at Calvary Chapel Jonesboro. To this I feel the need to respond. First, biblically, we are told that if we have a problem with our brother to go to our brother - not the internet - and confront our brother. To date, these individuals have yet to contact me to discuss these things. That should say volumes in itself.
Second, we do not teach child abuse at our fellowship. This blog is an endeavor to teach what is in the Bible for the edification and upbuilding of God's people. Anyone who has been to our fellowship knows that in our classrooms we administer NO physical discipline. We correct with words and with "time outs" and eventually with a report to parents. From our nursery throughout every age group our people are instructed NEVER to administer physical discipline. We believe this right alone belongs to a parent. Even then we teach the following about any application of physical discipline.
Discipline is about the heart of a child. Physical or corporal punishment is ONLY to be administered in a spirit of love for the child. Teaching and loving verbal correction is key - as is prayer for the child's eventual salvation in Jesus Christ. Any physical punishment administered due to anger or rage is out of line and wrong. The parent is to discipline the child with appropriate discipline - not abuse. In the end the child should be taught - and in every circumstance hugged, loved, and prayed with after any physical punishment to assure them of our love. The idea of a "beating" is completely out of step with what the Scriptures are teaching. Instead the idea of loving discipline is intended.
He who curses his father or his mother, His lamp will go out in time of darkness. Proverbs 20:20
How does your relationship to your dad and mom relate to whether you are filled with the Holy Spirit or not? Some might consider this a strange question, yet from what we read here in Proverbs 20, it is anything but strange. We read here of someone who has decided to curse his father or his mother. There is no love for parents in this person's heart. There is no respect or honor for theim either - even though God's Law states plainly that we are to honor our father and mother. If there is no honor for them - then there will be a very serious grieving of the Holy Spirit. But from reading this particular proverb some may raise their eyebrows thinking, "There is no where in this proverb that mentions the Holy Spirit by name, so how can this refer to the work of the Spirit of God in the believer?"
What is the "lamp" in this passage? In order to understand this we need to look at other passages that refer to this "lamp" in the Bible. The lamp, as used here, is the same word as used for the lamp in the Tabernacle and the Temple. It was the only light available in the Holy Place to see. It illumined two things - the altar of incense and the altar of showbread. The altar of incense represents the believer's prayer life - and the altar of showbread represents the Word of God in our lives. Prayer and the Word are wonderful things, in and of themselves but, if we are going to get all we can out of them - need the Holy Spirit to illumine and empower them. There is a light from that lamp that allows us to see through the darkness and makes the Word and prayer powerful and meaningful. This lamp represents the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We read in Proverbs 20:27 the following, "The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the innermost parts of his being." We learn here that the spirit of man is where the "lamp of the Lord" (i.e. the Holy Spirit) wants to light up our lives and help us to see and pierce the darkness that is around us. When God's lamp is shinig within by the Holy Spirit - we are directed in the Word and granted power to pray effectively. We can see - even in the dark. When the Holy Spirit is grieved or quenched due to our sin - the light diminishes and we are walking in the dark spiritually.
As we return to our proverb we see now that the Holy Spirit is grieved when we curse our father of our mother. We are being disobedient to God and to His Word when we do this. Thus the lamp goes out. In time of darkness, we find that we do not have the light of life within us. We see nothing because we are no longer illumined within by the Spirit of God - the lamp of the Lord. Since this speaks of our parents - there is also a warning here for us. Family - especially your father and mother - are the ones who will step up when you are facing the deepest crises of your life. They are the ones who are the last line of defense. If we curse them and disobey God, we are going to have the lights turned out. We will find that there will not be the work of God going on in our hearts to help us see spiritually. The Lord is very serious about this.
In the book of Malachi - the last prophecy given is that of the work of God in revival. That work though, is when God turns the hearts of the fathers to the sons - the hearts of the sons to the fathers - lest God smite the land with a curse. Thus we see that the work of the Spirit of God - the illumination of the Word of God - the light of life within the people of God WILL affect the way that we live with our families. We can guarantee that if we disregard family - especially father and mother - we can just about guarantee that we ourselves will be disregarded. The lights will turn off and everything will go dark. That is not something that we want - but if we treat father and mother with disrespect - it is what we will get.
He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life, And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death. Proverbs 11:19
Here we find life gained and life lost. Both life gained and lost have to do with what we pursue and steadfastly desire in our walk on earth. It is no shock to us to learn that those who are steadfast in their desire and pursuit of righteousness are those who receive life. The word "steadfast" here means to set something up so that it will be firm and established. Here it refers to how someone views righteousness - and pursues it in their lives. Are you building a life whose foundation is laid in God's view of righteousness - or more simply put, in what God says is right? That is the life Christ referred to in Matthew 7 when He spoke about foundations. The one who hears the Word of God and heeds it - he is the man who has built his foundation on a rock. When the winds and storms of life come upon that man, as they surely will, his house will stand. That is why the steadfast in righteousness will attain to life.
The life lost is the one that is actively pursuing evil. Consider King Ahab in the Old Testament, along with his wicked wife, Jezebel. They pursued evil together. They were the poster couple of pursuing wickedness and sin. They excelled in it - and ran after it with an ever-growing lust for more. They worshipped false gods, stole, killed, and plotted their way to the top. When at the top they continued in their ways of evil - and heartily encouraged all of Israel to follow their foolish example. It is no wonder then that they both brought about their own death.
Ahab foolishly ignored the prophetic statements of Miciah, who warned him that God had allowed a deceiving spirit to move among Ahab's false prophets - so that he could be lured to his death in battle. Ahab's response was to imprison the prophet - and have him fed with barely enough bread and water to survive until he returned from battle. Miciah's fateful last words to him were, "If you return, the Lord has not spoken through me." In another desperate but foolish move, Ahab then disguised himself and did not wear his royal robes into battle. Thinking he had cheated death and God - he went into battle feeling safe. We read in Kings that a random archer shot an arrow into the air - and God guided that arrow so that it hit a joint in Ahab's armor. Badly wounded, he retreated to watch the battle from a distance until he died in his chariot.
Jezebel, having learned of a plot to destroy her family and their legacy in Israel, painted herself and called to her executioner from a tower. Thinking herself safe there - her executioner called for the men in the tower to throw her down. They did so and Jehu crushed her beneath his horses and chariot wheels. These two who pursued evil so passionately both brought about their own death because of their rebellion against God.
In Deuteronomy God reminded Israel that He put before them life and death. There was a choice for them. If they pursued evil and rebellion against God - they needed to know that their sin would find them out. They would be pursued by the very One against whom they rebelled. They would learn that He was not impotent as they thought. They would learn that the One they defied is God - and that He will prevail. They will also bring about their own death with the evil they think frees them from His authority. But life is also available to us. It is received by pursuing righteousness steadfastly. What is amazing to those who receive that righteousness is that to pursue it, one must pursue by faith. The just (righteous) man lives by faith. Their steadfastness is gained by rejecting their own works - and turning to God who Himself will declare them righteous as a gift. They will learn that the only way of being steadfastly righteous, is to steadfastly cling to God's gift of righteousness which comes only through His Son, Jesus Christ. That, dear ones, is the only way we can be steadfast in righteousness - and thereby know life.
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 here is to err 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 discernement and chooses instead a way of life guided by self and selfish desires and longings.
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 - since that is what we have learned the Holy Spirit has been sent into the world to convict us of in life.
What is important is the warning that is given to us in the second half of this proverb. The one 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. That will keep us from a rest that will be anything but rest. It will rescue us from a fate worse than death itself.
This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth, And says, "I have done no wrong." Proverbs 30:20
One of the worst aspects of sexual sin is the way that is blinds us to the truth. Here we have a proverb dealing with the women who commits adultery. Her way is to indulge her sin as one would sit down to a big meal - then wipe her mouth afterwards and boldly state that she has done nothing wrong. She is completely blind and arrogantly unmoved by her actions and by the Word of God which proclaims them wicked.
We are living in the days of sin that looks just like this. We have those who live openly in their sin - and argue that such a lifestyle choice is not sin. God has proclaimed that adultery is sin - and that commandment from the time of Moses still stands this day without having been weakened in the slightest. Some might protest that Jesus forgave the woman caught in the very act of adultery. I would agree - but would add that after he gave her the most gracious forgiveness, He also stated to her that she should go her way and SIN NO MORE. When He gave her grace - it was the grace of God that teaches us NOT TO SIN. It was not grace that condoned sin. And just in case some have forgotten the rest of the gospel - He eventually bore her sin to calvary's cross and paid the full measure of God's wrath for it.
When a society begins to weaken its moral stances on adultery and sexual sin, it is preparing that society for horrible consequences. When that lax morality reaches the point where adulterous women and men are allowed to embrace their wickedness while openly proclaiming that they've done nothing wrong - such a society is at the breaking point. It cannot stand much longer because its very foundations are crumbling to the ground.
Please pray for the United States - praying for revival in the church and awakening among the lost. We've abandoned our moral underpinnings handed down to us from our forefathers. We need for God to first revive His church so that we will once again hold fast to biblical morals - regardless of what is currently morally in style in our nation. Unless this work of revival happens among us first, there will be no awakening among the lost. We must put our moral house in order - dealing with our sexual sins. Then we will have the moral authority to speak to our nation - to pray for our nation - and to witness the people of our nation return to the Lord and to the sanity of sexual morality. May God have mercy on us - and revive and restore us in this most desperate of days.
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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