"Prose On Proverbs"

 

Begin Here
Seeking For Silver
Trust In The Lord
Wisdom With Neighbors
The Love of Learning
Dangers In The Adulteress' Lair
Things Which The Lord Hates
Christ, The Wisdom of God
Wise And Foolish Sons
Blessings For The Diligent Hand
Watch Your Mouths
Rich And Poor
Righteousness and Wickedness
Abominations and Funny Money
Pride and Fall
Eating Humble Pie
Wisdom and Revelation
On Going Surety
He who is wise Wins Souls
Favor From The Lord
The Ways of the Wise Wife
Answers for Anxiety
Hope For The Heart
The Strength of the Ox
It Often Seems Right To A Man
The Quicksand of a Quick Temper
Beware, O Backslider
Liar, Liar, Soul on Fire!
Power In People
The Eyes of the Lord
Hearts and Faces
Some Things That Are Better
The Power of Positive Words
The Path of the Upright
The Prayer of the Righteous
Good News From Heaven
"Your Plans Will Be Established"
Honor and Respect the Aged
The Cost of Quarrels
Any Country's Best Citizens
Finding A Wife
Developing Disciplined Children
Wine Is A Mocker
A Correct Answer
Don’t Move The Boundary
The Work Ethic
Advice on Men and Money
"As a Man Thinketh..."
The Temporal Judgments of God
"Buy Truth"
More on Wisdom and Folly
One More Time
"Friend, Move Up Higher"
Tongues of Contention
Green Gills of Jealousy
Handling Criticism
Wanderers and Drifters
Common Sense Relationships
The Iron Sharpeners
God’s Use of Wealth
Blotting out Transgressions
This Present Evil Age
Doing the Basics
Reason vs. Emotion
The Danger of Stiff Necks
The Troubler in Israel
Correct Your Son
Loss of Vision
Do Not Alter God’s Words
Two Wise Requests
There is a Kind of Man
Hard To Satisfy
Wise and Wonderful
Quaking and Strutting
Help for the Helpless
His Heart Trusts Her
Hard-working Lady
Wisdom and Blessing
The Proverbs 31 Woman & The Church

 

Begin Here

One of the marks of a smug, decaying society is that there is no fear of God. The individuals in such societies generally have no goal but gratification, no pursuit but pleasure. Worshiping at the twin golden calves of lust and luxury, they, in the words of the apostle Paul, do "not honor Him as God, or give thanks" (Romans 1:21). As a result they are plunged into darkness and destruction; professing to be wise, they are governed by groundless speculation and superstition, and, as fools, are delivered over to a depraved mind.

In contrast to the swaying jungle of darkness comes steady enlightenment from God. "From Your precepts, I get understanding," noted the psalmist. "Therefore I hate every false way" (Psalm 119:104). But as enlightening and informative as the Old Testament is, it is but a candle held to the sun in comparison to the New Testament. He who spurned the Old and he who rejects the New have a common bond: "There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:18). The writer of the psalm and the opener of Proverbs basically agree on the solution. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," says one, and "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge," says the other (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7).

Here, then, is the great promise for those who fear the Lord and learn wisdom and knowledge from the mouth of the Almighty and All Knowing: "But he who listens to me shall live securely, and shall he at ease from the dread of evil" (Proverbs 1:33).

 

 

Seeking For Silver

Life on earth is so short and eternity is so long. The wise considers those fundamental truths and keeps them in the forefront of his mind, using them as the basis on which he makes his life's decisions. The foolish live for this life only. "They would not accept my counsel," said wisdom. "They spurned all my reproof, so they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be satiated with their own devices. For the waywardness of the naive shall kill them, and the complacency of fools shall destroy them" (Proverbs 1:30-32). By contrast the one who desires wisdom is not complacent. "If you cry for discernment," says the sage of Proverbs, if you "lift your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God" (Proverbs 2:3-5).

"How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. For its profit is better than the profit of silver and its gain than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; and in her left are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace" (Proverbs 3:13-17). Raise the dust, boys, and get on the boom town trail. There's something greater than gold in the water and better than silver in "them thar hills."

 

 

Trust In The Lord

Trust requires an up-front commitment. The one to be trusted must have demonstrated his trustworthiness; the one who trusts must first trust, and then wait for the results. One of the major purposes of the written scriptures is to demonstrate the faithfulness of God; the record of His up-front commitment to the well-being and salvation of man is unbroken and unblemished. Indeed all the ancients testify as to the goodness and greatness of God, and James in the New Testament notes that there is no variation or shifting shadowy effect from the Father of lights. "It is a trustworthy statement," Paul informed Timothy. "For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we endure, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself" (II Timothy 2:11-13). One of the great attributes of the great God is that He is steady and dependable even if mankind is not.

Brethren can trust God. "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). The saints, then, need to move ahead, in accordance with what is written, and trust God. Trust God in acknowledging His contributions. Trust God in giving the top 10%. And continue to trust God in the midst of His discipline and reproof.

 

 

Wisdom With Neighbors

Not one of us lives for himself, said the great apostle Paul, not one of us dies for himself. The point of the apostle's statement is that no man is an island, and that each person on earth has duties and responsibilities to those with whom he has contact. And those with whom man has contact, even very casually, are called neighbors.

Wherever people interact, there are problems. Sometimes people react wrongly to the challenge life in general offers and take their frustrations out on others around them. Sometimes individuals are just plain hard to get along with; they are often selfish, self-centered, and like to cause problems among others in their circle of acquaintances. So the second greatest commandment - to love your neighbor as yourself - is not necessarily easy to keep. Wisdom dictates that the believer in God will conduct himself intelligently in regard to his dealings with his fellow man.

The Christian is to let his light shine among men, that they might see his good works and glorify the Father in heaven. That light is going to shine through the little ways in which the disciple of Christ conducts himself among his neighbors. If he is "cussed and contrary," then his Christianity is nothing more than dry leaves rattling in the wind. But the one who uses wisdom in personal interactions is blessed of God and a light to the world.

 

 

The Love of Learning

Some people die at thirty but are not buried until they are seventy. They decided that learning was too much work for their brains, and shifted off into semi-retirement mode. Died at thirty, buried at seventy.

The sages of the ages are unanimous on at least this one thing: Keep learning! The members of the human race who are "veg'n out" are "edging' out" of responsibility and duty, and abdicating their trust to the forces of tyranny and darkness. The inspired writer of Proverbs is likewise adamant in his exhortation for the sons of God: "Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!" says he. "The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom, and with all your acquiring, get understanding" (Proverbs 4:5,7). The men and women who follow God's upward beckonings have always been exhorted to listen, read, and learn. "Listen to me, all of you," said the Lord Jesus Himself, "and understand" (Mark 7:14).

Committed Christians are conscious that they are the salt of the earth and lights to the world. Wanting to be good examples to the lost and teachers of the blind, they strive to learn the principles of the oracles of God. They are not so much interested in gold and silver as they are in pursuing the wisdom of God and the understanding of His ways. While the rest of the world is "vege'n out" Christians are "stretchin' out."

 

 

Dangers In The Adulteress' Lair

Human sexuality is hard to handle. The fires of passion are necessary for the procreation of the race, but, like steam for the engine, are explosively dangerous outside the confines of the design. So the word of God - the instructions from the maker of the machine - has red warning labels dispersed all through it. "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled," are among the words of the kind and loving new covenant, "for fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). It is fitting, then, that the wisdom of Proverbs should have some poignant points to thrust at the reader's mind on this issue.

Human sexuality within the confines of marriage is a good thing; outside the bonds it is one of the most destructive forces unleashed in the race. "Can a man take fire into his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?" (Proverbs 6:27). But the blessings of God are on the man who will keep to his wife and "be exhilarated always with her love" (Proverbs 5:19).

 

 

Things Which The Lord Hates

God is love, but there are some things He hates. It is right for the Holy God to hate the destructive works of the devil and effects of sin in fallen man. It is right for Him who is light to abhor darkness. Certainly there are offensive acts and attitudes which ascend as a putrid stench to the nostrils of the righteous Judge. "There are six things which the Lord hates," is the introductory statement of Solomon, gently getting into his rhythm. "Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him" (Proverbs 6:16). Wisdom dictates a serious examination of these seven.

God has a legitimate reason to hate these abominations. The one making a claim to godliness will look these over very carefully, and repent where necessary.

 

 

Christ, The Wisdom of God

The wisdom of the Old Testament is pictured as a woman begging mankind to pause in the rush of daily activity and consider her wares. Wherever the traffic is going to be heavy and wherever she can have high visibility, she stations herself, seeking to find even one who will listen. "On the top of the heights beside the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand," says Solomon. "Beside the gates, at the opening to the city, at the entrance of the doors, she cries out" (Proverbs 8:2,3). Rather than turning aside to the harlot's house, the man would do well to spend time in the tent of wisdom. "Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars...She calls from the tops of the heights in the city: 'Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!’"(Proverbs 9:1-4). "Forsake your folly and live," she says, "and proceed in the way of understanding" (Proverbs 9:6).

Christ was there at the creation, and He is certainly the refuge the fear of the Lord will cause the wise to seek. "But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30). The real wisdom!

 

 

Wise And Foolish Sons

In writing his proverbs Solomon often introduced them with the expression, "My son." "My son," said he, "keep my words, and treasure my commandments within you" (Proverbs 7:1). "Hear, O sons," he appealed in another place, "the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding" (Proverbs 4:1). The older generations have some wisdom they have picked up along the way and they desire that this wisdom be passed on to the upcoming generation so that members of the up-coming generation can be smarter, more productive, and more happy than their forebears.

But not all listen. "A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him" (Proverbs 17:25). Every action or inaction has its consequences, and foolishness results in a lot of nasty messes. The apostle Paul, for example, noted the effects of someone's being sucked into the craving to be wealthy: "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction" (I Timothy 6:9). The wise pays close attention to such precepts; the foolish ignores them, charges into foolishness, and pays the price extracted by folly (often eternal damnation in the lake of fire). A wise son makes a father glad," emphasized Solomon, "but a foolish son is a grief to his mother" (Proverbs 10:1).

At first, there may not seem to he much difference between a wise and foolish son. But the fruit of the wise or foolish decisions piles up, and the gap widens considerably. "Wise men store up knowledge, but with the mouth of the foolish ruin is at hand" (Proverbs 10:14). "Be wise, my son and make my heart glad, that I may reply to him who reproaches me" (Proverbs 27:11).

 

 

Blessings For The Diligent Hand

The body naturally resists movement and work. The body has to be pushed to perform; it would rather coast along or do nothing. Even the people of the world recognize the problem, stating it in terms such as "Mind over matter." The flesh may be compared to a balky mule. "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit," remarked the apostle Paul, "and the Spirit against the flesh, for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please" (Galatians 5:17). When the body does what it good-and-well-pleases, then it does not work or come under discipline but lapses into the destructive deeds of the flesh.

Even Christians, indwelt by the Holy Spirit have to fight this battle. Because the body is a part of the physical creation, it is subject to the law of gravity and the law of death and decay. "For we know," stated the apostle, "that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now" (Romans 8:22). After noting the groaning and the continual pain, comparable to the travail of childbirth, that the creation is subject to because of the strictures imposed by God, Paul asserts that the bodies of Christians are not exempt from this creaking and groaning as the physical side of man goes through its challenges. "And not only this," he declared, regarding the material creation, "but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23). Thus the wisdom of God from the beginning promised blessings for the diligent hand, and curses for the slackard.

Will America as a whole listen to the teaching of God's word on diligence and sluggishness? More importantly at this juncture. will Christians heed the teaching and begin to practice discipline in their own lives and impose accountability and diligent follow-through in their own families? The body must be overcome by the Spirit. "Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich" (Proverbs 10:4). Apply diligence to reap true riches!

 

 

Watch Your Mouths

The taming of the tongue is a life or death matter, eternally. The One who was wiser than Solomon said, "For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned" (Matthew 12:37). And His bondservant James observed that the tongue "sets on fine the course of our lives" (James 3:6). In fact, a major characteristic of the perfect man is that he "does not stumble in what he says," and is therefore "able to bridle the whole body as well" (James 3:2). He who is interested in making spiritual progress is therefore interested in all the insight that the word of God provides on the tongue, the mouth, and the lips. He also listens carefully that he might become increasingly aware of the wiles of those who work on Satan's side and how they use the tongue.

The channels of our lives have been grooved by the myriads of chisel thrusts of our own tongues. Let us then work on our hearts so that the direction of our speech is upward. "The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord, but the blameless in their walk are His delight" (Proverbs 11:20).

 

 

Rich And Poor

There is a God in heaven. There is a God who raises up, and a God who casts down. There is a God who feeds the hungry and sends the rich away empty handed. But this God often moves slowly from the perspective of man-the-vapor, and oft it seems that His justice is not done. He progresses on His own time schedule, and most of His reward or punishment is meted out in the realm of the unseen. "He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who rejoices in calamity will not go unpunished" (Proverbs 17:5), so while the rich may gain his wealth and position unjustly, at his death his is as he was at his birth. "As he came naked from His mother's womb, so he will return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor in his hand" (Ecclesiastes 5:15). God allows some of the wicked to be rich; He makes some of the righteous rich; all this goes on so that man might put value on "the riches of His glory," and so that God's people might have the resources to execute His will on earth.

"But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like the flowering grass he will pass away" (James 1:9,10). Rich and poor, great and small; the Lord Almighty, He made them all.

 

 

Righteousness and Wickedness

In decaying Western civilization, the term wicked is no longer in vogue. To be certain, when Oceania and Eastasia have combined against Eurasia, then the visible leader of Eurasia is a power-hungry madman and is wicked; but that is purely a propaganda term and has nothing to do with the Biblical concept of wickedness. A man is wicked in the sight of God when he rebels against God's standards of righteousness; a man who lies while on trial, a man who commits adultery without remorse, and a man who leaves a string of murdered corpses in his wake is a wicked man, regardless of how "compassionate" the lap-dogs in the media may portray him to be. God and His preachers have always condemned the wicked and extolled the virtues of the righteous, those willing to walk in the ways of the Almighty.

The righteous scepter is the scepter of the Lord Jesus' kingdom. "You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness," it is said of the Christ. "Therefore God, Your God has anointed You with the oil of joy above Your companions" (Hebrews 1:8,9). Christian, take warning. Jesus hates lawlessness and loves righteousness so much that this is what He 's going to do inside the church at the end: He will have the angels "gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness; and will cast them into the furnace of fire...Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He has ears, let him hear"(Matthew 13:41-43).

 

 

Abominations and Funny Money

It's only a stupid thief who will try to rob a bank or mug someone in a supermarket parking lot. The smart thieves are chairmen of the board of the big banks and collect interest on the money loaned to build new prisons for the dumb thieves. Preachers know they are supposed to preach against dumb thievery, but are often unaware of a banking scam so intelligent that, in the words of Lord Maynard Keynes (father of "Keynesian economics"), "not one man in a thousand" knows what is going on. God knows, and He has long since classed it with other high crimes as an abomination. But to understand the application of the Proverbs to modern economic times requires a little background.

Modern bankers in conjunction with the national governments (and global entities such as the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund) are stealing the labor of productive men and women through inflation. This is a modern form of having "differing weights in the bag," and is a great abomination to the God of justice and righteousness.

 

 

Pride and Fall

Pride is one of the big three, but it is sometimes hard to pin down. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life," wrote the inspired apostle John, "is not from the Father but is of the world" (I John 2:16). The various lusts of the flesh and the eyes are generally obvious, but this thing called "the boastful pride of life" can be hard to identify in self or to prove to others that they have this problem. But because "all that is in the world" fits into one of the three listed categories, it is critical that the saint of God first examine himself to see if pride is resident within himself, and then, when necessary to recognize it in others.

Pride is somewhat difficult to identify, but each Christian must joyfully welcome the fiery trials of the day to refine his character and to remove the dross of pride. Each son of God must learn to recognize pride when it comes in others, when it approaches as the skeleton of ambition covered with the skin of flattery and false concern. "When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom" (Proverbs 11:2). Let the Lord alone be exalted now, as He shall be on the final and great day.

 

 

Eating Humble Pie

The opposite of pride is humility. Pride to a large degree sums up the character of Satan; humility similarly sums up the character of Jesus Christ, Pride is justly condemned, whereas humility is rightly commended. Our Lord Jesus humbled Himself by taking the form of man, and so demonstrated the right spirit that He submitted to death on the cross. "Therefore," explained the apostle Paul, "also God highly exalted Him" (Philippians 2:9). All who would follow in the footsteps of Jesus must humble themselves in this life with calm assurance that they will he exalted in the age to come. "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me," our Lord exhorted, "and where I am there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him" (John 12:26).

It is a false humility that says, "I can't do anything very well." True humility is a willingness to lay aside selfishness and do well whatever God needs done, whether it is speaking to the multitudes in the Temple or washing the feet of the disciples.

Humble pie is the best dessert. It has its bitter moments when it has its first taste on the tongue, but from then on its fruit exhibits its increasing sweetness. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time" (I Peter 5:6).

 

 

Wisdom and Revelation

Someone has asked, "Why is youth wasted on the young?" There is a certain exuberance and a sense of good feeling associated with young bodies, but this is often accompanied by poor judgment due to lack of experience. Hence there is a need for wise counsel; rare indeed is the young man who can "keep his own counsel" and succeed. The world is full of pitfalls and traps, and there are certain experiences of life which give wisdom to those who have piloted their way to levels of success following their youth. They "because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14).

Guidance into eternal life and true enlightenment come only From God through the written word, and the prayers of the saints for wisdom. "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?…For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory Forever. Amen" (Romans 11:34,36).

 

 

On Going Surety

Slavery in Western Civilization did not die with the War Between The States. To be sure, the direct outward ownership of individuals has perished for more than a century, but indirect ownership has never ceased. The proverb is true: "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave" (Proverbs 22:7). In matters of men, if you want to know what is happening, follow the money trail. And the money trail leads to the house of slavery.

The message of the scriptures on this matter is simple. Don' buy on credit. And don't co-sign for someone who wants to.

 

 

He who is wise Wins Souls

"There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise," says the proverb, "but a foolish man swallows it up" (Proverbs 21:26). The wise man and the prudent wife are smart enough and disciplined enough to make provision for earthly needs and to anticipate the occasional unexpected expense and economic down turn. They have the sense to set priorities for what must come first; the crops must be sown and harvested in their season, and the other necessities of life must come in their order, "Prepare your work outside, and make it ready for yourself in the field," is some basic counsel, "Afterwards, then, build your house" (Proverbs 24:27).

But there is a step up from making sure survival and earthly living priorities are in order, and that has to do with righteousness. It is wise for people to leave their financial houses in order, but that will only last for the years of a man's earthly sojourn. The righteous not only have the blessings of a better life on earth but also the blessings of eternity. "The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way," opined Solomon, "but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness" (Proverbs 11:5). He adds, "The righteous is delivered from trouble, but the wicked takes his place" (Proverbs 11:8). And, looking to eternity, Solomon writes, "Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death" (Proverbs 11:4). Underlying all is the great statement from both the Old and New Testaments: "The righteous shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17). Because they follow the Biblically defined faith in the glorified Lord, brethren live for all eternity. "He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf" (Proverbs 11:28).

But there is even another step up from personal righteousness and a yearning to go to heaven. Those who desire to live by faith desire to walk in the very footsteps of Jesus, and thus end up greatly concerned for the souls of others. "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls" (Proverbs 11:30). The righteous have a Biblical lifestyle that shows others how to set their lives in order, how develop love, joy, peace, and patience, and how to win souls for Jesus.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life. The teaching of the word of God and the winning of souls is not carried out in the sterile air of the classroom, but where the righteous contact the farmer in the field or the man on the street. Be wise.

 

 

Favor From The Lord

God so arranged the foundations of the material realm, the realm of earthly existence, so that it teaches man many eternal lessons. Were it not for earthly kings, mankind would not understand the desirability of favor or grace from the Lord. King Solomon himself paints the picture: "The king's wrath," says he, "is like the roaring of a lion. but his favor is like dew on the grass" (Proverbs 19:12). "The wrath of a king is as messengers of death," he noted elsewhere, "but a wise man will appease it. In the light of the king's face is life, and his favor is like a cloud with spring rain" (Proverbs 16:14,15). The worldly wise know how to secure the favor of a king or dictator; the spiritually wise know how to secure the favor of the Absolute Monarch of the universe.

This was all previously spoken of in the wisdom of Solomon. "A good man will obtain favor from the Lord," he asseverated, "but He will condemn a man who does evil" (Proverbs 12:2). Again, "He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, but he who searches after evil, it will come to him" (Proverbs 11:27). "For we are His workmanship," says Paul of Christians, "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

 

 

The Ways of the Wise Wife

Women are either wise or foolish, according to their own choice. The wise woman will be greatly honored; the foolish will continue to hold only the shards of disaster in her hands. The wisdom of God has something to say to women, and the Designer and Maker of all assuredly knows whereof He speaks. So, be still and listen!

The writings of the new covenant are consistent with the foundation set forth in the scriptures of the old, that there is a distinct gender difference between man and woman. While each is on an equal spiritual plane, there are roles to be executed, in order that the relationship between Christ and the church might be more clearly understood and that the name of God might not be blasphemed among the Gentiles. "Wives," reads one of the sacred new covenant passages, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22). "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man," states another, "but to remain quiet" (I Timothy 2:12). The divine distinctions are there, and the wife who tries to ignore them is just as she who tries to ignore gravity. But she who honors the Lord by observing the truthfulness of His instruction will be a happy homemaker and helper.

The Father's intention is that His children love life and see good days. The Christian marriage is designed as a place of continual joy, where the man rejoices with the wife of his youth. "He who finds a wife finds a good thing," states wisdom, "and obtains favor from the Lord" (Proverbs 18:22). But great power lies on the female side for the success of the marriage and the happiness of the home. "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands" (Proverbs 14:1).

 

 

Answers for Anxiety

"Anxiety in the heart of man weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad" (Proverbs 12:25). Who among the sons of man has not been anxious? Who has not been worried about a loved one traveling over difficult roads, or a house deal that has not yet come through? Who has not fretted over the outcome of a doctor's exam, or had "butterflies in his stomach" over an upcoming speech or confrontation? And who has not needed encouragement and prayer support from a brother or sister at such a time? Even the great apostle Paul, having difficulty in making contact with Titus, said, "I had no rest in my spirit" (II Corinthians 2:13).

Heavy hearts are a big burden. So what are some ways to overcome anxiety?

"Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad." The encouraging word can come from friend, family, or fellowship in Christ. But the ultimate "good word" comes from the Friend "who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). Trust in Him, and be glad!

 

 

Hope For The Heart

These two words, when joined together, paint a picture of the blackest hole: utter hopelessness. It is the visage of an old woman whose entire family has been lost in an earthquake; it is the countenance of an aged man contemplating suicide rather than stare into another bleak day of totalitarian repression. And such, really, is the end condition of the Gentile, "having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12). I have seen hope in the faces of the young Russians - hope for a better life and hope for love. But I have seen what the grinding wheel of oppression does to those hopes, how they are shattered like crystal glasses under the crunch of a rumbling wagon. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12).

By contrast, one of the three great abiding characteristics for the Christian is hope. So how does God produce hope in those who are willing to walk in the footsteps of Christ?

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life" (Proverbs 13:12). The saint of God is excited because he has been spiritually disciplined and uplifted by God, and, because he knows that he is guaranteed the resurrection unto life at Jesus' return, He can joyfully endure anything earth has to offer. "But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we eagerly wait for it" (Romans 8:25).

 

 

The Strength of the Ox

Oxen are bulls "broke" to work. And bulls, like all animals, are living machines which leave the waste products of their combustion engines all over their surroundings. So, oxen are polluters, they are often hard to handle, and they are sometimes dangerous or deadly to work with. When 2000 pounds of old bull gets to snortin' and stompin'... In simple terms, oxen are a hassle. "Where no oxen are, the manger is clean" (Proverbs 14:4).

Why, then, would anyone keep oxen around? For pets? (If you think it costs a lot to feed a dog, try feeding an ox!) The answer comes: "But much increase comes by the strength of the ox" (Proverbs 14:4). An ox is a tool, and without that tool, much work could not get done. In one simple proverb, the only wise God injected much economic wisdom. Let us learn, then, that we may instruct others.

Because oxen and tools require capital, taxation beyond the minimum exacted for the protection of life, liberty, and property strikes a major blow at their acquisition and development. When a small farmer cannot purchase an ox, he and his family are going to have to grind their grain by hand, and to be able to do only those tasks, which can be done by human strength alone. The farm will suffer, the family will barely survive (maybe!), and starvation and famine will lay near the door of that whole society.

Make no mistake about it: The "Global Warming and Greenhouse Gases" treaty at Kyoto, Japan, is designed to destroy Western Civilization's ability to use the tools which make for a productive economy. Implicit in the proverb about oxen is that God favors the strength, which comes through the ox; it is the devil which is in favor of the reduction to slavery and starvation.

 

 

It Often Seems Right To A Man

Man has a glimmer of spiritual truths, but he really needs guidance from God to know what goes on in the spiritual realm. Because his eyes can only see those things, which have material substance, and his other sense gates only open to the physical universe, he is subject to deception from evil spiritual entities. A man who had opportunity, by revelation, to look into the realm of the unseen - the great apostle Paul - brought forth this warning for even the church from the Holy Spirit: "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a brandin8 iron" (I Timothy 4:1,2). Because of those deceitful spirits, man has to find and rely on the information which comes from God. "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12).

Man needs revelation from God to know spiritual truth. Ultimately this truth can only come from one Teacher. "And no one has ascended into heaven," said lie, "but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man" (John 3:13). He is God's beloved Son; listen to Him!

 

 

The Quicksand of a Quick Temper

A person who flies off the handle may find himself sizzling in the fire. Make no mistake about it; the Lord will not accept into the courts of the eternal kingdom those who keep going ballistic on earth. The words of Paul are very clear: those who have "outbursts of anger…shall not inherit the kingdom of God " (Galatians 5:20,21). "A quick-tempered man acts foolishly," posited Solomon, "and a man of evil devices is hated" (Proverbs 14:17). "He who is slow to anger has great understanding," is another notation, "but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly" (Proverbs 14:29). When a man loses his head in anger, he does a lot of fool things that he later wishes he hadn't done, and says a bunch or fool things he later wishes he could take back. Like the golfer who had an outburst of anger and threw his clubs in a pool of water on the golf course. When he cooled down and went back to retrieve them he drowned trying to get them out.

Those who have to live around others who have bad tempers are constantly walking on eggshells; they don't know what tremor is going to trigger the next eruption. To produce peaceful homes and convivial working relationships, the word of God instructs: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice" (Ephesians 4:31). How can this be done?

"But let everyone be quick to hear," is the exhortation from James, in contrast to having a quick temper, and "slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God" (James 1:19,20). The man who loses his temper had best make it a major priority to get that temper under control with disciplined, systematic reprogramming of his mind.

 

 

Beware, O Backslider

Individuals can become apostate; they can fall away from the one faith of Christianity. "Take care, brethren," cried the writer of Hebrews, "lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God" (Hebrews 3:12). If it is not possible to fall away, why would God so explicitly warn against it?

The Lord desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. And He desires likewise that they stay saved. But not all hearts are good and honest, so the great God allows for a time of testing that each heart might be exposed as evil or good. God knows each heart: "Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord," stated Solomon, "how much more the hearts of men!" (Proverbs 15:11). Backsliding is therefore allowed, so that the fruit of the true heart might be brought to light before the sons of men. "The backslider in heart will have the fill of his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied with his" (Proverbs 14:14).

Faithful till death is the hallmark of the righteous. "And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart," was the assessment of the Christ, "and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance" (Luke 8:15). Ah, yes, the backslider in heart will reap the fill of his ways, "but a good man will be satisfied with his" (Proverbs 14:14). But "a man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead" (Proverbs 21:16). Beware, O backslider.

 

 

Liar, Liar, Soul on Fire!

The tongue is a powerful weapon for evil or for good. Even the world recognizes its potency in the proverb, "The pen [the written tongue] is mightier than the sword." And the tongue is most destructive when it tells lies. "A truthful witness saves lives," is a Biblical proverb, "but he who speaks lies is treacherous" (Proverbs 14:25).

Lying is a big problem. When most of the witnesses tell lies on the courtroom stand, then the justice which upholds free society collapses and tyranny rises to fill its place. When most of the businesses lie about their products and provisions for meeting customer needs, and when most consumers lie about the supposed inadequacies of the goods and services from market outlets, then commerce will grind to a crunching standstill. When husbands and wives are untruthful with each other, trust is broken; when children are allowed to lie to their parents, or parents set a poor example by their lack of veracity with their children, then destruction of the family unit is on its way. Lying is majorly destructive, and is a signal characteristic of the great destroyer, Satan himself. "He was a murderer from the beginning," explained Jesus of the shadowy spirit, "and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies" (John 8:44).

Even the revelation of God cannot come to a close without a serious admonition: "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8). "Fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell," and "laying aside falsehood, speak truth" (Matthew 10:28; Ephesians 4:25).

 

 

Power In People

There is nothing a wicked ruler fears more than having his people revolt en masse against him. So such a king uses intimidation tactics and downright terror to keep his subjects paralyzed. "Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear," is the simile of Solomon, "is a wicked ruler over a poor people" (Proverbs 28:15). "Divide and conquer," is the old axiom; and wicked rulers know the value of their extended maxim, "Keep divided and keep conquered." A totalitarian ruler, then, fears his people's uniting against him.

Wise rulers also recognize the necessity of the people's backing. David, who as the king served as the great foreshadow of Jesus the Messiah, found favor with the people. As the armies of Israel returned victoriously, the women met them with dancing and the sound of tambourines, and saying, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands" (I Samuel 18:7). Saul recognized the importance of this sort of backing, and commented. "They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?" (I Samuel 18:8). David continued to be conscious that he was a servant of the people, and through the wisdom of the Spirit of God he progressively united the sons of Israel behind his effort. At a moment when tensions were high during the uniting of Israel, when Joab (David's general from Judah) has assassinated a rival from Israel, David fasted in honor of the slain. "Now all the people took note of it, and it pleased them, just as everything David did pleased all the people" (II Samuel 3:36).

The Lord, the Maker of man, knows how man operates, and allowed the establishment of earthly kings to communicate the principle of the importance of the people. Noting the "stately march" of the strutting cock and the male goat, the writer of Proverbs adds as a parallel, "And a king when his army is with him" (Proverbs 30:31). "In a multitude of people is a king's glory," is the observation, "but in the dearth of people is a prince's ruin." (Proverbs 14:28).

The great King is desirous of being surrounded by His people, and has chosen to move forward in the midst of His army. The psalmist in Israel therefore prophesied that a "people yet to be created" would praise Him. Each Christian is therefore of critical importance; even the Lord generates His multitudes one at a time.

 

 

The Eyes of the Lord

God hears without ears, speaks without a mouth, and thinks without a brain. Those pieces are machinery designed for the body of man to connect that which does hear, speak, and think with the material universe. So, when the scripture refers to the "eyes of the Lord," it is alluding to His ability to see, even in the darkness, all that happens on His creation. "The eyes of the Lord," cautioned Solomon, are in every place, watching the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3).

The saint of God, who works assiduously to build the kingdom and publish abroad the glad tidings, is greatly encouraged to learn about the ranging eyes of the Lord. He is glad to note that evil men do not slip past the Almighty unnoticed; he rejoices that the eyes of the Lord see that God's long term plan is executed; and he is excited to know that God watches over His word, ensuring that those things preached by His spokesmen will take place. "The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge," is the encouraging proverb, "but He overthrows the words of the treacherous man" (Proverbs 22:12).

 

 

Hearts and Faces

The Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?" (Genesis 4:6). Cain knew that he did not want to do the will of God; he was already harboring sin in his heart, and the evil waiting to strike therein was already showing on his face. "As in water face reflects face," commented Solomon, "so also the heart of man reflects man" (Proverbs 27:19). Since "the heart of man is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick," then man in general is going to be deceitful and sin-ridden, and this ultimately is going to show up on his countenance (Jeremiah 17:9). But Christians have a new heart, and this likewise will be reflected in their faces. "The lamp of the body is the eye," was the teaching of the Lord at the sermon on the mount. "If therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness" (Matthew 6:22,23).

The Christian, as an imitator of Christ, has joy even in the midst of earth's turmoil and troubling situations. "These things I have spoken to you." stated the Lord Himself, "that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full" (John 15:11). May God's children never exhibit a false face of hypocrisy nor the set and twisted countenance of rebellion. When their hearts have a tendency to be broken and the faces tending to be downcast, may they instead focus their attention upward, and may their joyful hearts be reflected in their cheerful faces.

 

 

Some Things That Are Better

Natural man has a tendency to think that more is better. Happiness, in his vain imagination, is a bigger house, softer beds, and thicker steaks. "If I can just achieve my next goal," he thinks to himself, pondering more of this life's goodies, "then I'll be happier." But the matters of substance in the life of one of God's children are not found in his properties, as Jesus Himself noted: "For not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions" (Luke 12:15).

What man needs to realize is that joy and misery are internal conditions, and the circumstances that really connect with both joy and misery are relationships - relationships with people initially, and ultimately man's relationship with God. Many is the family whose home life is wretched, filled with alternate days of shouting or silence. But there is a better way.

The things which produce joy and happiness on earth and eternity in heaven have little to do with dollars and cents. The great joys come from the "better" ways delineated by God's word. "And I show you," stated the apostle Paul, "a still more excellent way…Pursue love" (I Corinthians 12:3l;14:1).

 

 

The Power of Positive Words

The importance of words and their effect on people cannot be overemphasized. Reason rides upon the carrier of words; and words are the emissaries of love, the transport of joy, and the pleadings of desired forgiveness. Let us focus again, then, on the importance of edification and encouragement eschewing the destruction attendant to deceiving words and bad attitudes with their poison-tipped comments. "Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death," was the observation of Solomon, "so is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, 'was I not joking?'" (Proverbs 26:18,19). By contrast the instruction of the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul is clear and concise: "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but oily such a word as is good for edification" (Ephesians 4:29).

There is power in words; power to save or to destroy, power to build up or tear down. God wants His children to he of disciplined tongue that they might exhibit the character of Christ and spread His word. "The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds persuasiveness to his lips" (Proverbs 16:23). "The wise in heart will be discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness" (Proverbs 16:21).

 

 

The Path of the Upright

Life is a journey. For most, rather than being a short burst, it is a long trek, of traversing through wastelands of despair, plunging through jungles of adversity, wading through rivers of sickness and weakness, crossing high ridges infested with entrenched opposition, and occasionally passing through fruitful fields of high productivity. The key question has not to do so much with the adventures of the journey as where the trail comes to its end. "The path of life leads upward for the wise," as the proverb, "that he may keep from Sheol below" (Proverbs 15:24). A little reflection establishes that the wisest thing a man can do is to finish in heaven, and the stupidest thing he can do is to end up "in Sheol below."

Ultimately the sojourning on earth is designed to produce and increase the faith of God's followers. "He who walks blamelessly will be delivered," was the perception of Solomon, "but he who is crooked will fall all at once" (Proverbs 28:18). As the observing saint moves through his earthly existence, he will note the blessings of God for those who honestly strive to please Him, and the curses which come upon those who plunge on in their own way. "He who leads the upright astray will himself fall into his own pit," was the annotation, "but the blameless will inherit good" (Proverbs 28:10). The saint will press on, then, following the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. "The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted" (Proverbs 29:25).

 

 

The Prayer of the Righteous

The things that are impossible for men are possible for God. And projects which are too much for men are but slight things in the eyes of the Almighty. But in His omnipotence and omniscience, He often chooses not to move unless borne on the wings of the saints' prayers.

The apostle Paul was particularly conscious of the importance of the brethren's prayers. Writing to the church in Corinth, he referred to his trials in the Roman province of Asia, where his work was centered in Ephesus. "For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia," he wrote, "that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired of life." Further describing the situation, the apostle mentioned the full extent of their extremity, "indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead." Paul then noted the coming rescue from God, and the participation of the saints in that rescue. "And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping through your prayers" (II Corinthians 1:8-11). Somehow, in the sovereign will of God, the saints' prayers were necessary for Paul's deliverance.

God wants regular communication from those who claim to be a part of His family. So He has chosen, in His infinite wisdom, to work His mighty works when exhorted on by the prayers of the saints. "Evil men do not understand justice," asseverated sagely Solomon, "but those who seek the Lord understand all things" (Proverbs 28:5). And those who understand, pray "The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous" (Proverbs 15:29).

 

 

Good News From Heaven

It is exciting, for all people for all times, to hear good news! The birth of a child, the sound of wedding bells, the word of a son safely home from war-all these stir the heart with warmth from the fires of joy. "Bright eyes gladden the heart; good news puts fat on the bones," was the way Solomon phrased it (Proverbs 15:30). But as heartwarming as news of any of earthly messages may be, their purpose is to set the stage for the dawning of comprehension of the joy in the message from heaven.

"Like cold water to a weary soul," was the parallel of Solomon, "so is good news from a distant land." (Proverbs 25:25). The greatest of news - the gospel of God's Son - has come from the most distant of lands, from heaven itself. Believe and obey!

 

 

"Your Plans Will Be Established"

"Who has ascended into heaven and descended?" is the opening salvo of Agur the oracle. "Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established the ends of the earth? What is His name, or His Son's name? Surely you know!" (Proverbs 30:4). Any serious contemplation of God brings a man to a recognition of his own smallness, weakness, and senselessness by comparison. The wise man, therefore, looks to God for wisdom and guidance, and lets the Lord instruct him in setting his priorities.

The disciple of Christ, even though he often does not understand his circumstances, will follow God's word absolutely and resolutely. He will make certain that his motives are pure, that he is following the counsel of God's will, and that he is pressing on with all effort to be conformed to the image of God's Son. "The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted" (Proverbs 29:25). "Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established" (Proverbs 16:3).

 

 

Honor and Respect the Aged

"You shall rise up before the gray-headed," commanded Moses, "and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:32). Honor and respect for the aged are tied to reverence for the one and only God; a society which refuses to honor God and grant proper respect for the old is a society on the verge of destruction. The modern lack of respect for the aged has roots in a philosophy and attitude about life on earth that is anti-God. The nature of man and the economics of Karl Marx combine to produce a utilitarian view of other people; others have value to "me" only so long as they can be "used by me." Since the hoary-headed have oft outlived much of their physical usefulness, particularly as far as the young and impatient are concerned, then they can be ignored or trashed. Of such a heartless generation, the sacred writings of the New Testament speak: they are "without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful" (Romans 1:31). But to bring families out of such a destructive atmosphere is one of the purposes of the church of God, retraining them in the ways of the Lord.

Satan is hard at work to destroy the family unit because that breakup results in a general loss of honor toward God, the One from whom every family derives its name. One very powerful but simple habit that family heads can produce in their children is respect for others, and one of the true tests of whether that is being accomplished is their demeanor before senior citizens. If they rise up before the gray-headed, then they are well on the way to revering the Lord.

 

 

The Cost of Quarrels

The key to any offensive thrust, be it athletics or war, is for the offensive unit to work smoothly, like a well-oiled machine. The smart defensive units, be it athletics or war, do their nastiest and most effective work when they get right in the middle of the offensive units, and break up the offensive salvos from the inside. When the church of the living God is engaged in serious warfare - fighting the good fight of faith, spreading the message of the good confession, and rescuing sinners from the fires of hell - then the devil works to break up the offensive thrust.

But how will Satan be able to get inside the church of God? The apostle Peter knew, and warned Christians about the warfare: "Beloved, I urge you as strangers and aliens to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul" (I Peter 2:11). The war is being waged from as close quarters as it can, working through any remnants of fleshly-mindedness in the saints. "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?" asks James. "Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?" (James 4:1) The Destroyer likes for the church to be quarreling among itself; then no offensive forward moves against the dark domain can be accomplished. By contrast, "How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1).

The solution is for the Christian to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires. "For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and walking like mere men?" (I Corinthians 3:3). "And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity" (Colossians 3:14).

 

 

Any Country's Best Citizens

The strength of a nation is the moral fiber of her people. When there is rot in the warp and woof of society's fabric, then the bonds, which hold her together are thin and frayed, and the slightest stress will rend asunder her free institutions. A characteristic of what the Bible calls "the wicked" is that they are "lawless"; by definition they are both moral and political anarchists, and in exhibiting the same traits as their spiritual father, the devil and Satan, they come only to steal and kill and destroy. By contrast, those who walk humbly with their God love kindness and "do justice" (Micah 6:8). "But let justice roll down like waters," cried the voice of another prophet, "and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" (Amos 5:24). "When the wicked increase, transgressions increase," was the evaluation of Solomon (Proverbs 29:16). As righteousness ceases to flame from the pulpits of America's churches, in the words of French observer de Tocqueville, America will cease to be good. And as America ceases to be good, she ceases to be great.

Christians are any nation's best citizens. Because they hold a higher citizenship than any that earth's realms can offer, disciples of Christ teach others to observe all that Jesus commanded, and they are not afraid to die in spreading the word of righteousness.

 

 

Finding A Wife

"He who finds a wife finds a good thing," stated Solomon, "and obtains favor from the Lord" (Proverbs 18:22). Later the sage poses a question: "An excellent wife, who can find?" (Proverbs 31:10). The theme of "finding a wife runs like a mighty river throughout all aspects of human life. It is the underlying current in romance novels, its waves lap along the edges of adventure stories and "flicks, and its magnetic power is bent and twisted by Satan to serve perverted and political ends. Indeed, the theme pervades even "the greatest story ever told," the Bible itself.

The words of the Lord still ring with encouragement: "Seek, and you shall find" (Matthew 7:7). If a man wants a wife, he must seek with the assurance that he will find. If a saint wants to seek the lost, he must seek with the assurance that he will find.

 

 

Developing Disciplined Children

Raising up children who are a glory to God is no small task or minor accomplishment. Parents who successfully guide their children through the teenage years and on in to productive and godly lives are not only to be commended, but imitated. Ultimately, the children are the Lord's and He is therefore able to issue this diction from on high: "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). Parents - especially Christian parents - have a responsibility given to them by God, and they are therefore answerable to Him in regard to how well they carried out this responsibility.

The wisdom of good Christian parents is exhibited in their unwavering consistency in enforcing the rules and providing positive praise and incentives. Inconsistent moms and dads, who praise and punish for a little while and then quit - who don‘t have the personal discipline themselves to withhold reward when the child hasn't earned it - confuse their children and produce uncurried tendencies in their offspring. "Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; he will also delight your soul" (Proverbs 29:17).

 

 

Wine Is A Mocker

There are those who love their wine. There are those who love their social drinking. And there are those who wish they had never seen or heard of alcoholic beverages because of the destruction wrought in their lives and their loved ones. "Listen, my son, and be wise," was the advice of Solomon, "and direct your heart in the way. Do not be with heavy drinkers or wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the heavy drinker and glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags" (Proverbs 23:19-21). Poverty is not the only calamity to befall the heavy drinkers; families come apart, domestic violence is rampant, and crime and misery increase. So who thinks wine is a good thing?

Boozers are losers. King Lemuel recalled the wise words of his mother: "It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to desire strong drink, lest they drink and forget what is decreed, and pervert the rights of all the afflicted" (Proverbs 31:4,5). If mere earthly kings were exhorted not to drink wine, what about spiritual kings of heavenly citizenship? "It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything by which your brother stumbles," stated Paul (Romans 14:21). In America, where beer costs less than water and wine coolers crowd grocery store and mini-market shelves, the Christian can be a positive force by abstaining from all alcoholic beverages. Wine is a mocker, and its laughter is hollow and fiendish at the end.

 

 

A Correct Answer

Words are used to tell the truth. But words can also be used to promote lies, schemes, and massive fraud. The god of confusion, Satan, twists the straight rod of truth to produce a web of distortion and a labyrinth of mesmerization so intricate that often only the very astute among honest men are able to keep their bearings. It is critical, therefore, that such men and women be able to communicate true understanding and expose the objections of those who oppose the truth. The affairs of nations rise or fall based on the populace’s having a general understanding of important political and economic truth and a willingness to follow that understanding; how much more significant are the eternal truths which produce salvation? "Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge," queried Solomon, "to make you know the certainty of the words of truth that you may correctly answer to Him who sent you?" (Proverbs 22:20,21).

What is needed is men who have the knowledge and the courage to expound upon the counsels of God in these areas, and bring in the certainty of truth and explode Satan’s realm. Who will give the correct answers?

 

 

Don’t Move The Boundary

Each family in Israel had its property. God said that He really owned the land, and, when Israel took control of the property, God apportioned the land by lot to the various tribes, and distributed the acreage family by family. To ensure that the property stayed with the family in perpetuity, the Almighty even had provisions for a man to raise up children for his brother if that brother died childless. Thus each family had its inheritance in Israel, and marked the boundaries of the property. In that connection, the sage, the son of David, wrote: "Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set" (Proverbs 22:28). Since God allocated the property, man did not have the right to change the boundary.

If God was concerned about the boundaries of Naboth’s property, He is infinitely more concerned about the teaching of the boundaries on moral standards, doctrines governing the church, and the way of salvation. And God has sent His spokesmen to pronounce judgment upon the modern Ahabs and Jezabels who in arrogance move those ancient boundaries.

 

 

The Work Ethic

"Do you see a man skilled in his work?" asked Solomon. "He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men" (Proverbs 22:29). This is a great promise to any craftsman or skilled laborer; men will notice the quality of workmanship and will bring the workmanship to the attention of kings and those in prominence. This proverb, and the other teachings of the Word of God concerning quality work, produces a Biblical work ethic, a hard working, do-it-right atmosphere in individuals, families, and whole societies.

The greatest work in which to be skilled is handling accurately the word of truth. And a man (or woman) who does this will not be left in obscurity; he will stand before the King.

 

 

Advice on Men and Money

All is not always as it seems. The masters of illusion sometimes perform their tricks on stage; most of the outstanding masters tend to perform in the business arena or in the places where political levers are pulled. Hence King Solomon and the Holy Spirit cooperated to give some advice on illusion and the masters of illusion.

Money and position are illusory. Few can climb the ladder of deception to wealth and power, and most of those who do die violent deaths. Skilled in the use of smoke and mirrors, glitz and promotion, they can, however, deceive the unsuspecting saint. Take God’s advice on men and money.

 

 

"As a Man Thinketh..."

A profound truth in a simple statement: "For as he thinks within himself, so he is" (Proverbs 23:7). The writer of Proverbs uses this point to establish that a man who views himself as selfish is selfish. This general truth applies to all aspects of a man’s nature; if a man views himself as a failure, he must fail, and if a man truly views himself as a success, he must succeed. The performance of an individual is based on his self-image; the key to changing behavior is to change the image.

The Christian has been given a new image, the image of Christ in glory. But this image must be constantly held and worked on by the follower of Christ or it too will fade. As a man thinks, so he is.

 

 

The Temporal Judgments of God

All men will stand before the great white throne in judgment on the last day. But God does not wait until the last day to execute all His judgments. He has the means in place to call men and nations to account long before Jesus returns with trumpet blast and archangel voice. God’s witness Stephen noted the temporal judgment of God against the nation of Egypt would be executed. Quoting from Moses, he commented that God’s people "would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years." And the Almighty noted his upcoming judgment on Egypt, "And whatever nation to which they shall be in bondage I Myself will judge" (Acts 7:6,7). Ancient Egypt was judged in 1446 BC; God does not necessarily wait to the end of time to execute wrath.

The guilty ones try to pervert justice and twist the scriptures to justify themselves. But God is not necessarily going to wait until judgment day to sicken or even put them to death. "Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep" (II Peter 2:3).

 

 

"Buy Truth"

The writer of Proverbs keeps coming back to his original theme. "Buy truth, and do not sell it," he says. "Get wisdom and instruction and understanding" (Proverbs 23:23). The members of the human race as a whole are selfish; they have a tendency to want what they want when they want it, and will shove others aside, trample people in the mud, and compromise principle to get it. A violent and bloody race, they will in general choose the easy way rather then the right way. When something called truth stands as an obstacle in their course, they will shove it off the road as an outmoded husk, moving on and motioning others onward also. Hence Solomon cycles back to his theme: "Buy truth and do not sell it."

"Buy truth and do not sell it." Never before in the history of the world have so many forces combined with the sole objective of obliterating truth. So buy, buy, buy truth, brother, and do not sell it!

 

 

More on Wisdom and Folly

Foolishness is one of the evil things that proceed from an unregenerate heart. It ranks right there with others in this rank list: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, sensuality, envy, and slander, among others. Because foolishness is a product of the flesh, then it like the others has to be overcome for one who wants to follow God. Hence Solomon the sage had much to say about foolishness, especially to the young, and appealed to God’s people to be wise. "My son," he said, "eat honey, for it is good; yes, honey from the comb is sweet to your taste." Having generated the appropriate positive sensation in the taste buds, the writer goes on to recommend wisdom. "Know that wisdom is thus for your soul. If you find it, then there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off" (Proverbs 24:13,14).

From beginning to end the book of Proverbs derides folly and fools and extols the virtues of wisdom. "Get wisdom and instruction and understanding" (Proverbs 23:23).

 

 

One More Time

Even the world recognizes the general differences between a success and a failure. The man or woman who is a failure, after some disappointment or difficulty, says, "I quit." The success is the person who picks himself up one more time, dusts himself off, and presses on to victory. Solomon expressed the issue thusly: "For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity" (Proverbs 24:16). The word of God is at work within believers to produce those who have the will to win in the face of tremendous disappointment and external opposition.

All these points and more combine to give the stumbling sinner the strength and hope to pick himself up one more time and to lay aside the sin which so easily besets him, and enable him to now run with patience the race that is set before him. This is true faith in God. "It is God who is at work in you," emphasized Paul, "both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). He is "able to keep you from stumbling" (Jude 24). So get up, and start running the victory race!

 

 

"Friend, Move Up Higher"

"Let another praise you," were the words of wise old Solomon, "and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips" (Proverbs 27:2). The natural tendency of man is to aggrandize himself and his family. A mother would actually switch the places of a daughter and a daughter’s friend in a final line at a 5 kilometer run, just so the daughter’s name would appear before the friend’s name in the printout of 5000 runners in the next day’s local paper. A small thing, perhaps, but what is the difference between that and the continual "self-promotion" that goes on at the highest levels of government? The wisdom of God warns against this natural tendency, calling for humility on the part of each imitator of God.

True exaltation comes to those who have so humbled themselves that any glory to them would automatically be deflected toward God, as exemplified by the Lord Jesus Himself. And thus it will be when many come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

 

 

Tongues of Contention

 

For good reason, Solomon just won’t lay off. As his majestic wisdom sweeps like a beacon over the vagaries of humanity and the principles of God, periodically the beam strikes the issue of the tongue and its fruit. The tongue is the instrument which brings the saving good news to men, but that which is designed to do the most good can also be the major implement of destruction. So, Solomon, lay it on us one more time:

Brethren must learn to guard the tongue at all times. In those private, intimate conversations, in the presence of children, amongst friends, or in public, the tongue must be carefully directed so that it does not strike with any of those contentious, destructive, weaseling tactics. Let the tongue be edifying, a glory to God and a blessing to man.

 

 

Green Gills of Jealousy

There is a proper time to be jealous about proper things. God, for example, is a jealous God. Paul wrote the church of Corinth, "For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin" (II Corinthians 11:2). Jealous and zealous have the same Greek root, and both convey a burning intensity. Positive jealousy has an intense desire to protect the flock from the wolves of false doctrine, and to help the sheep be spiritual and moral.

But there is a jealousy which is ungodly and which is evilly destructive. Jealousy may be the driving motivation for Satan’s hatred of God and his desire to destroy all of God’s good work. "Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood," observed David’s wise son, "but who can stand before jealousy?" (Proverbs 27:4).

Jealousy is, like a stream of water out of control, a powerful destructive force. "Who can stand before jealousy?" was Solomon’s probing question. Be on guard for those who incite jealousy in others, and use them to feed the fires that would destroy those who proclaim the word of truth.

 

 

Handling Criticism

There are two sides to criticism: giving it and taking it. The scripture does not speak of criticism per se, but generally uses words such as rebuke and reprove instead. "Better is open rebuke," observed Solomon, "than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy" (Proverbs 27:5,6). Many of the major blow-ups among the members of the human race (even among members of the body of Christ) occur in this matter of giving/receiving criticism. Husband-wife relationships often break down because of the highly charged emotional atmosphere connected with giving and receiving rebukes and corrections in "working things out." As expected, the word of God has sound advice both for those who need to pass on some constructive criticism and for those who need to accept it.

The kisses of a Judas are deceitful. By contrast, well-meaning friend, a brother in Christ, or a spouse may have something important of a somewhat critical nature to say, but he may not say it well or handle the situation perfectly. Remember the scripture: "Faithful are the wounds of a friend." "Consider how," wrote the author of Hebrews, "to stimulate one another to love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24).

 

 

Wanderers and Drifters

The curse that came upon Cain was that he would be a vagabond. "When you cultivate the ground," announced God, "it shall no longer yield its strength to you; you shall be a vagrant and a wanderer on earth" (Genesis 4:12). Cain, former tiller of the ground, was now rootless, with nothing to hold him in any one place for any length of time. Pointless wandering is truly a curse, and how miserable indeed are those who, in a series of bad decisions, have ended up homeless and purposeless in the streets and byways of the earth. "Like a bird that wanders from her nest," states the proverb, "so is a man who wanders from his home" (Proverbs 27:8).

"My punishment is too great to bear!" was the pleading of Cain when he was pronounced a wanderer on earth. Too late! He had committed the crime without considering the consequences. May each of us secure his salvation before it is too late, or we become wandering stars in the black darkness forever!

 

 

Common Sense Relationships

There are challenges in all person-to-person relationships. Husbands and wives, for example, have had their difficulties to work through ever since mankind was created. When the Pharisees asked the Lord if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife "for any cause at all," the Lord responded with a short commentary on Genesis chapter 2. Noting that God created mankind male and female from the beginning, and that the two were to become one flesh, He added, "Consequently, they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate" (Matthew 19:6). In other words, it was never God’s intention that man and wife shold divorce, although He made a provison for such in the Law because of the hardness of their hearts. The obvious difficulties in marriage relationships were on the apostles’ minds as they contemplated this essentially "no divorce" clause in upcoming Christianity: "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this," they said, "it is better not to marry" (Matthew 19:10). There are challenges in husband-wife relationships, and by extension, to all person-to-person interaction.

So, how are the challenges to be handled? A lot of wisdom is tucked away in the words of this proverb: "Do not forsake your friend or your father’s friend; and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of calamity; better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away" (Proverbs 27:10).

The natural tendency of man is to have his emotions blot out common sense in building and maintaining relationships with other people. Hurt feelings and pettiness must be set aside, and mature conversation needs to take place to secure friendships. In a day of calamity the neighbor who is near can be of help; the brother who is far off cannot often even be contacted.

 

 

The Iron Sharpeners

Truth has no fear of questions. Fool’s gold fears the fire, sputtering and smelling sulfurous in the crucible, but pure gold knows it will pass through the refiner’s fire with its purity intact. So when the iron sharpeners come to town, iron is ready and willing to be sharpened. "Iron sharpens iron," was the wisdom of Solomon, "so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17).

When iron sharpens iron, there is a piercing noise that really grates on people’s nerves. But without the grating of iron against iron, there is no sharpening. Let the grating, then, be accepted, that the brethren may be sharpened in sound doctrine, that they may be tempered for correct and specific procedures, and that they may be honed to a high pitch of enthusiasm.

 

 

God’s Use of Wealth

God is opposed to men’s charging their fellow countrymen interest. "He who increases his wealth by interest and usury," were the words of Solomon the wise, "gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor" (Proverbs 28:8). This re-emphasized the instructions given to Israel in the Pentateuch, as exemplified in this quotation from Deuteronomy: "You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countryman you shall not charge interest, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all you undertake in the land which you are about to possess" (Deuteronomy 23:19,20).

Because of these scriptures, Roman Catholicism forbade the collecting of interest between Catholics. The Jews (not, most likely, descended from those who lived in ancient Israel) who resided in Western Europe were under no such compunction, and, in lending to the Catholics, developed their big banking houses, such as the Bank of Rothschild. Eventually controlling the economies of Europe, they then set their sights on the New World, especially in the developing United States of America. Before the British Colonies in America even became free from England, these same financial interests had worked to set up the equivalent of a national bank for the colonies. After the United States became an independent republic, the 1st U.S. Bank and then the 2nd U.S. Bank were national banks controlled by these same international banking houses of Western Europe. Andrew Jackson, in his campaign for the Presidency in 1828, ran on a platform of abolishing the national bank, and, after being elected, actually kept his campaign pledge to the people. So the United States was without a national bank from 1829 to 1913, and the nation went from a third-world backwater to the world’s most robust and advanced economy.

But with the sad mis-education coming with the development of the "public" school systems following the Civil War, the American people accepted a national bank in the form of the Federal Reserve System in 1913, also controlled by those same Western European banking interests. The Federal Reserve System has a monopoly on paper and electronic currency and is able to expand or contract the economy at will. With this monopoly on currency, the Fed is the only institution that can create inflation, and it is an absolute lie for their officers and their lackeys in the national media to pretend that they are going to slow down inflation by interest rate increases. In the meantime, they have persuaded Americans to go into debt somewhere above their gills, are collecting interest and compound interest, and slowly reducing the citizenry to the level of slavery. God, knowing the ability of these types of shysters to eventually extract their pound of flesh, forbade the collecting of interest in Israel, eliminated all debt every seven years, and called for the return of landed property to the original families every fifty years.

Christians need to recognize that these banking interests are virulent, though subtle, enemies of the gospel. "Is it not the rich who oppress you," James reminded his readers, "and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?" (James 2:6,7). Of those rich this bond-servant of the Lord notes, "You have condemned and put to death the righteous man" (James 5:6). It is instructive that God does not necessarily protect the Christian from being dragged into court or even put to death by these forces of evil. The Christian must remain faithful, especially in these circumstances.

Just as the wealth of Egypt was taken by Israel and used to build the tabernacle of the Lord in the wilderness, so the Almighty will plunder the banking houses at the most strategic time, in His own way and for His own purposes. "He who increases his wealth by interest and usury gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor."

 

 

Blotting out Transgressions

The great God is quite interested in restoring fellowship with fallen man. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself," were some poignant words from the former Saul the persecutor, "not counting their trespasses against them" (II Corinthians 5:19). It is a munificent One indeed who will forgive the transgressions of His enemies, and, furthermore, pay the price for their iniquities Himself!

But is this great forgiveness indiscriminately distributed, ladled out upon the entire race without regard to their individual responses to the mercies tendered by His Majesty? Both the Old and New Covenant writings are conclusive that man must be an active participant in the remission process. "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper," was the statement from the wisdom of Proverbs, "but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. How blessed is the man who fears always, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity" (Proverbs 28:13,14).

The great God is willing to blot out the transgressions of the humble in heart. If they will truly repent and submit to Him in immersion for the forgiveness of their sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, He will forgive to the uttermost. If they will continue to confess and forsake their sins, He will grant the greatest of clemency. But if they continue to try to play games, He will execute His wrath and then they will experience the greatest of all calamity.

 

 

This Present Evil Age

The leaders of Western Civilization have deliberately turned their backs on God. Western Civilization has gone through the Bible with a fine-toothed comb; from the soaring music of Handel’s Messiah to the Biblical truths underlying the formation of the American republic to the conversation of the common man, larded with expressions derived from both the Old and New Testament writings, it is clear that the shout of the King was heard among them. As the applied principles of scripture produced wealth in accordance with the blessings of God, the monetary powers-that-be in their arrogance set to work to finance the destruction of Western Civilization and Christianity, calling their coming age the novus ordo seclorum or the new world order. When the gates of Satan’s abyss were thus voluntarily opened, legions of evil spirits ascended like bats out of a cave at evening, and the hellish events of the 1900’s transpired. You see, the century just past was the bloodiest in the history of the world since Noah’s day; those put to death in Hitler’s holocaust (the numbers of which are often exaggerated) were but a trifle compared to the hundred million plus exterminated by the likes of Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, the Khmer Rouge, and Fidel Castro. And, as mankind perches on the cliff of the twenty-first century, there is a black, frowning, foreboding that much worse is to come.

But there is the great God who is still able to rescue the Noah, the Daniel, and the Moses among men, and cause the bodies of modern Herods to be eaten with worms while the crowds are directed by Nashville-style cue cards to shout, "The voice of a god, and not a man."

When the signs of the times shake the nations, then the son of God will want to crank his faith up several notches. In the face of increasing pressure to conform to the world, he must resolutely determine to serve God regardless of cost. "He who turns away from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination. He who leads the upright astray in an evil way will himself fall into his own pit, but the blameless will inherit good" (Proverbs 28:9,10). Now is the time to steel the will and strengthen determination; when the crisis comes, it is too late.

 

 

Doing the Basics

There is a natural tendency in man to get excited about the flamboyant. Moderns are often not so different from the ancient Athenians, wanting to hear or tell something new. It reminds me of a presentation I once saw by a man who was extremely skilled in blowing bubbles. He had developed a soap film which was very strong, which would hold its shape and would not pop. The magnificent high point of his demonstration was his blowing twelve bubbles of precisely the same size and positioning them perfectly so that within was a regular dodecahedron, made to stand out by the cigarette smoke which he blew into the internal bubble with a straw. Flamboyant? Perhaps. Worthless? Absolutely!

Working on the old farm can be pretty routine. Audiences don’t gather in awe at the planting of the crop, and crowds don’t roar in repeated standing ovations at the bringing in of the last load of the harvest. The proverb contains a great and pervasive lesson: "He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have plenty of poverty" (Proverbs 28:19). Doing the solid basics is productive; following the flamboyant is trivial and destructive.

God really honors the routine, consistent, practical efforts of spiritual men. Discard the tendencies toward attention-getting, and instead get down to steady business.

 

 

Reason vs. Emotion

The young lady who follows her heart instead of her head is generally in for a long and miserable life. The tall and handsome stranger who captures her emotions can be a dangerous man who makes his way through the world preying on females who can be played like a bass fiddle. These are "those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses" (II Timothy 3:6). The men are dangerous; the women follow their emotional impulses rather than carefully thinking the situation through.

But the charlatans are not limited to men who captivate weak women for use in the physical realm. There are those who play on the emotions of others in the realm of religion, jerking their heart strings so that they will reject sensible truth and follow the sweet siren song to hell. "He who trusts in his heart is a fool," was Solomon’s observation, "but he who walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26). The great God, as is fitting for Him who communicates His truths to man in written form, appealed for men to use their heads! "Come now, and let us reason together," was His call, "though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18).

Emotion misapplied is the technique most used by Satan to block the public’s mind in understanding the gospel. That is why the Lord’s bond-servants, in working with people on a personal basis, "must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 2:24,25).

 

 

The Danger of Stiff Necks

Some people are S-T-U-B-B-O-R-N. When it comes to doing the will of God and following the teaching of scripture, they can become as balky as a recalcitrant donkey or immovable as an ox. But hear the wisdom of Solomon: "A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1). Bow to the will of God voluntarily now, or be broken and bow to the will of God later.

The warning from scripture is clear: be open to the reproofs which God sends through scripture and circumstance. The man whose neck is hardened will surely perish; the man whose heart is open to the preachments of God will live.

 

 

The Troubler in Israel

Ahab and Jezebel put to death the prophets of Jehovah in Israel. When, by the word of the Lord, Elijah went to confront Ahab, Ahab’s words to Elijah were, "Is this you, you troubler of Israel?" (I Kings 18:17). Elijah’s response is obvious to us who can stand 2800 years away and have all history in which to look back on the days of this conversation. But to someone standing there at that time, all he could have seen was the controversy between the prophet and the king. Elijah replied, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord …" (I Kings 18:18). Who really was the problem here?

"When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man," says the proverb, "the foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest" (Proverbs 29:9). The reason the conflict is not resolved because the foolish man really refused to deal with the issues; his rage or his laughter is his means of ducking out without directly appearing to do so. Elijah and Ahab? Ahab raged while Elijah continued to press home the issues of righteousness and the worship of the only true God. Which one of those was wise would be clear from the way in which each handled the controversy.

"Scorners set a city aflame, but wise men turn away anger" (Proverbs 29:8). Those who are driven by personal ambition really don’t care what they tear down; the wise men are edifiers.

 

 

Correct Your Son

The family is the training ground of the future elder. The patience and intelligent guidance required to help young people through their early years and on into savvy and spiritual adulthood is the same as that required of Biblical elders in helping Christians under their charge grow into maturity in Christ. When children are very small, parents can dictate; when children are older, parents can direct; but, at some point, all parents can do is to stand back, give advice when asked, and trust that their good example stands as the type of life-style their children would want to choose. An elder has a proven track record of knowing "how to manage his own household," and will therefore know how to take care of the church of God (I Timothy 3:5). The elders, pastors of the sheep, have learned in this process not to lord it over those allotted to their charge, but to prove "to be examples of the flock" (I Peter 5:3).

But the process of raising children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord is best started early on. Mom and dad have to work as a unified and communicating unit, and pray for lots of wisdom as well as studying the scriptures and seeking advice from those who know how to get it done. The book of Proverbs therefore continues to speak about that wisdom: "The rod and reproof give correction," is one statement, "but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother" (Proverbs 29:15). Following on those heels is this jewel: "Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; he will also delight your soul" (Proverbs 29:17).

Ultimately, the Father sets forth the principles of what He calls the "new creation" to bring His spiritual children into conformity with the image of His Son. Those same principles apply to parents who are raising children in their images; and false religious principles as a basis for rearing families are guaranteed to be destructive. Learn from God and from godly examples. And be a delight to the Father’s soul.

 

 

Loss of Vision

When someone is blinded in an accident, his life changes. No longer able to see for himself, he must depend upon other people for many things; he must be driven by someone else, and someone else must provide his surroundings so that he can function with some degree of self-sufficiency. But what would happen is everyone were struck blind at the same time? There is an old saying something to the effect that a one-eyed man is king in the colony of the blind.

The scripture uses blindness in the physical realm to bring an understanding of blindness in the spiritual realm. The Gentiles of this world, according to the apostle Paul, "walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart" (Ephesians 4:17,18). Thus it is written, that "the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving" (II Corinthians 4:3,4). Men need enlightenment from God, or their whole civilization perishes. "Where there is no vision," was the proverb of Solomon in reference to the prophets’ receiving revelation from God to guide the children of Israel, "the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law" (Proverbs 29:18).

The modern church is built on the foundation of those nameless (to us) brethren in the first century who lived morally pure lives and who died rather than to yield to the culture of their day. Their combined legacy is the basis for modern faith in Jesus, as a mountain is no more than a mass of individual stones. The Christian keeps the revelation of God alive, and "happy is he who keeps the law."

 

 

Do Not Alter God’s Words

"Every word of God is tested," were the words of Agur the oracle. "He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar" (Proverbs 30:5,6). The Almighty stands like a sentry, guarding His word, preserving it through the centuries. Those who have raged against it and beat on its monolithic consistency have withered, and in the end will be judged by its unadulterated contents. The mockers with their mocking pass like a flitting shadow through history, a flicker in the sunlight of eons; by contrast, as Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35). The smart guys, like Moses, choose "rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt" (Hebrews 11:25,26).

Preach and teach, then, the whole counsel of God. Do not shrink from declaring anything that is profitable, and do not hide from declaring the whole purpose of God. Do not throw in an admixture of human contrivance, and tell the whole truth about salvation, that men may take refuge in God.

 

 

Two Wise Requests

Agur the son of Jakeh was wise enough for his words to be included by the Holy Spirit in the book of Proverbs. "Two things I asked of You," he recorded of his requests to God. "Do not refuse me," he added, "before I die" (Proverbs 30:7). Those two things are worthy of each Christian’s consideration as he contemplates his own eternity.

Man’s material welfare has an impact on his overall spirituality. The Christian would do well to ponder Agur’s words about not having too much nor too little. "I have learned," recorded the apostle Paul, "to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity" (Philippians 4:11,12).

 

 

There Is A Kind of Man

The Bible not only teaches man about God, but it also teaches man about men. "There is a kind of man," says scripture, "who curses his father, and who does not bless his mother. There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, yet not washed from his filthiness. There is a kind - oh how lofty are his eyes! And his eyelids are raised in arrogance.

There is a kind of man who teeth are like swords, and his jaw teeth like knives, to devour the afflicted from the earth and the needy from among men" (Proverbs 30:11-14). These are kinds of men which exhibit different forms of rebellion against the kind, just, and loving God. A Christian needs to examine himself first of all, to make sure he has expunged such tendencies from his own thinking. Secondly, these men are dangerous to the body of Christ when they come in, and each follower of Christ needs to recognize them when they darken the doors of the saints’ fellowship. Believers, and especially church leadership, must figure out how to be proactive in bringing these men to repentance, or to protect the body of Christ from them.

These types of unregenerate man, whether found inside the dragnet of the church or not, have a fleshly mind-set and are therefore hostile to God, regardless of their protestations to the contrary. The saint of God must learn to be wise, recognizing that not all men are what they claim to be. "By their fruit you shall know them," was some very wise counsel. Those who walk by the Spirit do not come to be served but to serve, and to give their lives as a ransom for many.

 

 

Hard To Satisfy

Treaties are like pie crusts, said Lenin, made to be broken. In other words, a Communist has no intention of ceasing his revolutionary and incendiary activities; he agrees to a peace treaty to put his opposition to sleep while he proceeds apace with his agenda. Never satisfied. That is why negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization in Israel will come to naught, why peace accords with the Irish Republican Army will be broken, and why the stationing of "peace keepers" in the midst of territory claimed by the Kosovo Liberation Army will accomplish nothing. They can never be satisfied, only temporarily appeased.

Agur the oracle, retrospecting on his experience with men, produced a list of those, similar to Lenin, who cannot be satisfied. The child of God will take note, and conduct himself with wisdom, learning the lessons and knowing how to handle these situations as they arise.

The fleshly-minded man is never contented for very long. Like the leech’s daughters and the big four which cannot be satisfied, yesterday’s dosage of sensuality was not enough. Today’s portion of heroin has to be a bit more than yesterday’s to produce the same high. Yesterday’s party has to be supplanted by something new and unusual in today’s to crank up the same level of excitement; yesterday’s envelope has to be pushed a bit further to produce the same "rush." Ah, but Jesus through His Spirit can be enough, if the man will on turn to Him on His terms. "Why do you spend money for what is not bread?" asks the Lord through His prophet. "And your wages for what does not satisfy?" (Isaiah 55:2).

 

 

Wise and Wonderful

The sagacious Agur was an observant man, with a bit of dry humor glistening in his eye as he put forth his droll proverbs. "There are three things too wonderful for me," he said, speaking in his cadence, "four things which I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the middle of the sea, and the way of a man with a maid" (Proverbs 30:18,19). All of these have to do with movement. It is an inspiring sight, to stand on a mountain peak and the see the great bald eagle soaring in the breeze, searching in sweeping circles for his prey. There is a hypnotic effect in the sinusoidal movement of a snake working his way across a rock, and a sense of wonder and longing is generated by a ship as she tacks her way to the edge of the horizon. But the humor of Agur comes in the observance of a young man trying to make his moves on the young lady of his proffered affections. Like an eagle soaring - elevation! Like a serpent over a rock - caution! Like a ship tacking her way over the sea - direction!

But it isn’t only the men who make their moves toward the maidens; there can be sinister stuff from the female side as well. "This is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done nothing wrong.’ " (Proverbs 30:20). Boredom, emptiness, love hunger, or misguided desire to build self-esteem all contribute to the way of an adulteress as she makes her inroads on her target. The real message for the Christian here is to be aware of the spiritual adulteress’ working, appealing to fleshly desires and pulling the targets away from devotion to God, and turning the bride of Christ into a sensual harlot. "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God" (James 4:4).

"Four things are small on the earth," is one of the parallel pictures of Agur, "but they are exceedingly wise: the ants are not a strong folk, but they prepare their food in the summer; the badgers are not a mighty folk, yet they make their houses in the rocks; the locusts have no king, yet all of them go out in ranks; the lizard you may grasp with the hand, yet it is in king’s palaces" (Proverbs 30:24-28). Wise folk, eh? Exceedingly wise folk! Ants prepare their food during the summer when they can. Do those much superior humans make their preparations ahead of time? And those engineering badgers know how to build houses in the rocks of cliffs and mountains. Do those homo sapiens know how to build a happy home out of some rocky situations? Locusts go out in ranks voluntarily; can those of the race of men take their places and march together to get might projects done? The panting lizards, no matter how lizard-proof the building, get in somehow. Do those descendants of Adam know the principle that where there is a will, there is a way?

The ones who really need to be wise and wonderful in their movements are the sons of God. The ants prepare; the saints have their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. The badgers build houses in the rocks; Christians build their "houses" on the Rock. Locusts go out in ranks; the disciples of Jesus do in fact have a King, and function in harmony within the body of Christ. Lizards are found in king’s palaces; the brethren are like leaven, leavening the whole earth. As far as wonderful is concerned: the way of a teacher of the word of God as he works to establish a disciple of Christ exceeds the flight of an eagle on the wing. And there is a way of life, which is more wonderful than the movement of a ship at sea. But the most wonderful of all is the way of the Lord Jesus with His bride, greatly overshadowing the way of a man with a maid

 

 

Quaking and Strutting

Even when they grow up, members of the human race don’t get very far from the playroom. In the playroom a pecking order has to be established among the children, and there is a lot of squabbling until that issue is sorted out. Then there is the kid who makes a lot of racket when everyone is supposed to be quiet and take his nap. Of course there is the continual scramble over toys, there are the temper tantrums, and there is the shunting aside of some children as outcasts. The adult playroom is a little larger and encompasses a few more people; but it is essentially the same small world.

Agur the oracle, looking at the pettiness of the bubblespheres of his day, noted: "Under three things the earth quakes, and under four it cannot bear up: under a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is satisfied with food, under an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and a maidservant when she supplants her mistress" (Proverbs 30:21-23).

Agur the oracle is not going to let the spectacle of the playroom pass without one other illustration of petty pomposity. "There are three things which are stately in their march," he notes, "even four when they walk: the lion which is mighty among beasts and does not retreat before any, the strutting cock, the male goat also, and a king when his army is with him" (Proverbs 30:29-31).

Christians must recognize that they are now citizens of the heavenly realm. There is no need for them to engage in petty playroom games, and if they should sink so low as to participate, recognize it and change their behavior so that their comport is befitting mature sons of the great King.

 

 

Help for the Helpless

"For the wrath of God," says Paul, "is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18). God, after all, is a God of justice, and is rightly incensed when justice is suppressed by the unrighteous of the earth. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees!" was the excoriation of our Lord Jesus. "For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others" (Matthew 23:23). God always regarded the seeing the execution of justice as a high priority, much more so than making sure that one out each ten tiny seeds was set aside as a tithe for the storehouse.

Such a principle was foremost in Paul’s mind when the commander of the Roman cohort, Claudius Lysias, had the apostle brought before the Sanhedrin in an attempt to find out why the Jews were so violently upset at his gospel preaching. "Brethren," Paul stated, "I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day." The high priest, Ananias, a younger pup than the original Ananias of the days of Jesus’ crucifixion and early persecution of the church, commanded those standing near to strike him on the mouth. The apostle, knowledgeable of the justice required in the Law, responded, "God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! And do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?" (Acts 21:1-3).

"Open your mouth for the dumb," said King Lemuel of Proverbs’ fame, "for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the needy" (Proverbs 31:8,9). Wherever the Bible goes - including wherever it is taken by God’s people - it teaches how to establish governments, setting forth, as first of all, the principles of righteousness and justice.

God brought Christians into existence as new creatures with a sort of noblesse oblige on behalf of the down-trodden of the earth. Saints of God are not afraid to die physically; therefore they bring God’s standards of justice and righteousness to the attention of the world; they open their mouths.

 

 

His Heart Trusts Her

Marriage must be built on trust. Destruction of trust is what destroys marriages. Hence it is that any couple who really desire a happy and successful marriage must place their highest priority on the development of trusting in each other; each must work hard to demonstrate that he/she is trustworthy and faithful.

"An excellent wife," queries the king, "who can find?" Where would a man look to find an excellent wife? At a saloon, perhaps, where the faithful and responsible characteristics of the bar crowd are well known? At a beach party, maybe, where his future bride has laid the foundation for trust by her modest apparel before all those other men? Over at the gambling casino, possibly, where her trustworthiness in finances can be firmly assured? A man has to remember that for poison to sell, it must be attractively packaged.

The worth of an excellent wife, says the author of this section of Proverbs, "is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life" (Proverbs 31:10-12). Who is she, and what does she do that makes her husband’s heart trust her?

Such a woman! The heart of her husband would joyfully trust her, and as a result the two really could become one flesh as God intended. This is joy and bliss worth whatever discipline is necessary to achieve it.

 

 

Hard-working Lady

Some women "eat the bread of idleness." The apostle Paul warned of this tendency in young widows, encouraging them to marry and get busy. "And at the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention" (I Timothy 5:13). Not the Proverbs 31 woman! She’s up before dawn, getting stuff done.

Again, we say, "Such a woman!" She deserves respect and emulation from her sisters. "Give her the product of her hands, and let works praise her in the gates" (Proverbs 31:31).

 

 

Wisdom and Blessing

The book of Proverbs begins with teaching on wisdom and the blessings that come from being wise. The book likewise ends with the example of the wise and blessed Proverbs 31 woman. "She opens her mouth in wisdom," states the good King Lemuel, "and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue" (Proverbs 31:26). As one "who looks well to the ways of her household," she passes her wisdom on to her children and to other members of the household. This, of course, is the greatest wisdom of all - to pass the wisdom on to succeeding generations. Thus God, to communicate His wisdom even to the Gentiles, sent the Christ, "who became to us wisdom from God" (I Corinthians 1:30). Wherefore, "we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (I Corinthians 1:23,24). The modern Proverbs 31 woman accordingly will help all within her influence to know this Christ, in whom are hidden all the wisdom and treasures of the great God.

"Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying, ‘Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.’ " (Proverbs 31:28,29). Excel still more, ladies, excel still more!

 

 

The Proverbs 31 Woman & The Church

When God first found Israel, she was squirming in her blood. God rescued Jerusalem, helped her to grow up, clothed her nakedness, and prepared her as a bride for Himself. But she was unfaithful and played the harlot with her neighbor’s gods, so the Almighty divorced her. Because the promise in Israel was by physical inheritance rather than by the faith of the individual, devotion to God was lacking; Jerusalem of earth was sent into slavery with her children.

When God first found the church, she was already dead, her sins and her trespasses having carried her into darkness. But God had a plan for His Son to marry the deadened orphan girl. Jesus Himself had to die to bring her to life; He had to put away His life in exchange for hers, to take her sinfulness upon Himself and give her His righteousness in its place. And she is faithful, for only those who are righteous through faith are a part of her. "For this reason," says Paul of the justification which comes to true saints, "it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all" (Romans 4:16). As a faithful bride for the Son, her devotion to her Lord is evident in the foreshadows of the Proverbs 31 woman.

The Proverbs 31 lady stands as a foreshadow of the greatest lady of all, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many daughters have done nobly, but she indeed excels them all, and will thus be greatly honored at the marriage supper of the Lamb.