A Voice in the
Chapters - Topics:
Re: to Know Wisdom (Proverbs 1:2-7)
"To know wisdom and instruction; to discern the words of understanding; to receive instruction in wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young man." (vs2-4)
Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are often called "wisdom literature" of the Bible. Solomon was the wisest man of his day. When God promised that none before or after him would be as wise (1Ki3:12), was God speaking of all the world? ...or just within Israel? During Solomon's day it says that people came from all the nations to hear his wisdom. (1Ki10:24) When the alleged wise and educated of today's world look back in history at those they consider to have been wise, often Solomon is not mentioned. In fact, many of them debate whether such a person as "Solomon" ever even existed. But they seem to have no problems accepting that Confucius, Laotse, Sophocles, Plato, etc existed. Perhaps, in a few verses we can discover why this is so. But instead, what is usually attributed by them to Solomon is the dark and sinister origins of Knights Templar, Freemasonry, and other such societies of secrecy that are said to function in the background, running and coordinating world events, behind all the visible world rulers. Considering how Solomon's heart was turned away from God by all his pagan wives (1Ki11:3-4), much of that paganism dealing in the very things of the occult and darkness of these societies, perhaps there is some truth to those allegations? (I don't know) After all, if he was given such wisdom, what sorts of mischief could the accompanying intellect have devised when he turned away from the Most High!?
What -is- Wisdom? The American Heritage Dictionary says various things: Understanding of what is true, right or lasting. Common sense, good judgment. The sum of scholarly knowledge through the ages. Wise teachings of ancient sages. And under "Bible" it says: Wisdom of Solomon
As we progress through Proverbs, I believe we will find much of these concepts to be true. Justice: that which is just, or right. Judgment: sorting out right from wrong. Equity: what is fair and decent. Prudence: good judgment or common sense in practical matters, careful about one's conduct, circumspect. Knowledge: state of knowing various things, not remaining in stupidity. Discretion: acting responsibly. (vs3-4)
These are very simplified definitions of these words; but as we progress, what we consider will fit into one or many of these categories.
Well...so what? That is a question that some with a more simple outlook might ask. So...there was this wise man who uttered many proverbs and parables. Duh-hyuh! Big deal! That is a person who is NOT 'hearing'. (vs5) That is the one who, throughout the book, is often called the "fool". But why should it matter? If a person delights in stupidity, what does it matter? Lax up! Live and let live! Ignorance is bliss! Well... we'll get to that in a minute.
Regarding that last expression, I'm reminded of a message board sign I saw locally, awhile back, above the entrance to an auto service garage. The proprietor puts little pithy sayings for the consideration of passing traffic. This particular day it read: "If 'ignorance is bliss', why are there so many unhappy people?" A thing to chuckle at. But this, too, is related to the next point...
Why are so many people 'unhappy'? Why are they 'ignorant'? Why do so many of the world's self-presumed scholarly elite debate whether Solomon ever really existed?
Well... -WHAT- is Wisdom? What is at the core of wisdom? From where does it come? ...or, let's clarify... From -whom-?
"The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge..." (vs7a)
We won't look up all the references now... they will come along in sequence as we progress. But, God continually challenges man to consider where the 'wisdom' comes from: the wisdom that was required to create the heavens and earth, the wisdom that created life, the wisdom that provided salvation for sinful mankind. Later on we will come to places where "wisdom" is given a -personality-, as one who calls out: "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?" (1:20-22) The compiler of the LITV translation, understanding that wisdom originates with God, has capitalized "[W]isdom" throughout the book; indicating the idea that "wisdom" -equates- with Deity. I don't know that I quite agree with that format, because God created the heavens "-BY- wisdom" (Ps136:5, Pr3:19) That is a different expression than where we are told that the "Word -was- God" (Jn1:1) The Word -is- the essence of Jesus Christ, but wisdom is the means by which God functions; not necessarily His essence. Yes, I realize that somebody may wish to wrangle some words back at me on this, much of it with merit... I'm not going to argue this point. This is about God's existence and essence...and we do not yet fully know Him. We'll know the answers to these things when we see Him face-to-face
But, notice the choice of words in this verse. It does not say, "the fear of God", but rather, the fear of "Jehovah". Jehovah is the name for God proclaiming His 'existence'. "I AM THAT I AM" (Ex3:14) Pagans have many god[s] that they bow to. But there is only one I AM. It is Jehovah who has "made us, and not we ourselves" (Ps100:3)
What is likely -THE- #1 issue that the world's presumed 'wisdom' balks at? God's -existence-. They have a presumed wisdom; but the truth of the matter is that, unless a person acknowledges the Most High, they have not even begun to approach wisdom. Notice it says, "...but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (vs7b) "The fool has said in his heart, There is no God" (Ps14:1, 53:1) Acknowledging the Most High is the "beginning" of knowledge. Once a person submits to God, 'then' he can begin to learn something.
Remember the earlier speculation? Why would the intelligentsia debate Solomon's existence? Because he proclaims that wisdom begins with a knowledge of the Almighty. All those other 'great' ones that they readily acknowledge, what is the basis of their philosophies? Man's own innate wisdom and goodness, and ultimately, self-deity... the god within. Solomon goes against man's wisdom, because Proverbs is all about God's wisdom. If we don't acknowledge God, let's also pretend that one who spoke of God didn't exist, either.
But this was Paul's desire, "...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Php3:10) "And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." (1Jn5:20)
God shows "..mercy to thousands, to those who love [Him] and keep [His] commandments." (De5:10)
But that is the whole point. Sinful man does not want to keep His commandments, so they deny His existence; and thus, they are stupid. They lack wisdom; because BY DEFINITION, "wisdom" begins with the existence of the Most High.
"Professing to be wise, they became foolish" (Rom1:22)
Re: to Give Instruction (Proverbs 1:2-3,8-33)
"To know/receive...instruction...My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for they shall be an ornament of grace to your head, and chains around your neck." (vs2-3,8-9)
As with so many things these days, is this also not the direct opposite of how today's world operates! Instead of teaching children to "obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Eph6:1), they exhort parents to "listen to your children"; that children have 'innate' wisdom. They reject the notion that "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child" (Pr22:15a); primarily because they also reject the Godly principle that the "rod of correction" is supposed to be used, to drive out that foolishness. (vs15b)
But when a son receives instruction, what is the result? 1) ornament of grace, and 2) chains around the neck.
When today's youth are observed, I have noticed something special about most homeschooled children, as compared to most others. Typically they are well-behaved and well-mannered. They are respectful of adults, do not sass back and are courteous to others. And I can almost guarantee you that the young punks I have to deal with occasionally in front of my store with their skateboards, who when asked to leave, behave belligerently with a defiance as if to say, "Make me!" They don't say that; they instead use "F" words, and such; they are NOT homeschooled; but the reason they are in front of my store in the first place is because they have been abandoned by their parents to pursue their own devices. The thing about children who have been raised in a Godly manner by their parents, that which is noticed, is 'grace'. Or, to clarify it as being different from -saving- "grace" (Eph2:8)...we are talking about "graciousness", civility, and decorum.
And what are those "chains"? Back in that culture, those of high standing in a community due to honor and wealth wore chains around their necks. Think not of shackles, but of decorative necklaces. But these were often made of gold, and studded with jewels in a wealthy community. The more chains around the neck, the higher the person's standing; and as a result, the honor and respect of the community. These were people who sat in the gate, were leaders and rendered judgment when there were disputes between others.
So... if the son is heeding parental instruction... what is the nature of that instruction?
"My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent." (vs10)
When skateboard punk comes along after school and asks, You wanna come along and let's harass that mean ol' sign guy... he is too busy. He has homework. He's just not available, because he has better things to do.
"...let us lie in wait for blood, let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause" (vs11) Like those local youths a couple years ago who were in the news, who had dowsed a cat with gasoline, and set it afire. When questioned as to 'why' they had done it... They were "bored". Or, the big thing with many of them is the gangs. To become initiated, they must do some deed of violence. I don't know what that might be these days, but just a few years ago it might be to drive along in a car, and shoot some bystander or pedestrian with a gun, at random, for no reason. Gangs will do things as a 'group', that individuals might be too scared to do alone. The 'mob' mentality. They mug defenseless people and rob from them; or break into homes to vandalize and steal.
"My son, do not walk in the way with them! Withhold your foot from their path;" (vs15) Remember: Blessed is the the man "who has not WALKED in the counsel of the wicked" (Ps1:1) If the youth has -become- a member of the gang, it's pretty much too late; he has already "sat in the seat" of the scorners. But the exhortation is: "don't walk". Don't even get a start with the evil crowd. Don't go sowing your wild oats, 'cause that's what you'll reap. Let them be over 'there' where they are. So what if they are the "in" crowd, and are made up of what seem to be "popular" kids!? Don't be concerned about their snooty ways...remember, if they are "sitting in the seat", that snootiness is called "scorn". You don't need to be a part of that. They might be "hip", but they will also get into trouble. This, too, I can vouch to...
Another personal example: A few years ago I had a dirt bike; and one Saturday morning when I woke up, the bike was not in the garage. To make a long story short, the high school girls who lived in the house across my back fence, also often had boys over for parties. The tire tracks in the snow led across the fence, which they had torn down for the purpose, and past their house. And when I had occasion to speak to the mother about something related to the incident, she came storming out her door verbally attacking me for even 'suspecting' her daughter's involvement...after all, her daughter was a BASKETBALL PLAYER at her school!! (Woopty doo!) In other words...one of the 'popular' ones. Thus, by the very fact of that status, she was (allegedly) 'innocent'. By the way: I found the bike... right where the girl had 'pointed' during the initial conversation, in the alley, as she was cleverly being "ignorant" of the events, but being 'helpful' and 'speculating' that if I was to go 'looking', I 'might' find it. Of course, mommy-dearest didn't witness that conversation and the other words of self-incrimination the girl unwittingly spoke, and didn't believe it when I relayed it. (And of course, our police did nothing by way of prosecution!) In the summertime, when mother might not be home all night for whatever reason, these same girls would also have their boyfriends over for, based on the kind of sensuous soothing music that wafted throughout the neighborhood, all-night love-in parties. Children NOT being instructed by good parents.
Those who are not raised in righteousness are blind. But when a youth heeds their parents, they can clearly see. They can see the snares of getting into evil, so as to avoid that path. "Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird." (vs17) In the same way, the one raised in truth does not succumb to the enticements of the wicked. When he is coming home from that swing shift job on his bicycle, and that temptress (strange woman) comes out to meet him on the dark street singing, "Strangers in the night", he keeps heading on towards home.
He has heard a different song: "Wisdom cries aloud outside; she utters her voice in the square; she calls out over the tumult; at the openings of the gates, in the city she utters her words: How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity; and those who scorn desire their scorning; and fools hate knowledge? Turn back at my reproof; behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you; I will make my words known to you." (vs20-23)
As with so many things in Scripture, here too, more time is spent warning against simplicity, scorning and foolishness. Those punks that come around the store don't listen. A few years ago there had been a younger brother and sister coming around on their bikes, often riding down next to the busy street and sometimes suddenly ending up 'in' the street, and when they were asked to leave, would smart-mouth back, "We're not supposed to talk to strangers" So my argument was...If that's the case, what are you doing, coming around here? Well, then, I no longer saw them. The little girl got hit by a car during a week-end when I wasn't there, about a block away. It made the news when it happened. As she recovered (I hope?), I never again saw them. They learned the consequences of their carelessness the hard way. They would not listen to reproof, so the girl got seriously hurt.
Wisdom calls out: Turn back from your foolishness. Those who are wise take heed. Those who don't, pay the consequences. And wisdom, when their calamity comes, "laughs". (vs26) Like another kid with his skateboard a couple years earlier. Over at the end of the building there is this drop-off they like to 'jump'. This particular day this one kid that had been a wise-aker on occasion, 'lost' it and went tumbling...landed pretty hard. I saw the whole thing as I was working at the table by the big window. My instinct was to 'laugh'...but I withheld myself. He was obviously in great pain. And as he picked himself up, he looked back towards the window to see me observing what had happened. Our eyes met....and there was a moment of "understanding". I did not come running to see if he was OK, and pat him on the shoulder and go "there there". But also, I never again saw him around the building after that.
When a person refuses wisdom, instruction and exhortation...when calamity comes, that's the way the cookie crumbles; that's the way the ball bounces. In some cases the calamity can be devastating. They "eat the fruit of their own way" (vs31)
They have despised Jehovah. (vs29) I dare say there's very few true "foxhole conversions". That was an expression from either WW1 or WW2. Soldiers would be hunkered down in the foxholes they had dug, knowing the approaching enemy was an overwhelming force, and they were likely doomed...so they, who usually were used to carousing with the bar room broads and getting tanked, would scoff at God and any Christian who hadn't joined in with their debauchery; now, with the approaching enemy would suddenly "get religion" and start "praying" vehemently, and making deals with God. Just like Jacob did, when he was fleeing from Esau, whose blessing he had just stolen: God, if You'll bring me back safe and sound, You will be my God. Well, the soldiers would make similar deals: God, if you get us out of this mess, I "promise" this or that or the other thing. How many of those, once back home, went back to their carousing. When they found themselves in a bind, they prayed to God...but was God hearing them? How many people claim to "pray"; they cry out to God, and then complain when it seems that God is not answering them. They feel that God is "way out there" just out-of-reach. How many who claim to be Christians, also are plagued by a far-away God?
Why does God not answer them? Well... Why -should- He answer? How much does God reach out to man, imploring "turn away from your wickedness and foolishness, and listen to wisdom", but they reject God's Word, intoning the mantra that the Bible "doesn't really mean -that-". They don't want doctrine. They despise the separated life that defines holiness. So, why should God pay attention? He doesn't.
"Behold, Jehovahís hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor is His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has uttered perverseness." (Is59:1-3)
You see...there's a lot of similarity between Wisdom, and how God works.
Another example of wisdom from real life. When riding motorcycles there is a maneuver called "counter steering". When a sudden avoidance of something is necessary, the need to swerve in the shortest amount of time possible, the quickest way to get the motorcycle to turn is to sharply jerk the handlebars in the opposite direction from the way you wish to go. This action quickly pulls the bottom of the front wheel out from under the bike, to set up a 'quick' lean into the desired direction. It is likely one of the more important things a rider can learn when taking the motorcycle safety classes; and when a person is being tested for their license endorsement, it is one of the things on the test. But if a person taking the class is a know-it-all, a "fool", and refuses to pay attention, because he thinks he knows better; that day will come when he needs to make an avoidance maneuver; and indeed, I've heard the stories of guys who crashed, even bragging about it, talking about how in the immediacy of the moment, they tried to "lean" the bike with their 'weight' (when you're only 150lbs atop an 800+lb bike, it just ain't gonna happen!)...but in spite of all their "leaning" and "weight-shifting", the bike went into the ditch anyway, and they went tumbling. They didn't "countersteer"...and because they had refused wisdom, in the heat of the moment that wisdom and training was not 'within' them, as an automatic 'response'. There was no way the teacher's knowledge was going to help them in their moment of need. And when a person who knows better, hears the bragging story, what does the wise one do? They might not laugh; but there might be some shaking of the head, thinking, "The idiot!!"
Or an example in a 'positive' direction: Recently one of our local college basketball teams won a hotly contested game. They were behind by one point; and with 2 1/2 seconds to spare one of the players tossed the ball from more than half-a-court away and made the 3-pointer. The commentators making the excited remarks, "What are the odds?" of making such a shot??? And in interview after the game, the player hardly believing himself, either; but made the comment something like: Well, I've made those kinds of shots while practicing. PRACTICING. So the "odds" were: that he had a better-than-average change of making such a shot, because he had worked at it before, and the muscles of his arms were 'familiar' with what was necessary to make such a shot work.
The wisdom being (as they say) "ingrained" through training and experience; as wisdom says, "I will pour out my spirit unto you" (vs23) Just like the Godly one being indwelt by God's Holy Spirit, doing those things that are pleasing to God from the new nature of the "new creation" (2Co5:17) and "... those who by reason of use have their understanding EXERCISED to discern both good and evil." (Heb5:14)
"For the turning away of the simple kills them, and the ease of fools destroys them" (vs32)
But to the one who heeds; wisdom says...
"But whoever listens to me shall live in confidence, and shall rest securely from the dread of evil." (vs33)
Re: Father's Instruction (Proverbs 2)
"My son, if you will receive my words, and treasure up my commandments within you...." (vs1)
I don't know what the nature of arguments is today between parents and their children; but when I was a child back in the 50s, if a child was balking at 'why' they were expected to do this, or not do that, a typical comment from a lot of parents of those days was, "BECAUSE I SAID SO!" The parent had spoken, and that was reason enough. Period. End of discussion. And Christians would also parrot, "Children, obey your parents..." (Eph6:1) The Bible tells you to obey me; otherwise you are disobeying God.
When I was 5yrs old (living in Japan), we took in a Japanese girl a year younger than me, who had been adopted by other missionaries who were on furlough for a year, and couldn't take her out of the country yet, because the adoption process had not been completed. One day as we were playing, my dad had snuck a microphone into our play area and recorded our banter. Years later, when I was now an adolescent, that tape surfaced and was played. In amongst everything else, there was a spot where I spoke in a -very- 'authoritarian' voice, "You have to do it THE WAY I TOLD YOU, huh!" (heavy emphasis on the word, "I") Of course, my dad (who perpetually criticized everything), in hearing that, related it to what he was presuming upon me as rebellious selfishness on my part, beginning at that young age. At the time I didn't have an answer to refute his claim; and even if I had, I would not have dared to utter it.
But in years since, as an adult, remembering back on many things of my youth and childhood, whatever brought me to where I am today: children 'imitate' grownups. Many little girls find mommy's high heels and dresses and parade around, boys play with tools and trucks "just like daddy". And... children also -say- the things they hear their parents say. When children are playing "house", they pretend to cook and eat their dirt 'jellos', and the various house things that families do...and in their play, they also -say- the same things the adults say. Things that are said to them, and to each other. On that tape I was inflecting what I heard my parents say to us (and to each other) on a regular basis. And even when I had become an adult and was married, if my dad didn't happen to approve of something I was doing, or stance I was taking, he would come out with, "That's not the way I taught you." (again: emphasis on "I")
But, what is it that raises a child properly? Is it -becoming- a carbon copy of one's parents? When children are exhorted to "obey your parents", what then is the instruction to the father? "...nurture them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord." (Eph6:4b)
Solomon exhorts: treasure up my commmandments within you. To what end? So that you become JUST LIKE ME? or how about: "so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and extend your heart to understanding" (vs2)
In the movie "Fiddler on the Roof" Tevia would pontificate about various things because it was "TRADITION". This is the way we've always done things... thus... it is the 'right' way. I'm the PAPA! I said so... so you must listen to 'me'.
But what is the instruction of a Godly father? Listen to me (not so much listen to 'me', but "listen up"...pay attention): Seek out wisdom and understanding, cry out for discernment, and call out for understanding. (vs2-3) Search for these things with an intensity like you might search for silver and hidden treasures. (vs4) And when you have found wisdom, discernment and understanding... you will understand what? How to carry on the family traditions...??? Don't forget as you are about to leave home, and get married: You are always a Becker, Parsons, Smith, Jones, etc...??? (insert your own name of choice) Some parents do this to their children!
!!! NO !!!
"...then you shall understand the FEAR OF JEHOVAH, and find the KNOWLEDGE OF GOD" (vs5)
Seeking after wisdom and understanding is to seek the knowledge of Jehovah. Remember? "The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge..." (1:7a)
But from where does wisdom and knowledge come? "For Jehovah gives wisdom; out of His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He lays up sound wisdom for the upright; a shield to those who walk in integrity, to guard the paths of judgment; and He keeps watch over the way of His saints" (vs6-8)
You see: it is a two-way street. The two are inextricably linked. True search for wisdom leads one to God. But that wisdom we seek comes -from- God. It's a parallel to the concepts surrounding Saving Faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb11:6) But as we come to God in faith, even that faith is God's "gift" (Eph2:8); it is not -our- faith, but it is the "faith of Christ" (Ga2:16) We might be coming -to- God, but it is actually God who "draws" us to Himself. (Jn6:44)
When a person knows the Lord, what is the result? "Then you shall understand..." (vs9) The psalmist frustrates over the ways of the wicked, and he says: "until I went into the sanctuary of the Mighty God; then I understood their end." (Ps73:17) When a person knows God, then everything else is clear-as-day. This is a -heart- wisdom; something in which the soul takes pleasure. (vs10)
This is also something a father teaches a son when the son is young. "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, so that the evil days do not come, nor the years draw near, when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them." (Ec12:1)
Following God is something the Believer takes 'pleasure' in. For one who does not know God, any religious ritual is a burden. But to the Believer: "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of Jehovah." (Ps122:1) And the matter of obedience: "O how I love Your Law!" (Ps119:97)
When a Believer is in this love-relationship with God, it becomes a source of discretion and a guard against evil. (vs11) How do we keep away from evil? By spending time walking/standing/sitting in the counsel of the wicked (Ps1:1), and struggling against it? If we do that, we learn instead to 'enjoy' the pleasures of sin, because it is their delight (they "rejoice to do evil" vs14) in doing perversities. Or by seeking after God's wisdom and His presence? "You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the snares of man; You shall hide them in a shelter away from the strife of tongues." (Ps31:20) If we are in God's presence, "What can man do to me?" (Ps118:6, Heb13:6)
And one subject Solomon warns his son about over and over; perhaps with good reason, considering how he had 1000 women in his life, many of whom turned his heart away from God (1Ki11:3-4): the "strange woman". (vs16) Even though the strange woman may sometimes come to the Godly man with enticements of "today I have completed my vows" (7:14); in other words: I'm a Christian, I love the Lord, and want to be your partner in ministry; notice it says of her, in spite of her claims to godliness, the truth of the matter is: she "has forgotten the covenant of her God" (vs17) She is a liar.
"For her house leads down to death, and her tracks to the spirits of the dead. No one going in to her returns, nor do they attain unto the ways of life." (vs18-19) Remember that the two become "one flesh". (Ge2:24, 1Co6:16) If she is of the spirits of the dead, becoming 'one' with her leads or entices the Godly man into the same direction.
But the fear of Jehovah keeps one from such: "That you may walk in the ways of the good and keep the ways of the righteous" (vs20)
And this chapter closes with God's dichotomy. Good vs evil. Life vs death. Light vs darkness. Blessing vs curse.
The one who heeds Godly wisdom and is upright is given a place in the earth.(vs21) "I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." (Ps37:25)
On the other hand, the wicked are rooted out. Like the chaff, "Phoo!" they are blown away. (Ps1:4)
As an example of this: Israel/Judah had been rebellious, so they were being rounded up for exile to Babylon. And history indicates that these exiles were often torturous: the "hooks" spoken of (2Ch33:11) were threaded under the flesh of the shoulder, and as the prisoner was forced to walk (usually naked) under the region's hot sun, the weight of the chain attached to that hook would irritate the wound. But within this context righteous Jeremiah, God's prophet, was given his freedom to live anywhere his desire would choose. (Jer40:2-5)
So, when a father gives instruction to a son, it is not: Son, be just like me. As if to suggest: because I am so great. But rather: Son, listen to me...seek after God, seek after wisdom...become a wise son. "A wise son hears his father's instruction" (13:1) And the Godly father's instruction is like God leads: "This is the way (towards Godly wisdom), walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left." (Is30:21b)
Re: Honor Jehovah (Proverbs 3:1-26)
"Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear Jehovah and depart from evil." (vs5-7)
The father continues his instruction to his son: My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commandments. (vs1) But from the previous chapter we learned that the father is not so much saying: Follow me... but rather: Seek after wisdom, seek after Jehovah. Thus, what should be the desire of the son's heart? To "trust in Jehovah"
What does it mean to "trust"? We get an indication from the description of what NOT to do. Don't "lean" on your own understanding. Don't be self-centered, self-absorbed, self-esteemed, self-empowered. But rather "rest in Jehovah, and wait patiently for Him" (Ps37:7)
The simple example has often been used; but often the more simple, the more profound. It's what a person does when they sit on a chair. They place their (full) weight on it, and even lift their legs and feet once set down, -knowing- the chair will hold them. It is not like when being around some roudy ruffian 'friends' who, when a person is about to sit down, they grab the chair and pull it out from under them, such that they fall on the floor, and possibly sustain injuries; while those friends split their guts laughing. If a person is around such people, as they sit down they might take hold of the chair, also peering a wary eye 'behind' them as they sit, in order to BE SURE the chair will still be there when they rest their weight on it.
Or, it might be like being the first to walk across that little foot bridge that was just constructed. Perhaps they have taken hold of the support beams and wiggled at them with their hand, to 'test' the strength and stability; much like Scripture exhorts, "O taste and see that Jehovah is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him." (Ps34:8) A little 'taste' indicates what the rest of the dish promises to be, as one then "digs in" to eat. The person has tasted/tested, and now puts their full weight, confidently, and walks across the bridge. God offers them a seat, and they confidently turn around to sit down, -knowing- that God's hand is on that chair to keep anybody else from pulling it out from under.
Now... when we have the correct form of God's name in vs5, vs6 almost seems redundant. Many English versions say "trust in the Lord", where the term "lord" can mean many different things. The correct form is "Jehovah" (or if you prefer: "Yahweh"): the name indicating the I AM THAT I AM (Ex3:14), the 'existing' One. If one is "acknowledging" Him, that is His existence. Typically, in polite company, when a person has 'held the chair' for somebody to sit; the one who just sat often 'acknowledges' the gesture with, "Thank you." Such a response does two things: 1) shows appreciation, and 2) acknowledges that person's presence and 'worth'.
When we worship God, what are we doing? Acknowledging God's existence and His worth. If we go back etymologically, it was "worth-ship". Somebody held in high esteem was of great "worth"; and the suffix "ship" was added to make it titular. And so, "worth-ship" got smoothed out, the "th" removed, the remaining parts elided, and the word became "worship". It is only in more recent years that "worship" is used as a verb, indicating 'action'. But originally it was titular, a title one would express when in the presence of royalty, by prostrating and respectfully uttering, "your worship". "Worship" was the 'title' bestowed whilst paying homage. (For any of you who gasp at newer translations that replace KJV's "worship" with the more correct "doing homage", "bowing" and/or "prostrating", perhaps this little explanation will help you un-gasp and catch your breath again. Yes, the perversions have problems, but that's not one of them.)
Now...notice how, if we continue in this train of thought, how God presents Himself as a servant; this is what Jesus did "taking the form of a bondservant" (Ph2:7); as He also said, "Yet I am among you as one who serves" (Lk22:27) after He had washed the disciples' feet.
When in polite society, is it not often the steward who 'seats' the guests. Once dinner is finished and they 'retire' to the sitting room, is it not the same one who (white-gloved) 'motions' the guests in whatever direction gets them to the intended location. "..and He shall direct your paths" (vs6b)
Amazing isn't it: God, the Almighty, "prepares a table for" us (Ps23:5), seats us in a way that we can "trust" in Him. Often the unregenerate view God as a tyrant, an ogre. But all God wants from us, all He ever wanted way back at Eden, is acknowledgment and trust. His ways are not "difficult" such that a person must search the universe or plummet the depths of the earth (De30:11-15); all we need to do is "receive" (Jn1:12) His invitation to "dinner" (Rev3:20), and He promises to seat us, serve us and direct us.
You say you are balking at the thought that God "serves" us? By whose grace, would you suppose, do we "live and move and exist"? (Ac17:28) He feeds the sparrows, and clothes us. (Mt6:26-30) "Do not be wise in your own eyes" (vs7a) Man thinks that he is the master of his own destiny, and struggles his whole life to do what he wants. But if we want to keep away from evil, we must "fear Jehovah". (7b)
But here's how Jesus speaks of God's response to His faithful servant: "Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Truly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them." (Lk12:37)
And so... how do we say "thank you" to God? How do we honor His "worth"? We "acknowledge" His graciousness to us, by giving back to Him "with your substance, and with the firstfruits of all your increase" (vs9) We won't look up all the references now, but in the O.T. that was done with the annual tithes and offerings. The tithe was a tenth of the increase of their labors, and the offerings were whatever their hearts stirred within them. The tithes went to the Levites and the widows and orphans, for their sustenance. (De26:12) The freewill offerings were given to the Levites and priests, for the temple service. (Ex36:3, Ezr1:4)
Do Christians tithe today? Well, in Israel, being a theocracy, the tithe was their income tax. Today, secular governments exact taxes, and we pay them. Does a Christian, then, give some other 'percentage'? Paul says it like: "let each one of you lay something aside, storing up from whatever he is prospered, that there be no collections when I come." (1Co16:2) How much is "something"? It doesn't say. "Whatever he is prospered". In other words, as the Lord has blessed, in like measure, give back to Him through those who minister. (1Co9:14, 1Tim5:17)
Notice the promise: If a person honors the Lord in this way "...your barns shall be filled with plenty, and your vats whall be bursting with new wine" (vs10) As God said to Israel elsewhere, "Bring all the tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now with this, says Jehovah of Hosts, whether I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour out a blessing until there is not enough room to store it." (Mal3:10)
Again: the two-way street. God is the one who sustains us, but asks for "honor" from that with which He blesses us; but in return He promises further blessing. The heart after God's own heart (1Sa13:14): "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things are from You, and out of Your own hand we have given to You." (1Ch29:14)
But when we begin to stray, "for there is no one who does not sin" (1Ki8:40), the Lord gives us a new kind of direction. Now, the steward who had formerly graciously motioned with his white-gloved hands, plants himself in front, arms crossed, to "hedge up [the] way with thorns". (Hos2:6) Or if the waywardness is severe, He might even take the whip to us. (Heb12:6) But God does it as a friend (Jn15:15) "faithful are the wounds of a friend" (27:6); He does it "for our profit" (Heb12:10) The son is exhort to "not reject" nor "loathe" the Lord's chastening. (vs11)
In wisdom is happiness. (vs13) And if you read those following verses, there are various descriptions of the benefits one receives. And notice something, which carries throughout the entire book: the 'personification' of wisdom. The 'father' is giving exhortation to the 'son' (male realm), and likens wisdom to a desirable female. We will see this throughout the book.
How many jokes are told about the (alleged) 'awkwardness' of having "THE TALK" with one's children; disclosing the (so-called) "facts of life". Lately they've been running TV promos about "talk to your kids about not smoking", as though... a special 'point' needs to be made of the need for such exhortations? What is the matter with today's society? Why would not, in the course of normal family communications, such subjects be discussed, along with everything else parents exhort children as they are being raised? Society is so sick with sexual perversity, that righteous relationships have become viewed as 'bad', or "taboo"; so they become loath to talk about it at all.
But a young man's desire for a beautiful young woman is good and proper. It is the way God designed things. And truly, until one is married, how many thoughts and hopes are there about that one who will become one's spouse. The wonderful thing Agur speaks of: "the way of a man with a virgin" (Pr30:19) Boys are encouraged that there is going to be "that special girl", and girls dream and make plans. They used to collect things in hope chests. Do they have an equivalent today?
Well....for the "son", wisdom is likened to that desirable female he might dream about. There is no human bond stronger than the husband and his wife, where the two "become one". Some say it is the "mother and child"; but by God's design, when the child is grown up, they "leave" father and mother in order to "cleave" to their spouse. "Cleaving" is closer than "leaving"; yes?
That should be one's desire for wisdom. She is "precious" and is most "desirable" (vs15) The one who has her should "lay hold upon her" and "hold fast to her". (vs18)
Marriage is often spoken of with relationship to the "bed": "Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled" (Heb13:4a) And to "rejoice with the wife of your youth..." and some descriptions are given. (Pr5:18-19) A relationship and place of satisfaction, peace and rest. When a man has a good wife, he "trusts safely in her". (31:11)
When one embraces wisdom, a person's way is "safe" and they do "not stumble", and: "When you lie down, you shall not be in dread; yea, you shall lie down and your sleep shall be sweet." (vs23-24)
Because: "Jehovah shall be at your side, and He shall keep your foot from being caught" (vs26)
Re: Love Your Neighbor (Proverbs 3:27-35)
"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it" (vs27)
Thus far we have learned about "wisdom" and the "fear of Jehovah". We have seen that when a young man grows up to fear God, and is pleasing to Him, that God provides peace and calm, and a shelter from the fear of the enemy, along with prosperity.
So what? Is that all that life consists of? Make sure I live a good Christian life, be obedient to God's commandments, and tuck myself away in my own little house and environment? Mind my own business, and don't worry myself about anybody else...after all, whatever situation they're in, they (surely?) 'deserve' it because they don't know the Lord.
But what -is- God's Law? Somebody came to Jesus asking this question:
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Mt22:36-40)
A lot of Jesus' teaching was of the nature: "You have heard...but I say unto you" (Mt5) There was a lot of negativity in the Jewish mind. God had commanded Israel to be "holy" (Le11:44, 19:2, 20:26) in terms of keeping themselves pure and not defiling themselves with uncleanness and idolatry. But Israel was also intended by God to be a light to the gentiles (Rom15:9-12); as Solomon dedicated the temple as a place where Gentiles would also come and pray (1Ki8:41-43); and Passover also had provisions for the "sojourner" to keep it (Ex12:48); and the harvest gleanings were left for the "poor and sojourner" (Le19:9-10) But instead, Israel did just the opposite and went after the pagan gods, and pushed foreigners away as "dogs". (Mt15:26-28) And when Paul defended his ministry to the Jews, expressing how the Gospel was also intended for the Gentiles, the Jews shouted out: "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!" (Ac22:22)
But what good is it to claim to love God, if a person does not bestow acts of goodness and love to his fellow-man? John, the apostle of 'love', says it this way: "If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how is he able to love God whom he has not seen?" (1Jn4:20)
In loving one's neighbor as one's self... somebody asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" (Lk10:29) And Jesus answers by telling the story we commonly know as the "good Samaritan". Somebody had been caught and injured by thieves, and all the 'good' people went on by leaving him wallowing in his own blood, but the 'despised' Samaritan stopped to help, gave from his own assistance and resources to cure him.
When a natural disaster hits, and everybody is sitting around whining and complaining because FEMA didn't show up; and the other politicians are pontificating on TV out of their plush offices and helicopters; doing "good" for a neighbor is the local neighborhood showing up with hammers, saws, hot dishes, power cords plugged into the generator, cans of gas (petrol) to run the generator. A disaster hits a family, and neighbors come around to help take care of the kids. Somebody's house burns down, and a neighbor with a finished basement takes the family in while they rebuild. You see somebody at the side of the road with a flat tire, helpless as to 'how' to put the spare on, you stop and put the spare on for them, and when they ask, "How much do I owe you?" you wave as you leave, "Awe, forget it!" And for all these things, there are no camera crews around, to appear on Oprah or 20/20 to announce your good deeds. You do not sound the "trumpet" like the hypocrites. (Mt6:2)
And on the flip side: "Do not devise evil against your neighbor, since he dwells by you securely" (vs29) There is a saying, that: Strong fences make good neighbors. But one who fears God should be of the sort that a fence is not necessary. The (deceased) parents of my neighbors to one side had had a lot of problems with people intruding into their space from the house in which I now live, especially from the kids whom other neighbors told of riding their motorcycles out the front door and jumping onto the lawn, jumping off the garage roof onto matteresses on the ground below, and in the basement on one wall is still what looks like gang graffiti that I've never taken the time to cover or remove; and along with all those activities, this house and yard had also been the neighborhood eyesore (won't go into all those details). As we moved in, and cleaned up the yard, fixed up the house with paint and new roof, hauled out the trash that littered the yard and garage, and also began 'living' in the neighorhood, one day the neighbor man was out there, ripping out this length of fence that had divided between our shared driveways. When we moved in, the fence extended clear out, almost to the sidewalk. But as we proved to be the sort of neighbors that were not causing all sorts of 'grief' to them, the fence was no longer needed.
"Do not strive with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm" (vs30) Don't be picking fights. So, you don't like that they painted their house purple with teal trim (there -is- just such a house a couple blocks away from me!!!); it's none of your business. You don't like it that their dogs poop all over their yard, on their side of the fence. It is -their- yard and -their- dogs. How is it harming you?
"Do not be envious of the violent man, and choose none of his ways" (vs31) Ohhhh....where was modern enlightenment when I was a kid, being picked on by the bullies? Today they have quite a campaign to teach kids to not be bullies. But bullies get a following. If you manage to become the friend of a bully, you never need to worry about -being- bullied, because the bully won't bully you, and will protect you from other bullies. Yes? But what do bullies grow up to be? Gang leaders and mob overlords. What do bullies do? Their prime reason for existing is to do what the prior verses exhort against....striving "without a cause". Find somebody who appears weaker, pick on them, hurt them, extort from them; and if the bullying is successful enough, such a person can become wealthy.
Mobsters traditionally live lives of opulence. Chauffered limousines, mansions, expensive pretty women, feasting, servants, thugs for protection.
But what is God's view of them? They are an "abomination to Jehovah" (vs32) God's "curse" is upon them. (vs33)
God's "blessing" is on the dwelling of the just. God's "secret counsel" is with the upright. But also, the just and upright ones are "lowly". (vs34) As we progress through the book, we'll see more about the difference between pride and humility.
The mobster, for all his wealth (and to spare), if/when he gives assistance to someone, it is not without compounded interest. And if the poor misfortunate is not able to repay, they get bones broken, families ravaged, or killed
But the Godly person helps, not necessarily expecting to be repayed.
Proverbs is about the "Fear of Jehovah" If we claim to love God, we also love our fellow-man. It is not enough to piously 1) read the Bible, 2) pray, and 3) go to church. If we love God, our 'lives' will also show it, in being towards our neighbors as God is.
"And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love oneís neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God." (Mk12:33-34)
From God the lowly receive grace, and "the wise inherit honor, but the exaltation of fools is shame" (vs35)
Re: Get Wisdom (Proverbs 4)
"The first thing about wisdom is: Get wisdom. And with all your getting, get understanding" (vs7)
Who is the author of this chapter? Solomon. When we think of "Solomon", we also typically think, automatically, of "wisdom". Wisdom and Solomon go hand in hand. If we want a definition of Solomon, a dictionary might say wisdom. God had appeared to Solomon in a dream, just as he was taking over the reign of Israel, granting him the proverbial "three wishes". Ask for 'anything' you want, and it will be granted. And Solomon asked: "Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people" (2Ch1:7,10)
But did God just go -zap-! OK, dummy; now you have wisdom. ? Or, was there also a -basis- for Solomon to be wise? After all, we don't see it recorded that God did this with any other king: appearing to them, and granting a wish. Or, did God's foreknowledge of Solomon know what he would ask for, because he was -already- 'qualified' for the gift? And if so, on what basis?
Notice that Solomon opens this chapter with "Children, hear the instruction of a father..." (vs1) And then gives a little description, as if to say: 'When I was your age...' "For I was my father's son, tender and an only one in the sight of my mother" (vs3) As David blesses Solomon before the people he says, "My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and tender; and the work is great, because the temple is not for man but for Jehovah God." (1Ch29:1)
Solomon was a mamma's boy. His birth followed a terrible sin that his father and mother had committed: adultery, intrigue and murder. The one who might have been his older sibling died shortly after birth in judgment. Even though David had other wives, Bathsheba seems to have become his 'favorite'. The one who became considered the queen mother. (1Ki2:19) Apparently David and Bathsheba 'learned' something through their sin, judgment and restoration. And while David had other sons older than Solomon, Solomon obviously became his 'favorite'; the one with whom he devoted special time and attention.
So Solomon begins this chapter saying, essentially: Listen to me, pay attention; I'm going to teach you the wisdom that my father (David) taught me.
We often think of Proverbs as being the wisdom -of- Solomon. But here, we get a pretty clear picture that Solomon's wisdom came from his father, David... the man "after God's own heart". (Ac13:22, 1Sa13:14) Just as the plans for the temple that Solomon built, actually also came from David. The temple was David's blueprints, given to David from God. (1Ch28:19)
And so, as a father is teaching his "tender" son, what is lesson #1? Well, didn't we already learn that in ch1? "The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge...." (1:7)
Yes, but so what? Do not -many- (most) people calling themselves "christian" believe that? Israel certainly was familiar with "...you shall love Jehovah your God with all your heart, with all your soul, exceedingly in every way" (De6:5) But in "unbelief" (Heb3:19) they became a nation of falsehood and false gods. Though they claimed to be God's people, they were not. "And though they say, As Jehovah lives; surely they swear falsely." (Jer5:2) "For not all those of Israel are Israel" (Rom9:6b)
In America where I live, we are a land -full- of churches. There is likely not a city or town anywhere, where there is not also -some- sort of 'church' building, even if nothing but a tiny chapel, with some group of people who observe regular meetings and/or rituals. And if a person were to ask around, looking for what they claim to believe, most of them would claim to believe in God, and hail back to some sort of "christian" heritage, and they likely have at least one Bible stashed around someplace; either on display on the communion table, or back in a dusty room from the days when they used to have preachers that preached from it. Like Sardis, they "have a name" that they are alive, but are "dead". (Rev3:1)
Why are they dead? Because, although they know -about- God, and they know -about- Jesus Christ and His shed blood, they have never "received" Him. (Jn1:12)
It's like somebody getting brochures about cars, or going to the dealership and kicking some tires, or going to the auto show, or talking with friends about some special edition with so-many horse power and a 'hemi' V-8, and all the various features and acceleration specs... and -agreeing- that it is a wonderful car. But if he does not sign on the dotted line and take ownership, all that dreaming and talk is wasted hot air. Kids might talk about X-treme Air-sports, bragging up and down about flipping the bike in mid-air, extending one's legs off to the side whilst tipping the bike, and land back on the ground with feet firmly on the pegs; but if they have never ridden a bike, of what use is all the talk?
In the same way, many talk -about- wisdom. They decry those lacking it, and bewail society that refuses it; but for all their pontificating, they have never gotten any for themselves.
Wisdom is of utterly NO USE, if it is not in the possession of the individual. A parent might try to "talk sense" into a youngster, and ask, Do you understand what I'm saying? the kid might nod the head in the affirmative. But if the child does not "get" it, wisdom is NO wisdom.
It's one thing to learn all -about- wisdom; and certainly, a person cannot "get" what they don't know -about-. But if they don't "get" it, then of what use is it to know -about- it?
Thus, while this sentence may seem so idiotically 'simple', as if to say, "Well, duh!" ...it is also MOST PROFOUND.
"The first thing about wisdom is: GET WISDOM" (vs7a)
And is not "understanding" the prime definition of what it is to "get" wisdom. As if to say in Japanese: Aaaah soooh desu ne!
And don't assume this is understood with a single saying of the exhortation. If you read those following verses, you see a repetition of: pay attention, listen to me, follow instruction, hold on to it, I've taught you, don't let it go, etc. And this is how children must be taught: "To whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand the message? Those weaned from the milk and removed from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little;" (Is28:9-10)
So, now that we know we -need- wisdom, 'what' is likely the most important piece of understanding to get? This is the teaching to children; this is the "milk" of God's Word. (1Pet2:2) This is stuff mature believers shouldn't need to be reminded of; but today's church is in abject apostasy: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the rudimentary principles of the Words of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is without experience in the Word of Righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their understanding exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb5:12-14)
To "discern both good and evil". "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding." (Job28:28)
What is the instruction to "take fast hold" of and "do not let her go...for she is your life" (vs13)? What is it that your -life- depends on?
"Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not go in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn from it and pass on." (vs14-15)
Remember from Psalm ch1 about walking/standing/sitting with the wicked? This is another way of saying the same thing. Modern education teaches youth to 'sample' this and that; "try it, you'll like it"; "just do it"; to learn various cultural ethnicities; to learn to be "multi-cultural". It doesn't matter that some cultural things are steeped in paganism and satanism... that the particular culture, by definition, -is- satanic. Let's not forget that God sent Israel into the land of Canaan to (among other things) purge out paganism's corruption. They were warned: "NOT [to] enquire after their gods...how did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise" (De12:30) and were to destroy all their idols by smashing them to pieces, and chopping down their groves. (Ex34:13)
In this country, to teach multicultural tolerance for the hate-filled religion of Islam, schools teach children to dress, act and worship like Muslims. In some cases I've read that they also learn to bow towards Mecca, as Islam does. Claiming to learn -about-, by doing exactly what God commanded NOT to do: -doing- likewise. In many college courses, students will visit cultural exhibits, and participate in the dances, wearing the satanic/religious symbols of that culture. Those dances are part of the 'worship'. They might dance at a powwow, or sit around the drum and participate in drumming; participating in mother earth 'worship'.
This is the 'organized' course in multicultural diversity. But this applies to all areas of life. A group of kids after school decide to get on their bikes and/or skateboards and go harassing and challenging adults, or vandalize property with graffiti..."do not enter the path of the wicked" There is a 'way' in which the wicked traverse. If you don't wish to 'go' down that path (getting into trouble), don't 'enter' it. It's kinda like a freeway: once you've speeded up to merge from the onramp, it's already too late. In order to get off the freeway at that point, you -have- to 'go' a ways down the freeway until the next exit. Don't even turn in the direction of the onramp. You know the onramp is over 'there' a block away, and all your buddies are saying, "Take the freeway, turn here, take the freeway" you stay on the street you're on, going the other way. "Avoid it, do not pass by it; TURN FROM it and pass on" (vs14-15)
Continual reminders: "My son, pay attention to my sayings; extend your ear to my words" (vs20)
Today's enlightenment tells parents that, all you need to do is 'tell' your kids "where you stand", and they will listen. As though, you need to tell them ONLY ONCE. Well, is that what fans do at athletic events? At the very beginning of the game everybody yell out, "GO TEAM!" and then sit by quietly? After all, "we encourag[ED] them to 'Go Team!'" ...so, don't the players 'remember' that we gave that 'one' cheer? That cheer ought to last them through to the end! Silly! you say. Well, that's the way enlightenment treats children. "I told him (once), but he is not obeying!" (tearfully whining and wringing the hands in desperation)
And you live by these narrow rules. You don't believe in 'partying', won't join us for a good time down at the watering hole, won't laugh at our jokes, and were 'rude' to that piece of tail that was -only- trying to be 'friendly'. You won't do 'anything'!!!
"Do not turn to the right hand or to the left; remove your foot from evil" (vs27)
Too bad Solomon didn't heed his father David's exhortations, as he turned from side-to-side, and his 1000 wives turned his heart away from the "fear of Jehovah" to pagan idols. (1Ki11:4) He was not content only with wisdom, but had to explore out and experience every little pleasure that could tantalize his senses and lusts. (Ec1:16-2:10~~) His path did not remain straight and narrow.
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many entering in through it. Because narrow is the gate and distressing is the way which leads unto life, and there are few who find it." (Mt7:13-14)
Re: Stay at Home (Proverbs 5)
"My son, pay attention to my wisdom; extend your ear to my understanding; so that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a strange woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a cleaver; her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on Sheol; lest you should ponder the path of life, her paths are unstable; you cannot know them." (vs1-6)
If we were to subdivide Proverbs into main sections, we could possibly combine chs1-4 into the first section; and then chs5-7 would fit their own section. Chs 1-4 lay the groundwork; the foundation; for Godly living. Fearing and "trusting" the Lord (3:5-6) and how to turn away from evil and pursue goodness and righteousness. How to live wisely. Now, chs5-7 tackle a specific topic; and this topic is so important, it takes three full chapters to address it.
Some from today's feminist/goddess agenda will consider this to be more of the Bible's "male chauvinism"; since they are bit-by-bit trying to turn the western mind into ancient Babylon's thinking that "God" is a "she". While it's true that this next section could be read by young women, substituting gender specifics, in warning against the 'wolves' that would prey upon them, it is written specifically to the young man. We have observed on other occasions how much the world promotes and forces -female- sexuality, wiles, allure, charm, promiscuity, and deception upon the masses; where they don't, so much, the male. They promote it at every turn to the -females-, indoctrinating them that the appeal of a prostitute is what every female should be. And to the males, it is eye-candy, so that as those females learn to dress and act as they do, they are lured in, snagged and... "Gotcha!"
It used to be that young girls were warned against the predatory males, because females allegedly don't have the innate defense mechanisms to ward them off. After all, it was assumed that: Guys have only 'one thing' on their minds. Yes, for many: this is true. But the more I view life and people's behavior, the more I am convinced that the poor "damsel in distress" is not nearly as "helpless" as it used to be presumed; but rather, it is the male who, when the feminine wily charms have been exercised, doesn't realize what "hit" him, until it's too late. She might have tantalized him with her "vulnerability", but she was pushing the buttons and pulling the strings, all along. You don't find these kinds of passages geared towards warning women against predatory males, like we see here, warning the young man against the seductress.
And for the females it begins when they are toddlers. Boys are rough and bad; but girls are "sugar and spice and everything nice"... And they learn to use that 'cuteness' and 'charm' to wriggle their way out of trouble, and not have to suffer the same consequences as boys; their misbehaviors are mis-diagnosed, never punished, and they grow up to be manipulators. As children they can instigate trouble, for which the brother receives the consequences; and as adults they lure in the male, and then get restraining orders slapped on him for alleged "rape" and other charges, when she was the one who started the whole thing; but she gets off scott-free.
Solomon, with his 1000 women, had lots of 'experience' in this matter. He knows what he's talking about. The glossy lipstick and that pouty smile makes her "smoother than oil", but when the man realizes how he has been conned and manipulated, the "end is bitter as wormwood" (vs3-4) and with all of Solomon's experience, he views the female sense of 'trustworthiness' to be in the category of, "I have not found" (Ec7:28)
Feminism is militant in their agenda; but that path is "unstable" (vs6) There is no knowing of it. It is a path to "death". (vs5)
And so, the re-iteration. Are you "paying attention"? (vs1) "Therefore hear me now, O children, and do not depart from the words of my mouth" (vs7)
How does a "young man cleanse his way"? (Ps119:9a)
Make sure that stash of "Playboy" is hidden securely under the mattress? After work, going out "with the guys"... Who is going to be 'where' the guys go? Those flirtatious cute young things, undressed in just the right places so as to be "attractive". A drink or two, and then a bedroom. How often does the man do this? How often do the "guys...go out"? How much money is spent at these places? What sorts of diseases are picked up and spread? Supposing some 'drugs' get involved, there is the whole 'addiction' aspect, and pay-offs. Lap dances, money tucked into the mostly-nothing-there "costumes".
The scoffer of the world might retort: So, what's wrong with being with a woman?! Are you saying that women are "bad"??
Well... the man is married, but he is getting aroused by, and is touching -other- women; who in turn have aroused and been touched by how many other men.
And so he goes home to his wife. How does he look into her eyes? How does he say, "I love you", when he has just been giving of himself to others? I say "of", because, whether he actually went to bed with somebody else, or just enjoyed flirting and touching...what's the real difference? His heart has been divided. It has not been pure. It has not been holy and wholly to his wife. "Holy" because he has not kept -separate- from others, and in not being separate, he is not "wholly" 100% with -only- his wife. She is not getting -everything- from him.
Sex is not evil. God created it; and commanded to "be fruiful and multiply" (Gen1:28)
But there is also a boundary. One's 'sexuality' is not to be dispersed to the whole world, but is for one's own spouse.
"Drink waters out of your own cistern, and running waters out of your own well" (vs15) Those sexy lips that you taste? They should be your own wife's only!
"Should your springs be dispersed abroad, like streams of water in the streets?" (vs16) Should your lap dances be with every slut that plies the streets? Or should your dances be in your own garden with your beloved? (SS6:11-13)
Should you be enjoying the stranger "shaking it"? Or rather, with your own wife, "...let her breasts satisfy you at all times, and always be intoxicated in her love" (vs19-20)
Sorry to use graphic terminology here in mixed company; but the world is continually "in your face" with a lot of this stuff, and a person cannot get totally away from it; it is always 'right there'. But the Scriptures are just as equally descriptive of what hot, passionate romance and love should be between a husband and his -own- wife.
Passion and sex are NOT filty and dirty...between a husband and wife. When a husband and wife are together, there is no need to hide the "Playboys" because porn is not necessary. When a couple are as God intended, they are able to be "naked" and "not ashamed" (Gen2:25)
But when a man plays-the-field... he may think his wife doesn't know. He may think his secret is safe. BUT "the ways of man are before the eyes of Jehovah, and He ponders all his tracks" (vs21)
What are "tracks"? Hunters know what this is about. It is easier in the winter snow...but the prey leaves indentations of their paws/hooves of where they've just been. If you follow them, the tracks will lead to the animal.
When a man sins against God and his wife, he may think he was in secret, but like Moses warned Israel, "your sin will find you out" (Num32:23)
What causes "moaning"? What cause the "flesh and body" to be "spent"? (vs11) STDs is one big way. There are some today, rich people, who are attempting to stamp out the 'consequences' of sin with their philanthropy...but they do nothing to teach these same people about morality and righteousness, to avoid those consequences in the first place.
Where does so much of today's divorce and single parenthood come from? Licentious living. From the teen years on-up, they learn to be like animals. Anything that wiggles or gets aroused, get together. Is it any wonder that in today's slang guys call each other "dawg" and girls are called "beeatch". They behave like dogs, and they even now call each other with canine terminology, reflective of their depravity. And rather than thinking of it as depravity, they think it is "cool".
"Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed, nor did they know how to blush; therefore they shall fall among those who fall. At the time that I punish them they shall be cast down, says Jehovah." (Jer6:15)
And God has built-in to the human psyche the concept of "jealousy". We'll look at this more in the next lesson: but just as "jealousy is the rage of a man" (6:34), it is for the woman, as well. Eventually, a man's unfaithfulness will find its way back to the wife.
When somebody gets "caught", it is their "own iniquities" (vs22) that snare them. Yes, perhaps that cute young thing is lisping her way into your pants, pushing all your buttons; but, man, the ultimate responsibility is your own. If you succumb to her wiles, the 'sin' is -yours-.
Jesus did not comment about the slithery cute thing, but says to the man, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Mt5:28)
If you have sinned, or are being tempted to, what do you do? That's next lesson.
Re: Run, Son, Run! (Proverbs 6)
"My son, do this then, and deliver yourself when you come into the hand of your friend: go humble yourself and entreat your friend. Do not give sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler." (vs3-5)
So... you've succumbed to the wiles of that "desperate housewife", and suddenly find yourself naked, in the bushes, out the back window, as her husband's car is heard coming up the driveway. What do you do?
Now, if we look at the immediately adjacent context to these opening verses just quoted, we see a topic dealing with business, making deals, finding one's self in debt, of having been lazy, the need to be industrious like the ant, the poverty of a worthless and devious man, and perversity. The "ant" passage is -famous-, we won't spend time with it now in this series. You can read it for yourselves.
But whenever I have thought on the topic regarding keeping a safe distance away from a promiscuous woman, whether in thinking for myself, or in communicating with others, my mind always remembers this little passage, "Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler" (vs5)
Remember in the previous lesson we observed how God ponders the "tracks" we leave behind when we sin. (5:21) That "tracks" are things a hunter follows to find the prey. And here the exhortation is to 'make tracks' to -flee-. (Like the old geezer mountain man, outside his cabin of a winter's day, and sees this bear approaching him, sniffing at his tracks, and says to the bear: "ye likee my tracks? I makee some more!" Zoooom!!!)
I never did much hunting. But have followed jack rabbit tracks across the winter fields in N.Dakota when I was a kid. Never ever got one, either. If a rabbit is calmly "hippity hopping" around an area where it is eating, it will be leisurely, and the tracks can get all clumped together, on top of each other. But if you've scared one up, and he's on the run, you can sometimes walk 20-30ft between his paw prints, because he's "skeedattling" to "get outta there!"
The warning is to -NOT- get hooked up with a loose woman. And if she's a desperate housewife, her husband doesn't necessarily always realize that -she- is the 'loose' one. You know the saying, "Love is blind". So, if somebody is with his wife, he is going to assume it's the other man's fault. Remember from the previous lesson: the little girl learns how to manipulate, and her brother gets in trouble, that -she- started. So the husband goes into a rage, because as she did as a little girl, she does as an adult...she doesn't tell her husband that -she- was 'seducing', but rather the other man was (allegedly) pursuing her.
Wisdom keeps a man away from another man's wife: "He who commits adultery with a woman lacks heart; he who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor shall befall him, and his reproach shall not be wiped away. For jealousy is the rage of a man, and he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any bribes, nor will he yield to the giving of many gifts." (vs32-35)
Remember, the previous chapter spoke of "moans" and the body being "spent" (5:11) Is that not the scenario once the woman's husband is finished with him!
What does a man do when faced with a seductress, even possibly 'trapped' by her? What did Joseph do?
"And it came to pass, as she spoke to Joseph day after day, that he did not give heed to her, to lie with her or to be with her." (Gen39:10)
Joseph followed the wisdom we've already seen, "Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not go in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn from it and pass on" (4:14-15) He got into the habit of going from point-A to point-B with eyes straight-ahead.
But Joseph was at a certain disadvantage, in that he was a slave. He was -required- to be in certain places, in the performance of his duties. So Mrs. Potiphar, the desparate housewife, comes along and 'grabs' him...C'mon, let's do it. What does he do? Since she has hold of his clothes...the only thing he can. Slides out of them, and -RUNS- out, naked. He "delivers" himself "like a gazelle".
Of course, she does what every seductress does, and pins the blame on him; and he gets slapped into prison. But remember, "But when you do good and suffer, if you endure it patiently, this is favorable with God" (1Pet3:20)
But what if you've succumbed, and now find yourself guilty? Do you want to be "held with the cords" (5:22) of sin, or to "deliver" yourself? (vs5) Yes, perhaps it was -her- 'fault' for seducing. She initiated and started it all. But you caved. Perhaps you even went 'looking' for her? That's why the exhortation is, "Remove your ways far from her, and do not come near the door of her house" (5:8) But now you are guilty. I realize the context may appear to be different, but (again) this is sandwiched in here where it is: "go humble yourself and entreat your friend" (vs3b)
The same way we come to God in confession when we have "stumbled by [our] iniquity", God exhorts: "Take words with you and return to Jehovah. Say to Him, Take away all iniquity and receive us with grace, that we may repay with the calves [sin offerings] of our lips...For in You the fatherless finds mercy."
And God promises: "I will heal their backslidings; I will love them freely; for My anger has turned away from him." (Hos14:1-4)
We may sin...but what do we do about it? "If I regard [uphold and nurture] iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear." (Ps66:18) But if we confess (1Jn1:9), God says, "..to this one will I have regard: To the lowly and contrite of spirit, and the one who trembles at My Word." (Is66:2)
Re: Foreign Tongue of the Seductress (Proverbs 6:24)
"My son, keep your father's commands, and do not forsake the instruction of your mother... For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life, to keep you from the evil woman, from the seductiveness of the foreign tongue. Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, and do not let her captivate you with her eyelids. For on account of a promiscuous woman, a man comes to a loaf of bread; for the man's wife hunts for the precious soul." (~Pr6:20-26)
Back in the days of WW2 and the years following, there was really 'something' to American men about French women. There was something exotic and alluring; something that American boys would go lusting after. Today, it's Irish and Australian. (Roma Downy comes, immediately, to mind...and some others, whose names I don't remember at the moment.)
What is so appealing about them? Their -different- "tongue". For you who come from other countries, I expect 'different' nationalities would apply to you. Whatever that is not your native "tongue", but that appeals to your senses.
Recently, while visiting with some people, a situation came into the discussion about two brothers years ago, and the wife of one of those brothers. Some alleged comments of the wife to her husband of the 'appeal' of the brother to her. Whether the incident was true or not... But there are many such cases throughout society, so if it was true, it was not alone.
This is what the world does today. The Bachelor show has a man "searching" for a wife...on TV. He has dates and conversations. Different forms of contact, which in some cases causes jealousy amongst the rest of the women. There is the show, "ElimiDate" where somebody is matched up with four people of the opposite sex, and throughout the course of the "date", they start eliminating the "less-desirable" ones. Society, as a whole, has a "try-it-on-for-size" mentality about cross-gender relationships. Who looks more appealing? Who is more seductive? Who is the better kisser? Let's go down the line and "sample" each one. Nothing about "two become one" and "FIDELITY" to the -ONE-. If something 'more' appealing comes along, let's jump ship and swim over to the next one. The 'old-familiar' is too "hum-drum". I want something with more "sizzle". Something new. Something exciting.
Ah yes...the "foreign tongue". Not only is she a "knock-out", that I'm not familiar with; that -voice- is sooooo "sexy"! Visual is one thing. But there is something about the auditory that a lot of people don't realize captivates them as it does. Please note that vs says, "..seductiveness of the foreign tongue". (vs24) The word "woman" is not in that last part of the verse. The smooth silky lisp of French. That little brogue of Irish/Australian (to the American ear). The eye can see; but the ear hears and that hearing actually physically stimulates (moves) the parts of the inner ear...like an auditory "massage". A 'touching' without actually touching, 'relaxing' the person's defenses and inhibitions. Why do you suppose "phone sex" has such appeal? But what did Paul say? "It is good for a man not to touch a woman."(1Cor7:1)
So what is the result of succumbing to temptation? "..on account of a promiscuous woman, a man comes to a loaf of bread.." (vs26) And what does it do to marriages? It destroys them. It destroys children. You think you are keeping secrets from your children, but it affects them. When they grow up, and the truth comes out... "..and be sure your sin will find you out.." (Num32:23) ...consider how they will be utterly shattered and devastated when they find out mom and dad's 'secrets'!
Just because of a 'fling' with that enchantress... and her "seductive tongue".
Where does resisting begin? "Keep your father's commands, and do not forsake the instruction of your mother." If they see something unsavory about that person you are interested in, perhaps they know something, from memories of their own experiences, that you don't? When you are being seduced, all sense of objectivity goes flying out the window. But this passage says that, in spite of her "beauty" (vs25), she is "evil". (vs24) You are being seduced to -sin-. No, sin does not entice you with horns and a pitch-fork. It does not come saying, "Hey, let's go commit some DIRTY ROTTEN sins!" It comes all fancied up, 'dressed to kill'. Perhaps that expression has more truth to it than people realize. What is the result of promiscuity? Destruction of one's soul. (vs32)
Do you want the "way of life"? (vs23) Then heed moral instruction. And when enticement to sin comes along, "Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn from it and pass on." (Pr4:15) Like Joseph, "..he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her." (Gen39:10b) Just say "No!"
Related study: Hear, See, Speak No Evil
Re: the Strange Woman (Proverbs 7)
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Re: Wisdom: Sons of Men (Proverbs 8:1-21)
But wisdom, that which is the gauge and essence of the "fear of Jehovah" (Ps111:10), essentially says: Hey you idiots, you numkulls, you fools, you simpletons... HERE I AM!
Does not typical "evangelism" teach that a soul-winner should use "salemanship" in enticing people to Christ? The Bible school course on "Personal Evangelism", where I attended years ago, included as required reading Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" The course in hymn-conducting, that which is related to being up on the platform in front of up to potentially thousands of people, we were taught to "know what the audience wants...and give it to them". Pump them up to -feel- 'happy'. Get them all smiling and laughing with pleasure. Hmmm. Come to think of it, I don't now recall any Scripture that was used in that class as a -basis- for what they taught. It was all "crowd psychology". The world's marketing strategies.
If the preacher or evangelist is to get up to speak, to turn the sinner from their sin, how does 'happiness' prepare the heart of the hearer for such a message?
But how is the heart prepared, according to Scripture? Through "sorrow" (2Co7:10) and "humility" (Ja4:8-10)
Oh, but that's right... preachers no longer try to turn people from their sin, either; instead telling them what "wonderful people" they are. After all, why would unhappy people keep the offering plates full? But if preachers were doing God's will...
Hmmm... That's somewhat how this proverb begins, isn't it.
The first half of this proverb is about absolutes. White vs black, good vs evil, righteousness vs perversity. No so-called "gray areas".
What is the usual reaction of those inflamed with drugs and liquor, whose only topic of conversation is their past sexual escapades and their plans for more; if somebody comes along speaking of righteousness and goodness, and condemns lasciviousness? Are they not growled at! Do the fools listen to righteousness? They usually laugh to scorn the righteous one. They are not filled with Wisdom. They are not possessed of the Fear of God.
Have you ever noticed that there are some who devour God's Word. They read the Bible and they -understand- it. On the other hand, have you ever read the writings of someone who is scoffing at some Biblical matter, and as you read through their voluminous words, you scratch your head trying to find rhyme or reason to what they are saying? And with the same person, if you try to reason with them from God's Word it is like talking to a brick wall...they seem utterly incapable of fathoming anything you say. As if to take one's hand and make a sweeping pass over one's own head...an American expression between those who understand each other, about somebody who didn't "get" it..."Zoom"... it went "over their head". Why is that? Because wisdom is in direct proportion to the Fear of God. If they don't fear God, they don't have wisdom.
"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he is not able to know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is discerned by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ." (1Co2:14-16)
In this case the word "devices" suggests evil plots, schemes, subterfuge, lies, distortions. Evil things which Wisdom -hates-. In other words...
Wisdom -HATES- pride, arrogance, every evil way, and the "perverse mouth" (vs13) Wisdom hates the evil heart: as Jesus said,
When a nation and its judicial system are functioning correctly, it is WISDOM by which rulers and judges guide a nation. (vs15-16)
Wisdom is "better than jewels"; and any 'thing' a person might desire "cannot be compared to it" (vs11) Wisdom's "enduring wealth" is righteousness. (vs18) Wisdom's increase/fruit is better than gold and silver. And if a person walks in righteousness, it is justice. (vs20) Like the Word says,
What is the value of gold? On this earth many murders have been committed in efforts at its acquisition, to store and horde it. But in Heaven, the New Jerusalem, the -streets- are paved with gold. Gold is something to be walked and trampled upon, in comparison to Heaven's grandeur.
In the same way, what is the comparison for the person who hordes earthly wealth, for whom God says, "Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have prepared?" (Lk12:20)
But for the person who leaves aside earthly wealth and its accompanying lusts in favor of Wisdom, Righteousness, Justice; that person walks on Heavenly streets of gold.
And God sees to it that the righteous are not lacking. Jesus compared earthly human concerns to the birds, whom God feeds. The psalmist makes observation:
The world says a wise person, through their wisdom, will plan their financial future; get themselves into the right lucrative careers, invest their income, develop a financial "portfolio", so that when they get old they can retire with ease, and also leave an inheritance to their children and grandchildren. In the case of many who are wealthy, such financial plans tend to include scheming, subterfuge, lies, theft, cheating, and even... murder. Where is the "Wisdom" in that? It is the "wisdom of this world" and is "foolishness with God" (1Co3:19)
But God's Wisdom "walks in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice" (vs20) and comes with the promise, "I will fill up their treasuries" (vs21)
Re: Wisdom: Jehovah (Proverbs 8:22-36)
Wisdom is directly associated with the Most High, Jehovah, the Existing One. God's name "Jehovah" is His existence. And Wisdom has existed with God. Just as we can read the opening verses of John ch1 and see how "the Word was in the beginning with God" and the "Word was God", Wisdom was also in the beginning with God. Wisdom is from "eternity". That is one of God's characteristics. And how long has God existed? What defines "eternity"?
Perhaps a visual lesson might help our finite minds. I'm sure we've all seen where an image is reflected in a pair of mirrors, facing each other. If for instance, you cut your own hair, as I do, you might look in a mirror; but to see the back side you reflect the one mirror off another mirror that is aimed at the back. Now, if you aim those mirrors -just- 'so', you can get multiple images receding back, 'far' into the 'distance'. A person's reason can fathom that those images go on 'indefinitely' with "no end in sight". A person's eyes are not acute enough to 'see' them all, but one's reason and logic understands that they are there. And if the images recede back into the one mirror, by definition they are doing likewise in the 'other' mirror not being looked at. The repeated image extends indefinitely in both directions.
May we suggest that that is what eternity is. That is how long Wisdom has been around. And actually, to use a past perfect tense like "has been" is not really correct. Wisdom -is-. It -exists-. It has existed in the past, it exists now, and always will exist. Eternal. Just like "Jehovah", the Existing One. As Jesus, who "was God" (Jn1:1), answered His detractors, "Before Abraham came to be, I AM" (Jn8:58) Abraham was at some time in the past, but Jesus Christ -IS-. God -IS-. And Wisdom -IS-.
Thus, Wisdom was "before the earth". If a person were to do a search for passages that speak of God's existence, one would often find His existence presented in direct context with the -creation- of the universe. We won't look up all -those-. 'This' passage is one such passage. And whereas those passages only connect the creation with "God", this one also ties it together with "Wisdom".
Does this bring anything to mind related to modern debate regarding any particular topic? Evolution, Creationism and Intelligent Design.
Are not the words "wisdom" and "intelligence" related concepts. Certainly, an intelligent person can be devoid of wisdom, and a wise person might not have the smarts for high IQ ratings. But is it not easy to see Creationism and ID on one side, and Evolution on the other?
Evolution says: At some point in the past there was a "big bang" Material just spewed forth, expanding outward, spiralling, spinning, collecting into blobs of suns, planets and other objects...by chance. And then, with enough time, chemicals formed on their own, 'something' gave it a spark, and Voila! there was life. Of course, without some other precisely-coordinated events, they never suggest how this newly formed "life" was able to sustain itself; nor do they suggest the -source- for the "spark". They don't know how the "material" came into existence, nor can they explain their theory of the "point singularity" from which it "banged". It is all imaginary!
On the other hand: The earth as we know it, if you will read vss 24-29, is full of riddles to solve, as to "how" they came about and exist... how the clouds are up there, and the oceans down here and don't go overflowing the dry land. The earth is a sphere. Interesting how the RCC in its papal all-knowing pontifications persecuted anybody who didn't adhere to their ancient "earth is flat" legends. The Bible, right here, tells us of the earth's circular nature. (vs27) Why aren't the clouds down on the ground, and the waters up in the sky? Design. Why is the earth circular and not square? Design.
The earth was 'designed' with 'intelligence'. But the flaw in calling it "intelligent design" is that it leaves out the most important factor. God the Creator, and Wisdom. Perhaps, given enough time, any super-genius, with enough super-computers, could 'engineer' something like the earth? But where do all of nature's 'laws' come from? Gravity, chemical properties, interaction of the millions of species of animals, microbes, insects, plants that are all inter-dependent upon each other, such that if certain complex organisms didn't exist, their host/parasite complex organisms would also not be able to exist as they do. It is not our purpose here to give a science/biology/chemistry lesson. But think back and consider the things you already know.
Those who hold to evolution are "willfully ignorant" (2Pet3:5) not having a shread of scientific evidence to support their theories; but refuse to acknowledge God.
Intelligent design at least acknowledges that some intelligent 'being' HAD TO HAVE designed everything; because the nature of things is 'disorganization'. If you put the components of a watch in a jar and start shaking, the nature of events is that they will -NEVER- put themselves together in the form of a functioning time piece. And if not shaken, they will just SIT THERE. But it is still a step away, not acknowleding 'who' the "intelligent being" is who did it. It's somewhat like modern "evangelism" that tells people they need to be saved, but doesn't tell them why or who does the saving, and how to Biblically obtain Salvation.
To know God is Wisdom. To know God is to be truly Wise.
A little tidbit in all this: What does the world typically think of God? It is typically what they think of "church". It is dark, ominous, boring. Well, their view of "church" is the traditions of Babylon; which is not truly from God. God is so harsh, judging, continually angry, etc. Well, indeed, God is "jealous" of His own existence against impostors.
But notice about the creation. Wisdom was God's "delight day by day, being in merriment before Him at all times" (vs30) Even in something like our presently sin-cursed world, is there not "merriment" in watching birds flit "to and fro" as designed? (Gen1:20) Is there not merriment in watching kittens wrestling and pouncing upon each other in play? Or to wrestle with your dog, let the water hose run in its face as it voraciously laps at and attacks the water, or watch the 'happy' expression of a dog's face hanging out a car window as the car zooms by.
It was not God's original design that animals kill each other, and that there should be pain and suffering. Godless man scoffs at God, when he sees the world in its present condition, and they bitterly lament: "Why would a 'good' God create all this suffering?" Well, he didn't!
Furthermore, sinful man mocks God because of his own lamentable condition in life. But God also did not create that.
In God's "merriment" His design was... "delight...with the sons of men" (vs31) God did not create pain and suffering for man. God's intention or "purpose" (2Pet3:9) was not suffering and eventually death. It was Life, Joy, Happiness.... "Merriment" When the creation was first completed, the "sons of God shouted for joy" (Job38:7)
It was -SIN- that changed everything. Man was given a choice: Obey God and enjoy life; or Disobey and "die the death" (Gen2:17) Adam and Eve chose to disobey... Thus, we have what we see today.
Wisdom is related to the soul. It is the soul that operates the computer/brain, which in turn makes the body -do- whatever we do. The body is purely a bio-physical 'mechanism', functioning with nerve impulses and muscle flexings, all receiving their control instructions from the (physical) brain. But the soul is our 'person', which is tied to the brain via the blood. (Lev17:11)
What is the soul invited to do? Pay attention to wisdom. And what is the reward for obtaining wisdom?
In fact, if a person refuses Wisdom, they do "violence to his own soul; all who hate me love death" (vs36)
Again: the same "negativity" by which the chapter started.
Calvinists have an argument that goes something like: How can a dead person 'choose' Salvation? A person apart from Jesus Christ is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph2:1) They apparently are not aware of the soul. A person devoid of Eternal Life is devoid of God's Holy Spirit; which, in fact, is one definition of an unsaved person...
But if they open their eyes and look at creation, they can see God. No, creation is not God. But as this chapter shows us, the creation shows us God's wisdom; which in turn points us to God, the possessor and essence of that wisdom. If they take time to observe and "reason together" with God (Is1:18), they can see God revealed; and there is no place on earth where this witness does not exist. (Ps19:1-3) They don't need a (written) Bible. They don't even need a preacher uttering words to them, because God has proclaimed Himself through Wisdom, through creation.
If sinful man seeks out the Wisdom that he sees... and notice the terminology here: "give heed to" Wisdom, "watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors" (vs34) In other words...earnestly seeking...
Re: Wisdom: Two Invitations (Proverbs 9)
WHAT IS THE INVITATION?
And when the person of wisdom knows the Almighty, and God makes Himself known to that person, drawing them to His Son (Jn6:44), they receive God's testimony...
BUT THERE IS ANOTHER INVITATION:
Something Proverbs addresses repeatedly: the "foolish woman". She is described as being boisterous, naive and "knows nothing" (vs13) and she "calls out to those who pass by" (vs15a)
Is this not pretty much a definition of our present lascivious Western Culture! Is not calling out to passers by a definition of 'commercials'! What are a majority of commercials characterized by? What is a primary theme of sitcoms and movies? What is a primary topic of conversation amongst the non-wise who engage in wickedness? The liberated, saucy, in-your-face, somewhat naked, you're-not-the-boss-of-me... FEMALE.
Her invitation is:
Now... where Wisdom promises life, and the Foolish Woman promises excitement; the reality is that following her is the path to death.
The passers by "who are going STRAIGHT on their ways" (vs15b) The "good" men... she seduces, allures, corrupts... and ruins.
And when this happens... whose 'fault' was it? Where does the blame fall?
"He who sins against [Wisdom] does violence to HIS -OWN- SOUL" (8:36)
Two invitations. Two responses. Two outcomes. And the outcome is between the -individual- and God. The one who does the enticing is answerable for -themself- to God. If a person allows oneself to be enticed, all a person can do before God is acknowledge one's -own- guilt. ("I acknowledge my transgressions.." Ps51:3) Yes, the serpent was judged for seducing, but Adam and Eve paid for their own guilt...and their sin then passed to the rest of the earth and humanity.
Two invitations. Good or Bad. Righteousness or Wickedness. There are no (proverbial) "gray areas".
"For the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his practice.
"...who will render to each one according to his works:
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to what his work shall be."
"I call Heaven and earth to bear witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live;" (De30:19)
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Re: The Heart of Man (Proverbs 16:1-3)
"The arrangement of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, are from Jehovah." (Pr16:1)
We often quote how Jesus (the Word) knows all mankind down to our very souls... "piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.." (Heb4:12) But 'why' is this so? How is Jesus 'able' to know us even better than we know ourselves? Because He made us. "Know that Jehovah, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.." (Ps100:3)
For some time, now, I've been trying to find somebody to help me open a couple of 'ancient' DOS utilities to 'fix' them. The person who wrote them is dead, and the companies who sold them no longer remember they even existed. One person I know no longer has his utilities by which to do it; and others I speak with who do programming, no longer seem to remember that DOS ever existed, and they "don't know" -how- to go about it. They did not write the utilites...they are not 'familiar' with them.
Being a writer of batch files, and doing website pages at the 'code' level, if one of my batch files does something differently than what I need it to do, I can 'quickly' whip out the text editor, go in and make the changes. Ditto with the web pages. I wrote those files originally, and understand the logic and thought processes that went into their creation. If my needs for a certain batch file change, I know 'right' where to go to make the change. But if I look at somebody else's files, or somebody else's (software-generated) web page source code, I cannot go 'quickly' to any particular spot, because first, I have to browse the file to get a 'feel' and understanding of the logic that put it together. And, not being all-knowing in .bat or .html, there are some things I will see, that I simply do not understand. Because..?? I DID NOT DESIGN AND WRITE THEM.
Why are there so many ideas and theories about the heart and soul of man? 'Ideas' and 'theories', by definition, indicate a lack of full knowledge of these things. Even though we -are- 'the' creatures 'of' heart and soul, we do not fully understand our own makeup; just as people can go visit websites, but not understand how/why it all works, and yet 'use' it all. A person does not need to understand automatic transmissions to be able to put one in gear and drive the car. And yet, there are those who -do- understand it. Those who devised how the internet works, and understand computers and browser software, they 'understand' html code. An automotive engineer and/or expert mechanic 'understand' how a transmission works...because they 'designed' and built it; and take them apart regularly to fix them.
Whatever is designed into the web page 'appears' on the screen... BECAUSE... that's the way the designers created it to work.
When Jesus said, "..out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Lk6:45b), why was He able to say that? Because that is the way He (God) designed it. God designed the heart and the tongue to be inter-related. The "arrangement" (design) of the heart, and the "answer" (response to that arrangement) of the tongue, were designed by God.
We, as mankind, do not fully understand our souls and spirits. How often does a person seeking to serve God have inner frustrations regarding what one perceives in one's own heart? Romans ch7 shows how Paul was frustrated with it in his own heart.
Many who pretend to be Christians have developed a doctrine called: "It doesn't matter...God accepts you JUST AS YOU ARE." Thus, they condone any kind of behavior imaginable. When some point to how such behavior does not line up with Scripture, they adopt to the beliefs of the "fool" who "has no delight in understanding, but only that his heart may reveal itself." (Pr18:2) Self-expression... coming out of self-esteem, self-worth, self-actualization. Self, self, self. I, me, mine.
Those who think that everything comes from "self" seem to reject the notion of "God". Evolution teaches that man arrived on the scene merely by "chance", and now, as he evolves through self-empowerment, he eventually becomes god-like. Actually, godless "New Age" and Mormonism are not all that different, are they. New Age creates their own state of "god" -within-. Mormonism says that at death people become gods and goddesses. To them, the 'source' is -man-, BECOMING gods or god-like.
And notice that God calls them "fools".
But, if we don't truly understand our heart/soul makeup, then 'how' do we go about following God? How do we lay hold on righteousness? When we are plagued by those evil thoughts, how do we replace them with good thoughts? We can -say- we have repented and received Jesus as Savior; but how do we 'know' we are righteous? How does anybody else know we are righteous? How can we know they are righteous? After all, in our hearts we might think we are righteous "in our own eyes, but Jehovah weighs the spirits." (Pr16:2) We may -think- we have the "witness" of the Holy Spirit in our hearts (Rom8:16), but being sensory creatures of touch, hearing, seeing, that we are, how can we know it's real? In the Judgement, what is the basis for each person's rewards or doom?
Those not found in the Book of Life are judged by what? Their "works". (Rev20:13) And those that are saved are judged by what? How they "built" on the Foundation. (1Cor3:12-15) Again, "works".
Yes, a person is saved "by grace through faith"...but it doesn't stop there. A person is saved "unto good works". (Eph2:8-10) Jacob2:14-26 declares that a work-less faith is a "dead" faith. (vs26)
Truly, out of the heart's "abundance", the mouth speaks. Thus, part of the salvation equation includes, "..with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Rom10:10) If the mouth is loath to confess Christ, Christ must not be 'real' in the heart; and Jesus promises to "deny..before the Father" anyone who denies Him. (Mt10:33) Remember, it's a "birth" (from above)(Jn3:3) When a baby is born, it cries. If a baby does not cry after birth, quite possibly it is "dead". Is that where the term "STILL birth" comes from? The baby was born dead, therefore it was "still"...it did not cry out. In the same way, somebody who has experienced the Spiritual birth, cries out in confession. The woman of Samaria went running into the town, calling out to the people about Jesus. (Jn4) When people were healed by Jesus, they were continually spreading His fame. When a couple are in love, they typically don't have any problems confessing the matter to everyone.
However, we are also creatures of 'action' and 'activity'. And being 'sensory' in nature, there is much we pick up from our environment. As Christians go, my life has likely been as 'separated' as anybody's, holding to certain standards of right behavior, enough so that at certain jobs I would gain little nick-names from the unsaved, such as "apostle" and such things. At one job some of the rowdy types would kid around with me, inviting me to join them at the bar after work, or offering to "set-me-up" with some female 'friend' they knew; just to try to get a rise out of me; invitations which were ignored or declined, of course. But you know, that one summer (between college school terms) at that one job, working in the boat assembly plant, after I had been there about two months, hearing all the talk around me, being continually surrounded by every-other-word being a four-letter word...suddenly one day, as I was minding my own business, going about the work I was doing, found myself -FORMING- those same four-letter words within my own thoughts. I never uttered them to anybody else. But they were in my thoughts enough to FORM them into mental sentences, nonetheless.
You see, it is said of Lot, living in Sodom, that he was "oppressed by the lustful behavior of the wicked." (2Pt2:7)
How does one counter such things? Notice the next verse:
"Roll your works upon Jehovah, and your thoughts will be established." (Pr16:3)
Is it enough to "repent" towards God and have "faith" in Christ? (Ac20:21) Is it enough to merely -only- "receive" Jesus? (Jn1:12) Is it enough only to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ"? (Ac16:31) Well, truly, God knows the heart; and He knows if it is a true Faith. But how does man know? How does a person know in their own life? How does anybody else know? Not only do we not know our own hearts as well as the One who created them, but neither do we have mental telepathy with one another. If someone -says- they are saved, how does anybody else know it?
When there is repentance, then there are also the "works 'befitting' repentance". (Ac26:20) Jesus, certainly, knew the heart of Zacchaeus; that's why He called up to him saying, Come down out of that tree, I'm coming to your house. But it was after Zacchaeus proclaimed his changed heart through his changed life that Jesus proclaimed, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;" (Lk19:9) How was he the "son" of Abraham?
"Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." (Rom4:3) Yes, Faith. And then, "Was not Abraham our father justified from works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?" (Jac2:21) Works.
Jesus knew Zacchaeus' heart, but the people around didn't. They murmured because what they knew of Zacchaeus was that he was a thieving, cheating tax collector. His heart changed...and his behavior changed.
You see....faith and works go hand-in-hand. There is really not one without the other. How many are the testimonies of those who were truly saved, and first thing, they ripped up all their cigarette packs, threw out all their collections of Playboy. How many are the testimonies that, once they got saved, and went to 'hang-out' with their former buddies, that the camaraderie was suddenly gone; they were no longer 'comfortable' at the old watering hole, nor were the old buddies with them.
On the other hand, if a Christian spends all his time and desires around the world's sin, what happens to the thoughts? And at what point do those thoughts become a 'rejection' of God, to the point of "drawing back" from God and His salvation?
When I was a child, I had a canary. Oh, it would love to sing! Particularly when I would be practicing the piano, it would set itself up over there, siiiinging away! But then, we sometimes also hung its cage during the summer near the open windows or doors so it could get a flow of air, as it could get pretty hot and muggy where we lived in Japan. And you know... after a time of that, the canary started "chirping" like a sparrow. Why? It was near the outside where the sparrows were...and hearing the sparrows all day long, it stopped singing like a canary, pretending it was a sparrow. And after that, it never ever totally got its 'song' back, even when removed from the sparrows.
Now, the canary never ceased being a 'canary'. It was that way by genetics. But a Christian, while receiving the "gift" (Eph2:8) of the "hope of eternal life" (Tit1:2), we are yet in these bodies of "flesh and blood" which cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor15:50) because they have not yet been "redeemed" (Rom8:23) through the Resurrection or Rapture. (1Cor15:44,51-54) And contrary to that false doctrine coming out of the Reformation, Scripture is 'quite' clear that a person -can- give that "gift" back. A person can "put their hand to the plow" and then "look back" (Lk9:62); they can "draw back away" (Lk8:13) "to destruction" (Heb10:39) (For you who believe in OSAS, as we have addressed this in the past, please note the terminology. Scripture nowhere teaches that salvation can be "lost". Rom8:35-39 is clear on that. But the recipient of the "gift" can purposely, deliberately 'return' the gift, throw it away, walk away from it, abandon it...etc.)
Just as a person can roll their works "upon Jehovah", they can also do so to the world. Just as a person who rests upon the Lord with his works, his thoughts are focused upon the things of God; so, too, a person who spends all their purposeful endeavors in the world, emulating the world, their thoughts can become like the devil. At what point does one's worldly thoughts stop being merely 'associative' (due to proximity), and become 'intrinsic' (due to assimilation)? God knows. He created it all. At first, that canary only chirped when it was near the sparrows; but after enough time, it totally lost its 'song', and -only- 'chirped', all the time.
However also, contrariwise, we do not always know how to order our lives. Thus, "A manís heart devises his way, but Jehovah arranges his steps." (Pr16:9) It's all a total package. God knows our hearts, to know if our hearts are true to Him... He will then also "arrange" our steps before Him.
Yes, it is true that nobody can come to Christ, unless the Father "draws" them. (Jn6:44) But when the life-line is dropped to the drowning individual, they can also choose to either grab the line, or not. Jesus spoke of counting-the-cost to follow Jesus. If a person is going to follow Christ, they must "decide" what it's going to be. It's either all-or-nothing. If a person decides to follow Jesus, then, the world is left behind. Jesus said we cannot serve "two masters". (Mt6:24) People try to straddle the fence, dangling one foot in the water, and the other on the dry ground. They try to walk on water, or swim on the ground. A person must totally commit themself to either swimming (in water), or walking (on land).
If a person walks on the bank of a madly violently rushing stream, and flirts with the water, they may easily slip and fall into the stream, and drown. They may desire the safety of dry land, but did not know when their flirting with the water would suddenly catch them off balance... and then it's too late.
"But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Mt8:12) "I Jehovah search the heart, I examine the soul, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." (Jer17:10)
"And you shall seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jer29:13)
"My son, give Me your heart, and let your eyes take pleasure in observing My ways." (Pr23:26)
Re: Free will - Self-control (Proverbs 25:28)
"A man to whom there is no control to his spirit is like a broken down city without a wall." (Pr25:28)
There are all sorts of excuses, on all sorts of levels, to 'help' man circumnavigate his conscience around, to try to side-step God's verdict upon man's sinful condition. "In -SIN- did my mother conceive me" (Ps51:5) is not the status man likes to think of his own character. If a person commits some heinous act, there are many ways in which he is excused from responsibility, as he says, "I couldn't help myself". In other words, it must somehow be somebody -else-'s fault!
How does he go about figuring out 'whose' fault it is? Unregenerate man has developed "psychology" to excuse away his sin. "Personality types". If a person is of some predisposition, (assumed in that statement, of course, 'not of his own making'), he can't help BUT behave in certain ways. Thus, they excuse away rape, murder, incest, etc. as a "condition" for which a "cure" must be devised. Ignoring "sin", they look to "chemical" imbalances and "genetics".
Well, christendom has devised its own versions of "I can't help myself", too. On one end of the spectrum there are those who believe that people who are saved, do so because of God's "irresistable grace". In other words, once God starts calling, you have "no choice but" to receive Christ. That if we are "saved by grace" and it's "not of ourselves" because it's a "gift" (Eph2:8-9), that there is no responsibility on the part of man regarding rejecting or receiving Christ. That if most people are on their way to hell, that it is God's doing. They can't help it. God didn't "choose" them.
Another error claims that God's Holy Spirit simply overpowers people, making them babble off blasphemous gibberish, be thrown across rooms with violent force, dance around slithering sensuously provocatively and fall down as "dead" on the floor with their bodies (women) immodestly uncovered once thus "slain". Again, it is God's "fault", because the "Holy Spirit" just "took over" and they "couldn't help it". In this context, please note God's Word, "the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets" (1Cor14:32)
According to the opening Proverb, all these explanations and excuses are deeply flawed. Notice when Paul speaks with Felix he speaks of "..temperance.." (Acts24:25) One of the fruits of the [Holy] Spirit is "self-control" (Gal5:23) One of the things God has given us is a spirit of "a sound mind". (2Tim1:7) When these people "can't help it", they are "without self-control" (2Tim3:3), a characteristic of the unregenerate man yet in sin. But as a Believer grows in Godly virtues, he developes "self-control". (2Pt1:6)
Today's world (the "church" included) are busy with everything to do with "SELF". Self-esteem, self-worth, self-virture, self-empowerment, self-deification, etc. Everything, that is, except self-CONTROL. Anything where they don't have to accept responsibility for themselves.
Notice that at the judgment, each person gives account of HIMSELF before God. (Rom14:12) We cannot put the blame on "another's servant". (vs4) And furthermore, if a spirit is "driving" a person to things, it is a demon. (Lk8:29) The Holy Spirit does not impose or force Himself upon the individual. (Jn16:13) If He did, in fact, impose His will onto the Believer, there would not have been the exhortation to not "quench the Spirit". (1Th5:19)
So, let's look at the opening Proverb again.
If a person is without rule over his spirit; in other words, no self-control, he is like a "broken down city without a wall". What were walls built for? To keep the occupants safe from enemy attack. If the wall is broken down, the enemy can climb on in and wreak havoc.
Now, the fact that Scripture speaks of -having- self-control, it must mean that God gave "free will" to also NOT exercise self-control. Otherwise, such exortations would not be given. In other words, God has truly given man control over his own destiny. With the 'mind' we make choices. When that sensuous person of the opposite sex comes luring along, we -CAN- make the choice to say "No!" When that craving for alcohol or cigarettes becomes so strong, the person -CAN- make a choice.
When a Christian gives his "body" as a "living sacrifice" (Rom12:1), that is an act of "death". How do we "control" these bodies? With the "renewing of your mind". (vs2) Now, if a person is addicted to whatever drug of choice, certainly the old body is going to crave satisfaction. But when Christ gives the renewed mind at salvation, we are given the wherewithall to deal with it. It becomes a "reasonable" service. The matter -IS- "manageable". There is no such thing as "can't".
No, nobody said the Christian life is easy. It is likened to warfare. And we are exhorted that, when we've done everything and exhausted all options, "having done all, to stand." (Eph6:13) To yield to temptation is not an option. Yes, it's tough. But through Christ is not impossible; God -always- provides a way out. (1Cor10:13) The victory is through Jesus Christ. (Rom7:24) But as we exercise (a continual act) self-control, that "wall" is built tall and strong, and keeps the evil out.
"Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. So that, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not without fruit in the Lord" (1Cor15:57-58)
Re: Whose Word? (Proverbs 30:5-6)
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Re: There is a Generation (Proverbs 30:11-13)
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