Proverbs 25

pr25.jpgGreetings!

More Proverbs of Solomon

25     These are more proverbs of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah:

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;

to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

3 As the heavens are high and the earth is deep,

so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.

4 Remove the dross from the silver,

and out comes material for the silversmith;

5 remove the wicked from the king’s presence,

and his throne will be established through righteousness.

6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,

and do not claim a place among great men;

7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,”

than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman.

What you have seen with your eyes

8 do not bring hastily to court,

for what will you do in the end

if your neighbor puts you to shame?

9 If you argue your case with a neighbor,

do not betray another man’s confidence,

10 or he who hears it may shame you

and you will never lose your bad reputation.

11 A word aptly spoken

is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

12 Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold

is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear.

That is easy advice to give but tough to take.  Yet if I get wise criticism from others I am hurting myself to ignore it.  I find that it is easier to take “criticism” when reading it in books or the Bible, as it is less personal then.  I don’t get as defensive because I don’t have another human there to see my immediate reactions.

13 Like the coolness of snow at harvest time

is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him;

he refreshes the spirit of his masters.

14 Like clouds and wind without rain

is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give.

15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,

and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

16 If you find honey, eat just enough—

too much of it, and you will vomit.

17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—

too much of you, and he will hate you.

18 Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow

is the man who gives false testimony against his neighbor.

19 Like a bad tooth or a lame foot

is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble.

God puts a high priority on honesty in regular life and in court.  Having a trusted friend is of great value.

20 Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day,

or like vinegar poured on soda,

is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;

if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,

and the Lord will reward you.

This advice runs counter to what the world will tell you.  Christianity (and at this time, Judaism) turns the world upside down, which is really to say it puts it back the way God intended it.

23 As a north wind brings rain,

so a sly tongue brings angry looks.

24 Better to live on a corner of the roof

than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

People usually chuckle at that verse but consider its truth.  You could marry an extremely attractive person, but how wise is that if they treat you poorly or are unfaithful? 

25 Like cold water to a weary soul

is good news from a distant land.

26 Like a muddied spring or a polluted well

is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.

27 It is not good to eat too much honey,

nor is it honorable to seek one’s own honor.

28 Like a city whose walls are broken down

is a man who lacks self-control.

Self control is a key success factor in life.  You’ll do and say far fewer stupid things which cause pain for yourself and others.  And seeking glory for ourselves usually turns out badly.

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 24

pr24.gifGreetings!  I always enjoy coming back to the Proverbs.

24     Do not envy wicked men,

do not desire their company;

2 for their hearts plot violence,

and their lips talk about making trouble.

 How many times do we envy those who mock God?  We shouldn’t envy anyone, let alone people who are unsaved. 

3 By wisdom a house is built,

and through understanding it is established;

4 through knowledge its rooms are filled

with rare and beautiful treasures.

5 A wise man has great power,

and a man of knowledge increases strength;

6 for waging war you need guidance,

and for victory many advisers.

I have erred many times by not asking advice from others, probably because I didn’t want to hear what they had to say.  But I would have been better off in the long run by listening to them.

7 Wisdom is too high for a fool;

in the assembly at the gate he has nothing to say.

8 He who plots evil

will be known as a schemer.

9 The schemes of folly are sin,

and men detest a mocker.

10 If you falter in times of trouble,

how small is your strength!

11 Rescue those being led away to death;

hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”

does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?

Does not he who guards your life know it?

Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

13 Eat honey, my son, for it is good;

honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.

14 Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul;

if you find it, there is a future hope for you,

and your hope will not be cut off.

15 Do not lie in wait like an outlaw against a righteous man’s house,

do not raid his dwelling place;

16 for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again,

but the wicked are brought down by calamity.

17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;

when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,

18 or the Lord will see and disapprove

and turn his wrath away from him.

19 Do not fret because of evil men

or be envious of the wicked,

20 for the evil man has no future hope,

and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.

If we keep an eternal perspective we won’t be as troubled by evil people today.

21 Fear the Lord and the king, my son,

and do not join with the rebellious,

22 for those two will send sudden destruction upon them,

and who knows what calamities they can bring?

Further Sayings of the Wise 23 These also are sayings of the wise:

To show partiality in judging is not good:

24 Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent”—

peoples will curse him and nations denounce him.

25 But it will go well with those who convict the guilty,

and rich blessing will come upon them.

Sometimes people just think of justice as the innocent being set free, but God also loves when justice is done to those who are guilty.

26 An honest answer

is like a kiss on the lips.

Sometimes we are tempted to tell friends what they want to hear instead of the truth, but the honest answers always work out best. 

27 Finish your outdoor work

and get your fields ready;

after that, build your house.

28 Do not testify against your neighbor without cause,

or use your lips to deceive.

29 Do not say, “I’ll do to him as he has done to me;

I’ll pay that man back for what he did.”

30 I went past the field of the sluggard,

past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment;

31 thorns had come up everywhere,

the ground was covered with weeds,

and the stone wall was in ruins.

32 I applied my heart to what I observed

and learned a lesson from what I saw:

33 A little sleep, a little slumber,

a little folding of the hands to rest—

34 and poverty will come on you like a bandit

and scarcity like an armed man.

Many people are poor through no fault of their own, but many more made bad decisions and are suffering the consequences. 

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 23

pr23.jpgGreetings!

23     When you sit to dine with a ruler,

note well what is before you,

2 and put a knife to your throat

if you are given to gluttony.

3 Do not crave his delicacies,

for that food is deceptive.

4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich;

have the wisdom to show restraint.

5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,

for they will surely sprout wings

and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

Focusing on wealth is an addiction much like any other.  It consumes you and distracts you from what is real and important.  You can sacrifice your health to make money, then spend your wealth trying to recover your health.  Bad idea.  Or you can sacrifice your family to make money and never recover them.  All your money and all your success cannot buy your kids a second childhood.

6 Do not eat the food of a stingy man,

do not crave his delicacies;

7 for he is the kind of man

who is always thinking about the cost.

“Eat and drink,” he says to you,

but his heart is not with you.

8 You will vomit up the little you have eaten

and will have wasted your compliments.

9 Do not speak to a fool,

for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.

I should consider this more when blogging on my regular blog.  I’m better than I used to be about cutting off unproductive conversations, but debating people who refuse to move from foolish ideas is exhausting and generally a waste of time. 

10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone

or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,

11 for their Defender is strong;

he will take up their case against you.

This is another way of saying, “Don’t steal.”  We should not take or covet what doesn’t belong to us.

12 Apply your heart to instruction

and your ears to words of knowledge.

13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;

if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.

14 Punish him with the rod

and save his soul from death.

Despite the “children are born good” nonsense our culture teaches, the reality is that we are born sinners.  We need to drive sins out of our kids (even though they ultimately need Jesus to save and transform them).  We don’t have to do it physically, but for young children in certain situations (e.g., direct rebellion) it may be required.

15 My son, if your heart is wise,

then my heart will be glad;

16 my inmost being will rejoice

when your lips speak what is right.

Does it bring you joy when your children make wise decisions and speak well?  I know it does for me!

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,

but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.

18 There is surely a future hope for you,

and your hope will not be cut off.

19 Listen, my son, and be wise,

and keep your heart on the right path.

20 Do not join those who drink too much wine

or gorge themselves on meat,

21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,

and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,

and do not despise your mother when she is old.

23 Buy the truth and do not sell it;

get wisdom, discipline and understanding.

24 The father of a righteous man has great joy;

he who has a wise son delights in him.

25 May your father and mother be glad;

may she who gave you birth rejoice!

26 My son, give me your heart

and let your eyes keep to my ways,

27 for a prostitute is a deep pit

and a wayward wife is a narrow well.

28 Like a bandit she lies in wait,

and multiplies the unfaithful among men.

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?

Who has strife? Who has complaints?

Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?

30 Those who linger over wine,

who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.

31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,

when it sparkles in the cup,

when it goes down smoothly!

32 In the end it bites like a snake

and poisons like a viper.

33 Your eyes will see strange sights

and your mind imagine confusing things.

34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,

lying on top of the rigging.

35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!

They beat me, but I don’t feel it!

When will I wake up

so I can find another drink?”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

The Bible doesn’t say you can never have alcohol.  It is quite clear that getting drunk is a sin, that we should obey laws (i.e., no under-aged drinking) and we shouldn’t tempt others with our drinking.

Proverbs 22

pr22.jpgGreetings!

22     A good name is more desirable than great riches;

to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

It is amazing and a bit scary how quickly you can lose a good name.  Even a lifetime of achievement and good works can be ruined with a careless decision. 

2 Rich and poor have this in common:

The Lord is the Maker of them all.

3 A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge,

but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

I am writing this just a few days after Hurricane Ike hit Texas, so this was timely! 

4 Humility and the fear of the Lord

bring wealth and honor and life.

5 In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares,

but he who guards his soul stays far from them.

In the New Testament Paul says that “bad company corrupts good character.”  I didn’t believe this as a kid but looking back I see how true it is.  But it can impact adults as well.  We need to take the message of the Gospel out into the world, but our core should be a solid group of authentic Christians who hold us accountable. 

6 Train a child in the way he should go,

and when he is old he will not turn from it.

That is a famous verse about parenting.  It typically seems to be interpreted as “teach your kids the right things, then they’ll go off and be wild, then they’ll return to God.”  I also heard an interesting interpretation that it was about looking at your child as an individual, with the emphasis on the “he” (i.e., Train a child in the way he should go . . .”

Regardless, it is clear that teaching God’s way is always the best way.

7 The rich rule over the poor,

and the borrower is servant to the lender.

Excessive debt has destroyed so many marriages and lives.  I highly encourage people to use ministries like Crown Financial or Dave Ramsey to learn good money management practices and get out of debt.  You can’t serve the Lord to your full potential if you are always stressed about debt and wasting money on interest payments.

8 He who sows wickedness reaps trouble,

and the rod of his fury will be destroyed.

9 A generous man will himself be blessed,

for he shares his food with the poor.

10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;

quarrels and insults are ended.

11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious

will have the king for his friend.

12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,

but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!”

or, “I will be murdered in the streets!”

14 The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit;

he who is under the Lord’s wrath will fall into it.

That is an interesting verse – it seems to say that the encounter with the adulteress is a punishment.

15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,

but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

Children are not born good.  They are cute, but selfish, prideful, covetous, etc.  They need to have bad habits driven from them. 

16 He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth

and he who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.

Sayings of the Wise

17 Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise;

apply your heart to what I teach,

18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart

and have all of them ready on your lips.

19 So that your trust may be in the Lord,

I teach you today, even you.

20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you,

sayings of counsel and knowledge,

21 teaching you true and reliable words,

so that you can give sound answers

to him who sent you?

22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor

and do not crush the needy in court,

23 for the Lord will take up their case

and will plunder those who plunder them.

24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man,

do not associate with one easily angered,

25 or you may learn his ways

and get yourself ensnared.

26 Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge

or puts up security for debts;

27 if you lack the means to pay,

your very bed will be snatched from under you.

This is simple: Don’t co-sign loans for someone else unless you plan to pay the debt.  If the professional lenders think the person is a bad credit risk, who are you to disagree with them? 

28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone

set up by your forefathers.

29 Do you see a man skilled in his work?

He will serve before kings;

he will not serve before obscure men.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 21

pr21.jpgGreetings! 

21     The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord;

he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

This is contrasted to many cultures where they thought the king was god or on a par with him, as in the Roman Empire.

2 All a man’s ways seem right to him,

but the Lord weighs the heart.

God knows our motives, so even when we do “good” He knows if the motive was pride, self-promotion or some other selfish act.

3 To do what is right and just

is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart,

the lamp of the wicked, are sin!

5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit

as surely as haste leads to poverty.

Planning is a virtue.  The times when I rushed into financial things usually turned out poorly.

6 A fortune made by a lying tongue

is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.

7 The violence of the wicked will drag them away,

for they refuse to do what is right.

8 The way of the guilty is devious,

but the conduct of the innocent is upright.

9 Better to live on a corner of the roof

than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

That proverb is mentioned more than once (in v. 19 below and elsewhere), and it is a timeless bit of advice for those seeking to get married.  Appearance, money or power may attract you to someone, but you get to live with their character. 

10 The wicked man craves evil;

his neighbor gets no mercy from him.

11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom;

when a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge.

12 The Righteous One takes note of

the house of the wicked

and brings the wicked to ruin.

13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor,

he too will cry out and not be answered.

14 A gift given in secret soothes anger,

and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.

15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous

but terror to evildoers.

16 A man who strays from the path of understanding

comes to rest in the company of the dead.

17 He who loves pleasure will become poor;

whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous,

and the unfaithful for the upright.

19 Better to live in a desert

than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.

20 In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil,

but a foolish man devours all he has.

There is nothing wrong with prudent saving for the future.  Of course we should God our first and best, but He has also blessed us such that we can live within our means and save a reasonable amount for emergencies and retirement.

21 He who pursues righteousness and love

finds life, prosperity and honor.

22 A wise man attacks the city of the mighty

and pulls down the stronghold in which they trust.

23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue

keeps himself from calamity.

We can undo years of hard work and success with a few poor words, and damage relationships forever as well.

24 The proud and arrogant man—“Mocker” is his name;

he behaves with overweening pride.

25 The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him,

because his hands refuse to work.

26 All day long he craves for more,

but the righteous give without sparing.

27 The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable—

how much more so when brought with evil intent!

28 A false witness will perish,

and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever.

29 A wicked man puts up a bold front,

but an upright man gives thought to his ways.

30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan

that can succeed against the Lord.

31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle,

but victory rests with the Lord.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 20

pr20.jpgGreetings!  Back to the Proverbs today.  I always enjoy their timeless advice. 

20     Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;

whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Alcohol isn’t prohibited by scripture, but too much of them can indeed lead you astray.  Drunkedness is indeed a sin.  They distort our interpretation of the truth, which is an all-important success factor in life.  Once our view of the truth is distorted we may do all sorts of stupid and sinful things.

2 A king’s wrath is like the roar of a lion;

he who angers him forfeits his life.

3 It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife,

but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Knowing how to choose your battles requires wisdom and discernment.  Too many quarrels or the wrong kind of quarrels are foolish, but too few may mean we’re being wimpy.  Some things are worth fighting over.

4 A sluggard does not plow in season;

so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.

Deferred gratification is also a key success factor in life.  Whether it is working or studying we must think ahead.

5 The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters,

but a man of understanding draws them out.

6 Many a man claims to have unfailing love,

but a faithful man who can find?

7 The righteous man leads a blameless life;

blessed are his children after him.

8 When a king sits on his throne to judge,

he winnows out all evil with his eyes.

9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure;

I am clean and without sin”?

No one can!  That is why we need Jesus, who took the punishment for our sins.  We can’t fix ourselves or forgive ourselves.  We need a Savior.

10 Differing weights and differing measures—

the Lord detests them both.

God cares about fairness in business. 

11 Even a child is known by his actions,

by whether his conduct is pure and right.

12 Ears that hear and eyes that see—

the Lord has made them both.

13 Do not love sleep or you will grow poor;

stay awake and you will have food to spare.

14 “It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer;

then off he goes and boasts about his purchase.

15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance,

but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.

16 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;

hold it in pledge if he does it for a wayward woman.

17 Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man,

but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.

People can’t truly enjoy things they came by dishonestly.

18 Make plans by seeking advice;

if you wage war, obtain guidance.

19 A gossip betrays a confidence;

so avoid a man who talks too much.

20 If a man curses his father or mother,

his lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.

21 An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning

will not be blessed at the end.

22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”

Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.

Revenge is such a powerful and consuming emotion.  Giving it over to God is the smartest thing to do. 

23 The Lord detests differing weights,

and dishonest scales do not please him.

24 A man’s steps are directed by the Lord.

How then can anyone understand his own way?

25 It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly

and only later to consider his vows.

26 A wise king winnows out the wicked;

he drives the threshing wheel over them.

27 The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man;

it searches out his inmost being.

We can’t hide anything from God: Actions, words and even thoughts.  That should be sobering to everyone.

28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe;

through love his throne is made secure.

29 The glory of young men is their strength,

gray hair the splendor of the old.

30 Blows and wounds cleanse away evil,

and beatings purge the inmost being.

[1]

[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Proverbs 19

pr19.jpgGreetings!

19     Better a poor man whose walk is blameless

than a fool whose lips are perverse.

2 It is not good to have zeal without knowledge,

nor to be hasty and miss the way.

People often think that zeal is a bad thing, as in, “He’s so zealous!”  But done in the right way zeal is good.  We must be zealous with knowledge.  That is a good lesson for new Christians especially.  Also consider Galatians 4:18, where Paul says, “It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.”  I wrote more on zeal here.

3 A man’s own folly ruins his life,

yet his heart rages against the Lord.

Sadly, our sins and rebellion not only keep us from God but they don’t even benefit us in this life.  They destroy us and our families, which is why God warned us from them in the first place!  The world tells the lie that sin is fun.

4 Wealth brings many friends,

but a poor man’s friend deserts him.

5 A false witness will not go unpunished,

and he who pours out lies will not go free.

6 Many curry favor with a ruler,

and everyone is the friend of a man who gives gifts.

7 A poor man is shunned by all his relatives—

how much more do his friends avoid him!

Though he pursues them with pleading,

they are nowhere to be found.

This isn’t the way it is supposed to be, just a description of reality.  You know your true friends when they are there in tough times.  And you are a true friend when you’re there for your friends when others abandon them.

8 He who gets wisdom loves his own soul;

he who cherishes understanding prospers.

9 A false witness will not go unpunished,

and he who pours out lies will perish.

10 It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury—

how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!

11 A man’s wisdom gives him patience;

it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

This is similar to v. 5.  God loves justice.  He doesn’t want the innocent punished or the guilty spared.

12 A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion,

but his favor is like dew on the grass.

13 A foolish son is his father’s ruin,

and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.

14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,

but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

15 Laziness brings on deep sleep,

and the shiftless man goes hungry.

16 He who obeys instructions guards his life,

but he who is contemptuous of his ways will die.

Pride often keeps us from learning from others. 

17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,

and he will reward him for what he has done.

As Matthew 25 teaches, whatever we do or don’t do for the needy is what we do or don’t do for Jesus.

18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope;

do not be a willing party to his death.

What a strong warning!  Failing to discipline your child is extremely unloving.

19 A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty;

if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.

20 Listen to advice and accept instruction,

and in the end you will be wise.

21 Many are the plans in a man’s heart,

but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

22 What a man desires is unfailing love;

better to be poor than a liar.

23 The fear of the Lord leads to life:

Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

24 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;

he will not even bring it back to his mouth!

25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence;

rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge.

26 He who robs his father and drives out his mother

is a son who brings shame and disgrace.

27 Stop listening to instruction, my son,

and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

28 A corrupt witness mocks at justice,

and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.

29 Penalties are prepared for mockers,

and beatings for the backs of fools.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.