The Book of Proverbs
INTRODUCTION: Among the wisdom books, Proverbs sits in the distinguished central position. From the midst of the sixty-six books of the Bible, it calls men and women to listen. Those who lend an ear are richly rewarded.
Mankind has desperately needed wisdom since Adam ate the forbidden fruit. We require more than knowing right from wrong- although that is significant enough. As I see it, wisdom knows the difference between good and evil, it discerns between what’s good and what’s best. Proverbs slices through the fog of today’s moral dilemmas and presents timeless truth, so how can we truly live without it.
As we shall see, wisdom in The Book of Proverbs is a person. She has been with God for all eternity. We are invited to pursue her. For everyone who searches for her finds LIFE. This study will be more like a journey or a quest. It is an attempt to scale the heights to find what only God can give. Gaining wisdom is its own reward.
…let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance…
Then I will teach transgressors your way,
and sinners will turn back to you.
The purpose for Proverbs is explained in these verses. Here we are drawn to the timeless wisdom the book contains. There is, after all, much treasure to be discovered in Proverbs but it isn’t for everyone. It offers knowledge, learning, discretion, insights, guidance and discipline for the wise. The fool, however, despises these things and refuses their counsel. Wisdom is offered but fools reject it in favor of folly.
Our culture pursues anything that promises help in finding life’s meaning. We tend to buy into the fallacy that new is better. But wisdom is timeless. Wisdom is as profitable today as it was centuries ago or will be tomorrow. Proverbs is as relevant and rewarding for the people of today as it was to the first readers in Solomon’s day. It will benefit the wise during the dark days ahead at the end of this age and during the thousand year age that follows.
To those already rich in things that matter, Proverbs adds riches. To the wise learning is added. To those rich in discernment guidance is added. To the simple knowledge is given. To those who already have much, more will be given.
My Father, the giver of all wisdom, has led me to this book. May He accomplish his purpose. Lead me, my Lord and God, away from foolishness. Lead me toward wisdom and understanding so that I may avoid the trap of fools and teach others the way of salvation.
…for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into the world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” John 9:39
God employs riddles. He has hidden many divine mysteries in his Word. When the Bible speaks about things to come it is often in language most do not understand. Why not make things plain? Why did the Father put secret treasures throughout the Bible?
Why did mother hide my Easter basket? It was because she derived pleasure in watching me search high and low. It made her especially happy when I embraced the challenge and kept on looking with determination to find the chocolate delights. She loved it when I squealed with delight when I discovered what I had been looking for. I was never disappointed so neither was she.
There is great enjoyment in finding surprises. Some call it the thrill of the hunt. Women may call it shopping. Children call it Christmas. The Lord made us this way.
The disciples once asked Jesus why he spoke in parables.
He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Matthew 13:11
The Lord went on to respond further about why he chose parables and riddles to communicate the secrets of the kingdom. Essentially, Jesus answer to why he spoke in parables was a riddle.
This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not understand.”
An important concept to grasp from this is that we are invited to enter into a challenging game. The game promises rewards and reveals our identity.
For example, a math or physics teacher put a very difficult problem on the board. The professor knew half the class would take one look; find the problem too hard to really try. Another thirty per cent would put some effort into it but quit after a short attempt. Of the remaining students perhaps one or two would work until they solved the problem.
What the teacher found out was invaluable: they discovered who the gifted math or physics students were. They also found out which students were willing to try their best and which were not willing to try at all. What category of students received the most attention from the teacher? The gifted learners followed by those who gave their best, of course; they were given the most rewards. The students that shine are the primary benefactors of what the teacher offers.
It is no different with the Lord.
Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” Matthew 13:12
Proverbs is the reward (i.e. wisdom, knowledge, discernment, understanding) that our teacher gives. To those who already shine in this department more will be given. In reading and studying, the Lord will bring an increase of knowledge to their storehouse.
Proverbs is also a separator. It multiplies the distance between the wise and fools. For the fool, the proverbs and riddles found in the Bible are “too hard”. They won’t even try. However, for the person God has gifted and chosen, understanding and other rewards come after they expend effort to solve the challenging questions.
The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom has been given to those who desire them, those to whom God has chosen to reveal them and those that give everything to gain more wisdom and understanding. They are called secrets for a reason. Only a privileged few will be given this knowledge. Only a small percentage will ever want it. This is why I must demonstrate I am willing to search for wisdom and discernment with all my might.
For the upright will live in the land,
and the righteous will remain in it,
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the unfaithful will turn from it. (21-22)
For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more,
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.
Our brothers and sisters in North Korea must do normal Christian activities in secret. If seen praying, reading a Bible or witnessing to their faith, prison and unknown tortures would likely result. But the land on which oppressed Christians live does not belong to their persecutors. Presently, the oppressors are landlords. The earth and everything in it is the Lord’s. When all is made right again and evil landlords are no more, the land will be renewed. Then those who suffered for Jesus sake and survived will be returned to and given the land as an inheritance. They will be the lords of the earth and enjoy great peace.
Not only will there be no wicked landlords; there will be no evil tenants either. Only the righteous or upright will live in the land. The unfaithful have no inheritance. They will be cut off. None beside the meek will have peace on earth and good will to men on whom God’s favor rests. The proud and arrogant and wicked will be no more.
A little while longer and the wicked will be no more. The nations may rage and the kings take their stand against now against the Lord and his Holy One. Whether tenant or landlord, they may kill the King’s servants but when the King returns, all will be made right.
May 11, 2013
Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evil men.
Avoid it, do not travel on it;
turn from it and go on your way.
For they cannot sleep till they do evil;
they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall. (14-16)
Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? (Amos 3:3)
There is more than one reason to avoid the path of the wicked. For one, they are not on that road alone. Other transgressors are on the path, too, and wrong people do bad things to one another. Trouble may be around the bend and we do not know it. The wicked lie in wait ready to pounce. The wicked don’t take other wicked prisoner.
Another reason is that bad company corrupts good morals. If we journey with men and women of unsound judgment their influence will be seen and felt in our attitude and speech after awhile. Before we go too far, the ways of the people we walk with begin showing up in our ways. We become like the company we keep.
Lastly, the path of the wicked leads to God’s judgment and who really wants that? Its direction is away from the truth of God; so who wants to live out falsehood. Its road leads from righteousness into the den of iniquity. There is trouble on that road but the real trouble is ahead where there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
It is the way of the transgressors and their way is hard. Their hardship is because of God’s curse on their sin. The soul that sins shall die. We do not want to take that trip.
If I find myself on that road, going in the wrong direction there is but one thing to do: I must turn around before taking one more step on that path. Leave the company of the wicked at all cost before the trap laid for them is the one I fall into. When I know disaster is imminent, I need to take every step to avoid it if I can. Think and then act. Choose life.
For a man’s way are in full view of the Lord,
and he examines all his paths.
The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him,
the cords of his sin hold him fast.
He will die for lack of discipline,
led astray by his own folly.
But Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord and sinned more than all those before him. He walked in all the ways of Jeroboam, son of Nebat and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit, so that they provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger by their worthless idols.
1st Kings 16:25
A spider spins his web, lacing it with a sticky substance. To the fly, the silky web is a snare and an instrument of death. Similarly, the web of destruction awaits the wicked. Hidden from the eyes of the wicked but not from the eyes of God, are the strands that snag and hold those not following God’s laws. They will never be free.
There is a way through the spider’s web that avoids the glue. It is the way the spider takes. Spiders have physical features that allow them to see and avoid the adhesive by “tiptoeing” through their web. Other insects do not have the same physical ability.
Satan is the web spinner. Though they may have been trapped in the web for a season, the righteous will not fall prey. Jesus frees the man or woman snared by the enemy of our soul.
Nothing is hidden from God’s sight. God dwells in heavenly light so that every deed is exposed before him. This is a discomforting thought for the person who appears to walk with the Lord but is full of corruption. To those who walk in the fear of God, knowing God watches over them is reassuring. Our way is not hidden.
A recent news report stated that owners of the Apple IPod or IPad have a Global Positioning System (GPS) device built-in giving their locations at all times. From the beginning God has been doing this and more. The Lord knows not only where we are; He also knows where our path is heading. We may be lost but we are not out of His sight.
With a personal GPS, we have to program into it our destination. In life, it is not that simple. There is a way that seems right to a man but the ends thereof, leads to death. Everyone wants to go to heaven but we cannot see ‘Satan’s’ web. The wicked will not know the way. Their direction leads to destruction.
God’s people surrender their GPS to his sovereign will. Like sheep, we ask our Shepherd to lead us in the paths of righteousness for his namesake. Take my life, my Lord. Lead me away from evil and set my feet on the path of life. I am in your care.
There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
Moses summoned all Israel and said:
Hear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today.
Learn them and be sure to follow them.
“You shall not commit murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
Deuteronomy 5:1, 17-20
Laws are a reflection of the nations who make them. We see lawmakers enacting laws that run counter to God’s laws. For instance, certain cities provide spousal benefits for gay couples; states legalize gay marriage and extend special rights to homosexuals. Though it is argued that the gay lifestyle is a choice unlike other forms of discrimination (i.e. race, ethnicity, gender, age, and physical handicap), in most cities it is a crime to deny gays an apartment, membership into an organization or a job because of their sexual orientation.
If God calls it an abomination, the righteous will agree through their system of laws. When they call “right” what God calls “wrong”, that nation will not endure. Judgment follows corruption. God’s wrath is stirred by laws which punish the righteous and protect the wicked. America and other western nations are evidently under divine judgment. Recent legislation and judicial decisions are proof. The legislation of immorality is symptomatic of the disease.
Coming soon to our planet will be a new government. It will be on the shoulders of one man. His name is the number 666. Paul describes him as “the man of lawlessness.” Daniel prophesied he would seek “to change the set times and laws” (Daniel 7:25). Another name given the devil’s spawn is “the abomination that causes desolation” (Matthew 24:15). As we see in Scripture, laws that men make but God hates are abominations. Those who make what God calls abominations into law have the spirit of antichrist. Desolation follows.
The man of lawlessness will have authority to make laws oppressing the saints yet only for a season. All government, rule and laws will fall to this “stern-faced king, a master of intrigue” (Daniel 8:23). In the end “he will be destroyed but not by human power” (8:25).
After the prophesied beast rules, another ruler takes his place. He will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government, there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:6). The promised king is Son of God and Son of Man, specifically descended from the line of Israel’s king, David. He will establish his throne and to his laws and kingship there will be no end. The reason is that death has no hold on him. He has no heirs since Christ is king forever, “the ruler of God’s creation” (Revelation 3:14). For many, his kingdom laws are the only ones that matter now.
How much clearer can it be? I must help others see. After the veil has been lifted from my eyes, I must help remove it from the eyes of others. Laws are moving in Satan’s direction. Only the One coming in power and great glory can set them aright. Only then will there be true justice and righteousness in law. He will put an end to evil lawbreakers.
“So I came out to meet you,
I looked for you and have found you!”
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1st Peter 5:8
In the Proverb 7 passage that we are looking at, the adulteress comes out to meet the young man. How does she know where to find him? The fool always ends up on her street. Folly never sets foot on the path of the wise. The wise do not walk in the way of the fool. She seeks those who know wisdom’s path but decided to jump off. Extra attention from hell is paid to the man who has followed God yet takes a walk on the street of fools.
“I’ve been looking for you,” she says. You bet she has! He is on her street to find some pleasure. She is there to give him what he wants– and pain and misery besides!
Her assignment from hell is to seduce the man made in God’s image. If she can lure him into tasting forbidden fruit, the rest happens automatically. When he wanders away seeking that which the Sovereign Lord forbids, the law of God takes over. The curse of death falls upon him for his disobedience. Only the power of the cross of Jesus that breaks the curse of death can save him. It will not be easy. Escape is the exception, not the rule.