An Idea Borrowed

Years ago on a radio program someone shared that they read a chapter in Proverbs every day. Since there are 31 chapters and the longest month has 31 days it allows you to read through Proverbs on a regular basis. I use it as the launch pad for my personal worship time and branch out from there. On this blog I will try to share some of the insights I have in the Word. I will try to organize them in the archive by reference.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tomorrow, Tomorrow...

(Pro 27:1 KJV) Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

Is there anything that we are to “boast” (1984b) about? We are surrounded by people boasting constantly. Politically we hear the bully pulpit and, in this election year, we hear advertisements. I was once told after a poor job interview that I should tell people my strong points and not my weaknesses. Paul boasted in his weakness.

(2Co 12:9 KJV) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I think this may be a matter of contrast. Our best is very little compared to what God offers. Maybe we should spend our time praising God instead of reminding people of what we have done.

James also had something to say about this in terms of “tomorrow” (4279)

(Jas 4:13-14 KJV) Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

The Bible does tell us to plan. We are to count the cost. But we are to do it with the understanding that God may have things in store we could never dream of. Jesus also spoke about making assumptions. We go forward with confidence because we trust in God, not because we are great planners.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Travel Warnings

As I have been experimenting with this blog format I have only missed a few days. For the next month I will be on the move a lot and dependent on other internet connections. I am not sure how that will work out. The adventure continues. I hope to be consistent.

Teflon Curses

(Pro 26:2 KJV) As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.

We seem to be returning to an era of superstition. The occult is coming out of the closet. Darkness is in. One place I see it is in my reading. I woke up to reading in the 7th grade when I discovered science fiction in the school library. Although I read more than science fiction today, it is still my favorite. The problem is that fantasy has invaded the field. The way that relates to this verse in Proverbs is the “curse” (7045). In fantasy people are always throwing curses. They may be called different things but they involve some invoking of magic to bring harm to other people. It is safe to assume that curses are linked in some way to the devil and his minions, even if the people throwing them would claim otherwise.

In a culture of superstition people often worry about a “curse” (7045). The bad news is that Proverbs does not deny they exist. The good news is that evidently we don’t need to worry about it much. We don’t need to worry about charms and amulets and other bits of superstitious mumbo jumbo because greater is He who is in you.... If there is no “cause” (2600) {24:28} then the curse has no power. If we are living the way God wants us to live there will be no cause.

It will not "come" (alight NASB) (935) on you. Have you ever tried to write on greasy paper with a cheap pin. It doesn’t work. That is the curse on the faithful. Does this mean that it might alight on someone else? A bird keeps going until it finds a place to stop. Are there curses out there waiting to land? Can a curse go back and land on the person who gave it? Are these nonsense questions?

Does this mean that if it is deserved, it will definitely land on us? That certainly gives us a reason to live holy lives.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Love Your Enemies

(Pro 25:21 KJV) If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:

Clearly the NT writers were familiar with the Proverbs:

(Mat 5:44 KJV) But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

(Rom 12:20 KJV) Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

One of the bits of ignorance that amazes me is the people who think mercy and graciousness are limited to the NT. Jesus taught what the OT said. We do no study ourselves so we fall for the nonsense that the God of the OT is different than the God of the NT.

This is also why war waged by Christians is different than war raged by followers of other gods. We are commanded to love our enemies even when it is necessary for the government to use the sword to deal with evil. That limits our actions. The love of Christ that controls us is the same love that will sit on the judgment seat. It is the same love that condemned the man not dressed for the wedding. It is the same love that did not put up with the nonsense of the Pharisees. It is the same love that went to the cross and died in our place. Biblical love is not the same as the love of the movie screen or the romance novel. This is the love that we apply to our lives.

Rojoice Not in Unrighteousness

(Pro 24:17 KJV) Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

This reminds me of the verse in I Corinthians13:6 which says we are not to rejoice in unrighteousness. Included in that idea is that we are not to enjoy the suffering of our enemies. We are to want the best for them and allow God to be the one who directs their path. He will bring them to repentance much better than we can. This is another difference between the teaching of the God of the Bible (Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord) and the perversion of the Koran. The Koran demands that the believer seek vengeance.

This is hard to apply. War is not condemned. Justice is demanded. We are supposed to see these activities through and not “rejoice” (8055) as the guilty “falleth" (5307). So much of what we experience is keyed to our attitudes in combination with our actions.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Good Time?

(Pro 23:35 KJV) They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

I don’t drink but I have been around people who do. I personally don’t understand the enjoyment of something that takes away your power to reason and control yourself. I have enough problems with discipline as it is.

I think this is a bit of humor. We have just read several verses that talk about all of the negative qualities of too much to drink. Then they say, “Give me another drink.” It is madness. I can remember talking to people the morning after. I remembered them laying in a gutter, covered with their own vomit. I ask them what they did last night and they answer, “I can’t remember, but I had a great time!” Pardon me if I have a different definition of “good time.”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


(Pro 22:7 KJV) The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

Finance is always a part of the spiritual life. Here and in verse 26 we see two different traps that we can fall into.

The first part of this seems obvious. Someone always “ruleth” (4910). And it tends to be the rich. Do they rule because they are rich, or are they rich because they rule? Either way, it is only logical. If poor people could rule, they would cease being poor.

The second part is a thought that we need to look at more closely. The warning here does not come natural to us but should be at the front of our mind. We should avoid being a “borrower” (3867b). This will cause us to be a “servant" (slave NASB) (5650). Unpaid debts led to slavery in those days. Today it binds us and keeps us from living free lives.

Usually we claim that we are helpless to avoid being in debt. Sometimes that may even be true but I have always wondered how we can have illegal immigrants in this country, working for low wages, supporting their families and sending billions of dollars home. At the same time the guy making three times as much says he can’t pay his bills. We are so used to the affluent life style that we don’t recognize how trapped we are.

When my son was growing up he would tell me he needed something, usually having to do with computers. I would ask him, “Do you need it or just want it?” He never liked to answer that. Think about the things that used to be luxuries: Washing machines, air-conditioning, hot running water, starters on cars, cars, refrigerators, micro-waves, etc. People lived for thousands of years without these things, but we “need” them. And often we do to live in our culture, but not as many are “needed” as we would believe.

So we go into debt. We borrow. And according to the word of God we become slaves. We are no longer free to follow where God leads. We can no longer give to those in need. Heed the warning.

We are only to be slaves to God.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Heart Felt

(Pro 21:2 KJV) Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

This is a theme that is often repeated in the Word. Men think they are “right” (3477). They view things through their own “eyes” (5869). We tend to make allowances for ourselves and see victory when it is a tie. This can be humbling, if not defeating. How can we trust our opinions?

This can also be uplifting because it means that our basic attitudes are what are weighed, not our specific actions. We are not expected to be perfect or successful in the eyes of the world The Lord “pondereth" (weighs NASB) (8505) all things His way. He looks at the “hearts” (3820) of men. He looks at what motivates. Obedience is important as an attitude that is applied more than action for the wrong reasons.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Can Handle My Liquor

(Pro 20:1 KJV) Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Although some would disagree, the use of “wine” (3196) is not condemned totally in scripture, but here it admits it is a “mocker” (3917b). Often we see standards of conduct presented like this. We see paradox in possible behavior. This is the glory of the spirit guided life. We do not live on the easy extremes; we live in the stress of liberty. We are expected to look at the options open to us and choose the path that leads to holy living.

How many parts of our life put us in this situation? At some places it is assumed that wine is acceptable, yet it has great danger. What else? Food, sex, money, leisure? Proverbs touches all of these. As a regenerated people we are expected to be able to use our liberty to glorify God, not to satisfy our worldly desires. How do we work this through?

Distilling was not a reality at that time. What is “strong drink” (7941)? Whatever it is, it is a “raging" (NASB brawler) (1993).

Being “intoxicated” (7686) seems to be the problem. How does legalism handle this? The law uses a scientifically measurable level of blood alcohol. Below your are sober; above, drunk. The line is arbitrary but useful in a court of law. The challenge is to see how close you can get, to walk as close to the limit as possible. In court that may be acceptable but in the spiritual walk it is death.

Yet the word does not seem to mean being drunk. It is more misled. You don’t need to be drunk, just to wander away from your path because of the effect of the alcohol. So the call of the believer is to avoid that which tries to mislead us. Don’t even mess with it. This is why I have remained a teetotaler even as an adult. I have enough trouble thinking clearly without adding a straw to the camel’s back.

I may not be wise, but I will come closer sober than with a glass of wine.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Lost Art of Integrity

(Pro 19:1 KJV) Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.

The Bible certainly recognizes people are not all the same. It recognizes the differences between “poor” (7326) and rich, king and subject, fool and wise. Some are “better” (2896a) than others. In most cultures people are told to respect their betters and “betters” has been defined by social class. God has a different standard for ranking people.

What is measured is how a man “walks” (1980) in the path given to him. This has been adopted as part of the traditional American ideal, even if not accepted by many. The same could be said about the church. Too often we give extra credibility to people of wealth, education, looks or family.

A pattern of “integrity” (8537) is a part of our heritage. This is the quality lifted out here. I am currently teaching seventh grade. One of the hardest things for me to deal with is the ease with which the younger generation lies. It is the exception when you find an honest student. I once taught a speech class and the final speech was titled “Five Principles That Guide My Life.” In some cases I could not convey what I meant by that. The idea of basic principles was hard for them to grasp. When they did some would pick honesty as one principle. I was shocked to hear a consistent mantra with them: Always tell the truth, unless you needed to lie. Pastors, teachers and parents need to work hard at teaching moral and ethical behavior.

Even more important is that we model integrity ourselves and become standard bearers not just standard teachers. There are some things which are “better caught than taught” as trite as that saying is. Integrity is one of them.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sloth Destorys

(Pro 18:9 KJV) He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

The sluggard is “slothful" (slack NASB) (7503). We are called to be diligent in our work and our responsibilities. As believers we are to be the best employees.

I have taken comfort in my sins being sins of omission. This deflates that comfort.

Laziness links us with those who destroy what is valuable. It’s results are not passive. The sins of omission are powerful. We underestimate the power of sloth. When we do not carry our weight we are allies of those who are actively seeking to do evil.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Less Is More

(Pro 17:1 KJV) Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.

This is one of a series of comparisons given in Proverbs. Several times the comparison is to a nagging wife, here it is simply “strife” (7379).

Life has choices or at least alternatives. Some are “better” (2896a). I think this is advice to people who are still starting out or early in their chosen path. Sometimes we look at the apparent good side of things and don’t see the drawbacks. What Solomon is saying is that the simply way of living is often better because it has less conflicts. We strive and strain and then find out what we earned is not as enjoyable as we expected.

This is a case where it seems the KJV gives a better understanding than the NASB which talks about "feasting" instead of "sacrifices" (2077). I think the idea is a house where all kinds of formal religious rituals go on that involve anything from feasting to fasting. Quiet simplicity is what is better.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Age with Grace

(Pro 16:31 KJV) The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.

What is a "hoary head"? That is King James for gray hair. You may be familiar with the term hoar frost. It refers to a coating of white on the grass or glass on a winter morning. Here is shows who has the cool heads.

Do not die your gray hair! Notice that it is a “crown” (5850) of “glory” (8597). When we read the word we find so many ideas that go against our culture. We live in a youth culture. Getting old is a fate worse than death. The old are looked down on. Don’t give in to the values of a world that rejects the authority of God.

Obviously being old does not make you wise. You can be an old fool. But all things being equal life should have taught you something. Experience can teach.

(Full disclosure: I have had gray hair for years.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Soft Serve

(Pro 15:1 KJV) A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

If there has ever been a good piece of advice, this is it. It brings to mind Jesus telling us that peacemakers will inherit the earth. We are reminded of the command to turn the other cheek. We are told that love is patient and kind. We even see it repeated in verse 18. The examples go on, but it does not fit the wisdom of the world.

This is a verse that is often quoted but, just as often, ignored. There are different reasons for this neglect.

One reason it is ignored is that we are afraid to be “soft" (gentle NASB) (7390). We don’t think it will really work. We are afraid to look weak. We worry that people will take advantage of us. We will. They will. That does not do away with the command. As Christians we are to be salt and light, not the saltiest and the brightest. Those are standards of the world. As much as I enjoy a good John Wayne movie or Louis L’Amour western, the tough, rugged individualist is not the standard for followers of Jesus. We are not called to clean out the rough frontier towns with our icy nerve and iron backbones. We are called to be examples of righteousness and holiness.

We do not like being those kind of examples. They are not “cool”. They are not the paths to power and fame. They make us stand out in ways we would rather avoid. They force us to live by faith and not by sight, to boast in our weakness and to trust God when we would rather be in control.

This does not mean that we never stand up boldly and defy evil. That can also be following the example of Jesus. He could have had smooth sailing is He had been more seeker friendly with the Pharisees. He could have avoided the cross by being a little more flexible with Pilate. He could have booked a tour of Cairo instead of Jerusalem. Instead He looked death right in the eye and did not blink. There are times for that but we need to be careful that we are doing it for the glory of God and for real principle not just for our ego.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sin? What Sin?

(Pro 14:9 KJV) Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.

Our society is leery of the “s” word. Nobody wants to talk about sin. One of my favorite songs is from the musical “West Side Story.” The brats are singing to Officer Krupki. They go through all of the list of things that our society says is wrong with people and at the end they share that “deep down inside we’re just no good!” Such profound theology from a popular musical. “Fools” (191) deny “sin” (817).

It is clear that modern educators are “fools” (191). Unfortunately, many modern theologians and pastors are in the same cage. They “mock” (3917b) at the very idea of “sin” (817). We think some of these ideas are new. We think we have a harder road to walk than previous generations. These ideas and people were around in Solomon’s time.

Many pew sitters mock sin by ignoring its reality. Maybe they think if they ignore it, it will go away.

Pastors are so concerned about being inclusive and building self-esteem that they downplay the danger of sin. Congregations can go forever and never find out why Jesus had do die. Jesus died to pay for our sin; not to make us well balanced, not to help us find fulfillment, not to build our self esteem, but to pay for our sin.

Rejoice that Jesus understood about sin even if your pastor doesn’t.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Button Your Lip

(Pro 13:3 KJV) He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.

Proverbs gives repeated warning about talking too much. James reflects this on his discussion of the tongue.

The KJV uses different words than the NASB.

A wise person “keepeth" (NASB guards) (5341) his mouth. How often do we speak before we think? How often do we get into gossip and empty chatter? Most of the time this causes no issues but it builds a picture in other people’s minds about the kind of person we are. There is a reason why we are repeatedly called on to speak slowly.

This “keepeth" (NASB preserves) (8104) “life” (5315) in many ways. In our culture there are few people who have unregulated power over our lives. In ancient days there were many people who had the power of life and death. Today, in many parts of the world, there are similar people. To use who have freedom of speech and a tolerant society the dangers are often of another nature. There may be times when our opportunities for advancement are ruined by running our mouths too much. We may cause extreme pain in our families by our revved up mouths.

"Keepeth" is two different words in the Hebrew. Both words, though different, have the same definitions. They can be looked at as synonyms.

“Life” (5315) is the word that is also translated “soul”. It refers to the inner self, the total being. You can see how this bit of spiritual advice can be referring to eternal concerns, not just how we get along with our neighbors.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Transgression of the Lips

(Pro 12:13 KJV) The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips: but the just shall come out of trouble.

Some people look for “transgression” (6588). This is talking about lying in its many forms. I like the idea of a “transgression of the lips.” We have a culture that is making so many accommodations to dishonesty that it is frightening. In politics we call it “spinning.” In business we call it “advertizing.” In the church we call it being “seeker friendly”. In our personal lives we call it “tact.” Sometimes those difference are real, too often they are lies. We need to remember that when the residents of the lake of fire are listed, liars are right there in their midst. It is not a small thing, it is eternal. It is what evil men do. The reformation should start in the church.

When Is Temptation Temptation

I missed posting yesterday and was tempted to change the date on the last post to make it look like I had done it yesterday. If there was a purpose other than pride it might have been a legitimate change, but just to cover up my small failure seemed a bit vain. It won't make any difference in the national debt, bring a new Great Awakening or cure cancer, but it is my small contribution to feeling my way through this world of blogging with integrity.

Keep the Right Balance

(Pro 11:1 KJV) A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.

This is an elaboration on the “ill-gotten gains” of Proverbs 10:2 in the last chapter. It will also appear in other places. We are required to be honest and fair in our business dealings.

A crook deals with a “false” (4820) “balance” (3976). But we need to understand that this is something that applies beyond balance. How many ways can we have a figurative false balance? Hypocrisy and deception take many forms.

A crooked business man is an “abomination” (8441) to the Lord. Here is another theme that we hear over and over again in Proverbs. Being an abomination to the Lord is not a good thing to be.

A godly business man uses a “just” (8003) “weight” (68). This word "just" is related to [shalom]. It is only used here in Proverbs. This is a completely different word from the standard word for “justice” (4941).

A godly business man is a “delight” (7522) to God. He is not an embarrassment. If you embarrass God then you become an abomination.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Profit without Honor?

(Pro 10:2 KJV) Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.

The KJV is translated a bit different here. For "treasures of wickedness" the NASB has "ill gotten gains." The Hebrew words are the same, it is the translation that is different. It is easy to jump on this verse and make it an indictment of any attempt to make a profit. That is not the focus. Note that “wickedness/ill-gotten” (7562) and “treasures/gains” (214) are two different words. This is not an indictment of profits, business or capitalism.

The problem is not making money. The problem is making it in an evil way. Private property is a Biblical concept. Profit is a Biblical concept. The meaning changes though if you use evil methods.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wisdom Is Available

(Pro 8:1 KJV) Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?

One of the most common themes in Proverbs is “wisdom” (2451). There is something within us that makes it possible for us to know “wisdom” and know that it is calling to us. That does not mean that we will admit it or listen. Here Solomon is pointing out that it is available.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Word, Not the World

(Pro 7:1 KJV) My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.

Here we are to “keep” (8104) God’s “words” (561).

This is elaborated and personalized. We are to “treasure” (6845) His “commandments” (4687). It is interesting to me that this is also translated “ambush”. I get the picture of things bottled up for use with force.

The world does not want our wisdom. That is understandable. The tragedy is that the church seems to be wanting the “wisdom” of the world. We structure our churches so that we do not offend. We try to be seeker friendly so that sinners will be comfortable in our house of worship. Listening to Alister Begg, he used the phrase “counter culture”. I did not go back and re-listen, so I don’t know how much of what came to me was me or him, but it struck me that the church should be the “counter culture” of our day. Instead we have tried to fit in.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Introducing the Sluggard

(Pro 6:6 KJV) Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

Here is the first reference of the “sluggard” (6102) in Proverbs. Solomon will return to this several times. The sluggard is lazy. Notice that the Bible is not politically correct or worried about people having proper self-esteem. The Bible does not lest courtesy and kindness trump honesty and openness about serious defects in our character. Laziness, as we will see, is a serious defect. It ruins lives and by extension it ruins society.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

STD in Proverbs?

(Pro 5:9ff) Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: (KJV)

This begins a three verse description of what I picture as the course of the HIV disease. It may also be the course of other STD’s. Later in the chapter Solomon will sing the praises of sex within marriage, but this is a passage that seems to describe the penalty of misguided morality.

"Honour" (1935) is the KJV that means "splendor, majesty, vigor". If you look through the next few verses you will see a description of some of the effects of what we used to call VD. If you have gone through basic training, or what used to be basic training, you may remember all the pictures that were shown by the chaplains to discourage the young men from straying into the paths of infidelity. This is Solomon's version of that lecture.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Evil Is Not an Accident

(Pro 4:16) For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. (KJV)

Evil exists. It is not a case of making mistakes or being misguided. Some people cannot go to sleep because they are frustrated in evil doing. These people do not sin accidentally, they do so with focus and enthusiasm. We are surrounded by them. Christians, wake up! Compare this with Proverbs 6:14.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

From the Heart

Pro 3:1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: (KJV)

We “keep” (5341) God’s “commandments” (4687) in our hearts or we don’t keep them at all. Obedience cannot be a matter of following rules and checklists, it is a part of regeneration. The law was always available as an outward code, but the promises of the prophets had to do with it being written on our hearts. The opposite is what Paul would call “eye-service”.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Pro 2:1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

One of the patterns we will see all though scripture is the "if...then" combination. Here it begins in verse 1 and continues in verse 5. This is an indication that many, not most, of the promises that God gives us are conditional.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Obvious Truth

Pro 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; (KJV)

One of the issues that must be dealt with is accepting the Word as the Word. We take a simple statement like this and let it slip through our thinking. What would many people feel if I said Solomon did not write all of the Proverbs. Some would rise in righteous indignation. By the time you finish reading through all the Proverbs you will find that there are places where the Word says that other people wrote certain sections. Accept it if it says it. Don’t lay the statements of authorities on top of the Word and let the simple text slide away from you. Did Solomon write this part of Proverbs, yes, because the Bible says so. Did Paul write Hebrews? Did Matthew write the first gospel? We can accept tradition, but beware believing it.