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.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Says Who

(Proverbs 30:1 KJV) The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,

It would seem that Proverbs is not the entirely the work of Solomon. This is a minor point but it is an important reminder to us. Most people who believe think that Solomon was the author of Proverbs. For most of it, he was. But there are parts that he did not write. As the old Roy Rogers and Dale Evans song says, “How do I know? The Bible tells me so.” You will notice the same problem if you look at chapter 31.

If you did not know it before, know it now: Part of Proverbs was not written by Solomon. Why is this important? Much of what “the Bible says” it actually doesn’t say. Don’t take anyone’s word for it (including mine). Read it for yourself. Listen to sermons with your Bible and mind open. People died to bring you this book in understandable English. Make sure they did not die in vain. A recent book on this worth a read is:
Farris, Michael. From Tyndale to Madison. Nashville: B. & H. Publishers Group, 2007.


As I look over posts I am reminded of how often we seem to have repetition of topics. I am sure that part of that, at least in posting, is a reflection of topics that I notice. We all have drums that we beat and harmonies that we like. I try not to harp on my pet themes, but am blind to my own foibles.

Another reason is that certain topics come up again and again. The Bible was put together to reflect what God wanted to say, not to achieve some literary idea of balance. If we see repeated reference to liars, it is because they offend God and He wants to remind us. If Proverbs talks a lot about wisdom, it is because we need to know about wisdom.

When you get to the letters of Paul, remember that the letters are written in response to issues and problems in the early church. Next time you start looking for a perfect church, remember that even Paul could not start one. If the early church had been perfect we would not have received much of the New Testament.

I trust the since the Holy Spirit was the real author of the Bible, it will say what I need to hear when I need to hear it. That is why a passage can come alive at a certain time in our lives. Have you had the experience of looking at a verse you underlined or a comment you wrote in the margin and wondered "Why?" At the time it was burning in you, now you are on another page. That is one of the glories of the word. It is alive and able to meet us where we are.

Read the word. Read the word. Read the word.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

It Can Be Too Late

(Pro 29:1 KJV) He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

This verse is a two edged sword. The first edge teaches the patience of God. God is giving people multiplied chances to repent. We are not unable to listen to the things of God. Even if they will not admit it, people are aware of right and wrong. The unbeliever “hardeneth” (7185) his heart deliberately.

Pharaoh hardened his heart and then God continued to harden it. God seems to respond to the desire of our hearts in ways that we don’t expect.

Hebrews 6:4 speaks of the impossibility of renewing your faith. The key here is the idea of being "reproved" (8433b), not just a casual rejection of correction. The NASB adds the word “much”. “Reproof” (8433b) seems to have the idea of argument. I get the idea that this refers to a person who has been reasoned with for a period of time and refuses to listen or change.

Judgment will come “suddenly” (6621). The hardened man will be “broken” (7665).

The frightening part is when we are broken “without" (beyond NASB) (369) “remedy” (4832). This could be taken in the same way as Jesus’ answer to the question of how anyone can be saved if rich men are condemned. Several places the Bible says that God does not listen to the prayers of unbelievers. It is express different ways and in both Old and New Testaments. The warning is again that God does not play games. He is patient. He is merciful. But there will come a point where it will be too late to call upon that patience and mercy.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Holy Boldness

(Pro 28:1 KJV) The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Many live in a state of denial. Some are believers some are not. There are two types of people that exist. We must face it: “Wicked” (7563) people exist. It is unpopular to admit the existence of evil, but it is real. If your child has attended a public school he has been indoctrinated in the goodness of man. People are not evil, just misunderstood. The problems can all be solved if we can deal with the social issues involved, but sin is a concept for the superstitious people who believe in God. Too many people in the church agree with this.

Fear and suspicion are the foundation for the wicked. They “flee” (5127) when no one is “pursuing” (7291). What must it be like to live in fear all the time? This person is looking over their shoulder constantly. Someone once said, “You can’t cheat an honest man.” Or maybe it said it is hard to cheat him. The point is that honest people don’t comprise on business deals because they are willing to take unfair advantage. Take for instance the internet scams that have been going around. Someone claims they can get you a lot of money that you know you have no right to have. All it requires is some seed money on your part. The “victim” sends the money and that is the end of it. Their lack of honesty cost them.

But the emphasis of this verse is the person who is always looking over their shoulder. They are aware of all the laws they have violated. They know the lies they have told. They know the gossip they have spread. They live in constant fear that someone will find them out. What a way to live.

We also need to admit that the “righteous” (6662) exist. This is harder for some than admitting the existence of evil. This is a problem in the church. I have heard about our righteousness being as rags until I want to scream. Actually I believe it is “righteousnesses”.
(Isa 64:6 KJV) But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
The quote refers to the games that we play not to the ability of God to do what He says He will do. Read the verse again. It assumes that the righteous exist. Don’t you want to be one of them? Or would you rather hide behind a theology that ignores what the Bible says?

Being “righteous” (6662) makes us “bold” (982). What could be more threatening than coming into the presence of the Most High God? One force overcomes the other. How about a physical example. On the surface of the earth we are traveling about 1,000 miles an hour because of the rotation of the planet. If you were on the end of a rope swinging this fast you would feel the centrifugal force trying to throw you into space. You feel nothing. Why? Because the attraction of the mass of the earth, gravity, cancels out the other force. We walk on the surface with boldness. God’s power allows us to walk with boldness amidst the forces of evil.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Don't Toot Your Own Horn

(Pro 27:2 KJV) Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.

Everyone likes “praise” (1984b) when it is genuine, sincere and deserved. When we do it about ourselves it is translated “boasting.” We are not to toot our own horn.

This speaks a lot about how our lives should be lived. When is the last time someone spontaniously said something good about you? Think of all the quiet things we can do that may go unnoticed. My wife never seems to notice when I put dishes she has left on the counter in the dishwasher. My neighbors have never mentioned the times I have brought in their trash cans from the street. No one notices when I turn my stereo down so they won’t be bothered. God sees our actions and knows our motives. On occasion He will have someone give us a bit of encourgement. Live so that you deserve it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Good Word for Rods

(Pro 26:3 KJV) A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back.

I don’t think there is any significance in the three tools of control. It is not a hierarchy. That is not the point. I am not a horse person but I have read that horses can be trained in such a way that you don’t need a whip. That does not mean that some don’t. I have never heard of a donkey that would cooperate. Fools are all around us and don’t seem to respond to the subtle forms of leadership. The point is that many people in our population need force to control them.

In our modern thinking about equality, this does not sit well. We do not want to admit that “fools” (3864) exist. We do not want to admit that some people should be treated different simply because of who they are. I think the message is that fools need someone to control them and it can’t be done with finesse.

There is also a repeated Biblical standard that says physical punishment is acceptable. This does not mean abuse or torture, but it does mean inflicting unpleasant force. Perhaps if we had not abandoned this idea we would not see so much violence in our world.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Purging Your In Crowd

(Proverbs 25:5 KJV) Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.

What could the parallel be for us to the court of a king? This is a concept that we are not familiar with. Royalty would hold court. It was one of their time consuming duties. It probably started when kingdoms were small enough for the king to handle much of the work done by judges and juries in our culture. Eventually it became a stylized activity. Picture a huge room with the king sitting on the fanciest of thrones. He is dressed up in all his formal attire. The entire room is full of ladies and gentlement who were courtiers. Their main function was to stand around and look good. Hidden under that was a seeking for favors from the king or trying to influence what he did.

Imagine if the president would spend half of his day sitting on a throne at one end of a huge room with all the cabinet, senators, lobbyists, foreign ambassadors and relatives mingling in front of him. They would do little but gossip and try to get the president's attention during this time. Some business would be done but most of it would be political maneuvering.

How does this relate to our everyday lives? We don’t have masses of people standing around trying to get our attention. At least I don’t.

But we all have areas in which we exert some influence. We have family, friends, co-workers. Some of these people would be classified as “wicked” (7563). We cannot always control that. We have family members that leave much to be desired. We attend churches that are full of the carnal and the pagan. Our choices in work environment are sometimes very limited.

How are we to “take away” (1898) the “wicked” (7563)?

If we want our “throne” (3678), which could be our family or church, to be “established” (3559), we need to take action.

At home this would start with how we raise our children. You can home school your children or at least be very involved in what happens in school. When they get older do we allow them to develop into sluggards or expect them to get out and get a job? Adult children should not be allowed to stay and home and live off their parents. You can avoid family gatherings that are not to the glory of God.

At church we tend to fall under the world's view of what a church should be like. The world quotes “Judge not...” and we go along. After all, it is in the Bible. Consider these words of Paul:
I Cornithians 5:9-11 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-- not even to eat with such a one. (NASB)
These words are also in the Bible. This could be interpreted as cleaning the church roles, purging the church board, removing Sunday School teachers, and the list could go on. It gives a whole new meaning to “seeker friendly.”

At work it might mean changing jobs or asking for a transfer. If you are younger it might mean changing your career goals.

The list is only limited by our refusal to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and our desire to be established in “righteousness” (6664).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Learning Curve

Today I begin a new experiment in blogging. I am going to be on the road again so I am experimenting with scheduling my posts ahead of time. This will hopefully make the appearance regular. I am also going to set them to appear at 5:00 AM Pacific Time. If for some reason it would help you to have it posted earlier, let me know. If I get in the habit of posting early I can put it up at almost any time.

Frank Sinatra He Ain't

(Pro 24:1 KJV) Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.

We seem to have a “desire” (183) to be with evil people. Think back to when you were in school, or just look around at the mall. You often see a couple that demonstrates this. One is neat, clean, attractive and moves well. The other looks like they are on leave from a detox center. It always amazes me how young girls and men in general are attracted to people of questionable character.

Previous generations had heros like George Washington or Frank Sinatra. This generation has heros that use only four letter words and measure their worth in the complexity of their tattoos.

We are called to be different. Yes, we must minister to a hurting world. Yes, drug addicts need help. Yes, we need to reform the cities. But don’t make them your role models. Jesus is to be our role model. The Bible is to be our text book. If your goal is to be cool, maybe you should become a Buddhist and come back as a refrigerator.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Children and the Kingdom of Heaven

(Mark 10:15 KJV) Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

I am reading G.K. Chesterton’s book Heretics. He was discussing the idea of simplicity and wrote this paragraph:
The child is, indeed, in these, and many other matters, the best guide. And in nothing is the child so righteously childlike, in nothing does he exhibit more accurately the sounder order of simplicity, than in the fact that he sees everything with a simple pleasure, even the complex things. The false type of naturalness harps always on the distinction between the natural and the artificial. The higher kind of naturalness ignores that distinction. To the child the tree and the lamp-post are as natural and as artificial as each other; or rather, neither of them are natural but both supernatural. For both are splendid and unexplained. The flower with which God crowns the one, and the flame with which Sam the lamplighter crowns the other, are equally of the gold of fairy-tales. In the middle of the wildest fields the most rustic child is, ten to one, playing at steam-engines. And the only spiritual or philosophical objection to steam-engines is not that men pay for them or work at them, or make them very ugly, or even that men are killed by them; but merely that men do not play at them. The evil is that the childish poetry of clockwork does not remain. The wrong is not that engines are too much admired, but that they are not admired enough. The sin is not that engines are mechanical, but that men are mechanical.
The idea of being like a child has been a subject I have heard mentioned often. This paragraph helps me to understand the concept a little better.

Lexus Appetites, Kia Budgets

(Pro 23:1 KJV) When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:

These first three verses have a common idea behind them but like much scripture they can be taken literally and figuratively. The straight literal meaning of this will never apply to most people: We will never “eat" (dine NASB) (3898b) with a “ruler” (4910). In spite of that you could look at this as an Emily Post moment. Consider the people who could fill the position of being important to your future. Instead of ruler you could imagine your employer at the head of the table. Or consider someone who might be you future mother-in-law watching which fork you select for the salad. Your table manners count.

We generally are not willing to “carefully consider” (995) our choices and options. At a table this has real concerns. In life, it is good advice. This is a word that means “discern” or “understand.” We need to look to the long term consequences of choices we make. Too often we only look at the moment and forget that there will be a tomorrow.

(Pro 23:2 KJV) And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.

There is a danger in being a man of “appetite” (5315) {end} as Paul tells us:
Philippians 3:19 whose end is destruction, whose god is {their} appetite, and {whose} glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
At dinner, if you are trying to make a good impression, it is good not to be the last one scarfing food or to ask someone to pass the potatoes when everyone else has finished. It is better to go away hungry than rejected.

The figurative application takes us beyond table manners. There are many things in life that appeal to us. They are not always good for us. Although Proverbs is not addressing the causes of poverty here, the principle would still apply. Many people have a Lexus appetite with a Kia budget. Wisdom does not even pause by the Lexus showroom. It knows better. One reason people live in want is because they have misused the resources they have. Regardless of how you feel about the immigration issues, illegals come to this country, work for lower wages and still sent billions of dollars home. A citizen making much more is on the brink of bankruptcy.

God has promised to supply our needs, not our wants.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Child Training

(Pro 22:6 KJV) Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

We are to “train” (2596) our children. This is a deeper concept than it appears. This is not the common word for teaching or learning. This is closer in meaning to the idea of setting aside that we find in sanctification. This could be referring to the way we dedicate children instead of baptizing them. Dedication is a statement about our commitment, infant baptism is forcing our decision on someone else.

Some would question this and give examples of apostate children. I would have to say that those children were not trained properly. It may have seemed effective, but was primarily surface level. I have always wondered what the magic ingredient was in raising children. I don’t think it is a public statement about following the ways of God. It is much more subtle than that; subtle, yet obvious to the children being raised. One of the most important forces in training is example. It is easy to tell children how to live, it is hard to demonstrate it. People live in denial of what is really going on in the home.

What are some examples of this? Take as an example how much people watch TV. I don’t watch TV as an act of choice. I may watch for awhile if someone else has it on, but usually I try to leave the room if I can do so politely. I doubt if I have turned on the TV more than five times in the last year. I don’t even know what programs are on any more. I have heard people say they do not watch TV yet when they are not thinking they can tell you all about the commercials and know the plots of most of the shows. They are lying or in a state of denial. Take other areas such has how much time people spend with their children, or the statement, “I never let my children _______.” It is a cliche, but actions speak louder than words.

I think this verse implies that the parents were successful in the training. Along with the right standards they demonstrated the right stand.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Presidents Are Like Kings

(Pro 21:1 KJV) The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

I may have written this somewhere else, but I wonder if God exerts more control on leaders. Do they have less free will? Think of Pharaoh. Think of Nebuchanezer. For that matter, think of Hitler. We know more about him than Pharaoh. If you know much about the history of World War II you know that much of the reason for the loss by Germany can be laid at Hitler’s feet. This supposedly brilliant leader made mistake after mistake that even a private in the ranks could see. Consider ordering his army to hold back instead of destroying the English at Dunkirk. Consider ordering the invasion of Russia. Consider the use of the newly developed jet fighter. The list could go on and on. One of the best explanations is the hand of God.

One reason our prayer is so important is because God can manipulate the “heart” (3820). This is one of the reasons we should be praying for our leaders with great fervor. He “turns” (5186) hearts. How does he do that? Is it thought control? Is it robotic orders? Look at the example. If you have ever watched the farmers irrigate you can understand the illustration. Water follows certain physical laws. Farmers use those laws to cause the water to go where they want it to go. I am sure the water feels quite free in its choices.

As an believer in free will I have to admit this is a verse for the Calvinists. God’s “wishes” (2654a) are horses. (So beggars can ride.) I concede that God is God. I concede that there are times when He controls and commands. I see verses like this. I also see verses like John 3:16 (remember that one?) where Jesus says “whosoever” and believe He means what He says there also. It is another one of the paradoxes of scripture. God grants free will. God is omnipotent. They both have their verses. Deal with it, don’t ignore it. Glory in it, don’t fear it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sluggard at Harvest

(Pro 20:4 KJV) The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.

Again we see poverty addressed. Again we see the focus is on being lazy. A “sluggard” (6102) is always looking for tasks to not accomplish.

There are actually two issues here. This has to do with planning ahead and not just being lazy. If I understand it correctly, a farmer will “plow” (2790a) the fields in the fall to aerate the soil. This produces a better crop. A non-farmer might not know this but in an agricultural culture people know these things. How often do we run into those little extra tasks that make the difference between success and failure? Why do some people get laid off and others are never lacking for a job? Think of the store clerk that went the extra mile compared to the one who stood talking on their cell phone as the line grew. I once visited a convenience store with a couple of guys who would never be the last fired. They observed a man frantically stocking the shelves and running from task to task. Later they could not figure out why he was working so hard, after all, he was the manager. They totally missed the point that he was manager because he worked so hard. In a time of high unemployment this is an important lesson.

How would this apply to my daily life? How many simple tasks are there that we are not even aware of, that seem to be a waste of energy? What about my spiritual life?

Begging during “harvest” (7105) seems a mark of sloth. Harvest is the time of year when the most help is needed and it is needed now. Yet this fool is standing around begging. How often do we see someone who “begs” (7592) in front of a business advertising “help wanted”.

I am guessing that this beggar “has nothing” (369) because there is so much work available that even the tender hearted can see he is just lazy. People who would normally share just want to say, “Get a job.”

Remember the words of Paul:
2TH 3:10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat.
It is strange how we overlook verses like this in our welfare culture.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Liars Get a Lake

(Pro 19:5 KJV) A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.

A “false” (8267) “witness” (5707) is a liar. The Bible has a special contempt for liars. This is the same phrase used in the Ten Commandments.
EXO 20:16 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

We have so many ways to trying to get around this. I like to define a lie as “communication with intention to deceive.” I don’t know if I made that up or read it somewhere but it has the idea that a lie is in the intent of the communicator not in the actual words used.

Liars will not go "unpunished” (5352). This does not have a time stamp. There is no promise that the punishment will be during your life time or that you will be aware of it. The promise is that it will happen. Many people are feathering their bed in Hell as they prepare for eternity. It is their choice, not God’s ordination. Liars are in the list of specific people who will burn in Hell.

I would also think that as people begin to know you are a liar, it will effect your everyday life. They may act like your are cool but if you ever need to be trusted, you won’t be. One of the basic bed rocks of community living is being able to trust others. Without it, all begins to crumble.

He who “tells” (6315) “lies” (3577) cannot get away from the judgement of God. It is offensive to the very nature of God. How did Jesus describe Himself? He said He is the way, the truth and the life. We are saved by grace, through faith. Faith involves accepting the truth of who Jesus is and what He did for us. Our walk with the Lord is guided by the written word. We must accept it as being true. Liars are so disgusting to God that they are cast into the fire. Don’t be a liar.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


(Pro 18:2 KJV) A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

Proverbs does not hesitate about the title of “fool” (3684). It does not name names, but describes the qualities of a fool. The idea is to apply them to ourselves in honesty. What we usually do is look at how they are obvious in others. This is where Jesus teaching on the beam and mote should come into play.

As believers, we should “delight” (2654a) in getting beyond the surface of things. We should seek to really know instead of being superficial.

How often do I have a conversation and don’t care if I am “understanding” (8394) the other person? One of my goals should be to understand what others are saying instead of planning my response. This goes along with repeated instructions to listen.

It is so common to focus only on “discover[ing]" (revealing NASB) (1540) what is on my “heart" (mind NASB) (3820). This has been mentioned many times. People are not listening to what the other person says, they are thinking about what they will say next.

James 1:19 ¶ {This} you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak {and} slow to anger;
This is the word used for Noah when he uncovered himself after the flood. It has the idea of indiscretion and lack of decency.

Implied in this is that we think we have something to reveal. Also implied is that it is not worth the effort. Blogging is a good example of this narcissism. I have started a blog to share my ideas. Who cares? In reality it is a lot like preaching. You declare what you believe to be truth. You can never be sure in the short term if anything you say will have any real effect. And like all good preaching, what is said should speak to the speaker as well as the listener.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


(Pro 17:3 KJV) The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.

We have the picture of a “fining pot" (refining pot NASB) (4715). It is not an isolated image of God preparing His people. This is a way of explaining the daily sanctifying process. After the washing of the blood and the cleansing of the Holy Spirit the sin issue has been settled. Now we have to deal with all of those habits and conditioned responses that make us so clumsy. We are the silver and the gold. Life turns up the heat to remove the dross.

Here God uses the picture of the pot as a contrast. The Lord “trieth" (tests NASB) (974) His people. This needs to be discussed in light of the words of James.
James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
Obviously testing must be different from tempting. How? The key here is the focus on the melting process. The heat is to separate the dross from the precious metal. The goal is purity, to remove that which should not be there. The word “trieth" (tests NASB) (974) used here means to examine. God wants to know if we are ready to be taken out of the fire or whether we need more heat. It would seem that life is a test of readiness. We are challenged to see how we respond to the basic pressures of life. Testing turns up the heat to see if we are ready. Tempting looks for extreme circumstances to try and make us fail. Testing prepares for success. Tempting seeks failure.

Picture a classroom. A test is announced. What is the purpose? There can be many. A pretest is given to evaluate how much is known before the class gets in gear. A sample test is to show the students the kind of things that will be asked on the real test. Some tests are checking to see if the student knows the material. In a perfect world the teacher can then mold future classes to fill in the gaps. Much of the standardized testing today is to evaluate whether the teacher has been successful.

Since it is questionable whether students are learning today we have developed exit exams. After years of high school and college, students are required to take a test to see if they can read and write. If they do not pass they are not executed, they are sent back to class. Life is full of this kind of thing. Lawyers muss pass the bar. They can keep taking it. In California we have a test called the CBEST. You must pass to get a job in teaching. You can keep taking it. The question is not are you the best but have you met the minimum qualifications.

A few years ago I was talked into swinging a golf club and I was hooked. I don’t expect to get very good but I enjoy the game. Once I took a few lessons. I was amazed at the insight of the golf pro and how much those few lessons helped. One of the ways you can be taught is to pay the professional to go out on the course with you and actually observe you play. What a way to play! What a cost! God offers to go with us in our lives. We have a teaching pro with us every step of the way. We are always in OJT.

What significance is in the location of this testing: Our “hearts” (3820)? This probably points to the fact that the real test is not in the physical world but in our inner response to it. Remember that earlier Proverbs 16:2 tells us that God is watching our motivation.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mr. Clean

(Pro 16:2 KJV) All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.

We all have our own “ways” (1870) of doing things. Part of that is the physical limitation of being locked in our own bodies and only having our senses. It is impossible to truly see things from some one else’s point of view. We also have the powerful ability to rationalize. If I remember my psych 101 that means that we manipulate reality to make ourselves look good. We are “clean” (2134), at least in our own “eyes" (sight NASB) (5869). We are so good at convincing ourselves we are right.

This is one of the reasons God has given us the written word. We have a beacon of truth to compare our ideas with. If we are honestly seeking, the Bible will help us to evaluate what we see and what we do. Because we are human we may still get it wrong. That is why so many intelligent people of good will disagree on so many things.

But God “weighs” (8505) our “motives” (7307). He looks into our heart and judges why we do what we do, not just what we do. This is such a key truth for us to understand. It is not a case of either/or but of both/and.

For some this will be a relief. Some are trying their hardest. God knows. For others this is a disaster. They are full of hidden motives and agendas. God knows. He is full of mercy and compassion for honest mistakes but keep in mind: God does not play games.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wisdom in Education

(Pro 15:2 KJV) The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.

Here is a teaching strategy: Become “wise” (2450). Actually, it is more of a teacher hiring strategy. We need people in the teaching profession who are wise. If you consider how Proverbs defines wisdom it should be clear that we are staffing our schools with the opposite type. There is very little fear of the Lord in the modern classroom. It is going to get worse. California is going to get worse. With politics and political correctness running education it is more important to conform than to be wise. In theory approval of homosexuality is supposed to be worked into the curriculum. I have not seen it yet but it is coming. Sex education is in the hands of people who do not believe in abstinence or restraint. Sin is denied and self esteem is king.

In this environment immature adults are expected to mold the next generation. Compare the NASB on this verse.

PRO 15:2 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly.

Wisdom comes as a good teacher “makes acceptable” (3190) “knowledge” (1847). I like the KJV better here. It implies an honesty with the facts not just a good presentation.

The fool “poureth out" (spouts NASB) (5042) “foolishness" (folly NASB) (200) instead of truth. This might be interpreted as spouting our own ideas instead of the ones that are actually in the Word. This can be done in relative innocence simply by not thinking, from fear because we don’t have the courage to speak truth, or deliberately if we willingly follow the twist of popular culture. I have seen all three.

Believers need to be involved in the process of molding our culture. We need wisdom in our classrooms. We need wisdom in our TV stations. We need wisdom in our city halls. We need wisdom in our capitols. Seek it and pass it on.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lie Not

(Pro 14:5 KJV) A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.

This is a good description of the believer. He is to be a “faithful” (529) “witness” (5707). We tend to be impressed by the person of great talent, who is outgoing and successful. This speaks more of the steady living of the life in front of the world. In the NT when it talks about being a witness, the Greek word is our English word “martyr”. We pay a price.

We serve and live the truth not a “lie” (3576). If we live that truth, people will see it. The hard part is that we may never be aware that they see it. I had a brief glimps of this in high school. I was saved the summer before my senior year. When graduation came, one of my class mates wrote an interesting comment in my yearbook: “It is good to see someone acting like a Christian for a change.” I do not know what behavior brought this out. I had no indication it was coming. He might have decided not to write it. But I was being a “faithful witness” without putting on any act or plotting behavior. Live Jesus.

This would seem too obvious to need saying, but we live in a world that continually refuses to see the evil of “lies” (3576). This is repeatedly brought up in Proverbs. I must conclude that the tendency for culture to accept lies is nothing new. If we lie then we are a “false” (8267) witness. Honesty is not the best policy, it is the only policy.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fat Is Good

(Pro 13:4 KJV) The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

I think it amusing that the concept of “fat” (1878) has done a turnabout in our world. In the OT it is obviously a good term. In our culture, fat is bad. Another difference between the world and the Word. There are many words translated “fat” in the OT. This is not the most common.

Spiritual Work Ethic

(Pro 13:4 KJV) The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

At first glance this might appear to be about our work lives. Does this really speak to our study and worship habits? The focus is on the “soul” (5315). Even in spiritual matters it is so easy to be a “sluggard” (6102).

The sluggard “desireth" (craves NASB) (183) but does nothing about it. This reminds me of the self-esteem posters I see on a regular basis at school. “If you can imagine it, you can do it.” I have not seen anything about hard work in these cute sayings. Another difference between the world and the Word.

I think a better way to write this would be:
A sluggards craves. The results? Nothing.
But the “diligent” (2742a) receives. In this case it seems to imply the one who gets out and works. The way to achieve our goals and dreams is not to plan and dream but to do. This applies to our spiritual lives. We are to be diligent in our prayer and worship. That means applying ourselves. It means finding a place to serve instead of a place to be served. It means paying attention and thinking.

After all, doesn’t everyone want a “fat” (1878) soul?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Good Man?

(Pro 12:2 KJV) A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.

Again we see the idea that we have the ability to be righteous. I can be a “good man” (2896a). This is the simple word for good. It is the word God used in Genesis when He declared light was good. It is the good of Micah 6:8. It is a very frequent word in Proverbs.

I would assume that this is imputed righteousness, not imparted righteousness, otherwise the idea that we “obtain” (6329) “favor” (7522) is rather empty. Then it becomes little more that God praising Himself. That would be like me paying a make-up artist to make you look exactly like me and then rewarding you for looking so good.

Here is the confusing part: This is before the cross so you would think the power of sin had not been broken. Could it be that we have free will but not perfect discipline and God can see into our hearts and judge us on what He sees? You think? I don’t know about you, but this gives me hope; hope based in the grace of God.

Notice the assumption of free will. God will “condemn” (7561), but not on the basis of predestination. Condemnation is for the one who “devises evil” (4209).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pride vs Humility

(Pro 11:2 KJV) When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

This is very similar to the saying that “Pride” (2087) commeth before the fall”. A similar verse in Proverbs:

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

There are two words translated “pride” in Proverbs. This one means presumptuousness and insolence. The other is 1342-7b, and comes from a root meaning to rise up. Our American culture runs into conflict here. We teach human dignity. We believe in the worth of the individual. We see the ideal we seek in Peter standing up to the Jewish authority when he was told to stop preaching. We see it in David starring boldly back at Goliath. Of course we see it in Jesus so many times. We are told we are important to God. That gives us a feeling of worth but like so many other gifts from God, it is easily polluted.

Pride is never used in a positive way in Proverbs. It always is used of people who have lost their focus on God as the source and are looking at what they have done as reflections on themselves. They develop a feeling of being “holier that thou.” It causes us to forget that God is the source of our strength, talent and blessings.

Contrasting pride we find humility. We are to be “lowly" (humble NASB) (6794a) before man and God. The characteristics of humility and wisdom are often the same. We are told to put others before ourselves, and not get proud about it. One of my favorite verses that teaches that is:

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself;

Sometimes a humble person needs to stand tall because it is necessary. This is not pride, it is trust and obedience. We are facing times when we will be required to stand up and be strong. As I write a California judge has declared a constitutional amendment unconstitutional. A simple statement, approved by the proper constitutional process and millions of Californians, stating a traditional definition of marriage was declared unconstitutional by one judge. The long term goal is to silence the voice of witness of God’s people. When we stand up we will be accused of being proud and arrogant. In humility we must refuse to sit down.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Do You Have Slack Hands?

(Pro 10:4 KJV) He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.

We will be “poor” (7326) if we have a “slack hand" (negligent NASB) (7423b). We live in such an affluent society that we have redefined poor. The poor of our country live better than the middle class of most countries and better than the wealthy of some. We get intellectually lazy and refuse to admit that poor often means people who don’t have as much as they want.

We tend to forget that there are many reasons for poverty. Some are poor because of oppression or social abuse. Some are poor because of their personal limitations. These are facts. But some are poor because they are lazy or shiftless; in a word, “negligent” (7423b). We don’t like to admit this. We don’t like to mention this. It makes us seem judgmental. It is still true.

Many a man “works” (6213a) but does nothing. This might be the person who is looking for a job but not for work. This word seems to imply some kind of craftsmanship or creativity. It does not mean simple labor. You cannot produce something of value if you are negligent.

There is something here about the attitude with which a man works. Millions show up for work and spend the whole day on the job but accomplish little. Either they only work when watched or they are not concerned about the quality of their work. We all run into people like this in every store or government office we visit. This is totally contrary to the believer’s work ethic, or it should be.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Choose to Live

(Pro 9:6 KJV) Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

This sounds a lot like Satan talking to Eve in the Garden. It is another example of how the good things of God can be easily perverted. Evil alters, echoes, copies and imitates God’s good creations. The little change is all that it takes to transform it. Often that is true both ways. God takes our personalities and changes them to be righteous. Sanctification could be the opposite of pollution.

We are required to “forsake” (5800a) {28:4} our the “foolish" (folly NASB) (6612a). The NASB has "your folly" with and indication that “your” is not in the Hebrew. That means that “folly” is generic here. It is not just a statement to leave your form of folly, but folly in general. We like to think we are more clever or inventive in our sin, but in reality we are just another stumbling, blind fool. If they had left out the "your" the NASB would be stronger, but as it is the KJV comes closer.

The result is that we will “live” (2421a). The opposite is obvious. If we will not change we will die. The choice is in our hands. God gives us choices. We are expected to make them.

“Way” (1870) is singular. Jesus is the Way, not the ways. Our choice is obedience or not. Our choice is not a personally crafted pattern of fun and games. We are not talking designer religion but religion of the Designer.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Meeting Wisdom

(Pro 8:2 KJV) She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.

When we think of the call of God we sometimes limit it to specific surroundings. We live in a culture that is trying to keep anything about Jesus locked in the walls of a church, and they want to edit what is said there. Too many Christians live lives that are already in harmony with that way of thinking. In this verse and the next Solomon is pointing out that wisdom can speak to us in all circumstances. God is with us everywhere.

He refers to the “high places" (heights NASB) (4791). This could refer to the location of the pagan high places. The altars to the local gods were often built there. If you pay attention to new age paganism there is something about mountain tops that lights their candle. This reminds us that God’s wisdom can speak to us even when we are surrounded by the culture of the pagan. You may not have noticed it, but that is where we are.

Is there symbolism in the “paths” (5410b) coming together? This could point to people of different theological persuasions coming together and finding common wisdom. I would not want to extend this to compromise with Moslems or Hindus, but I would think that the Baptists, Methodists and Congregationalists could find some things to agree on.

This could be the place where we make decisions. We come to points where our choices can change the direction of our lives. Wisdom can meet us there and give vital impute and direction.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


(Pro 7:3 KJV) Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.

On the face of it this seems to refer to a Jewish tradition of phylacteries. That involved tying portions of scripture to the forehead and left arm as a ritual. Verses like this were probably the source of that tradition. The Jews turned it into a literal command. I think God was being figurative in order to get a point across.

We are to “bind” (7194) the commandments to our “fingers” (676). This involves a conscious effort to tie the ideas, meanings, values, priorities and words of the commandments to the actions of our hands. This could imply that everything we do with our hands should be bound by the law of God.

It is interesting to me that binding has a secret aspect to it, just like the word for treasure in the first verse. There is an aspect of following the law of God that we will find impossible to explain to unbelievers and, sad to say, often to believers. It is better not to try.

Notice from this verse and two others that we are told to bind three times to three different places: Neck, heart and fingers.

(Pro 3:3 KJV) Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
(Pro 6:21 KJV) Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.

We are to “write” (3789) the law on our inner selves also. This is a total approach.

We have a “table" (tablet NASB) (3871) on our “heart” (3820) that we inscribe these laws. We might think of it like the bios of the computer of our life. It determines everything else and sets up the framework on which the software works and how well the hardware does its job.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Froward Marching

(Pro 6:12 KJV) A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.

The OT does not hesitate to call evil, evil. Here it defines the “naughty" (worthless NASB) (1100) “wicked” (205) man. It does so with no apology. We are so polite and afraid to offend that we cannot communicate. How many times have you heard people tell you that everyone has worth? I guess it is true but keep in mind that every piece of garbage has worth, too. It is just that the worth is so little that it can’t be measured. Keep in mind that the repeated message of Proverbs is that people become this way because of preference. This is a deliberate choice. There are options.

The KJV calls him a “naughty” man. This is a bit confusing since we use the word for children who get into mischief. I would think that the word comes from “naught.” This is an old English word meaning zero. So you can see that the meaning is the same: worthless.

A “froward" (false NASB) (6143) “mouth” (6310) is more than just simply lying. It can involve deceiving with partial truth or truth and will obviously not be understood. Truth is a requirement of God. The KJV word here, “froward”, is not a misprint. You will still find the word in modern dictionaries. It means not easily controlled, wilful, contrary. It means it in a very negative sense. Some people replace slick for truth. You may never be able to catch them or pin them down, but they have false mouths. Unfortunately we find them in the church. They are to be condemned and labeled as worthless and wicked.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back in Town

I am home again. I hope to be more regular at this point.

Guard What Is Important

(Pro 5:2 KJV) That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.

“Regard" (observe NASB) (8104) at first seemed to mean to watch but as I read it over I begin to think its meaning is more akin to observing a holiday. It is often translated guard. It has the idea of watching to protect or correct. Why do we observe holidays? Think about the 4th of July. The focus today has become a day off work but the original reason we were to observe it was to remind us of what it stood for. It was to get us to pause and remember the cause of freedom. We must make choices and set priorities. We must be alert when we do this. It is so easy to take canned decisions made by others and not do any thinking ourselves. We must engage our minds and spirits. One of the reasons that people are not open to real holiness and drift into legalism is that true holiness means that we are listening to the Holy Spirit and making intelligent, informed decisions, not just following in lock step. It is hard to stay mentally active and alert. We are called on to pause and reflect.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dawn vs Dusk

(Pro 4:18 KJV) But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

In verses 18 and 19 we see some of the contrasts between the way of God and the way of evil.

There is a “path” (734) of “the just" (righteousness NASB) (6662). I think this must be similar to the Highway of Holiness the prophets talk about. I am reminded of so many people that say righteousness is unattainable. If that is true, many of the Bible writers were whistling in the dark.

There is a picture here. Proverbs describes a life of obedience as the “light” (216) of “shining" (dawn NASB) (5051). It is different than the light of dusk. There may be moments that are the same but the total picture is different. Both are changing, but in opposite directions. Being part of God’s family is not static, it is a journey. We must keep moving. We cannot rest on our laurels. As we move through life, if we are focusing on what Proverbs and the rest of the word has to teach, we grow in our understanding of things temporal and eternal.

Righteousness shines “more" (brighter NASB) (1980) on a continuing basis. This is the life of the righteous rooted in wisdom and knowledge. We are constantly learning and growing. We get new insights all the time. We see a future that is glorious and looks better all the time.

We can expect a “full” (3559) “day” (3117).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Live Long and Prosper

(Pro 3:2 KJV) For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.

This verse reminds me of Paul’s statement:

(Eph 6:2 KJV) Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

So one way we honor our parents is by listening to them.

Look what is being promised: longer “life” (2425b) and “peace” (7965) [shalom]. These are benefits that are to be given for listening to the word.

Longer “life” (2425b) is a promise if we pay attention. This is one of those promises that can make us scratch our heads. What about Charlie? He was one of the most dynamic believers I knew. He was in training to be a missionary doctor. He died of leukemia in his 20's. What about...? I am sure we all have examples we could give. Three answers come to mind. The first answer I reject: God’s Word is not true. If we reject that, and I hope you join me, my second point would be that God always reserves the right to perform miracles that are outside the normal working of how we know the universe. If He can work the miracle of healing, He can also choose to shorten life. There are reasons; we just don’t know them. The last is that people who live righteous lives live longer than they would if they were deep in sin. Someone who lives to be 50 may have died at 30 with an overdose of drugs.

“Peace” (7965) is the Hebrew word shalom. It is one of those words that can mean many things. Since we have been promised wars and rumors of wars and there is such a thing as “suffering for Jesus,” I have to assume that this means primarily an inner peace. A constant diet of the word of God is constantly renewing the inner strength that keeps us stable in the midst of the storms of life. We have hymns that talk about harbors in storms and anchors that keep us stable. I think modern technology has given us a better picture. Modern ocean liners have powerful gyroscope type stabilizers that keep the ship steady as nature does her best. That is like the Holy Spirit in us if we follow the directions of the Maker. That doesn’t rule out the wisdom of harbors and anchors but is an added tool of God’s grace.

God will “add” (3254) these things.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Receiving Is Active

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

It is easy to say we want to “receive” (3947) the “words" (sayings NASB) (561) of God, it is another thing to really want them. This is the cry of God calling us to be actively involved in our spiritual growth. Most of us would not think of sitting down to dinner and just playing with the silverware. We would not take the dishes as they were handed to us and pass them on untouched. We would take and consume. We would receive. When we dished out some mashed potatoes, we would not just sit and look at them. We would not wait for them to crawl up our arm, force our mouth open and sneak down our throat. We would not expect them to be absorbed by osmosis through out skin. The whole idea is ridiculous.

Yet we seem to expect to get value from the things of God with no active seeking and taking on our part. How do you expect to get anything from worship is you don’t sing, read or listen? How do you expect to know what God says if you are not listening?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The First Purposes of Proverbs

(Pro 1:2 KJV) To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;

Here begins a list of the goals of the Proverbs. They are not instant, but they are reachable. There are things that you can “know” (3045). This word for knowing is frequently used in the OT and has the sense of deep and complete knowing. Three of the qualities come from the inside, “wisdom” (2451), discernment, and “understanding” (998); two are from the outside, “instruction” (4148) and “words" (sayings NASB) (561). The inside qualities are to make use of the information supplied by others.

“Wisdom” (2451) is a given. This is a different word from the one used for “wise” in the next verse. Wisdom is something inside. As we read through Proverbs it would seem that it is a quality that can be developed. We will find many references. Older people would have the advantage over young people but age does not guarantee wisdom. Youth almost makes it impossible but remember that it is one of the gifts of the Spirit.

The proverbs are to give “instruction” (4148). One thing I have learned about instruction: It must be accepted to be of any value. Sometimes it is accepted because the benefit is seen instantly but the more useful teaching, the one that has to do with wisdom, comes from discipline and application. It requires a long range view because often you cannot apply it at the moment.

It is harder to “discern” (995) the meaning of the“words" (sayings NASB) (561). Discernment is hard for two reasons. First, it takes a bit of intelligence and wisdom. Second, it takes a desire to know what we might not want to know. It requires qualities such as honesty to be of any worth.

Notice that it is the sayings that are being discerned. “Understanding” (998) is really just a category here. Part of the process is deciding what you are going to focus on. Discerning the wisdom of a fool is a waste of time. We spend much of our time wasting our minds by the TV we watch and the books we read. I enjoy science fiction and sometimes a get an insight from it, but it is not as valuable as a non-fiction book by C.S. Lewis.