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.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fool Fear

(Proverbs 17:12 KJV)  Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.

This verse does not mention fear but brings it to my mind.  What situations do we avoid?  What people do we stay away from?  I think of a teacher I knew, actually more than one.  Every time I saw him coming I would try to go a different direction.  Was he a nasty ogre?  No, he was a talker.  If you as much as said, “Good morning” you might not make it home in time for dinner.  He could not stop.  I feared him.

Everyone knows not to get between a mama bear and her cubs.  Most of us would not recognize a fool if he was wearing a sign.  Proverbs gives us a lot of clues to make the identification.  We should get more serious about it.

So?  Life is too short to spend a lot of time in the presence of fools.  Don’t feel bad when you avoid them.  It is a sign of wisdom. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Aging Well

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

The KJV puts in the little word “if” between the phrases here.  It is in italics, so the Hebrew does not contain it.  Many of the translations have a conditional word in there someway.  I like that.  I think it brings it together.  I think it makes this clear that age does not necessarily bring wisdom or make someone worthy of praise.  It is age gained in a life of “righteousness” (6666).

Take Solomon as an example.  He started off well.  He was given the gift of wisdom.  He was known well enough that the queen of the south came to visit him.  Yet the older he got the further he was from that gift of wisdom.  Leave aside all the wives and concubines.  All you need to do is look at how his sons turned out.  It really is not for me to judge but it seems that if all your kids go bad there is something missing in your parenting.

So?  Don’t expect respect just because you are old.  Walk in righteousness and you will deserve it even if it is not granted.  Keep in mind that we are supposed to be pleasing God not the Gallup pollster. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018


(Proverbs 15:27 KJV)  He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.

This is a place where multiplied translations help us find better understanding.  One group uses the word “greedy” (1214) compared to “profits”.  They then talk about “gain” (1215) in place of “illicitly”.  Both approaches have a negative word with a neutral word.  Both are trying to get us to understand the sin we must avoid. 

Everyone is faced with finding a way to put food on the table and a roof overhead.  When the Bible talks about the tithe it is to be on the increase.  That means being productive.  In order to be productive it is necessary to generate more coming in than going out.  That is called profit or gain.  In itself that is good and blessed by God. 

The problem we face is found in this combination of words which has the idea of coercion and violence to get what you want.  The end does not justify the means.  Attitude and methods are significant. 

So?  Go to work.  Make a living.  Learn how much is enough and how is important. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Plan Well

(Proverbs 14:17 KJV)  He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated.

Notice that it makes a difference in what is in your heart.  Neither is approved but they are different.  Some people have a short temper.  Raging anger is condemned in the Bible.  Temper tantrums are childish and destructive.  The point here is that a short fuse makes you do things that are stupid.  It may be something you say, a gesture, a look, something thrown, the list is almost endless.  It might hurt someone else but the damage is mostly self inflicted.

On the other hand you have the person who thinks out their negative actions.  The Hebrew for “devices” (4209) is not itself a negative word.  It simply means to thoughtfully plan something.  It is often used in a positive sense.  For instance we are told that the purpose of the Proverbs is,
(Proverbs 1:4 KJV)  To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion (4209).
Context can make it evil.
(Proverbs 24:8 KJV)  He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous (4209) person.
So?  Plan your day.  Look ahead and make allowances.  Set goals.  Make sure that they are not evil goals.  Plan in righteousness. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Qualities of Recruitment

(Proverbs 13:15 KJV)  Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.

This verse seems to be pointing to qualities and actions that lead to God’s “favor” (2580).  Some people have a hard time with that.  They tend to forget that God is building citizens of eternity.  He is not building a Super Bowl contender.  He is not even building a Boy Scout troop.  What is the difference?

I am not a big sports fan, so bear with me.  My perception of athletic stars is a bunch of overgrown boys who are paid a lot of money to play games.  The only traits that are important to coaches and team owners are the ones that score the points.  Personality and ethical behavior are not even considered.  In fact, they can get in the way.  That is why we read about the high levels of criminal behavior among NFL players.  That is why you see so many fights at soccer games.  While it is true that God may “recruit” those thought undesirable, take the apostle Paul for instance, He is looking at the entire package and its potential.

So?  God looks at our heart and our potential.  One reason we are not to judge is because all we can see is whether they can score.  My desire is to be available and malleable to His purpose.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Evil Is

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

Why do I think it is important to translate as close to word for word as possible?  This is a good example.  The KJV and NASB are both word for word translations.  The NASB has “evil man” (7451a) and the KJV has “wicked”.  I actually like the KJV but that is a topic for another day.  Both get across the idea that some people are evil and some are “righteous” (6662).

Now compare that with one of the popular contemporary translations, The Contemporary English Version.
(Proverbs 12:13 CEV)  We trap ourselves by telling lies, but we stay out of trouble by living right.
In this case both sides are us.  That could be a useful side point in a sermon, but it is not the point of this verse.  The verse is pointing out that some people are evil and some are righteous.  Modern New Age thinking would deny that point.  Is that why it was translated so broadly?  I don’t know.

So?  We are to live righteous lives.  It is possible.  We should reject the current thinking that denies that people can be evil.  Be careful what you agree to.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Target Practice

(Proverbs 11:24 KJV)  There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.

Generosity is a character trait that is consistent with being a spirit filled Christian.  There are numerous references to giving to the poor and sharing with those in need.  We are told to be generous givers when it comes to the needs of the church.  What came to mind was the parable of the sower and soils that Jesus told.  It starts like this,
(Matthew 13:3 KJV)  And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
The picture of the sower is scattering the seed.  I imagine taking a hand full and sweeping my arm around and trying to produce an even spread.  I am sure that it takes a lot of practice to do it right. 

Solomon is probably aware that we need more practice in scattering, whether it be slipping a few dollars to a struggling family in the church or speaking up about Jesus in a public meeting.

So?  Practice takes place two ways, planned and spontaneous.  I need to improve in both.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Good Roots

(Proverbs 10:30 KJV)  The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.

There is a chorus that pops into my mind when I read this verse in the KJV.  The opening words were, “I shall not be, I shall not be moved...”  Actually that is a little different than the “removed” (4131) of the KJV and different from the “shaken” of the NASB.  In either translation it is a word of hope.  It has a lot of translations and the one I like best is “dislodge”.  The promise here is that we will be like the strong oak in the middle of a storm.  We may lose a few leaves and our branches may move a lot but our roots are firm and secure.

So?  We live in a time of increased anger and dangers.  We will not go unscathed but we will go without being uprooted.

Friday, March 9, 2018

And if Tomorrow Doesn’t Come?

(Proverbs 9:11 KJV)  For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.

I am over the hill and riding for the finish.  I have reached my three score and ten.  I know I am wearing out because they put a pacemaker in me.  Oh, well.  I am not too worried about it.  I am aware that it is the hands of God.  If God decides that this is my last sunrise then nothing I can do will extend my stay on earth.  It won’t matter how long the battery in my device will last.  If God isn’t done with me then there is no power on earth that can do me in.

I find that to be reassuring.  I am not one of those seniors who is willing to bankrupt the country and leave my children dust just to buy myself a few more days.  I know that from here I go on to something even better. 

So?  I am ready.  Are you?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

High Standards

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

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could take this literally in our modern world?  The “heights” (4791) would be represented by our courts, universities and the halls of Congress.  We could expect to hear wisdom when we turn on the evening news.  Our children would graduate from high school ready to make their way in life.  Our pulpits would resound with truth.  In a nation that elects school boards, state judges and members of congress, why do we have so little wisdom coming from the top?

Possibly because we do not seek the real source of wisdom when we vote and serve on boards.  Too often we think that because someone has a gavel or a robe they want truth and wisdom to prevail.  It isn’t so.  We need to be prepared to decide whether the person speaking has been in contact with the source of wisdom.

So?  God reaches out to us as individuals.  We respond to Him as individuals.  As long as we have the liberty to influence who will be the leaders we should seek to elect righteous individuals. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Smell of Burning Pants

(Proverbs 7:15 KJV)  Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.

They lie.  I know it is hard to accept but telling the truth is becoming the weird behavior of our times.  The women doing the talking is giving the impression that she was really excited about meeting this fool.  In reality she is preparing a sheep for the slaughter. 

They lie.  I used to have a speech class and the last speech was “Five Principles on Which I Base My Life”.  It was a real challenge to explain what I meant by that.  The idea of basing life on principles was beyond their understanding.  Once we got going they showed they still did not understand.  What was more frustrating was the number of young people who would say that speaking the truth was a principle.  Before you get excited and high fiving you need to realize that the next sentence was something to the effect of, “I always tell the truth...except when it hurts me.”

So?  We are expected to speak truth.  Liars will burn in hell.  Don’t expect the world around you to return the favor. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

We Need More Indians, Not More Chiefs

(Proverbs 6:7 KJV)  Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

How can anything function with no one in charge?  It seems hard to believe.  If we are talking about a football team or a bank, it would be impossible, but there are areas that function just fine with no one giving orders.

Take the interstate system as an example.  Obviously you have rush hour and construction zones but as a general rule the freeways function without anyone standing out there and saying, “You next.”  People get on and off without supervision.  Lane changes happen too often but there is no one saying, “It is your turn”.  It works because it is assumed that everyone knows the rules and will come close to following them.  As long as there are not too many rule breakers the rest of us can keep out of their way and the flow goes on.

That is the way the body of Christ is supposed to function in many areas.  The Bible does talk about various offices but there is no clear indication that one person is in charge of everything.  Perhaps the question we want to ask is how can anything function without me in charge?  Since ants are insects I think we can assume they don’t have a sinful nature.  We do not live in that kind of world.

So?  We need to trust the leadership and planning ability of the Holy Spirit more than we do.  As I write it is flu season.  Are we to stay home wearing gloves and a mask or do we simply keep washing our hands and go about life? 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Capture the Tag

(Proverbs 5:22 KJV)  His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.

I don’t generally worry about getting tripped up by a clever lawyer because of previous testimony.  A wiser man than I once observed that he doesn’t have any trouble keeping his stories straight because he always tells the truth.  It makes for less to remember and, except for basic forgetfulness, the truth doesn’t change.  I guess it doesn’t change even if you forget.  What will “take” (capture NASB) (3920) the “wicked” (7563)?  His own sins.  The traps that he laid himself.  It is like tripping over the shoes you left in the middle of the room.

We live in a day when everyone is a victim.  It is true that we are surrounded by corrupting influences.  Some people start with two strikes against them.  A few are actually victims.  Playing the victim card will only help when you are playing the victim game.  God will not be impressed.  Jesus died and the Holy Spirit convicts with the goal of giving everyone a shot at salvation. 

So?  Our choices make a difference.  Eternity hangs on what we capture not on what someone else went through.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Give It a Chance

(Proverbs 4:11 KJV)  I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.

This is specifically directed toward parents but I think the point can have application in everyone’s life.  We all have times when we want to help others down the road.  Sometimes they are receptive, other times not so much.  In many cases, maybe most, they can not be forced.  They can only be “taught” (directed NASB) (3384).  It is frequently translated “teach” but it has the idea of throwing or casting out.  Think of the parable of the sower and the soils.  He cast the seed.  It was up to the soil to receive it or not.

This should be encouraging to us.  It takes the pressure to produce off our backs.  We live our lives of witness.  We explain to people why we live the way we do.  We talk about Jesus.  We direct them by continually pointing in the right direction.  We do not coerce.

So?  Witnessing to others should be a natural flow out of our lives.  If someone has just read a new book and is enthused about it, the book will come up naturally in conversation.  Give it a chance. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Putting Power in Harness

(Proverbs 3:19 KJV)  The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.

God created the heavens and the Earth.  It is the first thing the Bible tells us.  He “established” (3559) the heavens as a part of that process.  I don’t know about you, but when I think of that I think of the omnipotence of God.  Think of the power it takes to make all the forces assumed to be involved in the big bang.  And all of that was as nothing to the power available to God. 

But power is not what is being emphasized here.  Notice that it says He did it by “understanding” (8394).  Raw power is not very useful.  Think of the billions of cubic feet of water flowing in the rivers of the world.  By the laws of physics it has power that you and I could never measure.  Uncontrolled it is capricious.  In Egypt the Nile covered the land with fresh soil every flood season.  In much of the world it destroys people and property.  One step toward being useful is storing it behind the dams in the world.  Even then it is useless unless harnessed and directed.  That is where understanding harnesses the power.

So?  Think of the power God has invested in you and me.  Think about how His wisdom and understanding would like to direct it.  If we insist on being in charge we have futility.  God can produce creativity. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Avoid the Big One

(Proverbs 2:19 KJV)  None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.

People are sometimes concerned about what is called the “unpardonable sin”.  We see reference to this in the words of Jesus.
(Matthew 12:31 KJV)  Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
This verse in Proverbs seems to indicate the same concern.  Is this something we need to be concerned about?

The short answer is “Yes and no.”  That about covers it.

Is there a point of no return?  It would seem so.  Is it easy to avoid it?  Definitely.  Should I worry about it?  About as much as I need to worry about falling off my roof.  I avoid that by never going up.

So?  Generally if you are focused on not committing the Big Sin then you don’t need to worry about it.  Simple and safe. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Will Work for Food

(Proverbs 1:13 KJV)  We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:

Is there a difference between “find” (4672) and earn?  In English there certainly is.  They are different in the same way in Hebrew.  If you have your Bible and can read the context, this is a passage where a young man is being invited to join a gang and victimize people who are passing by.  It condemns the Robin Hood mentality that some have.  Some feel that others should share what they have earned and saved with them.  Sounds good if you are the taker.

God says, “No.”

This is not a condemnation of people who have when they share and feel responsible to help those in  need.  This is a condemnation of people who chose to take from others because it is easier than working for themselves.  It doesn’t matter if it is legal or socially acceptable.

God still says, “No.”

So?  Be generous of what you have.  Don’t expect others to do your work for you.  It is a Biblical standard.  Paul put it this way,
(2 Thessalonians 3:10 KJV)  For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.