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.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Orderly Sleep

(Pro 19:23 KJV) The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

A healthy “fear” (3374) lets us “abide” (sleep NASB) (3885a) “satisfied” (7649).  It makes sense.  Not only are we safe, but we are sound.  A greater fear minimizes our minor fears.  When I am worried about cancer I don’t spend a lot of time focused on a late library book.

I wonder if this is the “sleep” (3885a) of death.  One reason that might be the reference is that “satisfied” (7649) is predominately used of someone who dies at an old age and with a satisfying life behind them.  It would be saying that the fear of the Lord is necessary for eternal life.  If we fear God we do not need to fear death.

I still prefer it as a reference to our daily routine though. 

So?  Fear of God puts things in perspective and in order.  That can give a foundation of peace in any situation. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Target Choice

(Pro 18:16 KJV) A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.

There are many things I could do if I had unlimited time, the right tools and a little patience.  It often takes me several trips to the hardware store to do even simple things.  Other tasks I can do with my eyes closed.  Which will I be known for?  If I insist on trying to make it on my weaknesses, I will be known for my failures.  Sometimes we are stubborn that way.  If I concentrate on my strengths then I may get known for that.  If I don’t then at least I will know that I have done my best.

So?  It seems obvious but often does not occur to us but we should be doing the things we are best at. 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sons and Servants

(Pro 17:2 KJV) A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.

One of the discussions I get into involves the place of Israel today.  If you have read the Bible you know that those we call the Jews were a people that were picked out by God to be His special people.  He established a covenant with Abraham making promises involving numbers and land.  Most people who believe in the Bible would accept that much.  The question becomes, “What about today?”  This is an issue in politics because Israel is a nation again.  It is a question in culture because of anti-Semitism, or hatred of Jews.  It is a question in theology because it reflects on the place of the church and how to interpret some parts of the Bible.

I offer this verse as a part of the discussion.  It is possible that the “son” (1121) [ben] represents Israel and the “servant” (5650) stands for the church.  This speaks of a shared inheritance.  I don’t know that this is a fair interpretation but it is consistent with how I see the issue.

So?  I think God still loves the Jews but keep in mind that He loved the whole world enough to send His son to die for them.  Salvation still depends on how we respond to the Son.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Fall Spirit

(Pro 16:18 KJV) Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

“Spirit” (7307) [ruach]is one of the building blocks of the Old Testament.  It is full of figurative and literal meaning.  It literally means breath or wind and figuratively means mind and spirit.  We see it early,
(Gen 1:2 KJV) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit (7307) of God moved upon the face of the waters.
So it can refer to the Holy Spirit.  It can also refer to the inner motivation of our lives, our attitudes, our inclinations.

So this verse reminds us that our inner spirit is important as we go through life.  The wrong inner orientation can cause all kinds of problems.

So?  It is always a right time to move beyond our salvation and toward maturity.  One theme of Proverbs is that our attitude influences the kind of day we are having.  It can also influence the kind of eternity. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Better than a Nanny

(Pro 15:16 KJV) Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

We live in a Nanny State that wants everyone to be taken care of.  We tend to think that the government is going to bail us out.  When we have a hurricane people think that there are going to be cheap loans and grants to pay for the damage.  In this environment we tend to avoid things like “fear” (3374) but Biblically it is a very powerful concept if understood correctly.

We get a bit of insight when we see that fear is contrasted with “trouble” (turmoil NASB) (4103).  We tend to think of fear creating turmoil but that is better stated as terror.  A healthy fear helps us to focus on what is important and gives a real drive to behavior.  The “turmoil” spoken of here includes the idea of confusion and panic.  It is a lot like being a child in the hands of a strong father.  I keep hearing about how my granddaughter goes to the beach and faces the waves with no fear.  The reason is that her father is there to bail her out.  Who can fear a little wave when you dad is there?

So?  We need to live aware that our God is bigger than the waves.  Our resources are not summed up in money in the bank or bars on the windows.  The proper perspective on God gives us a genuine sense of assurance. 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Peace Applied

(Pro 14:30 KJV) A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.

Before I spend any time looking into the Hebrew, I find that I like the NASB better than the KJV on this verse.  As usual, when I look a little deeper it is a mixed bag.  Although you might stretch the Hebrew to mean “tranquil” (4832) the KJV’s “sound” is much better.  The word means healthy and being made well.  A good example is,
(Mal 4:2 KJV) But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing (4832) in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
This would have obvious applications about the spiritual healing that comes through regeneration and is thus applied to our physical well-being. 

The second part I give to the NASB.  “Passion” (7068) is better than “envy”.  The picture given by the NASB does a better job of putting the picture together.  God wants us to be calm and secure in our minds because we trust Him.  We are not to go off in wild flights of temper. 

So?  For some the change is instant.  For some it is a life long discipline.  Some people are just born easy going.  It is part of living a righteous life.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Economics and Vanity

(Pro 13:11 KJV) Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

I wonder if this could be interpreted as a statement about capitalism?  Much of what we see going on in the world of investments and securities is based on duping the public, fraud.  Many millionaires have generated wealth only on paper, producing nothing.  Real wealth comes from the work of people, not manipulating stock markets.  This would tend to sound like a statement made by a Communist. 

But the contrast is not between working with your hands as opposed to an office job.  The contrast is between “fraud” (1892) and actual gathering.  It is a contrast between actually producing and simply looking like you are producing.  This is the word repeatedly used in Ecclesiastes. 
(Ecc 1:2 KJV) Vanity (1891) of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
When political voices call for the redistribution of wealth they are speaking in terms of vanity.  They want people to have the fruits of gathering without the effort.  Of course you could also condemn those who generate billions by pressing buttons and manipulating stocks.  They also produce nothing.

So?  God expects us to work for our support.  That will generate different results but, as long as the work in honorable and without fraud it can be blessed. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Build up or Tear Down

(Pro 12:4 KJV) A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.

“Rottenness” (7538) of “bones” (6106) is a graphic picture.  I think of cancer or of putrid meat.  The phrase is used twice, both in Proverbs.  Here it is a bad-news wife.  The other,
    (Pro 14:30 KJV) A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.
speaks of our emotions being out of control. 

Most men would not knowingly marry someone who would always be shaming them.  For that matter, neither would women choose such a spouse.  It can obviously work both ways.  It is obviously something we should avoid causing.

So?  We can cause rotten bones by our actions or our words.  It might be something for each of us to apply a self examination time to.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Hang On to What You’ve Got

(Pro 11:16 KJV) A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.

This is another place where the translators make choices and it comes out different.  I find that the NASB clashes with the principles God wants us to live by.  I find that the KJV makes sense.  One difference is the word that KJV translates “retain” (8551) and the NASB gives as “attains”.  The word itself is neutral in moral value.  It can be negative as,
(Pro 5:22 KJV) His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden (8551) with the cords of his sins.
It can also be positive,
(Pro 31:19 KJV) She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold (8551) the distaff.
So?  I would say that one of the jobs of a man is to maintain the family wealth instead of squandering it.  Other places may include the women in this task but here it is a recommendation to the husband. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Having a Bad Day

(Pro 10:12 KJV) Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Proof-texting, bad.  Eisegesis, bad.  Both call to me in this verse.  I recently reflected on a previous verse,
(Proverbs 8:13 KJV)  The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
I pointed out that we are required to hate evil.  Now as I read the first part of this verse I am reminded of the probable consequences of hating evil, “strife” (4090). 

The actual context is to emphasize “love” (160) over hate but when we exercise “hatred” (8135) in a Biblical manner we need to understand it will cause tension.  It will cause tension among church attenders because they have been conditioned to avoid conflict even in the pursuit and defense of truth.  Their answer always seems to be, “A little more water, please.  It is still too strong”.  The other group that will think bad thoughts toward you are the evil that you are exposing.

So?  Jesus promised we would be persecuted if we followed Him.  It is a promise that we don’t like to remember but it is still true.  Happy truth day. 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Ad in Advice

(Pro 9:16 KJV) Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

It always amazes me how easily we are conned.  I have been amused by the recent spate of work desks that are designed and sold for standing up while you work.  I think the idea is that it is more healthy to stand up than to sit all day.  Usually the desk is accompanied by an attractive model who looks like they have just had a happy pill.  I understand the aspect of standing up and taking a walk or stretching but somehow I think of the work desks Cratchit used.  They look similar and are the symbol of Victorian oppression.  Now they are cutting edge.

It is not so amusing when people find numerous ways to say, “That is not what God meant.”  Or “That is the God of the Old Testament.”  Or “That does not belong in the Bible.”  It sounds good.  It may even start off the same as the correct advice but if you look down a few verses it leads to death and hell.

So?  Advisors, counselors, teachers, they can all be wonderful but they can also be the door to hell.  Make sure that you compare what they advise to the actual written word of God. 

Friday, November 8, 2019

Be a Hater

(Pro 8:13 KJV) The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

As Christians we often tend to be very selective in our memory of scripture.  That is sometimes because we see what we think is a conflict and can’t deal with it so we suppress certain verses.  I think that is what is going on here.  We have gotten so used to interpreting the Bible so that it can be approved by your friendly neighborhood pagan or heretic that we water it down.

We remember the verses about the “fear” (3374) of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.  Somehow we forget that it also requires us to “hate” (8130).  That is not nice so it must be a misprint, right?  Wrong.  We need to develop a passion of hatred for the “evil” (7451b) of the world as much as we are to love.  The hate is to be focused.  It is not aimed at people or to be on our latest prejudice.  Of course if the people are perverted it will be hard to separate the two. 

So?  We need to get more active in campaigning against the evil in our society.  Love is not always nice.  God is love and yet He will allow people to go to Hell. 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Moment of Truth

(Pro 7:22 KJV) He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;

I think this is a key verse in understanding the fulcrum of sin.  If you read over the chapter you can see that this plunge into adultery was not a sudden inspiration.  It seems to have been planned and the plan was followed step by step.  In a very real sense the sin was in the intent.  Jesus makes that clear when He talks about what is going on in our hearts.
(Mat 5:28 KJV) But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
So intent is important but there is something about the moment you commit yourself by action.

Until you act the sin is between you and God.  Once you put it in motion you bring others into the equation.  In this verse the other party was just as guilty but what about the husband who is away on business.  When you act there will be consequences.  The conclusion here is that the man is now dead.  His actions brought fruition to his attitudes.

So?  Be alert for the downhill journey.  It may start very mild but will eventually begin to speed up.  It is much easier to grab the rail in the stairway when you first feel insecure than to wait until you are flying through the air.  God forgives but we might get to the point where we can’t repent.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Waste Abounds

(Pro 6:26 KJV) For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.

Wasted money.  Wasted resources.  Wasted lives.  This is a reminder that God expects us to be stewards of what we have.  The context is sexual sin but I don’t think the words necessarily mean prostitutes.  I think the context works just as well with the casual fling.  It is so easy to throw away everything we have built up in life and do it in a moment.

Here the danger is sex outside of marriage.  It could just as well be going for that one time shady business deal that is going to set you up and you promise not to do it again.  It could be the lie that gets you out of a tight spot but comes back to bite you. 

So?  Forgiveness is available.  Grace is a gift.  God is patient.  He also is not big on playing games and you can’t fool Him. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Solomon the Marriage Counselor

(Pro 5:18 KJV) Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

I am a bit amused at Solomon giving advice on marriage.  I am reminded that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.  Granted, many of these were political marriages but I somehow have a hard time believing there were 1,000 countries whom he needed to impress. 

One lesson for us is that good advice can come from questionable sources but you don’t know it is good advice unless you know God’s standards of righteous living.  The point being made here is that we are to focus our affection on our one and only wife.  We are not to go looking for a sympathetic ear or a young face.

So?  Truth is available if we want it. 

Monday, November 4, 2019

Righteous Clarity

(Pro 4:18-19 KJV) But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.  The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

Good and evil are the contrasting themes of this chapter.  In our day of polite discourse and wishy-washy Christians we want to avoid both the demand for holiness and the reality of evil.  We have Christians claiming that we cannot live righteous lives and multiple web sites talking about the 613 laws of God that no one can live up to.  On the other hand we refuse to call the swelling evil in our society what it is because we don’t want to offend anyone.

This does not please God.  In this verse it is clear that the “righteous” (6662) road is one that shows what is ahead.  In the next verse Solomon points out that the road of wickedness is shrouded and vague.

So?  We need to consciously chose to follow the Highway of Holiness.  The markers are clear if you will look for them. 

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Reload Your Page

(Pro 3:3 KJV) Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:

As I read through this chapter today I was struck by the constant call for buy-in.  I guess in computers we might talk about refresh.  When you are on the internet you see a little circular arrow in the top corner.  I think of it as a refresh for the page.  When you hover your cursor over it the term is “reload page”.  In our spiritual lives we tend to want to get stuck in the mud, with the familiar.  We don’t want to get current.

Often that is not a problem but we do not serve a static God.  He may be immutable but He is vital in His personhood.  There are always fresh insights and truths that slipped under our radar.  I know when I approve comments on my blog they do not appear until I do something that renews the page.

So?  “Relationship” in the modern sense is not in the Bible but it does lift up the reality of a walk with the Living God.  While it is eternal and based on eternal truth it is constantly renewed.  I am guessing that is because we are not capable of eternal focus and need to be retargeted. 

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Processing

(Pro 2:10 KJV) When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;

Most of us want to jump to the results, the reward, the promise.  Then we wonder why it doesn’t seem to work out.  Because we have skipped over all the preparation required.  Have you ever read what it says on a can of paint about preparation?  I have and then I ignore most of it.  That might be why my paint jobs don’t come out so good.  In some cases if you don’t prep right then the paint will peel off in a short time.  The same is true of our spiritual walk.

If you look back at this chapter in regard to the preparation you will see that the promise of a wise heart and a pleasant soul are based on a lot of things like seeking and listening.  God is not a magic elixir that mysteriously makes things right.  Yes, He does what might seem like magic and He deals in mystery but our part is much more basic.

So?  Grace is a gift.  Growth is a process.  Start processing. 

Friday, November 1, 2019

Calm Waters

(Pro 1:33 KJV) But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

There is a lot of “fear” (dread NASB) (6343) floating around today.  My wife has gotten into watching some of the talking heads on You Tube who have nothing but doom and gloom to forecast.  I can’t say that I disagree with their general analysis that things are going down hill but I do have two issues.  One is that things have been going down hill since I can remember.  So I take that with a grain of salt.

The second thing that occurs to me is found in this verse.  Yes, I am supposed to have eyes that see and a mind that thinks but it is supposed to be attached to a heart that is rooted in God and a fear of God.  This verse that calms our waters is juxtaposed to the verse earlier that actually begins the advice of Proverbs.  In case you don’t have a Bible handy, let me give it to you again.
(Pro 1:7 KJV) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Our lack of dread begins with a solid fear.  It is a healthy fear based on an awareness of God.  We know who He is.  We know He is holy.  We know He is mighty.  We know Him because we know Jesus.

So?  Am I concerned about the state of the economy?  Of course.  I will need to be as long as I need to pay for groceries.  Am I freaked out because the Deep State is trying to put me on the street?  No.  My God is bigger and if I end up on the street there will be a place to go. 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween Party Reminder

(Pro 31:7 KJV) Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

I have real trouble with this passage.  The first part is good.  It advises leaders not to let their minds be clouded by alcohol but this part seems counterproductive.  We need to run our minds over the other teaching in scripture to keep a balance.  We have the pro of Paul talking to Timothy.
(1Ti 5:23 KJV) Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.
But make a note of the limitations and boundaries on this.  We see it listed as a contrast to righteous living.
(Rom 13:13 KJV) Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
And we see the contrast that is expected of us.
(Eph 5:18 KJV) And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Perhaps this is a directive to those who make the laws to not try to pass things like Prohibition.  It may be an admission that people in stress are going to numb their minds with the bottle and at least find some comfort.

So?  Walk in righteousness and discernment.  The fact that sin seems to mean being crooked and when drunk it is hard to walk straight might be a clue. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Two Is Enough

(Pro 30:9 KJV) Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

Most of us have seen some version of the Three Wishes.  It can involve a mysterious lamp or a leprechaun.  Solomon was able to get it down to two.  The first one in the previous verse had to do with character.  The second has to do with finances.  These are two areas of righteous behavior that we are very resistant to.

Truth versus lies is something out culture is redefining.  A politician recently said, and I paraphrase, “We are concerned with truth, not facts.”  To anyone who genuinely knows the living God that is an incredibly evil statement.  We see more and more people claiming to be followers of Jesus who are quite willing to fudge a little bit in order to get what they want.  I remember missionary books our denomination put out and talking to people in our local church who were from the area the book spoke about.  They said that the story didn’t happen at all like it said in the book.  It is called, “Thou shalt not bear false witness”.

And then there is money.  It always amazes me how many people have trouble with the concept of the tithe.  Yes, I know we are not under the law.  People think they can ignore the Biblical standards because we are under grace.  When I read the teachings of Jesus and He is dealing with a point of law He would quote the law and then say, “But I say unto you....”  Usually what He had to say instead was more demanding than the law.  God wants you, not your money but He knows that as long as you look at your monthly income as 90% yours then we have a problem.

So?  Make it a matter of prayer:  Honesty and financial balance.  I know.  I am being a hater.  Nothing personal.  I don’t even know how much you spend eating out. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Peasant Mentality

(Pro 29:19 KJV) A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.

One of the observations of the Founding Fathers was along the line that a country cannot thrive economically based on slavery.  The areas that had slavery in our country were very class oriented and stratified.  It was not just a division between slave and free.  It was a division between the very wealthy plantation owners, the very poor free population and the slaves.  Because of slavery the South never developed a thriving middle class or a significant level of tradesmen such as black smiths and carpenters. 

People who live in bondage, whether it is official slavery or just a class system, have no reason to work any harder than is necessary to avoid the lash.  They develop ways of looking busy when they are not.  They have a radar that tells when the boss is coming.  There is no reason to do more than avoid punishment.

The same is true in the church.  If you look at it as a game of legalistic requirements it is a natural tendency to try to gimmick the system to get the most for the least.  The reality that never seems to sink into those with the minds of spiritual peasants is that God knows not only their production and its quality but the desire of their hearts.

So?  This can be a heart breaker or an encouragement.  It depends on you and your attitude.  I find it encouraging that God can know my heart. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Your Cheatin’ Heart

(Pro 28:26 KJV) He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

We have a saying, “Let your conscience be your guide”.  That is better than no guide but we need to understand that it is not infallible.  Your conscience is a product of input.  Picture a new born.  Infants are not known for their sense of right and wrong.  They only know, “I want.”  Move forward to the middle school level that I used to teach at.  It always impressed me how many of the kids had a basic sense of right and wrong that was not too bad.  The problem was to get them to admit it in the face of public pressure.  Somewhere in that time the pressure of socialistic thinking being forced in them in school begins to wear them down and by college most of them  have not reliable inner guidance system any more.

So we cannot trust our “heart” (3820).  We can only trust the unchanging truth that God lays out for us.  When our hearts are regenerated and taught the truth they can become a useful guide but we always need to make sure they are consistent with the objective truth of God.

So?  If you have not already done so, get your heart right with God.  Then you can begin to trust your motivation. 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Social Oil

(Pro 27:9 KJV) Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.

Sometimes I am glad I live in modern times.  In the ancient Middle East, as in much of the world, it was considered hospitable to apply oil and ointments to guests.  Today we have so much variety in how people make themselves look that it might not seem strange but we live in the era of shampoo, hair dryers and hair spray.  In those days when you were welcomed into a home they would “anoint your head with oil” like it says in the 23rd Psalm.  It was an insult to not offer it to a guest.

We have our own traditions to make people feel welcome.  Some of us might need to work on them a little more.  On hot days we might offer tea or lemonade.  On cold days coffee or tea.  Part of the ritual is to accept so the person can extend hospitality.  We could probably work on this a bit.  We need to learn to extend hospitality to visitors, to make them feel welcome.

So?  It probably is not considered gracious when someone come to you door to ask, “What do you want?”  It might be a better witness to work on being gracious.  If it is a salesman and they refuse to take “No” for an answer, then you can get more focused in your refusal.  Most of us need to work on hospitality to non-salesmen. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Keep the Perspective

(Pro 26:6 KJV) He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.

One application this might have is being careful whom we vote for or appoint to office.  I sometimes wonder what kind of people elect some of the people in congress.  I wonder if the voters in their districts are all on some kind of dole.  I wonder if the election process is totally corrupted.  I even wonder if some people are just plain stupid.

When we look at people running for office we need to take into consideration their basic abilities but we also need to take a strong look at their moral fiber.  One of the big questions we have is, “What if no choice is morally strong?” 

So?  We are blessed to live in a representative democracy with free elections.  As good as that is we need to always make sure that our confidence is in God and His power, not the people we vote for.  Corruption is a part of the political process but time is on God’s side. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Great Problems

(Pro 25:6 KJV) Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men:

The KJV tries to get closer to the meaning of “great men” (1419) by putting the “men” in italics.  This is an adjective, not a noun.  I think the best translation would be “the great” which is by far the most common in both KJV and NASB.  This should be reaching out and reminding our souls of the need for humility. 

Some are called to work with the up and coming but the general goal for believers is to reach out to the poor, weak and lonely.  I know a lot of churches that will play the “serve the poor” chorus but when it comes to the verses their entire program is designed to appeal to the well heeled.  One of the few churches that is still focused on reaching the needy is the Salvation Army.  What some people don’t want to remember is that the Salvation Army is a church and has local congregations.  If you want to see people get really busy suggest that they go with you to attend a Salvation Army church sometime.  They will be much more inclined to go to First Middle Class Fellowship.

So?  Be aware of the tendency to want to be hanging with the “better sort”.  You might be needed somewhere else. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Target of Envy

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

The KJV uses a word that is not in the Hebrew so it is not technically correct but is a helpful comment on the problem.  The word is “against”.  Envy is not just a desire for the things that a person has but is an attack against the person.  I think that is an important distinction. 

When we look at the wealth, status, looks, personality or any other quality of another person and feel disenfranchised because we don’t have it, part of that lusting is an attack on the other person.  It at least generates hostile thoughts and those will effect our actions.  It is not just wanting the thing, it is wanting them not to have it.

So?  It really does not hurt us to work on being satisfied with what we have instead of always striving for more.  I know that danger of that is complacency and sloth.   I know it can sound like a condemnation of worthy ambitions.  Some need to try harder but in America a large group are selling their family’s future to get ahead.  Balance. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

How about a Nice Pat on the Head

(Pro 23:9 KJV) Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.

 I am wondering if this is one of those places in Proverbs where context applies.  This chapter has two different warnings against getting too excited about being invited to dinner.  There is a tendency to think that you might have something to say.  Picture being invited to a state dinner in the White House.  You would be surrounded by important people, or so you think.  You might ask yourself if they are more important than you or just invited for political payoff.

I don’t know how many meetings I went to as a teacher and we were told they wanted our “input”.  After they got it they went out and did what they had planned originally.  I remember when they were spending several million dollars of bond money to remodel the gym.  The PE coaches really got into it.  They went to every meeting and jumped through all the hoops.  I was told later that they got nothing they wanted.

So?  I guess we can share our ideas but don’t be surprised if all we get is a pat on the head. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Leaning to Learn

(Pro 22:17 KJV) Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.

I am sure I mark my age but those of you old enough may remember a commercial on TV where a couple of people were in a noise restaurant talking and then one of them say, “My broker is E.F. Hutton and E.F. Hutton says...”  At that movement the restaurant become pin drop quiet as everyone in the room leans toward the guy talking.  Then the concluding line is, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”.  I don’t know about that but it is the sense of this verse.  When you accept that someone has something important to say situate yourself to benefit from the knowledge.

So?  God is speaking.  Sometime it is what has been called “the still small voice”.  Sometimes it is the booming baritone of the preacher.  Always it is the written word.  Give a listen. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

It Makes a Difference

(Pro 21:18 KJV) The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.

To move toward understanding in this verse we need to start with the word “wicked” (7563).  We need to get over our limited scope of wickedness.  We tend to think of rapists and child molesters as wicked and they are.  But the contrast here is with “righteous” (6662) not nice.  A wicked person does not need to be a Nazi concentration camp guard in order to get the label.  It could be your child’s kindergarten teacher or the lady next door who bakes you cookies. 

When I have seen people suffer I have wondered why.  What did they do to deserve the suffering?  Usually it is nothing we can see but I think this is a promise that there will be more suffering for the wicked than the righteous.  It could also be that God has some purpose that we will not understand this side of glory.  We cannot judge.

So?  Righteousness pays off today and in eternity.  Believe it. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Back Seat Driving

(Pro 20:24 KJV) Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?

I am not sure if this is a rhetorical question or not.  Let’s assume it is.  Then this can either be a matter of frustration or a reason for comfort.  To paraphrase a bit, God has things going on that you can never understand.  The question is do you relax or kick against the pricks. 

Some people need to be in charge.  They want to know where you are going, why you are going and what you are going to do when you get there.  Then they want to know what route you are going to take coming back and what time you will arrive.  Basically, to that person, I say, I don’t have a clue.  Picture being a short person on the back of a bicycle built for two.  You can’t see where you are going.  Your handle bars won’t turn.  Are you totally uninvolved?  No, you can do two things.  You can peddle and you can lean. 

So?  Generally we can assume that God will give us the information and ability to do what is needed.  The problem is that often we are not listening or willing.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Point from Reference

(Pro 19:22 KJV) The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.

My Hebrew skills consist of a wish and some reference books based on the Strong’s numbering system.  That means I could be totally off on this but my sources say that the KJV is more accurate here than the NASB.  In the NASB the desire is a modifier pointing at the man.  My sources say that the Hebrew for “desire” (8378) is a noun.  The NASB seems to be implying that the desire is in God.  What it is saying is that we as human beings should have a desire for kindness.

“Kindness” (2617a) in the New Testament is part of the definition of love.  Love is a conscious choice, not an emotion or an hormonal response. 

So?  Once again walking in righteousness comes down to our choices.  Those choices are expanded by grace and the power of the Holy Spirit but choices they remain.  This is a day to chose wisely. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Seeker Garden

(Pro 18:15 KJV) The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.

We have a lot of words that we would love to have applied to us.  Don’t you wish you had this verse with your name in it?  The key is the price we are willing to pay to earn the accolades.  This is where we decide to go to lunch.  Notice the two verbs, “getteth" (acquires NASB) (7069) and “seeks” (1245) .  That means that the compliments are not delivered by Fed-Ex overnight but are grown like vegetables in the back yard garden.  No one may be aware of how much you spaded and hoed.  All they see are the great tomatoes. 

You are obviously not God.  You could not take a bunch of sand and gravel and turn it into a tomato.  God caused the soil to develop and causes the chemical processes in the plant to produce something that is delicious and nutritious.  All you had to do was sweat a little.

So?  Grace is free.  Wisdom is sought.  Be a seeker. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Morsels of Glory

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

We are just a few weeks away from the most festive time of the year.  We have Halloween for those who celebrate it.  Then we have Thanksgiving, Christmas and New years.  It is a time for gathering together.  It should be a time of glorious focus on the blessings that God has given and will continue to give.  Too often we focus on the wrong things.

We are influenced by the people we are with.  That can be good or bad.  Family get togethers can be like fingernails on a chalk board or they can be a renewing brew.  If they are destructive then you are better off being “sick” this year.

Family and friends mean food.  How seductive is the food.  It is the one big sin available to Christians.  The feast is a part of the fellowship.  It can also be a gateway to so much that is wrong in our lives.  Gluttony is a sin.  Then there are those who eat to distract themselves from other pain.  Obesity and the results destroy our bodies.  It might be better to stay at home and have some crackers and cheese.

So?  So much depends on our attitude and how we interact with our situation.  Rejoice in what you have even if it is a thin sandwich in the kitchen by yourself.  Invite God to share it with you and the heavens can come down. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

You Must Leave before You Arrive

(Pro 16:17 KJV) The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.

As I write I am looking at maps and planning a road trip.  One of the features of the maps program on my computer that is not available on my phone is the ability to chart a route that avoids toll roads.  Another factor is that the computer might show different routes at different times of the day because of traffic patterns.  That is handy because you might not want to go through town during rush hour. 

Usually when we plan routes it is a desire to get somewhere but Proverbs points out that the purpose of the road is also to get away from somewhere.  Set aside fleeing natural disasters and just think about what is the best way to get out of town.  Since I will be driving from a location I am not familiar with to one that I know it is probably more important for me to plan the getaway.

So?  In life Satan may have a few surprises waiting for you.  It is reassuring how often we can chart our path and avoid those traps simply by living a righteous life.  There are signs.  I know I am not in the best part of town if I see a lot of bail bondsmen.  Keep your eyes open as you move down the highway. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Reject or Accept

(Pro 15:12 KJV) A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.

Attitude is so important.  It filters what we hear and censors what we say.  Attitude also determines what we feel.  I recognize this when I see others processing what I say.  I am not so alert when I am the one falling short of the law of love. 

Why do we reject advice?  Sometimes because we have thought it through and rejected it because it dilutes righteousness.  Would that it was always that way.  When someone tells you how to get away with a flagrant violation of honesty it may seem golden at first listen but if your standards are right you will almost immediately feel the dissonance.  Other times it takes a bit longer but an attitude of honesty and seeking first His kingdom will eventually wake you up.

What if it doesn’t?  Maybe you are a “scorner” (scoffer NASB) (3917b) at heart.  Maybe I am a scoffer at heart.

So?  Righteous self examination is always in order.  I think it is always good to make sure that our motives are right and our foundations are true.  Read.  Study.  Ponder.  Act. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

A Wagon on a Hill

(Pro 14:34 KJV) Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

I am glad to be an American.  I am also embarrassed to be an American.  Actually that should be expanded to “I am embarrassed to be a human being”.  Our cultures are rejecting the idea of “righteousness” (6666) and glorifying “sin” (2403b).  The change may have started subtly but we are going down a steep hill with well oiled wheels.  The question is, “What do we do about it?”

When I was a kid we lived briefly in a house with a steep dead-end road out our front door.  We were cool.  We had a wagon.  We were stupid.  I am not sure at what point in the ride I considered that it might be a bad idea but I was convinced when I reached the bottom.  Blood and scrapes were the order of the day.  The smartest thing would have been to not get in the wagon.  If I had half a brain I would have bailed early.  Like most of us, it was too late before I realized the danger. 

So?  We can’t usually bail from our culture, or can we?  The word for church is “called out ones”.  We need to be looking for things that we can be called out of.  Think of clubs and organizations you have joined.  Some might be able to change jobs.  Many will need to find a church that is not oiling the wheels. 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Ranking Riches

(Pro 13:8 KJV) The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.

How do you define “riches” (wealth NASB) (6239)?  The quick answer for most people involves looking around and checking their standard of living.  Most people on reflection will look a little farther.  In this context of “ransom” (3724a) it is a question of paying to redeem your captivity.  If you were captured by pirates and they demanded a ransom most people would give up their money rather than their children.  Wealth is a matter of attitude and priorities.

So?  Look at your calendar.  Look at your checkbook.  What does that say about the things you value most?  Is God pleased? 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Variables

(Pro 12:3 KJV) A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.

“Wickedness” (7562) does not have a “root” (8328).  It does not start with one.  It does not develop one.  Adam Clarke makes an interesting statement about this.  He says, “Evil is always a variable...”  I know that variables are a part of math and necessary for equations but in living life variables become a matter of convenience.  Have you ever tried to play a game like Monopoly with someone who keeps changing the rules?  It doesn’t take long before no one will play their game.

You run into people like this all the time.  In politics we see this as one difference between those called liberal and those called conservative.  Whatever the value of their positions and whether you agree with them or not, one side adjusts the facts and the other adjusts to the facts.  Truth does not change.  In order to not change it must exist and be understandable.

So?  We need to be constantly seeking to understand the truth.  In order to do that we need to find out what it is.  That is another good reason to begin each day in the Book of Truth.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Strangers in the Day

(Pro 11:15 KJV) He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.

Keep in mind that just because someone is a “stranger” (2114a) doesn’t mean that they are treated like trash.  In some cases non-Jews were to be held accountable just like Jews.  In other situations they were to be given a bit of leeway.  There was an overriding principle:
(Lev 19:34 KJV) But the stranger (1616) that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
Here we run into some difficulty with translations.  Some strangers are stranger than others.  Notice that though the English is the same the Hebrew number from Strong’s system is different.  The one used here in Proverbs is also used as adulteress.  It means strange in an corrupt way.  The one in Leviticus is more like someone with a tourist visa or a green card. 

So?  Nuance requires thinking.  Be careful about one-verse proof texts.  We can never afford to turn off our minds.  God wants a package deal of body, soul, mind and spirit.  Robots need not apply. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Mark It Paid

(Pro 10:16 KJV) The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin.

The word for “sin” (2403b) has an interesting potential for translation.  It can be translated this way but there is a word added throughout the Old Testament that gives it a different slant.  That word is “offering”.  Thus the promise to the unrepentant sinner is that they will become a sin offering.

When you put this together with
(Rom 6:23 KJV) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
and
(Heb 9:22 KJV) And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
it becomes clear that the sinner will pay for his sin with his own blood.

So?  We can rejoice in the knowledge that the shed blood of Jesus on the cross moved us from the sin offering category to the paid in full column.  A good thought to start the day and apply by our obedience. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Fear Hormone

(Pro 9:10 KJV) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

How can it be healthy to live in “fear” (3374)?  We tend to think of fear as something that locks our joints, turns our muscles to jelly and freezes our mind.  There may be some people who need to look at God with that attitude but not the believer.  For us fear is a growth hormone that gives strength and vitality.  It opens new worlds to us.  Sound strange?

Think about the first time you got behind the wheel of a car.  You entered in fear and it is a good thing.  Your actions now made the difference in how 2,000 pounds of steel and plastic interacted with the world around you.  Remember how hard it was to control the steering wheel?  Every little tremble caused the car to change direction.  In time you learned to live with it but it started with fear.

In one sense that fear should never go away.  The car is still a lot of mass that can cause a lot of damage.  If you forget that then you have even more reason to fear.

So?  God is not an inanimate object.  That makes Him even more dangerous.  At the same time He has these auto-correct features that put Him in control.  Fear.  Relax.  Obey.  Trust.  Get on with the journey. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Refreshing Priorities

(Pro 8:21 KJV) That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

We need to keep in mind verse 10 when we look at this.
(Pro 8:10 KJV) Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
It is a delicate edge to keep that requires us to reject wealth in order to gain wisdom and have the wealth promised in the same chapter.  It seems to me that the promise of one would cause us to lose focus on the other.

But such is the life of faith.  We see a similar conflict in,
(Joh 12:25 KJV) He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
There are times when we will need to react based on our inner compass but much of the time walking with Jesus demands a mind as fully engaged as our heart and soul. 

So?  Every day is a constant renewal of priorities.  That is one reason it is so important to start with worship and imbibing in the word.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Look Out

(Pro 7:6 KJV) For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,

I wonder if this picture is studied or accidental.  It doesn’t tell us if the observer has been standing there a long time looking for something specific.  He could have just glanced out and seen one young man who stood out.  I imagine in life we will run into both.

It is good for us to look around us and be observant.  When I read about people who are attacked or have problems it is amazing how often it is a result of being someplace they should have avoided.  I live in Texas.  We have quite a bug population including scorpions.  Scorpions like to sit in out of the way places.  Scorpions sting.  Stings hurt.  So I make it a practice not to pick up boxes in corners without looking.

Sometimes we need to simply be paying attention and we will see things.  I don’t usually have any problem running into deer while I am walking across the yard.  It does not take much for us to avoid each other.

So?  Be alert and keep you brain in gear.  God promises to guard us but it is amazing how often we are told to be alert in spite of that.  He never promised to make all doors open in the direction we are going. 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Beyond Skin Deep

(Pro 6:25 KJV) Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.

I don’t know if we are ever going to win this one.  God made creation beautiful and gave us the ability to appreciate it.  That may be one of the differences in us that make up the image of God.  I can’t imagine a cow on a hillside being entranced by the view across the valley.  When your dog looks at you with puppy eyes I don’t think it is “beauty” (3308) he is seeing.

Maybe that is a lesson for us.  Your dog doesn’t care if you have sox that match or if your hair is combed.  He might care if you had a bath but I would not count on it.  There is some deeper and more basic connection that he is making.  We are all about culture and appreciation of the arts and knowing good coffee when we taste it.  That ability is from God.  So is the ability to look beyond the surface and make decisions based on more important values.

So?  Are you beautiful?  On the outside or the inside?  One is more important than the other. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Well Known Strangers

(Pro 5:17 KJV) Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee.

There are three concepts that get confused in translation.  The word that brings this up is “strangers” (2114a).  In this chapter it carries the idea of an adulteress which is another of the concepts and the third is foreigner.  The point here, although rooted in a discussion of adultery, is that there are certain people whom you are not to trust.  It does not mean that you can mistreat them or sin against them.  It just means that they are outside of any covenant with you and thus do not live the way you do.

Or at least there should be a difference.  The thing is that we are the ones who are supposed to be different.  The ways of the stranger are the long established ways of the world.  The ways of the believer are different.  We look in horror at the revelations about the euphemism of “human trafficking”.  We forget the age old terms of prostitution and child molestation and act like this is something new.  No, it is not new.  God’s people have always stood against it but as we have been conforming to the world it has become accepted.

So?  We are to be holy.  We are to reject the ways of the world whether it is updated with modern language or the simple old terms we have known for so long.  Remember that the Greek word for church means “called out ones”.

Friday, October 4, 2019

A Word Gone Dirty

(Pro 4:2 KJV) For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.

One thing that puts my teeth on edge is the number of people who go around claiming to be followers of Jesus and rejecting the idea of doctrine.  They say it is all about Jesus not doctrine.  That is a totally unbiblical and unchristian attitude.  The KJV uses “doctrine” (3498) while the NASB tries to avoid controversy by translating “teaching”.  This simply begs the question which moves on to “What do you teach?”  If you are part of the “Jesus Only” group then the question is, “What do you teach about Jesus?”  Whether you teach what He taught or teach about Him you have moved into doctrine.

The New Testament is more clear on this issue.  The word translated doctrine in the NT and the word translated teaching are almost always the same.  Doctrine is not a dirty word.  It is simply one of those words that the modern age has tried to avoid because it requires them to surrender some of their ego and self power.  That sounds like a good thing.

So?  Of course there is bad doctrine as well as good doctrine.  The best way to know the difference is by reading the source of the doctrine and using your own mind under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  Happy growing. 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Dealing with Raw Oats

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

This is a promise that speaks to me today.  I was ambushed this morning by some doom and gloom about the deep state and how they were controlling the weather and it seemed there was no hope.  Woe is me.  Then I read Proverbs 3 and the rock came up to meet my feet.  The rock is not just a big boulder but the foundation of creation.

The important thing to include is that this is not an empty promise without context.  You need to read around it and absorb the magic ingredients.  Raw oats are a the promise of nutrition but it is an empty promise if they are not prepared.  Oats require some kind of milling, a liquid to cook them in, a fire to heat the mixture and ideally a bit of salt and some sweetener.  God’s promises are often like that.

So?  It is a day to rejoice and a day to prepare for the next day’s rejoicing. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Deviation

(Pro 2:15 KJV) Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:

The KJV again uses the English “froward” (3868) but there is a difference in this Hebrew word.  That is why the NASB says “devious”.  I think a better word would be sidetracked.  It means to turn aside.  It is a picture of someone who knows where they are supposed to be going and how to get there but decides to dally.

Sometimes the distraction is momentary and no issue but when we allow the pattern to set in it becomes a destructive habit.  Have you ever missed an important appointment because you stopped to do one more thing on the way?  It may have been important and a good thing to do but it kept you from something more important.

So?  One appointment you don’t want to miss is with Jesus.  Don’t let the good distract you from the best. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Wayward

(Pro 1:31 KJV) Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

What is the result of doing things our “way” (1870)?  Can you think of a time when someone gave you a chore with specific directions and you did it your way instead?  When it comes to taking out the garbage you may get away with it but shortcuts in cooking chicken can get you poisoned.  The problem with being human is that we tend to see things from our perspective.  We expect people to see us coming.  As a result we often “eat” (398) it. 

So?  God did not give us the written word so that we would have a use for excess paper.  It is there to share the wisdom of a better way.  It is there to guide us to salvation and righteousness.  It is something you cannot do your way. 

Monday, September 30, 2019

Avoidance Therapy

(Pro 30:8 KJV) Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

If you compare translations you see a different English word used to describe the Hebrew when it comes to “vanity” (7723) in the KJV and “deception” in the NASB.  The difficulty is that the word has a lot of nuances and any of them will work.  It is even better to try for the whole spectrum.  That probably can’t be done in English. 

The definition includes emptiness, nothingness, vanity, lying, worthless conduct.  You can see why a righteous seeker would want to stay away from these things, or as the verse says, have them stay away from him.  The secular culture uses words like integrity and moral but does not mean them.  That is a constant battle we have gotten used to.  We also need to be alert to the drift in the church to embrace the secular concepts and reject the Biblical standards.

So?  This is a good daily prayer.  It was good in Solomon’s day.  It is vital today. 

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Trap Map

(Pro 29:18 KJV) Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

We have a lot of confusion when it comes to the “law” (8451) [torah].  We tend to think of the law as restraint.  Laws are to keep us from having fun.  Laws are confining.  In a sense that is true but when we talk about the laws of God we need to understand that they are written to make our lives complete.  When the government make laws I tend to have a picture of some little man who hates chocolate making up rules against eating chocolate.  We all know people who get their jollies from controlling others.  God is not like that. 

In the New Testament it is explained that the purpose of the law is to show us where the quicksand is.  Picture being told to cross a swamp without that knowledge.  When the law says, “Don’t” there is a reason.

So?  The greatest happiness comes from knowing where the traps are.  The amazing thing is that if we follow the law we don’t even know the tragedy that we are avoiding.  Sounds like good news to me.  

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Trust Diet

(Pro 28:25 KJV) He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

Notice that the KJV says we will be “made fat” (1878) while the NASB has “prosper”.  The KJV says literally what the Hebrew says while the NASB tries to adjust to our culture where being fat is a bad thing.  Modern Americans don’t understand that historically being fat was a sign of wealth.  Most people worked long hours on a subsistence diet.  All you need to do to get this point is to look at their art and its ideas of beauty.

So fat is good.  To get the point here you might think about the roles fat has in the human body.  It stores up energy for times of need.  It insulates from cold.  It cushions the bones.  If you think about it those are good things that could be applied spiritually.

So?  Don’t go on a trust diet in the sense of limiting trust but do so by focusing on it.  Allow God to energize, insulate and cushion you on the road of life.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Wanders of the World

(Pro 27:8 KJV) As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.

I have a nice view of a mini-forest out my window plus one of the trees in my yard.  I enjoy watching the wind whip the branches and the vultures circling in the sky.  This morning I saw four deer making halting progress along the edge of the trees.  I enjoy the view but it does not give me much knowledge about nests. 

On the other hand, the birds that I can see are not sitting on their eggs, keeping them warm.  Wandering seems to take a lot of different forms.  For some it involves sitting on the telephone line instead of the chicks.  For others it is flitting around with the buddies or chasing other women.  For a few it is soaring high in the air looking cool and leisurely.  In the same way I guess we can “wander” (5074) in different ways.  Some of it brings instant condemnation.  Other types of wandering can be done with a very spiritual aura about it.  Drunks are easy to pick out but the pastor who is ignoring his family may be getting a lot of praise.

So?  As always we need to focus on ourselves, not the other guy.  Keep in mind that the sermon last Sunday was intended for you not the guy over there.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Screening for Fools

(Pro 26:5 KJV) Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

One difficulty I have applying this verse is the matter of judgement.  Who am I to determine if the person speaking is a fool?  Actually, there is no one better.  I would hope that you would fit into that category too.  A foolish man is the opposite of a wise man.  A foolish man is the opposite of an insightful man.  Both wisdom and understanding begin in a fear of the Lord.  We have a ready made screen for identifying a fool.

We may not be able to know the mind of heart of a person.  We can observe their position on issues based on morality.  This is getting easier in many ways because our culture, which has paid lip service to God’s standards in the past, is taking increasingly more blatant stands in opposition to Biblical ethics.

So?  To know what the Bible’s standards are you need to read the Bible.  It is getting more iffy to accept anyone else’s word for it because more and more pastors and teachers are falling in line with Satan and our culture.  Don’t join the fools. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A Righteous Sewer Commissioner

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

In ancient times the average person would have nothing to say about what happened in the halls of power.  Most people were peasant farmers.  Probably the next largest group would be slaves.  In some cultures the slaves would outnumber the free farmers.  There was little short of insurrection that could change anything.  The principle still is true but we have more ways to make it happen than any time in history. 

Keep in mind that in our system the president nominates but it is the Senate the confirms.  As citizens we have something to say about who becomes a senator.  We also have increasing influence as we move down the hierarchy of power.  When you get to city council you really have a voice. 

So?  Apply your voice.  You may only be voting for a mayor or Sewer Commissioner but those people may eventually be running for the Senate.  Go for righteousness.  Plant the seed.  Do today what you can do.  God will then bless the culture.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Domino’s Effect

(Pro 24:34 KJV) So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

Cause and effect are Biblical truths.  Yes, there are times of miracles.  Yes, we accept the right of God to work outside of natural law.  At the same time the Bible is generally an if/then kind of document.  Here we are assured of a result that is not a promise or a threat but an observation.  It is endorsing the result of sloth:  “Poverty” (7369).  You don’t need to seek it out, it will “come” 935) to you.  It is the ultimate of the Domino’s Effect.  Your pizza will come to you with double sloth and a side of bread lines.  All you have to do is take another nap.

Okay.  I accept that one extra nap won’t send you to the poor house unless it is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

So?  Get up and get on with life and don’t tell me you will after your nap. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Party Animals

(Pro 23:8 KJV) The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.

The Romans were not around when Solomon was writing but I wonder if one of their dining habits was a part of other pagan cultures.  According to popular history the decadent upper class would eat to discomfort, throw up and go back to eating.  The serious historians all seem to say it didn’t happen but I kept finding qualifiers that “most” did not do it.  Either way it is a reminder that we are to be balanced in our living. 

Of course the warning here would be more in the way of being careful of what invitations we accept.  In traditional culture a meal together was a bonding experience.  In much of our current culture it is just a way to find a way to take advantage.

So?  Be moderate and be careful who you hang with. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

r and R

(Pro 22:16 KJV) He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

How many people today are living very well under the game plan of helping the poor?  I don’t know the answer to that question.  I do know that one reason religious organizations do better than government agencies at helping the down and out is the question of cui bono?  That is fancy Latin talk for “Who benefits?” 

I will accept that there are many people serving as social workers whom sincerely want to help their clients.  In today’s world they can make a habit of helping them climb out of poverty and go on their way.  It does not seem to happen often.  One reason is lack of genuine motivation.  If you are successful as a social worker you will eventually work your way out of a job.  Even if you never run out of clients the constant turn over will generate a lot more work for you. 

Churches, on the other hand, benefit by lifting people out of poverty.  They have a chance to add them to their fellowship where they can become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.  If you want to be crass, they might also start making contributions.  You benefit by lifting people from the mud.  And that doesn’t even factor in the fact that God has told us to do so.

So?  Each Christian has a responsibility to be a small “r” redeemer of the lost.  A big part is introducing people to the big “R” Redeemer, Jesus.  He is the one who will make the real difference. 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

A Winning Lottery Ticket

(Pro 21:17 KJV) He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.

I think this is a principle rather than a law.  It is illustrated in life by lottery winners.  I have not researched it but the popular wisdom is that most people who win millions in the lottery are poor again within a short period of time.  When I am on vacation punishment and forced to watch TV shows I saw one that had a real estate agent hustling lottery winners and getting them to buy extravagant homes.  I don’t think there was ever a reference to how much it would take to keep the places up.  I would imagine that the HOA fees on some of them were multiples of what the people were used to living on.  It made for good TV for the oil and wine crowd but set my teeth on edge.

This does not mean that some who chase wealth will not achieve it.  The question is, will it bring that inner satisfaction that says, “Well done.”  It may in some cases but keep in mind that some people are deliberately going to hell.  They joke about heaven sounding too boring.

So?  We need to stop every once in awhile, not to smell the roses but to look up and see if we are still heading toward the goal we really want. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Disciples of Diversity

(Pro 20:23 KJV) Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good.

There are times when a literal translation might be confusing to modern readers.  In the Hebrew “differing weights” (68) is simply “a stone and a stone”.  What we are looking at is basic honesty and justice in economic transactions.  I imagine that merchants in those days used some kind of balance scale.  What some had a tendency to do was use one stone when weighing your stuff and another identical stone to weigh theirs.  It is like having loaded dice.  They are cheating you.

Using different results for different people based on their relationship to you is unethical.  For this reason I think the KJV “divers” should set of a warning bell for those in our culture who are into diversity.  America has always been a diverse nation.  Even the Pilgrims had a large contingent of non-Pilgrims.  We have adjusted.  What disciples of diversity mean by the term today is special privileges to special groups to achieve the results that the disciples want.  It is like changing stones half way through the weighing.

So?  Whether it is business or social programs the Bible gives a thumbs down on preferences.  And keep in mind that God would have big thumbs. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Best Laid Plans...

(Pro 19:21 KJV) There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

I like the use of “devices” (4284) in the KJV for “plans” in NASB.  It isn’t more a matter of it being accurate but because it emphasizes the weakness of our ability to scheme and manipulate.  It is amazing the Rube Goldberg moments that we can produce instead of just getting on the with job at hand.  I don’t know how many projects I have waiting for me to pick up a hammer or screwdriver.  Until that happens, nothing happens.

And the ultimate mover will be God Himself.  God seems to enjoy confounding us.  Think of picking David as a teenager to confront Goliath.  Picture how weak the twelve disciples were before Pentecost.  Study how the worship of Jesus spread through the Roman world as a religion of slaves and women.  Be amazed that the squabbling colonies of North America defeated the strongest military of its day. 

So?  Be prepared for what He wants to do with your day. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Unbroken

(Pro 18:14 KJV) The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?

What is an unbroken spirit like?  Sometimes you can define things by saying what it is not.  An unbroken spirit is not a Pollyanna foolishness that sees everything as wonder and ignores evil.  An unbroken spirit does not radiate strength and confidence.  It has tremendous strength but it is not the strength that is recognized by the pagan world around it.  It is an endurance runner or a construction worker carrying heavy loads all day, not a bulky weightlifter that can put massive amounts of iron over his head a few times.  And there is a quiet confidence that does not go running to the basement to hide in a corner every time a car backfires on the street.

I think one of the requirements of an unbroken spirit is a constant flow of maintenance from the Holy Spirit.  A bit of lubrication can keep a lock from getting sticky.  A change of oil keeps an engine running in an old clunker. 

So?  Left to itself, you spirit will break.  Kept in constant contact with the living God it will “endure” (3557).  Your choice.  Your spirit. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Snappy Comebacks

(Pro 17:28 KJV) Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

It always amuses me when a certain someone tells me I always need to get the last word.  It never seems to occur to them their statement becomes the last word.  I will admit one of my personality flaws is the one liner.  I can usually think of a snappy comeback.  So you might say the criticism is justified.  Justified criticism is always hard to take.  I am working on it.

So?  Just because you don’t like what someone says or can find a logical reason why it is nonsense does not mean that you can’t learn from it.  Yes, I always like to get the last word but if I keep trying for it then we are engaged in a non-musical version of the song that never ends. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

A Hard Lesson

(Pro 16:16 KJV) How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

I am not so sure that we believe this.  We say we do.  We might even say a hearty “Amen!”, but when the choice is before us we hesitate.  Really, Lord?  Did you mean this?  After all I can use the money now but we all know that no one will listen to wisdom when we dispense it.

God does not give up.  He keeps trying to speak to us.  He works on us constantly to pound this in. 

So?  I wish I had an easy way to learn the lesson myself.  If I did, I would bottle it and sell it on line and make a fortune.  Of course that might not be wise. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Endings

(Pro 15:11 KJV) Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?

How can a loving God send people to Hell?  It is a good question and has answers but before you can be concerned about such answers you need to wrap your acceptance around something:  Hell exists.  There are graphic pictures throughout scripture.  It isn’t important to me if you want to call the lake of fire a literary devise or a literal description.  What is vital is that you wrap your mind around the teaching that after death most people will end up in Hell. 

If you can’t accept that jump from Proverbs then listen to the words of Jesus,
(Mat 7:13-14 KJV) Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
So?  You don’t need to dwell on it all the time but be aware that the people around you do not live stories that have happy endings.  Be sensitive to chances to share the hope that is in you. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Errors

(Pro 14:33 KJV) Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding: but that which is in the midst of fools is made known.

Always check your sources.  My NASB from 1977 uses “bosom” for the “midst” of the KJV.  Both are from the Hebrew word with the Strong’s number (7130).  When I checked my software which ties the numbering in the NASB Updated the word is changed to “hearts” and gives a number of (7310).  The word is okay.  The reference is the kind of thing that the hand copied manuscripts were supposed to be susceptible to.  Someone switched the numbers in the middle.

Is this an error in the Bible?  No.  It is a technical problem.  Could it be serious?  Only if you refuse to do your homework, keep your mind in gear and trust that there are answers. 

So?  Be responsible for your own spiritual growth and always be willing to check things out. 

Friday, September 13, 2019

Pretend Money

(Pro 13:7 KJV) There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.

This verse is not about money.  It is about attitude.  The second reference “poor” (7326) is the clue.  It generally means poor in the sense that we think of it but in this form of the Hebrew, called the Hithpolel, evidently means to “impoverish himself”.  It is a deliberate act.  That is why the translations include “pretends” in the NASB And “maketh himself” in the KJV. 

I would take from this that if money is your god and you set your cap on it, the attitude will eventually ruin your life.  If you use your wealth to serve others without being consumed by dollar signs, you will be blessed.

So?  I am not sure how that works out in our mortgaged, car payment, college tuition world, but I think we need to do some serious thinking as Americans about what our priorities are. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

It Matters

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

Are these rewards temporal or spiritual?  To me it is obviously both.  Others might disagree.  Some would write books to say that this verse does not mean what it says. 

These rewards are temporal.  There are plenty of places where God makes promises that are conditioned on our choices and faithfulness.  Those promises may not always have dollars signs but they do have worth in the here and now. 

These rewards are spiritual.  They will lift us up and empower us in this life.  They will also follow us into eternity.

So?  It makes a difference the kind of person we are.  Let it be so today. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Enough

(Pro 11:14 KJV) Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

How many is an “abundance” (7230)?  Sometimes all we need it one and that is the danger being expressed here.  Often we define wisdom as agreeing with us.  If we have one person that we can trust to tell us we are right then we stop there.  Counseling done.  It might be a second source is sought.  Children do this when mom says no.  They go to dad.  If that doesn’t work there is always grandma.  I don’t think that is what this is talking about.

The KJV likes “multitude” for a translation.  The idea is that we seek a broad scope of input.  And consider your sources.  If you are listening to the radio and a godless pagan gets onto something you are concerned about, his opinion might not be as well balanced as you might like.

So?  Start with the word.  Some things are simple.  Go to the body of Christ.  Above all listen to what the Holy Spirit has to say to you. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

No Peasants Allowed

(Pro 10:15 KJV) The rich man's wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.

There are at least four different Hebrew words that are translated “poverty” (7389) in the KJV.  In trying to figure out the differences I began to wonder if this one has to do with the class systems of the world.  Most cultures have them whether they admit it or not.  It can be based on the ethnic group you belong to.  It can be traced to religion.  In the case of Israel it was what we might call the peasants.  If you were born into it, you were it.  There was almost no chance of changing. 

A peasant class tends to stay “poor” (1800b) because of their attitudes as much as their lack of money.  We are seeing that in our culture.  We don’t actually have classes that are acknowledged.  We have a small group of people that think they have the right to run the lives of others but the others tend to reject that.  We do have what is becoming called an “underclass” that is getting locked into a poverty mindset. 

So?  As Christians we cannot embrace the concept of class.  We are all children of God and the ground is level beneath the cross.  That involves regarding others.  For ourselves we need to make sure that we don’t fall into the peasant mind set and give up on hard work and a healthy frugality. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Avoid Dog Food

(Pro 9:9 KJV) Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

I just noticed when copying this verse from the KJV that “instruction” is in italics.  That is true in the NASB also.  This is used to indicate that the word is not in the original language but is added for clarification.  The same is true of the word “man”.  So what happens when you leave them out?  It becomes,

    “Give to wise and teach righteous”.

We have a clear declaration to “give” (5414) and “teach” (3045).  We know that.  What we tend to overlook is the target of our giving and our teaching.  In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gave this instruction,
(Mat 7:6 KJV) Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
The way that Jesus used reference to dogs usually meant gentiles.  We would say non-believers.  There is again a clear admonition about priorities.

So?  Our first priority is to give to needy brethren and to teach those young in the faith.  If we can do more, well and good but we are to go to the Body of Christ first. 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

A Twist of...

(Pro 8:20 KJV) I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:

Our culture is perverted.  Perversion does not exit in a vacuum.  Often, if not always, it takes something that is good and perverts it.  That is why we call it perversion to take the love of a parent for a child and turn it into incest or molestation.  The Biblical words for perversion seem to have the idea of twisting.  Our culture has done that to the concepts of “righteousness” (6666) and “judgment” (justice NASB) (4941). 

The twist goes back to having no wisdom, which is what this verse is about.  The lack of wisdom goes back to the statement that it starts with a fear of the Lord.  The gurus of our culture hate God simply because His righteousness and His righteous demands knock us off the throne of our lives and keeps us from twisting what is good.  The human condition wants to twist.  It is the way we are made.  It is why training children is so hard.  They are little gods and want to keep ruling.

So?  On one side you have the righteousness that God expects.  On the other side you have the twisted version of truth that our culture embraces.  In the middle is where each human being stands.  The big question is which way are we going to go.  Only you can make that decisions for you and remember to not decide is to decide. 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Ad Antidote

(Pro 7:5 KJV) That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.

How many of us don’t want anything to “keep” (8104) us from the “adulteress” or literally, “strange” (2114a) “woman” (802)?  I imagine most people would say they believe adultery is wrong and yet the common wisdom is that sex sells.  How often do I find myself taking a second look at a picture with a provocative woman in a prominent place?  It happens more often than I want to admit.  Satan knows our weaknesses and works them ruthlessly.  How do we emerge victorious?  By knowing the teachings of wisdom and following them. 

So?  One thing that sex will not sell is holiness and a saving status before Jesus.  We have many decisions to make and it starts with reading the directions. 

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Question of Cain

(Pro 6:24 KJV) To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.

We need something to “keep” (8104) us from “evil” (7451b) in general, let alone away from evil “women” (802).  This might bring to mind the question of Cain,
(Gen 4:9 KJV) And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper (8104)?
For Christians the answer is, “Yes.”  We are to be prepared to help, exhort and support those around us.  That goes double for the family of God.  That is not the provision being given here.

If you look back at the context you will find that what protects is an internalizing of the law.  It is knowing the standards revealed in the commandments that is to be our primary defense.  God has given us access, at least in modern times, to the written word and all that it contains.  Yesterday I was in a doctor’s office and on every table in the waiting room there was a Gideon Bible available.  I would guess that God would say that everyone who sat down to wait in that room had a chance.

So?  I have a million excuses for every failure in my life.  God is not interested.  He has given me all that I need to avoid futility, frustration and condemnation.  Now to make use of what I have. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Share Not

(Pro 5:16 KJV) Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.

The word picture being drawn here is of a cistern and the use of stored water.  The advice is to not throw away a valuable resources.  The literal application behind the figurative speech is to keep your affection and sexual contact within the bonds of marriage and not throw them out into the general public.  That seems pretty simple.

A cistern would obviously be limited in the water it will hold but I never stopped to think that even a well will run out of water if too many people are using it.  Stewardship applies to our sexual facet as well as our financial.  God blesses us and we are expected to use them in righteousness.

So?  Don’t waste your affection on those outside of your personal covenant.  Remember that water running down the street is dirty and gets dirtier as it runs. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Activate Your Attention Span

(Pro 4:1 KJV) Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.

It is very important that we embrace what it means to “hear” (8085).  The definition given in Brown-Driver-Briggs is “to hear, to listen, to obey”.  It is that last part that we like to ignore.  My wife is concerned about my hearing.  Putting aside her tendency to not finish sentences and change subjects with no warning, the question is often asked, “Didn’t you hear me say...?”  Since I confess I was able to hear other things that she said it comes down to not paying attention.

I won’t go into all the reasons why I might not have been paying attention to my wife.  You will have your own.  There are times when it is perfectly appropriate to drift in our attention.  I think of churches I have visited and after a few minutes of the sermon I begin to realize there is nothing there.  I think of people who don’t know what they are talking about trying to tell me how to do something.  I need to make sure it doesn’t happen when God or His written word are trying to talk to me.

So?  I find it helps me to do an attitude check.  I kick myself in the morning before I start to read Proverbs.  I remind myself I am supposed to be paying attention, not just going through a habit.  Sometimes it helps but it never helps if I don’t to it. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Messing up the Square

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

We “forget” (7911) the things we do not practice.  Years ago our family got involved in square dancing.  It seemed a strange thing to do but we all went weekly for lessons and kept at it until we graduated.  This was a real miracle because my family is not known for their sense of rhythm.  It goes to show that if you pay attention you can have victory even in your areas of weakness.

Then a strange malady struck.  My wife started coming up with excuses to not go to the weekly meetings of the club.  What had been a lot of fun as a family activity became a partial family activity.  It soon became clear that she was losing the feel for square dancing.  Many of the moves are conditioned in so that you respond automatically.  It goes fast enough that if you have to stop and think then you mess up.  Messing up is expected for new learners.  The experienced dancers took it in stride but when someone does not keep up their skills it soon becomes apparent and all they do is mess it up for the other seven people in the square.

So?  One reason for us to keep up our spiritual skills is so that we don’t mess it up for others.  God is patient and forgiving but the people around you may not be strong enough to stumble because you did. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Something Wicked Never Left

(Pro 2:14 KJV) Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked;

If you have been paying attention pedophiles are being mentioned more often lately.  Currently I have been seeing that historic figures such as John Maynard Keynes seemed to be linked to sexual activity with young boys and of course we have the Island hops of Epstein.  We will also probably see that this type of activity will get less and less criticism and more calls for tolerance.  What the KJV calls “frowardness” (8419) is well on its way to social acceptance.

What Christians need to understand is that sexual perversion is real and it is a part of the sinful nature.  Being accepted by your local public school and society at large does not make it right.  It is just an indication of where people are coming from and where they will go if not countered by the grace of God.

So?  Evil exists.  It has been toned down by Christian culture but Christian culture is not the same as a society filled with Christians.  Until we see revival it will get worse. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

We, not They

(Pro 1:30 KJV) They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.

This says “they”.  We should first consider if it is really saying “we” or “I”.  We get into a certain mindset.  I recently bought a cheap air compressor.  As I was trying to figure it out I noticed that there were several pages of small print saying things like, “Don’t stick the hose up your nose” and other warnings.  Generally I am one of those guys who likes to look at the directions on how something is supposed to be used but I tend to ignore the obvious stuff at the beginning.

Many times we don’t consciously think about certain points God has made.  Is it because we don’t know them?  In a few cases that is true but do we really need to read “Thou shall not murder” every day?  The bigger question is, “Do we ‘accept’ (14) the terms of the contract”.  That is generally a matter of the heart and our deep priorities than it is information.

So?  Each of us has to make our own decision.  We need to make it every day.  In a sense we are faced with it whenever there is a fork in our road.  We are walking on the Highway of Holiness not staying in the Hotel of Sanctity. 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Wiggle Room

(Pro 31:6 KJV) Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

Is “strong drink” (7941) different from “wine” (3196)?  They did not have the trick of distilling hard liquor at that time in history so we are not talking about things like whiskey.  Almost every time that “strong drink” is mentioned it is linked with the use of wine so I would imagine that there is a bit of poetic license involved.  Not being a drinker I am speaking from speculation but I think it was customary for people to mix their wine with water.  How much water depended on the occasion.  If you were having a time of serious discussion there would be a lot of water and little wine.  If you were out to get drunk as a skunk you would leave the water for washing dishes.  That would then qualify as “strong drink”.

All of that is academic because almost every time you come across this word formula it is used in a negative context.  It speaks of losing control and wanting to abandon reality.  It is to be avoided.

So?  Again I concede that a bit of alcohol does not send you to hell but I also hold that it is better to avoid it all together.