(Pro 28:18-19 KJV) Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once. He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.
One of the questions that arise in verses like this is what it means to “walk” (1980) “uprightly” (blamelessly NASB) (8549). I am sure there are all kinds of theological discussions that could take place over these words. You don’t need to go that far to get to the basic idea. All you need to do is read the following verse which says, “get out and do a good days work instead of wasting your time with foolish activities.” I know that is a paraphrase but can you argue with it?
Walking in holiness is expressed through a life of responsible behavior and focus. There is not necessarily anything evil in leisure pursuits but they become evil when they replace earning our daily bread.
So? Don’t confuse the issue with semantics and sophistry. Live an upright and righteous life. It can be done but usually we prefer to make excuses and take short cuts.
Monday, February 28, 2022
(Pro 28:18-19 KJV) Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once. He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.
Sunday, February 27, 2022
(Pro 27:18 KJV) Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.
When I focus on the current political environment I have a growing concern about an overbearing government slowly diluting my liberty. I feel a loss of freedom. What God reminds me of with verses like this is that the bubble of American freedom is just that, a bubble. People have been called to live righteous lives during some of the most perverted cultures in history. Christians have been called to submit to autocrats and pagans. Why should it be any different for us.
So? I will continue to do what I can to maintain my liberty as an American but I will keep being reminded that I also need to be submission to my “master” (113) in the secular sense.
Saturday, February 26, 2022
(Pro 26:5 KJV) Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
One of the heresies of the 20th century was the idea of the “seeker friendly” worship service. The church allowed the world to define what the church should be and in the process lost its edge. I am so tired of hearing how harsh and judgmental the church is and how we need more love. The problem is not that we do not have enough love it is because the love we have is not agape but Hollywood. Agape love is what Jim Dobson used to call “tough love”. It is a love based on the holiness of God and although it has some great defining going on in I Corinthians 13 that is a message for Christians dealing with each other not a formula for winning the lost. The kind of love that the church is selling today would make it impossible for God to allow anyone to choose hell.
With that in mind, we need to be more honest with the fools of our lives. Keep in mind that being a fool means a lack of wisdom and wisdom starts in the fear of the Lord.
So? Don’t apologize for the standards of God. Proclaim them. Live them. The fools will never become wise by pooling their ignorance.
Friday, February 25, 2022
(Pro 25:11 KJV) A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
This is a double challenge to me. It seems like I speak up when I should be silent and conversely I am silent when I should speak out. This is an aspect of wisdom that is hard to master. It isn’t just the truth or appropriateness of the words. A bigger question is the receptiveness of the hearer.
Two factors are important in the person you speak to. They need to be willing to listen. Often that requires an awareness of their ignorance. As an example, it is almost pointless to witness to people about a savior if they won’t admit they are lost. The second factor is us. Have we earned their trust? Do they think out opinion is worth anything? People who think sushi is a great delight won’t pay any attention to my recommendation for the pot roast as Golden Coral.
So? Earn the right and carefully consider the target. I think it is safe to say we should err on the side of reticence.
Thursday, February 24, 2022
(Pro 24:16 KJV) For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
I don’t want to “fall” (5307). Based on the assumptions of this verse I won’t have a choice in the matter. It will happen. The second assumption is I will get up. In order to get up the failure that caused the fall will either be overcome or passed.
As believers we have something that keeps us getting up. It is hope. By hope I obviously don’t mean an empty wish. I mean an assurance that there is a God and He is active in history. Since I am a part of that history He is active in me. God will continue to work.
So? We don’t know what the day holds. We do know the God of creation and have heard His promises. That makes it possible to face the future with a spring in our step and a song in our heart.
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
(Pro 23:17 KJV) Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.
How easy it is to lose focus. It routinely becomes obvious to me as I spend time daily in worship that involves praise and thanksgiving. It taps me on the consciousness as I pray for those in my circle and I become aware of their struggles and victories. It calls for review of priorities and plans. Recalibration. It is a daily need for me.
Here the reminder is that we are to be focused on a healthy fear of the Lord. Part of that fear is a dependence that we acknowledge and revel in. It reminds us of all the things we don’t need to spend our time worrying about. How do your grow oats? I don’t know but God has specialists in that field. How does coffee get to my counter? Will there be any apples available this week? God is aware of production and distribution. We need to be aware of fear.
So? Stop and draw yourself some new lines. This is extra important if you are not in the habit of doing it regularly.
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
(Pro 22:15 KJV) Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
This is a good verse for conspiracy theories. “Foolishness” (200) is “bound” (7194) in your children’s hearts. What gets to conspiracy level is the translation of “bound” that comes out as “conspired”. When I read “bound” I think of something tied on with a piece of string. This is more of a picture of being folded in like you are putting eggs in a recipe. It does not just lie on top waiting to be removed. It works its way in and dares you to dig it out.
It is like some forms of cancer. If you get them early they can be removed. If you wait too long they become so entrenched in the healthy tissue that surgery is impossible. That is the heart of a child. It is why we need to get on them early in training them up in the way they should go.
So? After surgery there is chemo and radiation. There is hope for our children if we have missed the boat. Try not to miss it if you have time.
Monday, February 21, 2022
(Pro 21:12 KJV) The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.
There are places where checking other translations can help us understand what the Bible is trying to say. This is one of them. Compare the KJV and the NASB,
(Pro 21:12 NAS77) The righteous one considers the house of the wicked, Turning the wicked to ruin.Although both translations have the expectation that the “righteous” (6662) is expected to engage his brain and that “wicked” (7563) will be punished, there is some serious disagreement in the rest. This is important for us to consider today. Are we justified by God in participating in the punishment of evil? The KJV says, “No.” The NASB says “Yes”.
Why would there be this difference? Theologically the Calvinist concepts of the sovereignty of God, irresistible grace and predestination, would agree with the KJV. Politically it would be very convenient for religion to be the “opiate of the people”. We wouldn’t want the masses rising up against oppression, would we?
So? Life is never easy. Put on your thinking cap, get out your prayer rug and do a bit of reading. Some questions noone can answer for you.
Sunday, February 20, 2022
(Pro 20:3 KJV) It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
My first reaction to this verse is to nod my head wisely. If I am having a typical day I then move on feeling good about myself. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending how you look at it, the Holy Spirit does not let it go at that. There are always the days when it become clear that I am better described in the second part than the first.
“Meddling” (quarrel NASB) (1566) is not always broadcast or obvious. In fact we get really good at holding them below the radar. The option here is not winning or losing. It is not keeping our powder dry. It isn’t retreating to fight again. That is what the fool does. I must confess it is what I do too often.
The goal is to let it go and move on. The goal is not to win.
So? This is easy to say but hard to practice. We have heard the prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr about courage, patience and wisdom. Maybe that should be our prayer too.
Saturday, February 19, 2022
(Pro 19:25 KJV) Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.
“Beware” (shrewd NASB) (6191) must be a quality that we might call sneaky or conniving, and is void of wisdom. If you look at the contrast between the twit and the person of understanding you see a difference in how they respond. On the one side you have a person who sees information, refuses to assess its real worth and instead finds a back door to manipulate the situation. On the other side you have the individual who takes what is offered, internalizes it and moves on to greater heights.
There is a spiritual dimension in personal growth. You can have two people with the same opportunity. One will use it to scam others. One will use it to make our world better.
So? We are called to understand things because we know the giver of knowledge. It is part of being good stewards.
Friday, February 18, 2022
(Pro 18:10 KJV) The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
When Alfred the Great was trying to unite England he faced the constant attacks by the various groups of what we would call Vikings. He developed a system which could easily be traced back to this verse. He began to build structures called “burhs”. The word eventually became bergs or burgs. They were fortifications which were designed for the local inhabitants to flee to, like our reference to the Lord as a tower. They did not need to hold out for long periods of time. All they had to do was protect the population while the invaders swept through. Farmers could defend the walls against the quick moving Northmen.
God is that way to us. He is a refuge, if we will use Him.
So? It is not enough to flee. You need to place of refuge to target. God provides us with that if we let Him. We live in unsettled times. We need to plant our trust in Him.
Thursday, February 17, 2022
(Pro 17:20 KJV) He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief.
This is an area where I have a bit of a hang-up so I am not sure I am the best source of thought. I have trouble with people who have dirty mouths. In one sense I need to be patient and kind. In another sense I wish they would hear the warning in this verse.
The problem with vulgar language is not so much the language itself as the atmosphere it creates for the rest of the things in our lives. People hear us. They evaluate us. They then act and we are somehow involved in what they have in mind. We might resist or not. Either way we are put in a difficult position.
So? Our choice of words says something to people. It promotes trust or deceit. I lays the groundwork for how they treat us. We need to watch our mouths.
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
(Pro 16:12 KJV) It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.
What should our attitude be toward people in authority? In most of history the people in charge have been the ones with the big muscles and sharp swords. You either did what they said, or else. It wasn’t a matter of “righteousness” (6666), it was pure power. In modern times we have moved beyond that. As Americans we are expected to let leaders know what we think of their actions.
Too often our evaluation of political leaders is based on what we want. That might seem natural but our measuring stick is to be what God wants. When we look at congress and the judicial system we are to be evaluating them according to God’s standards and those standards do not change. Be careful letting your local guru tell you what is right and wrong. Too often their standards are based on Satan’s craftiness rather than God’s holiness.
So? God wants righteous government as well as righteous churches. Do what you can to see that it happens.
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
(Pro 15:26 KJV) The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.
This is a reminder that we are to be alert to the motivation of people we are involved with. Sometimes that is easy. If you work with someone every day and see them when they think no one is watching you can learn a lot. Sometimes it is difficult because of a lack of contact. Be reminded that if their minds are not right they are an “abomination” (8441).
Perhaps there is a contact in your life that is walking on this thin ice. Only you and God know if you can change your situation. I remember when I was drafted, I didn’t have a lot of choice in whom my drill sergeant was. On the other hand I can decide who my auto mechanic is.
So? Never turn off your spiritual radar. There may be people around that are watching your children, waiting for you to look the other way. Pray for discernment and courage.
Monday, February 14, 2022
(Pro 14:9 KJV) Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.
The first part of this verse is a blanket statement of most church attenders today. They don’t want to hear about sin. They will laugh at you if you believe that a loving God will let people go to hell just for a few black marks on their record. That, of course, is assuming that they even believe in the existence of the God of the Bible. A good example of how this plays out in our culture is the unending array of fornication, adultery and perversion that we see in our entertainment and there is no reference to the catastrophic results. Sin is just another word for fun.
So? Each of us needs to remind ourselves that Jesus did not come to earth, live as a man and die on a cross to remind us of how wonderful we are. He came to pay the price for our sin. Rejoice and mourn.
Sunday, February 13, 2022
(Pro 13:25 KJV) The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.
We are living in a time when many people are noticing that store shelves are not full and selection is becoming a memory. Some are forecasting all kinds of doom on our economy. As Americans we are so used to plenty we think it is our birthright. As Christians we often tend to think like Americans. We are God’s people. We are blessed. We will always have plenty, right?
I am not sure that is what God promises. He says He will meet our needs. For me that might mean instant oatmeal instead of old fashioned. It might be liver for dinner. It definitely does not promise that I will chose my menu for the rest of my life. The point here is that if our heart is right then we will be satisfied with enough.
So? I believe there are going to be shortages ahead. I believe we should stock up as well as we can. I don’t believe we should go into a panic about it. We need just enough concern to live responsible lives before God.
Saturday, February 12, 2022
(Pro 12:4 KJV) A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.
How does a wife “shame” (954) a man? I can think of many ways, from observation and experience. This would probably refer to both deliberate, conscious shaming as well as the unintentional things that some people do because of who they are. It is used in Genesis to describe Adam and Eve running around naked in innocent oblivion. At the other end it is used of Hosea’s wife who became a prostitute.
One part of this verse that troubles me is that there is little or nothing the husband can do about this kind of shaming. This woman is going to do her own thing and if you don’t like it, too bad. It is a reminder that life is not always perfect.
So? The only solution I can think of is to renew my trust in the providence of God and get on with life. Make it a matter of prayer knowing that God will do what He can to bring repentance and renewal.
Friday, February 11, 2022
(Pro 11:20 KJV) They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.
What a condition to be in. The NASB has “perverse” (6141) and the KJK calls it a “froward heart”. I am currently on a pace-maker. It is a device that gives my heart a wake up call if the beats go too low. Imagine if you had a devil approved gizmo in you heart that kept it twisted and crooked. I don’t know that anyone has accused the devil of being stupid so he must program the device to only give enough twist to move the person toward his total control.
If you are good with having a twisted heart then be happy while you can. If you are concerned about it then keep comparing your inner pace-maker with the word of God. If you feel the twist then it is time to repent and allow God to get it straight again.
So? The problem with slight deviations is that over time they become major. Stay on top of it.
Thursday, February 10, 2022
(Pro 10:27 KJV) The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.
“Fear” (3374) is something that we have seen being peddled wholesale in the time since the China Virus came to public attention. I have gone through a series of steps over the time. At first there was some genuine concern because the authorities were declaring a possible problem of plague proportions. At first it seemed at least some caution was in order. Then came the The Grand Princess and Diamond Princess. They were two cruise ships with the disease aboard. They were full of prime candidates for death from the virus as portrayed. They were quarantined for an extended period of time. One ship had no deaths, the other seven. After that it was clear this was mainly hype.
There are things we should fear, both with craven fear and awe. There are others that become more like potholes in the street rather than a bridge out. With a little caution they can be avoided. Much of our caution should be based on a healthy fear of that which deserves it, God Himself. Our fear of Him puts the other concerns in perspective.
So? Keeping the bad fear under control allows the good fear to make our lives longer and richer.
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
(Pro 9:6 KJV) Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
Most people are good with the message of Proverbs until they get to this part. The clever sayings, bits of advice, promised meals and such are all good. You rarely have trouble getting people to take free samples. You may shop at Cosco. One of the understandings is that you try to go when they are giving out free samples. Some of the stuff they offer is really good but I don’t think I have ever bought anything they are offering. That would cost me something.
So? God has a great offer for us. The problem is when we have to commit to the sale and sign on the dotted line.
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
(Pro 8:22 KJV) The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
From this I would assume that wisdom is an attribute of God. That is nothing surprising but it is another way in which the image of God in us is to be developed. Just as God being love is defined and applied in places like I Corinthians 13 wisdom is explained in Proverbs and beyond.
So? It is an incredible journey we are on. We will never be gods as the cults like to imply. We will always be the Creator’s creatures. But we walk in His power and live lives of holiness.
Monday, February 7, 2022
(Pro 7:27 KJV) Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
How you live is important. Your decisions have consequences. Whom you follow can lead to disaster. I might offer a word of caution. This advice applies to the church as much as the world. I have not personally met a lot of people who should be spiritual leaders that betray their trust. I knew of a pastor who died of a heart attack while visiting his girlfriend but that is unusual.
Usually the danger comes from well meaning advice that is not Biblically sound. It may be something that they heard. It may just be off the cuff. I shudder sometimes when I hear the examples that come from the pulpit and I know they are wrong. Ultimately the responsibility is ours. We are in that unique position in history were we can read and have access to many translations of the Bible.
So? Use the resources you have to make the decisions you must. It will be you standing before Jesus on judgement day, not the person who deceived you. Well, maybe they will be there too but it will be a separate trial.
Sunday, February 6, 2022
(Pro 6:18 KJV) An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
This is a verse that deals with our understanding of people, not how we treat them. There are two parts to this verse and they underline something that is found other places in Proverbs and the rest of the Bible. There are people who deliberately seek to do “mischief” (evil NASB) (7463a). We do not like this. We want to deny it. People with emotional instability tend to assume that the problem is them, not the one out to destroy. Accept it.
By “how we treat them” I am talking about approaching every conversation with courtesy, not trusting someone just because we want to be nice.
So? Be kind and courteous. Don’t be stupid and inflexible. Evil happens and we are to stand against it.
Saturday, February 5, 2022
(Pro 5:20 KJV) And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?
Have you ever had someone tell you to consider the source? Thus you would not ask someone for financial advice who is constantly going bankrupt. Would you want the advice of someone with seven hundred wives on marriage? Does Solomon come to mind? He should. I wonder if he wrote this very early in his life. We find that by the end he was ignoring his own wisdom.
(1Ki 11:3 KJV) And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.Solomon had all the information he needed to live a holy life. He started out well with a special dispensation of wisdom. He had it all. He had the knowledge. He had the wealth. And he threw it away.
So? You can either let this defeat you or you can let it remind you that God is quick to forgive those who repent and turn from their evil ways. Choices, choices.
Friday, February 4, 2022
(Pro 4:8 KJV) Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.
I often forget that wisdom is ultimately practical. It isn’t just for sitting around solving the world’s problems. It is for walking through the day. It is like the written law in that respect. Wisdom is not some magic spell that causes unnatural things to happen. There is no fairy dust that turns a pumpkin into a coach and mice into horses. Pardon me, I have been watching Cinderella. What happens is we find ourselves making the right decision or correcting our attitude before it gets us in hot water.
So? The life of righteousness is a daily walk, a flowing of the stream of time. Results may vary as they say in the advertisements, but the variation will be based more on our choices than on the uncontrollable.
Thursday, February 3, 2022
(Pro 3:3 KJV) Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
Here we see “mercy" (kindness NASB) (2617a) [chesed] and “truth” (571) linked together. Here it seems they go well but it brings to mind a verse from the NT,
(1Co 8:1 KJV) Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.In Corinthians it seems like simple knowledge, which I assume involves truth, is a problem by itself. In Corinthians knowledge pushes against love. In Proverbs they are joined at the hip.
Notice the Hebrew word for “kindness” is [chesed]. My favorite translation of this word is “lovingkindness”. To me it is the Hebrew word that matches the Greek [agape] which is used in the Corinthians verse. I would say that the point is we need both. When we go on love it morphs away from agape into something Hollywood and sociologists would approve of and away from the complex demand of God. If we go with just truth we can become heartless legalists.
So? Always cling to the truth but as we cling we should be administering it with the love described in I Corinthians 13. Consider this a pre-Valentine thought.
Wednesday, February 2, 2022
(Pro 2:22 KJV) But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.
This verse seems to say that there are physical, temporal consequences for evil lives. Yet how many times have you been warned about assuming that sickness and hardship are not a result of sin. This is one of those things that are principles rather than laws. It is a principle that is very hard to verify. How often do we find out that someone who is righteous on the outside is dirty on the inside. By dirty I am talking about such things as porn addictions and abuse of children.
Righteous living has rewards. I often wonder in history if the ones who suffered the most from the mayhem of war are those who lived in rebellion. There is no way to know but it is best to leave the judging up to God.
So? We can’t know about others. We can make a commitment to live as God would have us live and leave the results to Him.
Tuesday, February 1, 2022
(Pro 1:4 KJV) To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
Once again I begin my monthly journey through Proverbs and again I see this word “naive” (6612a). I am reminded that being naive is a bad thing. It is the picture of a mind with no limitations.
It is interesting how we can take the same words and take them in different directions. Years ago I went to a Promise Keepers rally and one of the songs that they wanted to keep singing repeated the phrase “Let the walls fall down”. One of their big themes was to misuse another Biblical word, reconciliation, and apply it to the supposed racist tendencies that we had. This was years ago before CRT and BLM and the one sided concept had already infiltrated the church. Shortly after I came across a ministry that called itself “Wall Builders”. Talk about confusing the masses. Which is it?
Walls, or boundaries in the case of the naive, generally are associated with sheltering those on one side from dangers on the other. Yes, prisons have walls too but a part of their function is to protect society from the violent confined within. It is winter. I am grateful for the walls that surround me. I am even more grateful for the knowledge and wisdom that God gives me to protect me from the destructions of life.
So? Build your walls but make sure you build them to God’s specifications, not the world’s.