Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 30:11-17

I like certain kinds of old things. I don’t understand antique furniture enough to enjoy them or to have them. A piece of antique china may appeal to my eye once in a while, but I usually feel no need to buy it. A well-cared for 150 year old postage stamp is a beautiful thing, and I am delighted to own many of them. And a 150 year old envelope written by a future President of the United States is particularly special to me. Yesterday Judy got a box from one of her brothers containing an old, old book filled with 19th century photos of family members and others. I am excited to spend some time in there. But these things are all relatively recent compared to the Word of God. We need to remind ourselves that the letter of Paul to the Ephesian church was written 2,000 years ago. It is more than ten times as old as the oldest stamp, envelope or document in my collection. And this chapter from Proverbs was written about a thousand years before Paul wrote his letters. But the Bible is not like any ordinary book or human document. It is timeless. And a case in point are these verses from chapter 30. Agur says, “There is a generation” which does this and that, probably referring to young people he knew. But we could say the same thing about young people we know today – teenagers and pre-teens. The Bible was authored by the timeless Holy Spirit. By “timeless” I mean, the Spirit of God, doesn’t pass through time; He isn’t governed...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 30:7-9

I have just finished a good size book written by C.H. Spurgeon, a third of which are prayers to God. I don’t know if these were written for the book; if they were private prayers; or if they were public prayers which had been recorded by stenographers. I have had another little book called “The Pastor in Prayer,” which contains 24 of prayers. These were publically offered to the Lord in the morning services of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Some them are more than 10 minutes long. And I have to admit that I don’t enjoy reading them, because they convict me so severely. I believe that in the three verses we’ve just read, we have an example from the prayer life of Agur. It isn’t from the heart of Solomon, because at least one of the circumstances wouldn’t apply to the king. Why is this recorded here? Because Solomon appreciated the value of this prayer and what it might give to his children and subjects. This is a lesson from the Holy Spirit – who is the regulator of Godly prayer. “The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” What can we learn by considering Agur’s prayer? Going back to Sunday evening, we learn to pray as if we are dying. “Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die.” First, don’t be distracted by the verb “required of thee.” In prayer, we had better not think that we can...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 30-1-6

  There is a bit of mystery in these verses. For example, who are these people, and what should we make of their names? Every thing in the Bible has been placed there by the Holy Spirit for a reason, but sometimes determining that reason is difficult. There are no other references to Agur and Ucal, so the Lord is not leading us to specific events, and we can’t learn anything more about them from other scriptures. Ithiel is a name mentioned in Nehemiah, but because of the years, that was obviously not the same man. What if we said, these are not real people and we should look for lessons only in the meaning of their names. What if they are allegories? Agur is described as the son of Jakeh, and as a word “Jakeh” has its root in the idea of obedience. Could we say that Agur was who he was out of obedience to some divine commission? Agur was a child of obedience. It would be marvelous if on each of our tombstones there were the words, “A child of obedience.” Ucal literally means “eat,” “devour” or perhaps “devourer.” Was he known to devour, or soak up, everything that Agur ever told him? Was he a good student? There is certainly nothing wrong with that. But is that God’s lesson for us? Ithiel is a really interesting name and creates confusion, because it means “God has arrived,” and thus it is related to “Immanuel” – “God with us.” Are we to look at Ithiel as the preincarnate Christ, and if so for what purpose? He is...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 29:13

On Monday night’s evening news I saw a video of a SUV upside down at some intersection in North Spokane. The explanation was that there had been a collision with another vehicle. There were no major injuries, but the driver of the SUV had been hanging upside down in her car for some time before the firemen were able to extricate her. Of course, neither driver left home, or work that day, expecting to be in an accident. Both of them were carrying out their business, perhaps stopping here and there to buy gas, get some groceries, drop kids off, leave a bid for a job, pick up supplies or whatever. Perhaps one of them even started that journey an hour or two before the other. They didn’t know each other, but in a circuitous way, they came to that intersection at the same time. Obviously, someone was at fault, but no charges were filed, so I don’t know who caused the accident. If there was genuine fault, we might describe one of the drivers as the poor, unfortunate victim. The other will be issued a ticket, and depending on the investigation, perhaps spend time in jail. I give you that illustration to get us pointed in the right direction in regard to verse 13 – “The poor and the deceitful man meet together; the Lord lighteneth both their eyes.” First, let’s consider the TRAVELERS. One of them is described as “deceitful.” There are eight Hebrew words translated “deceitful” in our Bibles, and most are more common than this one. When I read Bro. Strong’s explanation of this particular...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 29:18

There are three powerful, often quoted, verses in chapter 29. For example there is verse 1 – “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” That is a scripture worthy of memorization and regular repetition – even we need to be reminded. I hope you have verse 25 stored away in your heart – “The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” We’ll come back to that in a minute, as well as verse 18 – “Where there is no vision the people perish.” After these three there weren’t really any of these Proverbs which jumped out at me, demanding our attention. I was looking for something which might be appropriate for the season, but I didn’t see any. So I have only a few passing remarks before we take prayer requests and go to God’s throne of grace. Verse 18 is an interesting scripture sandwiched within a common theme. “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.” The verbs in verses 17 and 19 are the same Hebrew word – “correct.” But more often than “correct” the word is translated “instruct,” so we could place that word in there to see if our understanding changes at all. “INSTRUCT thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” A servant will NOT be INSTRUCTED by words: for though he...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 28:14

I don’t think the Lord will mind if we take verse 14 and reverse the order of its presentation. Tonight, we’ll retain the parallel poetry, but start at the end. I’m doing this because the second statement helps to shed light on the first. And there is the fact that the second part is easier to understand than the first. “He that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief, but happy is the man that feareth alway.” “He that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” Notice the word “hardeneth.” I am convinced that every human heart begins its life in a soft and malleable condition. Place two one-year-old babies together – one black child and one white – they will play together without any racial recognition or prejudice. Oh, they may quarrel toys and fight for affection or dominance, but it won’t be because of their skin color. Children learn prejudice and hatred from their parents, from other adults and children – and from society. It is by choice that they harden their hearts against others. And those two small children will listen as we tell them about the Lord, learning the Bible lessons and believing what we tell them from the Word of God. But eventually their depravity will take over, and it will harden them toward the sovereign God. We know children to be sinful little creatures, initially devoid of spiritual life and spiritual perception. But as this verse suggests, it is over time that they actually harden their hearts. To have a hard heart is a choice we sinful creatures make. That is one of...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 28:13

Perhaps you have heard verse 13 quoted during either a gospel message or a message on Christian-living. It is a verse which sheds light on a great many sermons, and so it has become a noted supporting actor. It is so clear and obvious – transparent and simple – that it doesn’t become the preacher’s primary text. That is a shame, because there are things about this verse which, I think, will surprise you. The general meaning won’t surprise, but some of the details may actually shock you. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Once again, let’s break the verse into its component parts, and compare them with a few other scriptures. Then we’ll bring them back together, closing for maximum effect by reversing the verse. Let’s start with the word “SIN.” Most of us are mature enough to understand this word, so you’re already waiting for me to move on to the more surprising stuff. But wait just a minute first. Don’t get too far ahead of me. “He that covereth his SINS shall not prosper.” One of the common Hebrew words translated “sin” is “chata.” Many experts, including Robert Young in his Concordance, defines the word as “missing the mark.” The Lord has a standard of holiness to which He commands us, but we often fail – usually fail. In that failure, we “miss the target” – we “sin.” But if I might extend the metaphor, at least that sinner is trying to hit that target. But this “sin” is not “miss the mark” it is...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 28:9

Yesterday, I was reading the biography of a 18th century preacher, named John Kerr, who left the ministry to become a US. Congressman. According to the essay the man was a really good preacher; he could really move the hearts of men. And I am sure that was a part of his successful political campaign. He eventually came to his senses and returned to become pastor of the First Baptist church of Richmond, Virginia – an extremely large and important church in the South. I don’t know if the man ever did this, but what might he have done with verse 9 in some political speech? “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” If he ever ran on a law and order ticket he might have said … “The man who ignores, rejects or refuses to respect the laws of the land, will have no defense at his trial.” For example, if the law says, “Thou shalt not steal,” but a man is an compulsive thief, and he has been arrested for theft before, his pleas for leniency or clemency should be rejected by the judge. Probably most honest citizens can see the sense contained in this verse when it is used socially. But Solomon wasn’t speaking as king, and he wasn’t thinking of these words in a social or political sense. “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the WORD of God, even his prayer to the LORD shall be abomination.” Let’s examine this proverb by breaking it into its four component parts. “He that TURNETH AWAY his...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 28:1

There are two or three truly proverbial proverbs here in this chapter. By that I mean, they are so common that they are lifted from this book to become a part of many sermons. “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” We may spend a few minutes on verse 9 next Wednesday. Verse 13 is also a well-known statement – “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaken them shall have mercy.” This evening, I might have skipped over v.1, if the Lord didn’t make me look at it again in the light of v. 5. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” “Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.” These verses don’t say the same thing, but they shed a little light on each other. Why do the wicked flee when there is no one pursuing them? This has been the theme of thousands of stories down through the centuries – both fiction and true. Isn’t this a part of “Les Miserables.” Sometimes the guilty man goes insane – driven there by the chauffeur of his own heart. Sometimes he becomes obsessed about doing good to offset the evil he committed in his youth. Then after years of fear, he is relieved when he is finally exposed. Why do the wicked flee when no man pursueth? Because God created into every human heart something we call a “conscience.” The word comes from Latin and speaks about “knowing oneself.” That...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 27:21

My interest this evening is in verse 21 – “As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.” Doesn’t this essentially say – “As fire refines silver and gold, praise can also prove someone’s true value”? That isn’t something that I’ve ever considered before, but I’d remedy that this evening. I’m not sure my opinion of praise, over the years, has been Biblically accurate in the light of this verse. I have been taught that praise is more often bad than good. I have been taught – and I have re-taught – that there is too much unjustified praise. Some kinds of praise given to kids can encourage them to mediocrity – praising them for sloppy work for example. The same thing takes place in the adult work place. I also know from experience that praise can lead to pride – one of humanity’s worst sins. Praise, improperly applied can lead to idolatry. Am I incorrect in thinking that Bible-believers tend to shy away from giving or receiving praise? As I read another of Solomon’s proverbs, I’d like you to keep your eye on this verse from Proverbs 27 – look at verse 21. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold; but the Lord trieth the hearts.” Do I have any right, as a Bible teacher, to meld these two verses together? Can I say that “as the fining pot is for silver, and the furnace is for gold; so the LORD trieth human hearts with praise?” Assuming that is an acceptable statement,...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 27:17

This is an oft-quoted proverb, but it is another that I haven’t seriously considered before.  And I’m not sure that very many people actually have.  Because, it has an easy application – “We can sharpen each others hearts and minds by rubbing our ideas together.”  But by spending a little time on this verse some unconsidered blessings might come out. Is there anything in the interpretation itself which people miss?  Perhaps not.  The word “iron” in the Bible can refer to “iron ore” or to the refined iron before it goes to the foundry.  It can also speak of the instrument into which the iron is made.  The Bible describes iron chariots and iron kitchen utensils for example.  But the most common application and use of iron is to some sort of hand tool – like an axe-head. The Hebrew word is found in II King 6:5.  One pleasant day Elisha was with some of his seminary students on the banks of the Jordan.  I have always pictured it as a picnic on a day off.  As someone was chopping wood for a fire or perhaps for some shade, an axe head flew off the handle and fell into the river.  “But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.  And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the IRON did swim.”  The words “axe head” in verse 5 and “iron” in verse 6...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 27:12

There are several books in the Old Testament from which it is easy to preach the gospel.  Isaiah is the first to come to mind; Isaiah 53 for example – “Surely he (Christ Jesus) hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  Chapter 53 is not the only place in Isaiah from which to preach the gospel.  Following that there are many verses and passages in Psalms which point us to Christ.  We could also start with Genesis and Deuteronomy among others.  The minister who neglects the Old Testament in his gospel preaching is not as diligent as he ought to be. As I was reading through Proverbs 27, asking the Lord for a message for this evening, my heart landed on a verse which could easily be taken for the text of a gospel sermon.  And that led me to consider a couple of questions.  “How many of these Proverbs open the door to a message of salvation through Christ?”  And second, “How many times have I used Proverbs to begin a gospel message?” As to the second question, I went to my notes for the messages I’ve preached over the last 45 years.  I have listed slightly more than 400...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 27:1

I wonder if the Lord with His perfect record-keeping will ever tell me how many times I have quoted this verse.  I won’t even venture a guess, and probably the number doesn’t really matter.  It contains is a very good thought which demands to be a part of a great many gospel messages. I have quoted this verse a great many times, but I have never taken this verse as my primary text.  Let’s correct that oversight this evening – though this will not be a deep theological discussion. “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” A good student might be able to incorporate a number of verses from Proverbs 26 and 27 to augment this statement. “Whosover diggeth a pit shall fall therein” – it might be today or maybe tomorrow – so don’t boast in either. “As snow in summer… so honour is not seemly for a fool.”  Do you mean it might snow in July? Yes, so don’t boast about tomorrow’s weather. “The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool and rewardeth the righteous.”  That righteous judgment or  “reward” may come tonight while we are sleeping, or tomorrow at breakfast.  “Boast not thyself of tomorrow;  “Let another man praise thee (if it is appropriate) …” but remember it may not come today.  “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds,” because “thou knowest not what tonight may bring forth.” This sort of verse-toverse comparison might be a profitable study.  But I’ve chosen a different path for tonight’s...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 26:18-19

  Verses 18 and 19 highlight something which has been, and probably still is, a problem in my life. It might be a problem with some of you to a lesser degree, and for some it is no problem at all. But let me say right off the bat, my problem may not be what you think it is. Briefly consulting with my short list of commentaries, it appeared they were all agreed to the meaning of these two verses, but I will reach beyond them a little later. Those commentaries condemn the person who lies or deceives. I hope that no one has any problem understanding or agreeing with this principle. “As a MAD man … So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour…” In this case the “mad man” is not angry – he is insane. I am told that the Hebrew word “mad man” is rooted in the idea of “burning” or even “rabid.” The man who deceives his neighbor, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is like a rabid dog. And that rabid animal, or the man he has infected, will die. “All liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” – Revelation 21:8. “A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape” – Proverb 19:5. The rabid man or dog spreads a virus which is fatal unless treated. Not only will the mad man die, but so will those he infects, unless they come to see the truth in the matter. More often than a reference to “rabies,” the...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 26:13-16

  Most of Proverbs, following the early chapters, have been individual statements – a collection of proverbs. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all. A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” This is the style we find throughout most of the Proverbs – quick, pithy, individual pairs of thoughts. When we came to chapter 26 last week I was surprised to find a single theme linking together 12 verses. But then again I wasn’t surprised, because the Lord knew I needed that subject – “The fool and his ways.” Yesterday as I opened my Bible, asking the Lord for a devotion for this evening, I thought I had our subject in the next verse – “The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.” I immediately thought that the Lord wanted us to consider the subject of excuses. But then, I noticed the continuation of the subject of the slothful man in the next few verses. “The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets. As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed. The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth. The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.” The excuses of the...