Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 22:1

  Every once in a while the Bible presents us with a hypothetical. With “such and such” as a hypothesis, we are presented with various options. These hypotheticals are not always in the form of a question. We have one here in verse 1. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” If you COULD choose between great riches in silver and gold or a good name, which would you select? The fact is, we may never have the opportunity for lots of silver and gold, so this is hypothetical. But the situation does raise interesting possibilities, and it may expose weaknesses in a person’s heart.   “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” Consider the great riches. Solomon was quite specific – silver and gold riches. He’s not talking about the wealth of wisdom, or the riches of a happy healthy family. This is not about the blessing of a peaceful life or the wealth of a good friendship. The choice is between money and a good name – a good reputation. Okay then, how do some people gather great riches? One answer is – Hard work. The Bible praises the man who has a good idea and works hard to develop that idea into something which blesses his neighbors. Hard work is highly praised by Solomon and others. But, of course, it has no place in the realm of salvation. Salvation is by the grace of God without the input of any human effort...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 21:30-31

  Two or three months ago we looked at Proverbs 19:21 – “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” I approached the verse in a general sort of way; a way which is absolutely true. In other words a 20-year-old man may determine to save enough money for retirement by the time he is 40. He may work hard, save and invest, but he has no guarantee of a good economy – or of his own health. Or he may cheat, steal and defraud others, but again no matter how hard he tries, even with Satan’s assistance, if wealth is not the will of the Lord for that man, he will never have wealth. There can never be any real success – long term success – without the will of the Lord. “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”’ That verse might be applied in a multitude of different ways – to win the love of a certain girl; to play the oboe at Carnegie Hall; to climb Mt. Everest. But a more specific application is suggested in Proverbs 21:30 – “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.” Again, no plan of man can stand if the Lord is against it. But this is never more true or certain than when man directly attacks the King of Heaven and Earth – when man tries to stand “AGAINST the Lord.” Here is the fact: “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel (nor cavalry that can...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 21:18

  A well-taught Christian might be surprised by Solomon’s declaration in verse 18. “The WICKED shall be a ransom for the RIGHTEOUS; and the transgressor for the upright.” When the Christian reads the word “ransom” he might automatically think of several New Testament scriptures which speak of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. He might instantly think of the holy and perfect Saviour giving His life as a ransom for our salvation. But this is quite the opposite. There is a parallel with this verse, but there is also an enormous difference. Let’s compare this verse with Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45. The Lord Jesus Christ gave His life as a ransom for the soul of His elect. “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” “For even the Son of man came … to give his life a ransom for many.” I Timothy 2:6 adds that Christ Jesus “gave himself a ransom for all…” That is “all” in the sense of “all those He intended to save.” Imagine that early one morning, we look at our phone and a headline declares that a child has been kidnaped. Some wretched people have snatched the baby of a wealthy family and are holding that child for ransom. Because of the risk involved and society’s condemnation of such a cowardly crime, the kidnapers are demanding an enormous amount of money – a million dollars. They care nothing about the child; that little girl is only a tool – a means to their end – extorted wealth. In...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 21:3

  We have in verse 3 one of those scriptures which can be easily distorted into soul-damning heresy. “To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Any of a huge number of sects and cults might point to that and say, “The way you live your life is more important to God than the offering of blood sacrifices.” Perhaps they might siggest that Christ’s death was a general sacrifice for the human race. But the really IMPORTANT thing for personal salvation, these false teachers say, is the maintenance of the law – “justice and judgment.” How can we answer that man who says such things? Of course, we could turn to the New Testament and point to those scriptures which condemn the idea of works-based salvation. And we could quote scripture after scripture which glorify and magnify the sacrifice of Christ Jesus as the only way to forgiveness and peace with God. But what do we do with verses like this one? And this is not an isolated scripture. There are others which say similar things. There is Samuel’s rebuke of King Saul when he usurped the office of the priests in I Samuel 15 – “Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” And there is God’s rebuke of Israel in Hosea 6:6 – “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and (I desire) the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” There is a long passage...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 21:1-8

  There may be hundreds of verses which I often quote, but I have never broken apart and directly taught. Proverbs 21:1 is one of those scriptures. Tonight I will correct that oversight, even though our excavations will be somewhat shallow. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” As you all know, our current “king” – President Trump – is one of the most polarizing in recent history. Most who are politically-minded have strong opinions about him – love, hate, disrespect, tolerance, etc. While somewhat true in this country, in many other countries there is fear of what our president might do. It might be one kind of fear in North Korea, but there are other kinds of fear elsewhere. He appears to be fickle and unpredictable. And as a result there is a fear that he will provoke a war which will once again engulf the world. It could be military, but it could also be economic or even something else. The Christian needs to remember that there is a King who is above all other kings – a LORD over other lords. His name is “Jehovah” – “The king’s heart is in the hand of Jehovah,” spelled in all caps, “LORD.” And “as the rivers of water: he turneth the hearts of human kings whithersoever he – Jehovah – wills.” So for you and me, who believe the Bible and trust in the Lord, there are no grounds for fear. Yes, the king may some day invoke laws against God’s saints, but our...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 20:12

  I feel like I owe you an apology, but the reality is – I don’t. I guess it’s just the Canadian in me. An apology for what, some of you might ask? For being unable to leave verse 12.   Last week’s lesson should have been sufficient to prove Solomon’s point – “The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.” I tried to show that the complexity of the human eye, which is inferior to the eyes of many of God’s other creatures…. The human eye could not possibly be the product of evolution. If any one of the eyes’ many essential parts failed to evolve at precisely the same time as the rest, we would never have been able to see. Just as a watch, a cell phone, a computer or any other complicated device has to be put together as a complete unit or it is useless, the same is true with the eye. So our eyes should forever kill any ideas about evolution. But sadly those ideas persist. They persist because evolution is a human-devised religion, and faith in a false religion often has nothing to do with facts, revelation and truth. Here is another point which I didn’t bring up last week, but should have. The eye of the falcon is not only superior to the human eye, it has, in fact, components which are not found in our eyes. Since the eye of the falcon is better and different from ours, the evolutionist should logically say that it followed a different evolutionary path. Not only is...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 20:12

  Verse 12 encourages me to do something which I’ve always delighted to do. I love to take my limited knowledge of science to try to bring glory to our Creator, the Lord Jesus. Perhaps I am not really qualified to teach this lesson – at least from the scientific perspective. I have not spent years studying, correcting, and dissecting the human eye. For this lesson, I will be blindly consulting other people who have written on this subject. I am not even expert enough to accurately judge all of what they say. But I am fully qualified to approach this lesson from the perspective of Solomon. I am a Bible believer, and I take the Bible to be the Word of God, who will not and cannot lie to us. Verse 12 says, “The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, Jehovah hath made even both of them.” Blind chance, evolution didn’t bring about the eyes through which you are looking at me. The eye testifies against the very principles of evolution. All things were made by God, the Word, and without him was not anything made which now exists. If someone asks, “How do you know God exists?” One possible answer could be – “I have looked at the human eye.” As Hebrews 3:4 says, “Every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.” And Solomon points specifically to his own body and says, “God built this eye.” Above all things, it is a matter of faith. Here is a quote worth considering; I want you to listen and guess who wrote...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 20:9

  In asking the Lord for a text for this evening, I kept coming back to verse 9. But this lends itself to a gospel message more fitting for a Sunday morning, and you are all familiar with the gospel. So let’s approach this a little differently. Let’s pretend that I have written a gospel tract, and I am asking you to proofread and improve it. It is a small tri-fold designed to whet the appetite – not to thoroughly explain all the nuances of salvation. Some people need a full broadside with the gospel, while others can endure only drips and drops. This is for the second group. It is printed on glossy white paper, with an interesting illustration and information about our church. The title quotes this verse – “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” Turning the page you find a reference to Matthew 23 where the Lord Jesus addresses a crowd of people. His theme is the self-righteousness of the Pharisees. Matthew 23:25 – “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” The principle is obvious – if the inside of anything – including a human being – is filthy, then it doesn’t matter in what condition the outside appears to be – the thing is dirty. If the heart is wicked, then the...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 20:1

  Yesterday morning I was sitting at my desk with my Bible still unopened, but ready to look at Proverbs for a devotional for this evening when my phone rang. I picked it up and found that it was Sister Sharon Richardson calling from Lewiston. After the usual greetings she, said that the preacher of the church where she attends had a message last Sunday on the “Marriage in Cana” in which he said that Jesus made wine for the wedding guests. Sharon couldn’t believe that Christ would make something alcoholic. Perhaps I need to point out that Sister Richardson hates any references to Greek and Hebrew. To her, the King James Bible is printed in gold letters. So in other words, she was stuck with “wine.” And in truth so are we. Anyway, I explained my position on the subject, and she seemed somewhat mollified. After we hung up, I opened my Bible to the next verse in our on-going study. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” I didn’t have to pray about a theme for today; the Lord slapped me in the face with it. I begin by saying it is a difficult thing to absolutely condemn the drinking of wine, using only the Bible. Nevertheless that is what I will try to do this evening. It is difficult, but not impossible, especially when speaking to people who are the children of God. Drinking wine does not appear to be explicitly condemned in God’s Word, and in fact it seems to be encouraged under certain very special...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 19:22-29

  There were no verses at the end of this chapter which jumped out and demanded “preach me!” There are no verses of deep theological significance. They are all typically practical in Solomon’s style. One verse would make a good evangelistic text, but that would be better for a Sunday morning than a Wednesday evening. But rather than just skip right over into chapter 20, I’ve decided to offer a few comments on each of the remaining verses. I pray that they will be a blessing to us – and instructive as they remind us of obvious truth. “The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.” Gill suggests that there are two ways to understand the first half of this statement. He says that “HIS kindness” refers to the Lord – The desire of a man is to receive God’s kindness. But not even Gill was excited about that interpretation. When looking for an antecedent for the pronoun, we can’t find the Lord in the context. Second, the desire of the average man usually has nothing to do with God – it is more secular. And third, wouldn’t the Holy Spirit first speak about God’s grace or mercy before His kindness? This isn’t talking about God’s kindness, but the kindness of certain kinds of people. But then again, we have problems. Grammatically, this doesn’t make much sense. The best solution comes by starting at the end and working forward. A man who refuses to cheat or lie, is better than the average rich man. It is better to earn respect...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 19:21

  The most obvious Biblical truths must be taught as often as the most difficult and complicated. Perhaps they need to be taught even more, because we might assume that our neighbors understand them as clearly as we do, when that is not always the case. Sometimes a verse opens up one of those foundational doctrines so easily that the teacher can’t ignore it. We have that here. This scripture compares God’s omnipotence to man’s impotence. We hear God’s sovereignty expressed in Solomon’s typical poetical style. It may be called “Hebrew parallelism” when in fact there is nothing parallel about this comparison. The flight of a Boeing 747 may be roughly the same direction as that of a bumble bee, but one is at 36,000 feet above the ground and the other is at one foot. One weighs 800,000 pounds and the other half a gram. One is nearly impossible to stop while the other can be squashed like a bug. This verse suggests five areas of great difference between the devices of man and the counsel of God. There is an obvious difference in the SOURCE of these devices and counsels. “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” We are comparing men and God. A moment ago I mentioned a Boeing 747 and a bee. Doing the math, the aircraft is about 363 million times heavier than the Bumble bee. That doesn’t begin to properly express God’s “weight” above ours. “What is man that God should be mindful of him?” Man and God aren’t in the same universe...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 19:18

  I really hesitated about addressing this verse tonight. Some of you have waded through deep snow , driving on ice, to meet here. Some will be getting home quite late and yet you still come. If this devotion is all you come away with, you might think the blessing hasn’t been worth the struggle. I don’t want anyone to feel that their time with us has been spent in vain. “The message tonight had nothing to do with me.” I heard a wise man say the other day that the preacher should always consider his audience. Do those here tonight need this message? Only the Lord knows for sure. But using the internet, I never really know who our audience might be. Whether in person or through some other means, these are reasons to pour our hearts into the musical worship part of the service. I hope you come with a desire to seek the face of God with other believers. To avoid this verse, I could have used the excuse that we’ve looked that this theme already. Proverbs 13:24 – “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” But I can’t remember how much time I actually spent on that thought. And then as I meditated on this well-known verse here in chapter 19, it fell apart into four parts. It easily developed into an outline for study. Above it all, I feel that it’s the Lord’s will for us tonight, and we may skip over some of the related verses which come up later in this book. “Chasten...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 19:17

  At the meal where Mary anointed the feet of the Lord Jesus, there was some murmuring about waste. In Mary’s defense, Jesus said, “Let her alone; against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you, but me ye have not always.” There are several items raised here, one of which is the existence of poverty. Back in Deuteronomy 15 God told Israel – “The poor shall never cease out of the land.” Why were there poor people living among the Israelites in the land of milk and honey? And why has God permitted poverty even in the midst of wealth such as we have in the United States? Politicians and social scientists have struggled with that question. They say, there must be a logical reason for poverty, and it’s our duty to find the cause and cure it. Self-centered, sinful humanity thinks we can somehow defeat the Lord’s declaration. So government, the media, and the entertainment world try to make us feel guilty that there are people less blessed than we are. The Robin Hoods of this world suggest we ought to steal from the rich and give to the poor – and Robin Hood is considered to be a good guy. Socialism, his evil governmental brother, passes decrees to steal from the rich while giving to the poor – or at least pretending to do so. Rarely does anyone consider that sin lays at the root of the problem, using sin to try to create a cure. I know that this thought is politically incorrect, but could it...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 19:15-16 (Whatever!)

  I don’t understand why, but in reading these proverbs I will pass over a few unimpressed to expound them. But then there will be another, expressing the same point, and it will slap me in the face. For example, we have read the word “slothful” in one form or other five times in earlier chapters, and I don’t remember stopping. Then last week as I read verse 15, a word popped into my head which isn’t found in the verse. But it seemed to demand that I consider it. In the back of my mind I heard “whatever.” The word is quite useful in many circumstances, but the way in which it is often used today it has become disgusting. How many people reply to good advice by saying “whatever!” ? The thought seems to be – “I don’t care what your thoughts might be, I’m going to do what I want.” “Keep your opinions, your Bible exhortations, and even your kind considerations to yourself.” Slothfulness expresses itself in many ways, but one current form is found in “whatever!” What is the source of this current “whatever“? Don’t I hear this word and attitude most often in teenagers – especially unregenerated teenagers? This “whatever” flows out of the self-centered heart and soul. “Say whatever you like, but I will judge what you tell me, rejecting it if it doesn’t suit me.” Generally speaking just about every act of sin can be traced back to self. Why did Eve eat that forbidden fruit? Satan told her that God was withholding something from her. What motivated Lucifer to rebel and...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 19:3 (Fretting)

  I wonder how many people born after the year 1984 know the meaning of the verb “to fret?” I picked 1984 because that is the year which begins the age group sometimes called the “Millennials.” Those are people who began growing up about the turn of the century – the millennium. I wonder how many Millennials know the verb “fret”? They might use the noun when speaking of the frets on the neck of a guitar, but what about the verb? Our English word is usually given one of three definitions. To fret is “to continually worry – to be anxious. “To cause others to worry.” And it sometimes refers to “gradually wearing something away through rubbing or gnawing.” The English word in the second half of verse 3 says, “The heart of the foolish man worries or wears away against the Lord.” Worry, of course, is a common subject in the Word of God. The sin of worry is so common even among God’s people, it should be preached against more often than it is. Worry is the antithesis of faith. It is a cancer which destroys the lives and effectiveness of millions. We saw a Biblical example of it in Elijah when he fled to Horeb after the victory at Mount Carmel. In foolishness the great prophet of God fretted against the Lord. Even though our theme this evening is “worry” or “anxiety,” I’d like us to focus on the verb “to fret.” There are things about that word as it is used in the Bible which surprised me. For example it is found twelve times...