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...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 26:1-12

  Arguably all of these 12 proverbs deal with the same kind of person – “the fool.” We have a few descriptions of the man and some of the effects of his actions. A couple of verses seem to be unrelated to “the fool” until we think about them a little while. Then we have ways in which he should be treated – some sounding contradictory, but they are not. But first a word or two about the Hebrew words for “fool.” In my library there are two concordances which I regularly use – James Strong’s and Robert Young (not the 20th century actor, but the 19th century Bible student Robert Young). They are both helpful because their presentations are different. Strong takes an English word like “fool” and lists its every use from Genesis to Revelation, and behind each reference is a number which we must take to the back of his book to research the original language. I like Strong’s thorough definitions. Young, on the other hand, takes each word and lists its use from Genesis to Malachi, beginning with the original word, as opposed to ending with it. It is not necessary to look to addenda or other tables for more information, because it is arranged according to the original word. Young makes it very easy to study all the scriptures which use that particular word. And he also gives a concise English definition with each Hebrew or Greek word. So with Young’s Concordance we easily see that there are six Hebrew words translated “fool,” and he shows that they are all slightly different in meaning....

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 25:27

  I have been an active participant or member on Facebook for just over a year now. I don’t know that “member” is the proper term – because it seems that for some people word should be “slave.” I hope that you are all my “friends,” even though you may not think that I am particularly “friendly.” Rarely do I post things on my personal page; most of my activity, what little there is, is on our church page, which out of necessity is linked to my personal page. What I try to do is post church events and a devotional every day – but I am not very consistent. Please don’t think that I am trying to criticize your use of Facebook, because this is certainly not true of you. But it seems to me that many people post nothing but what is self-congratulatory or self-gratifying. A picture taken from the top of Mt. Spokane might encourage someone else to enjoy the drive. But to post a picture of what someone had for lunch does not edify anyone. Also, there is a difference between my wife announcing my 70th on social media and if I posted it. “For men to search their own glory is not glory.” Self-promotion is not particularly glorious. But it is so common today that we who are guilty, aren’t as quick in recognizing its true nature as perhaps our grandparents once were. That is my introduction to the second half of this verse, but let’s begin again. “It is not good to eat much honey.” The operative word here is “much” – “It...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 25:11

  You have every right to disagree with me, but I am of the opinion that, linguistically, this is one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible. It is poetic; vivid and colorful; it sets the imagination on fire. Everyone has a different perspective when it comes to beauty – even to the beauty of gold and silver. Some people prefer the gold of a sunset and others like the gold of a necklace or pendent. Solomon says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Theologically, this is not even close to the most important statement in the Bible, so the beauty isn’t there. And there are greater scriptures when it comes to practical Christian living. But this is a beautifully worded statement – which also carries an important message. I hope I won’t tarnish these Holy Spirit inspired words with my humanly devised comments. Let’s start with the apples and pictures. I don’t always do this in these Proverbs, but for this verse I spent an hour doing some research. I found commentaries which say that these are literal apples from literal trees. Those men point to several different varieties of apples which are yellow or golden rather than red. But I wonder how many varieties there were 3,000 years ago. There are others who say that these are the golden apples which we call “oranges.” One pointed to an orange tree in the morning sun with its bright yellow fruit accentuated by the remaining white flowers of the tree. A beautiful image. But I’m not sure how accurate that is....

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 25:6-7

  Verse 6 and 7 should sound familiar, because they later came from the lips of the Lord Jesus. “When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.” Then came an application – “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” That near direct quote of Jesus from the Proverbs got me thinking – and ultimately asking the question: “How often did our Saviour quote Solomon?” In order to answer that question, I pulled out the first Bible I had as a Christian – with its center references. And that led me to one of my on-line Bibles. So with three Bibles in front of me I spent some enjoyable time in comparing a hundred or more verses. It was consuming so much time that I didn’t really complete it, so my conclusions might be inaccurate. But I ended up with 3 pages of notes and it might have become twice that size. My preliminary conclusion is that this may be the only time that Jesus directly quoted Proverbs. But as my...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 25:1-7

  There are at least three divisions in the Book of Proverbs. The first nine chapters are written in paragraph form and contain a lot of figurative material. Proverbs 9 – “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither.” This “wisdom” refers to the Lord in one fashion or another. Then in chapter 10 we begin to see the pithy statements of the the Holy Spirit. “The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death. The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.” When chapter 25 begins the Spiritual editor of this book tells us that Solomon’s proverbs were gathered in a different way. “These are ALSO proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.” “Copied out” is a Hebrew word most often translated “removed.” These proverbs were “removed” or if you like “transcribed” from the documents of Solomon’s court. These were things which the king said while dealing with the daily matters of state. Some people are gifted at speaking in this pithy, memorable sort of way, and Solomon was one of them. He didn’t pick and choose them for inclusion here, but rather some...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 24:27-34

  We have already touched on each of the themes in this last third of chapter 24, with one exception. “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.” There is some really sound advice in verse 27, which would save our grandchildren a great deal of grief if they would put it into practice. It is primarily practical, but I can see a spiritual application as well. Even though you may already understand it fully, let’s remind ourselves of what it says. Scattered all over North Idaho are companies which build log homes. I suppose they are all over the country – in places where there are sufficient trees for log construction. Most of these companies don’t contract to cut down trees on a man’s property, and then shape whatever they find into beams, joists and walls for some on-going design of a house. No, they cut specific trees, bringing them to their own location where they build the house. When their cabin fits the pre-designed plan, they mark and number the logs they have used. Then they disassemble that house and carry all those pieces to the homeowner’s property. There they prepare the foundation and then reassemble the building just as it was before. Some of us remember doing the same sort of thing as children with our sets of Lincoln Logs. In essence this is what the Holy Spirit is telling us to do. Out in your field, away from the beautiful site where you want your family home, prepare all the parts necessary for its construction....

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 24:23-26

  Many Bible principles are so plain and obvious they don’t need the spot-light of a lesson or sermon. But that might be only in the mind of the preacher – or perhaps in your mind. We sometimes forget there are younger Christians and children of Christians who don’t have the background the rest of us ought to have. Everyone needs to be instructed – even in the obvious – even if you have already had it burned it into your soul. The primary lesson of this scripture is so obvious and common that fear I won’t be able to keep your attention. So I am going to try to insert a tangent thought now and then in hopes of maintaining your interest. In fact, let’s start with one of those tangents. Despite what Solomon says, it is good to have respect for people. There are a number of Greek and Hebrew words translated “respect,” and there are a variety of meanings. Or maybe I should say, there are different DEGREES of respect. The word used here in Proverbs 24:23 begins with “discernment” – to look at someone attentively. When you meet someone for the first time, you look at him and begin immediately to form opinions. You like or don’t like the way he is dressed – the way he cuts or combs his hair – his facial expression. But how often has your first impression been wrong? You didn’t like his natty clothes and you judged that he could never be your friend. Or you looked at his smile and decided that he’s likely a good man,...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 24:19-23a

  You who know me, realize that I am a citizen of the earthly country of Canada. Even though I have lived here about 60 years, I have no plans on moving my membership to the United States. It’s not because I love this country any less than I do Canada. It’s because I have a heavenly citizenship which makes all earthly citizenships redundant. It also affords me opportunities to criticize this country from a position which is different from yours. Unlike many American Christians, I am first and foremost a Christian – before being a North American. But you who know me also know that I am socially and politically conservative. And by “conservative” I mean that my outlook on life is Biblically based. So I am pro-capital punishment, and I am anti-abortion and am against the legalization of sin – prostitution, drugs, alcohol, etc. I don’t believe that global warming is entirely man-caused, and I don’t believe that man can reverse it. I believe in the importance of law, but we don’t need those laws to micro-manage our lives. I don’t believe that governments can create or enforce Biblical morality. I trust the King of kings before I trust the President of presidents. And with that we come to the next few verses of Proverbs. “Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out. My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 24:17-18

  After the Lord instructed him to love his neighbour, one of Israel’s lawyers said, “And who EXACTLY is my neighbour”? Luke 10:29 tells us that what prompted the question was the man’s desire NOT to obey – “But, he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” After relating the story of the good Samaritan, the Lord’s answer to the man’s question was – Our neighbor is anyone within arm’s length who is in need. We have in these verses of Solomon just the reverse. “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth.” Who is my enemy? Christians shouldn’t have enemies in the sense that we choose to hate people. If there is someone whom you hate, wishing evil for him, you are in sin. And in accord with a message to which I was listening last night, remember – “Against thee (Jehovah), thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight.” But obviously, we have no control over the hearts of others. So Christians may have enemies in the sense that others choose to hate us. They may hate us for righteousness’ sake – because we are servants of Christ. Because we no longer join those people in their sins. Because we witness to them of our Saviour. May it never be said that someone hates us for our sins against that person. Sadly that may be more frequent than we dare to admit. There are many scriptures which speak about “enemies,” but remember that if there they are it must be...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 24:11-12

  We have already touched on many of these proverbs in earlier lessons, and there is little reason to review them. For example, we looked at Christian envy just a couple of weeks ago. And there have been a couple lessons on various aspects of wisdom versus foolishness. I DID think about a message on house building – Verses 3 and 4 – “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” We might have made application to construction materials and to various rooms. And then there are different types of houses as well. But so far I haven’t felt lead of the Lord to go in that direction. We could bring up a few points on verse 13, applying honey in various ways. “My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.” Solomon’s father, David, after speaking of God’s law, His testimonies, commandments and statutes, said, “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” And then in Psalm 119 he added, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Just in passing, have you ever noticed that the word “sugar” isn’t mentioned in God’s Word? Did you know that sugar is a relatively recent...