The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 9:1-6

  As I read this scripture with the hope of preparing a little devotional for you, I found my mind running wild. The words and ideas seemed, with one hand, to reach back a couple of chapters. And then with the other to reach forward into the New Testament. The message of these six verses provides a contrast with something we read earlier. And it provided a parallel with something which the Lord Jesus has told us. “Wisdom hath builded her house.” Who is it that hath built this house? “Wisdom,” you say? And who is that wisdom? You might say that she is the blessing of God which gives the simple believer an advantage over the unbelieving intellectuals of the world. She is that part of faith which makes the saint of God more wise than the Rhodes scholars and the professors who profess to teach those scholars. She is the divine blessing which can make the plow boy rise above the member of Mensa with his IQ in the 98 percentile. Or as we have often said, this wisdom is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness…” This wisdom is the wonderful person of whom we read last week. “She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.” “Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.” “Wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 8:1-36

  There are several occasions in the Bible, where prominent men stood before large crowds and preached Christ – or prophesied judgment – or simply gave their testimony. I suppose the first recorded was Moses; then besides the apostles, there were prophets and others. And here in Proverbs 8 we have perhaps the most unique speaker of them all. I have decided to look at this chapter – this testimony – as a unit. We could cut it apart and consider some of the more memorable verses, and perhaps we will next week. But tonight, I’d like us to rearrange some of the verses according to their subject and simply let the speaker tell her story. Who is it that cries out and puts forth her voice? She identifies herself as “wisdom.” I know we must not remove this speaker very far from the eternal Son of God. Christ is wisdom personified and perhaps even deified. “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” But for the sake of this lesson, let’s think of wisdom as simply the highest and most practical form of knowledge. And that begins with the knowledge of God. And this wisdom is female; the Hebrew word is feminine, and the pronouns used here are feminine. Part of who she is can be seen in how she “cries.” There are two closely related Hebrew words translated “to cry”. One is basically, “Hey you over there, come listen to what I have to say.” But this word is more personal, intimate – she...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 7:6-27

  This may be the largest chunk of Proverbs that we have examined thus far. There are many preachers who have no trouble preaching through the details we find here. But it is contrary to my nature, a fault which I’ve not been able to overcome thus far in my ministry. And besides, the Holy Spirit has seen fit to make this warning as clear as crystal. There is little need for in-depth analysis by anyone. So, I’m changing gears just a little bit. As I was reading these two paragraphs yesterday, I was struck with Solomon’s opening comments. “At the window of my house, I looked through my casement” – the lattice covering the window – you might apply that to the blinds we have today. And I “beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding.” I know that Solomon was given an extraordinary gift of wisdom, for the Bible tells us so. But was there anything specific which helped him determine that he was looking at a simpleton – someone “void of understanding?” If perhaps we can understand the criteria he used that evening, we might be enabled to see foolish people among our acquaintances. We might even be warned about foolishness in ourselves. What sort of things give away the simpleton? By the way, “the simple ones” refers to foolish people, and some commentaries suggest – “seducible people.” “Void” is a word which speaks of emptiness. “Void of understanding” therefore suggests an empty head. What gives such people away? How can an observer spot the empty-headed fool? Well,...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 7:1-5

  Let’s say that the Lord came to you with a test – checking to see if you knew the condition of your soul. What would you answer if He asked, “What is your most common sin – your most troublesome temptation?” I’m not sure, but I think that most saints of God know the answer to that question. But would we pass the Lord’s test, by admitting and confessing to our greatest weakness? Often, people would rather deflect their true guilt to some “lesser sin.” So what is it? Pride? Perhaps deceit. Is it laziness and indolence? What about envy? If I had to guess I would say that SOLOMON’S most besetting sin involved immorality. Of course I Kings tells us a bit about his family life. I would say that a thousand wives and concubines reveals something about his weakness. But also, based upon the number of references here in Proverbs, immorality appears to be often on his mind. I picture this book coming from his pen later in his life, after a great deal of polluted water had flowed under the bridge. But he doesn’t speak about himself – all the references are made in regard to his “son.” Why is that? Don’t we all practice some degree of “transference” when we look at other people? We take what we find in our own hearts and transfer that to the next person. Some people believe they are hearing lies, because they themselves often lie, or if they were in that other man’s shoes they would lie. Why do some people always think the worst of others?...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 6:20-35

  I was between books Sunday night, so as I was getting ready for bed, I looked deep into the back of my little cabinet and well behind the first row of books, I spotted a volume which I haven’t opened in twenty years. It is called, “Encyclopedia of Men’s Heath.” It was published by Rodale in 1995, and Judy bought it for me shortly after it came out. The opening section gives some general guidelines for good health – eating, sleeping, exercise and avoiding certain lifestyles which we call “sins.” One of those lifestyles is exposed and condemned in our scripture for this evening. After the initial section, the book goes alphabetically through specific problems from acne and Alzheimers to warts and wrinkles. It describes each problem, mentioning causes, prevention and treatment. Perhaps, if the Lord hadn’t so blessed me over the last two decades, I would have found this book earlier. But I am reviewing it now, just to make sure I am still on the right physical path. Then yesterday, I looked at the first verses of our text – “My son, keep thy father’s commandment and forsake not the law of thy mother.” I was struck with the parallel between that secular health book and God’s spiritual health book. Solomon at this point doesn’t get into a list of the family commandments and laws. It was expected that the royal family – the princes and princesses of the king – already knew these rules. So what is Solomon’s simple exhortation? “Keep them” and “forsake them not.” Even though many of things in the first section...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 6:16-19

  Knowing a week ago, what would be our scripture for today, I have been praying for the Lord’s direction. Many of us have these verses memorized – or if not stored in our heads, at least they are in our hearts. You’ve probably heard or read seven point sermons from these verses. My prayer has been – how can I present this familiar material in such a way as to keep physically tired saints alert for 20 or 30 minutes? I don’t know if I can, but the Lord did give me an approach that I’ve never considered before. If I gave this devotional a title it might be “What does God NOT say in Proverbs 6:16-19?” We should be struck with two words in verse 16 – “hate” and “abomination.” The LORD, Jehovah, “hates” things. There is nothing said in these verses about the love of God, which so many semi-literate Christians emphasize to the heights. I am not denying the love of God, but that cannot be found in these verses. God hates things; what things? It is safe to say that they are all forms of sin. God hates sin. Where does that leave us, about whom it is said, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”? “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Either Jehovah/Elohim hates you and your sin, or for a time He hated His own Son who chose to stand in your place before God’s judgment. That is a thought upon which we should often meditate...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 6:12-15

  As I first read this paragraph the other day, first one, then another kind of person, came to my mind. Those of you who can remember public school can probably picture both of these people. And I suppose that anyone who has ever spent much time at the playground can as well. The first that came to mind was the “class clown” – “He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet and he teacheth with his fingers.” Then reading this a second time, my mind fell upon the class and playground bully, with his little entourage of corrupted pals. He is naughty, forward, sowing strife and discord among the smaller, weaker kids. Obviously, Solomon is warning about this kind of person; he doesn’t want any of his children joining them. And I suppose that the children of a king might be even more prone than others to become either person. I suppose there are few peers among the royalty – peers among the peers of the realm – But everyone’s eyes would be upon the children of the king, and they could become any number of different kinds of people – both good and bad. And so could we; so could our children and grand-children – leaders, trouble-makers – problems. We have four short and relatively simple verses, which some people might overlook – don’t do that. These clowns and bullies are described, explained and then condemned. And even though I often put these Proverbs in the context of Solomon and his children, remember that the real Author is the Lord, and these things apply to...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 6:6-11

  Not only does Paul tell us in Romans 1 that God has proven Himself through His physical creation, but throughout the Bible we are told to look at creation for specific lessons. The Lord Jesus, for example, tells us to examine the lilies in the field and the fowls in the air to learn of God’s love and provision. “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a mustard seed. So what does the mustard seed teach us? David said, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindufl of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?” And then there is Solomon. Among other things, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” It does not take long to come up with things about ants which should instruct or rebuke God’s saints. Solomon’s lesson for his son at this point is – don’t be lazy. Didn’t Aesop have a fable about the ant and the grasshopper with a similar lesson? “How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.” “Sluggard” isn’t a word often...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 6:1-5

  How would you define the word “friend?” The dictionary answers, “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.” Is there a difference between a “friend” and an “acquaintance?” Don’t we often use “friend” a little too freely, especially when we are trying to impress people? Just because you shook hands with the Queen of England, that doesn’t mean that you are friends. We were talking about “the friend of God,” last Sunday – Abraham was a friend of God, but was Adam? Does the Bible ever say that Jehovah is the friend of any man? The holy angels are acquainted with the Lord, but are they His friends? But we aren’t thinking about friendship with God tonight. The Bible praises friendship between people, and it speaks about various qualities of that friendship. For example, “A friend sticketh closer than a brother,” and ” a friend loveth at all times.” Friends often sharpen one another; they help each other to grow in righteousness, and they rebuke each other’s sinfulness. And that is a part of this very practical Biblical paragraph. We have a friend who has a problem. Let’s call him “Dale.” Dale’s car has broken down, and it will cost more to repair it than it is worth – more than he has. But he needs transportation to get back and forth to work – and to go to church. He has found an adequate vehicle which costs $800, but he doesn’t have the cash. And his credit isn’t good enough for him to borrow even that small amount from the...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 5:15-23

  Two weeks ago, I was thinking that I would simply expound these verses, as I did the first part of the chapter. But as I was looking at it, it became obvious that an exposition might be more problematic than an outline. So, once again, we have a brief, devotional sermon. I haven’t been giving these messages titles, but I probably should have. If this was to have a title, I would call it “Arguments for a Godly Morality,” or something along that line. Leaning away from what I hope are obvious lessons, let’s think about the Lord and His will. First, consider God’s omniscience. Verse 21 – “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.” Obviously there is a corollary to this thought, “the ways of women are also before the eyes of the Lord.” Even though Solomon may have been thinking about wayward leaning sons of his, there are lessons here for the “strange woman” who was introduced to us last week. As foolish as it is, fathers often think it is impossible for their daughters to fall into sinful immorality. But knowing their own hearts, they can picture their sons. It’s always other man’s daughters who tempt our sons into sin. But, as I say, it’s foolishness on the father’s part. Both sons and daughter must remember “the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.” The “ways” and “goings” of God’s creatures are as clear to the Lord as the sun shining above the clouds. “Neither...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 4:23-27

  What is the Biblical definition of sin? I John 3:4 – “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” So sin makes itself known in outward ways. We might say that specific sins originate in the heart, but isn’t it true that we can sin with our eyes? Don’t our lips sin when we utter a lie or we spread gossip? If we pull a grape off a vine in the grocery store, popping it into our mouths haven’t our hands sinned by stealing? This may be a silly question, but is there any part of our body which CANNOT sin? Can our belly button sin? What if we expose our belly button to the eyes of strangers? Can our ear lobes sin? We know our ears can sin by willing listening to wicked words. But can our ear lobes sin? What if there are 1″ tall swastika stuck in each of them? Is it possible for our shoulders to sin? What if they are leaning on a tree when they should be swinging an ax or raising a shovel? And what about our bottoms? Isn’t it a sin when we should be working, we are sitting – especially sitting on our hands? I don’t think we have to stretch our imaginations very far to come up with sins that just about any external part of our body might commit. Of course, from time to time, the Bible refers to some of the more prominent aspects body parts. And that is what we find here at the conclusion of Proverbs 4....

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 4:20-22

  Some day when you’re feeling down and need a little snicker, google the words – “There are 2 kinds of people.” I did that yesterday, looking for an illustration with which to begin this message. But there was so much stuff, including pictures, I chose only to mention the idea. One reply to that search would be – “There are 2 kinds of people in the world – cat people and dog people.” Probably there is a huge in-between group, but a lot of people would agree with that statement. This evening let’s all try really hard to be dog people for a few minutes. As I was asking the Lord for a way to illustrate the last verses of Proverbs 4 a silly thought came to mind. In another 30 minutes, you may disagree with me, but at least I’ll have a bit of your attention for a while. What if Solomon was thinking about his Cocker Spaniel, as he penned these words? Is there any way that children are like puppies? They are generally more like puppies than kittens, but that is a matter for later debate. Are there any puppies or dogs who “love” their masters so much they are like an appendage to his body? Are there dogs who are so close to their owners they are like an extra leg – a third leg? Do any dogs grieve when they are parted from their person? Are there mutts who watch and listen to their masters so attentively that person can’t go into the next room without being accompanied? With questions like those, let...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 4:11-19

  I am going to overlap our scripture for this evening with what we used two weeks ago. We looked at wisdom from a conjugal point of view – the relationship of a husband and wife. Husband “forsake her not,” “love her,” “embrace her” and “exalt her.” And that wife, wisdom, shall “preserve thee,” “keep thee,” bring thee to honour” – she is “thy life.” Blended into those images Solomon adds, “I have taught thee in the WAY of wisdom; I have led thee in right PATHS.” Then he talks about walking and running down that path with the blessing of the Lord. And he points to the paths of the wicked which are nothing but trouble. It is these two paths that I would like to briefly bring to your attention this evening. We can look at wisdom from several directions. Of course, the Lord Jesus is ultimately our wisdom. And there is wisdom in the truth – in the Bible and in Bible doctrine. But as it is expressed here, wisdom is a path, a road – wisdom is a way in which to live. And as such it is not a state of being – “I am wise. I have reached intellectual or spiritual nirvana.” Wisdom is not a state of mind – it is a path. The man with the PhD in theology, reading both Testaments and John Gill in the original languages, may be truly born again. But if he is inert in his Christian life, he displays no wisdom – in a practical sense, he is not wise. “I have taught thee in...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 4:5-13

  Once again, Solomon turns to the subjects of wisdom and understanding. Why does he so often instruct us about wisdom? Because, as he tells us throughout this paragraph, there is nothing of greater importance. And he is not speaking from the pedestal of the title “The World’s Wisest Man.” If Solomon is anything at all it is because of the grace of the Almighty. And this wisdom is at the epicenter of that grace. True wisdom begins with the Word of God – only some of which Solomon possessed in his day. Wisdom begins with the Word of God, but then it passes through the Lord Jesus Christ – “Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” And then true wisdom ends in salvation and eternal life. We could look at this paragraph three times and it would make perfect sense each time. We could exchange the word “wisdom” with “the Bible,” and then with the name of Christ. We could talk about salvation throughout these verses, and it could develop into a good gospel message. This wisdom is not intelligence well used; it is the grace of God which produces salvation. As I was reading these verses yesterday, a couple of things struck me. We have here a paragraph full of feminine pronouns – “Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee.” “Exalt her, and she shall promote thee.” Once I made note of the pronouns, I started to examine the verbs – “get,” “keep,” “love,” “exalt,” “embrace” and so on. As I thought about them, it occurred to me that...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 4:1-4

  Let’s deliberately deviate from Solomon’s direction of thought, still keeping it mind while we move on. He is obviously telling young people to listen to their fathers – or more particularly to him. He may have been directing his thoughts toward his own children, but the Holy Spirit directs it to all children. Just for this evening let’s not think so much about the children and the instruction, but to the father. But first we need to ask, “When do we cease to be children?” In one sense of the word, we never do. We will be the children of our parents until the Lord calls those parents away. And we will always need the instruction of people more wise and experienced than we are. There are some commentators who apply the word “father” in this context to “God the Father. ” We fully understand what they are saying, but it is clear that Solomon is thinking about himself and other human fathers. (As an aside, why do so many Catholic and Protestant priests, insist their people call them “father?” Because it is their doctrine that only THEY can discern, distill and distribute divine knowledge. The Catholic priest wants no other spiritual fathers in the world.) Again, when do we cease to be children? There is a sense in which there is a transition from childhood to adulthood when we become parents. “I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.” But now,...