Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 18:22

  A month ago when I first noticed this verse looming on the horizon I mentally groaned. How can I teach this verse without in some way hurting those men who don’t have good wives? And what about our unmarried ladies? I certainly don’t want them to think they are not good Christians because of their situation. But actually my first thought was – how can I teach this verse without embarrassing my wife? Is there some way to bring out Solomon’s intentions without Judy thinking I’m speaking about her. Is there some way to keep her from thinking that the rest of you are thinking about her? This is somewhat like last week’s verse 19 – was there any way for us not to think of specific individuals “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city.” I didn’t mention a single name, but I’m sure you may have thought of at least two. Monday I at first thought, “Well, I’ll just skip over verse 22. And if anyone asks, I’ll just say that we’ve touched on it already.” And I believe we have – very briefly and very superficially considered this theme. But it was SO superficially, that would not really have been a good excuse not to at least point to it. Eventually I came to the conclusion that it is the will of God to address this verse tonight, even though it will not be with any great depth. So let’s all turn around and look at Judy for a moment and get that out of our system. This is not about...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 18:19

  Jacob and Esau were about as closely related as physical brothers could ever be. They were the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. We can probably assume that, for the most part, their first few years were nearly identical. They played together, learned together and worked together as much as brothers ever could. But they did have different personalities, and over time Esau’s nature appealed to his father. Perhaps as a reaction, but then again it might have been quite natural – Rebekah leaned toward Jacob. Eventually there was the despicable deception whereby Jacob stole the birthright and blessing of the family’s eldest child. Esau was so offended that he became livid with anger. “And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.” When their mother heard about the situation, she urged Jacob to visit distant relatives – to flee. Rebekah knew the principle of Proverbs 18:19 – “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” Despite her age and experience, I don’t believe she gave her younger son the best counsel. Anyway, Jacob went away to live in Haran with this uncle Laban. He married and became the father of his own family. Then eventually felt led to return home. It was with fear that he and his family slowly headed south, assuming all along that Esau was still furious. As he approached the northern tier...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 18:14

  Some people think that the Christian ministry is limited to a select few – like pastors and missionaries. But in truth the Lord dispenses His gifts and responsibilities in packages of fives, tens and even singles to all His children. And the King of kings expects us to use our various talents – not to bury them “for safe keeping.” Preaching and teaching are two forms of ministry, but so are comfort, prayer, support and encouragement. This verse must first be read and understood stating a simple pair of facts. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” But from there it should be used to encourage one of those “lesser” ministries which is no little thing at all. I’m speaking of “encouragement.” As we all quickly learn, the world is a dangerous place. In fact, the very nature of life is dangerous because of the general effects of sin and the curse for sin. Can it be said that we cause our arthritis or osteoporosis, and that baby brought about her own crib death? Can we necessarily stop a man with influenza or some other infection from shaking our hand because we have divine knowledge that he is contagious? Can we prevent the drunk or doped-up driver from running us down? Such things happen, and some times good people are hurt. But the dangers and injuries of life are not just physical; they come in emotional forms as well. A friend or loved-one may try to say something in jest, but it comes out wrong and you are hurt....

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 18:11-12

  Why isn’t the world flocking to the Lord for salvation? Of course there is man’s native depravity and the hatred of the Lord which automatically comes from that. But these two things are expressed in a variety of ways often in an effort to deny the reality. We hear, “The churches are filled with hypocrites.” “The miracles of the Bible, and the Bible itself, are not logical.’ “Christianity is so negative; all I ever hear is ‘Don’t to this, don’t do that.’” There are probably a couple dozen answers to my question. Some of those are uttered by the unbeliever himself. And others are either not recognized or not spoken. And one of the unspoken answers is suggested in this pair of proverbs. Why should someone turn to the Lord for salvation, when he has no concept of his need for salvation? If that man refuses to recognize sin – HIS sin in particular…. If he has no perception of the holiness of God, or of God’s hatred toward sin….. If he doesn’t admit to God’s omnipotence and sovereignty…… Why should he give a second thought to running into the City of Refuge to avoid the avenger of blood? If that sinner perceives himself to be in a secure place, he will not beg to enter the Ark, even when the storm clouds are building and the ground under him is rumbling and gurgling. “The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit. Before destruction the heart of man is haughty.” Sinners have lots of strong cities with high walls...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 18:10

  How many of you have visited the Tower of London? I haven’t either. That so-called “tower” is a thousand year old castle in the heart of England’s capital. From the pictures it looks to be no more than 4 or 5 storey’s high. The first segment of the fortress was begun in 1066 after the arrival of William the Conqueror. It now has walls, several buildings and has provided a wide variety of services down through the years. For example, the Tower of London is the official Royal Palace, although Elizabeth doesn’t live in it. And it either has been, or still is, an armory, a zoo, the Royal Mint, and a prison. Several famous people have been executed in this tower. Much of the Royal jewel collection is housed there. Today it is a huge tourist destination. The minimum ticket price is $32.33 per person. This evening I’d like to briefly tie together the tower of verse 10 and the Tower of London. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower.” I have never been to London, but I have read a lot about it – and seen pictures. It is a place filled with history, both good and bad. It was the home of William Kiffin, John Gill and Charles Spurgeon, as well as Henry VIII and Queen Mary. Some people believe that the Apostle Paul visited England, and if so he must have included London. The city is filled with historical structures, some of which go back to the days of Rome. One might say that London stands out among the great cities of...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 17:24

  Once again we have a comparison between the wise man and the fool. How often has that been thus far in Proverbs? I have no idea and no desire to try to count. Let’s just say that it has been many, many times. But with that being true, how important is this subject and the comparison? We can conclude that this is extremely important or the Holy Spirit wouldn’t bring it before us so often. When it comes to this verse, it doesn’t matter whether we are talking about secular wisdom or spiritual. How accurate is this definition – “Wisdom is the ability to properly apply knowledge to everyday life”? Isn’t it true that generally speaking a wise man knows how to make good decisions – decisions which impact his daily life? Christians know better, but the world might say that even an atheist can be wise in regard to daily life. But then there is the man who is wise in the spiritual sense. The Bible leads us to believe that true wisdom is found in the LORD – only in the Lord. Only a saved man is truly wise. And in fact a man may not be very intelligent or smart in the things of the world and yet be wise enough in Christ to outshine the Rhodes scholar and the members of Mensa. Despite the differences between secular and spiritual wisdom let’s tie the two together before separating them again. This verse is true either way. Wisdom is often right in front of a person, but is he interested in it? He knows full well...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 17:22

  Our bodies and lives are so complex that it takes a great many things to keep us alive. For example, if we don’t get enough oxygen to the cells which make up our bodies, we will get sick and die. So this means we have to have air to breathe, and lungs to collect and process that air. There must be God’s miraculous means of transferring oxygen to our red blood cells and then the transporting of that oxygen-enriched blood to every one of those other kinds of thirsty cells. We have to have good food, and deficiencies in certain areas might cause a dozen different ailments. And even though we aren’t plants, we need some sunlight to stay healthy, plus we need exercise. Going off in other directions, we need mental stimulation; we also need friends; we need activities. And of course, our greatest necessity is the blessing of the Lord to bring everything together. Near perfection in every other area, but without the grace of God, means death and even worse. This proverb highlights one of the necessities of life. Something about these Proverbs is that they are often patently true. Over and over again, I only need to point to a verse, because you already understand what it says. Some Proverbs are so obviously true that it’s not necessary to find them in the pages of the inspired Word. We knew them to be true even when our grandmothers told us so many years ago. And one of those proverbial Proverbs is found in this verse. How often have we have experienced the medication which...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 17:17 (Friends)

  We have been looking at Solomon’s Proverbs long enough now to run into the repetition of various themes. It’s not so much that verses are repeated, but some of the ideas are. And in some of these cases, to look at a second or third verse much like the first would become less beneficial than skipping them and moving on to another verse and theme. After examining nearly all the early verses in chapter 17, we are going to skip some for the reason I’ve just suggested. We have considered the blessing that godly children are to their parents and grandparents. “Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.” And we have had a couple of messages on the sins of our speech. “Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.” The “gift” of verse 8 is referring to bribes. And that relates to verses 15 and 16. Verses 9 and 10 also take us back to an earlier devotion. “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.” We have already considered the deeds of evil men and what things might fall on the fool. “Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.” We have also had a message on the subject of “friendship” during our resent study of Ecclesiastes. But since verse 17 is one of the highlights of this chapter and...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 17:5

  Why does one person have good health at age 70 while another dies of cancer at 35? Why does one family bask in the warmth of wealth while another struggles to pay their meager bills? Why is one aspiring young basketball player 5’4″ while a genius-level, non-athlete, classmate stands 6’7″? Why does one 17-year-old, 6’5″ kid, easily become valedictorian, when his friend who has always wanted to be a surgeon, struggles with every quiz and every test? It would be foolish to say that the individual never contributes to his condition. But some of these, such as a boy’s height, are beyond our control. Sometimes unworthy people fall into wealth or inherit it; while other good people suffer penury. Ultimately, in each of these illustrations, the answer is – “This is the will of the Lord.” The world may disagree, and even you may disagree, but our “Maker” has fashioned us into the vessel of His choice. We may sometimes determine the color in which we are glazed, but the Lord is the Potter. Monday, I began asking the Lord for a Thanksgiving message from this chapter in Proverbs. Not surprisingly, in the verse following the one we looked at last week, He has given us one. But admittedly we’ll have to enter this house through the back door – the servant’s entrance – rather than the grand foyer. You have a maker. I don’t know if your Bible has been printed like mine, but the word “Maker” in my Bible is capitalized. The only reason for doing that is because the publisher believed that this “Maker” is...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 17:4

  You probably remember the ancient puzzle: “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” When I was a kid, and still entrenched in Darwinism, I mulled that over and over. “Let’s see, did the fish evolve into a bird or did that fish lay a hen’s egg?” Hum?????? Now that I have the Bible in my hand, and the Lord has graciously taught me to believe it, I have no problem. God created a full-grown bird and her mate, just as He did a fully mature man and soon thereafter Eve. That hen laid its first clutch of eggs and birds have been producing chicks for over 6,000 years now. Perhaps the more perplexing question is: “Who was the first brave human to eat the egg of a bird?” In our last lesson we looked at Proverbs 17:3 – “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.” I was tempted to skip over the next verse. With 14 more chapters and an average of 25 verses per chapter, there is the potential of 7 more years of these Wednesday evening devotionals. Would that be a problem? While, I don’t think so, others might disagree. But then again, if we only looked at every other verse, we’d still be here for years. The truth is, there are doctrinal and practical lessons in every one of the proverbs. There are exhortations and illustrations found in these verses which the preacher might never address if they weren’t placed before our eyes right here. You may say this or that verse doesn’t relate...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 17:3

  How much or how often do you think about Heaven? Young people rarely do, because they have so much earthly life before them – but they should. Older people – those saints who are nearing the end of their earthly lives, may consider it more often. But we should all “Set (our) affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Because Christ, who is our life, shall (soon) appear, then shall (we) also appear with him in glory.” Assuming you do, what do you picture when you think about Heaven? Isn’t most of our thinking primarily speculation, because so little is revealed in the Bible? There is a reason why people sometimes call Heaven “Glory,” with a capital G, as if it is a place. There has never been a place on this corrupted earth which has touched the hem of the glory of Heaven. It is, and forever will be, a place of absolute beauty. And contributing to that beauty will be absolute purity. It is sometimes said that there is no perfect church on earth, because you and I are members. Wouldn’t Heaven be less than Heaven – less than perfect – if we walked into it today? There are things necessary prior to our presentation to God in all His glory. And we can summarize those necessities in the word “purification” and by one definition of “refinement.” In eschatology we are told about periods and events of refinement. We have touched on a couple of these recently. As I suggested last Sunday, the purpose of the Tribulation – “Jacob’s Trouble” – will be...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 16:31, 33

  Verse 31: “The hoary head is a crown of glory.” The word “hoary” is so old that it’s hard to trace its origins. But I have read that it originally referred to ice. A hoary head is one with grey or whitening hair. Solomon says that a head full of grey or white hair wears a crown. It means that the person with that head has passed through a few years and many trials. He has earned some respect, just as if he was the man on the throne. But, the verse goes on, “The hoary head is a crown of glory, IF it be found in the way of righteousness.” If that elderly man doesn’t know or worship the Lord, then he doesn’t deserve respect in the area of faith. And yet he should be honored in family matters and perhaps in other areas as well. I hope that this doesn’t come across as crass or totally insensitive: Mrs. Bert Craft had a cousin whose husband was a missionary to the Cameroons. As far as I know, he was a Baptist, trying to start churches in Africa. The picture I saw showed him with his wife and 8 children – and he had a head full of white hair. Sadly, he didn’t get along with the Crafts when it came to the doctrine of salvation by grace. He even apparently said that he didn’t believe in the sovereignty of God. But I would guess he said that under duress and in special circumstances. Anyway, yesterday or the day before he was shot in the head and killed....

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:26-27

  The year is 1842; the place is the Congo. A Christian family is pushing into the jungle to join a pioneer missionary who is working in the interior. We might argue that no Christian family should be doing this work, because Biblical missions were done by single men working in teams, but that was not usually the practice two centuries ago. The trip requires several weeks, passing through very dangerous territory. There will be jungles interspersed with savannas and several rivers requiring dangerous crossings. The family has a capable guide and several Christian natives to help carry their luggage and supplies. The children are enthralled, looking at the beauty and seeing some of the animals, while not realizing the danger. The mother is fearful, because she understands some of those dangers including lions, hippos nad disease. The father is traveling with confidence, because he is heading out to do the work of God. One morning during the family devotions he shares with his family Proverbs 14:26-27 – “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.” “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence.” The other day, Judy was telling me about someone she thought had misdefined “the fear of the Lord.” It seemed to that person that this fear was some sort of terror. The implication was that if we are not properly afraid of God we should be even more fearful. The statement was made that respect or reverential...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:21

  There are six simple key words or ideas in this verse. They are “despise,” “neighbor,” “sin,” “mercy,” “poverty” and “happiness.” Probably no one here needs me to explain any of them. While that is true, it doesn’t mean we always personally apply the Word of God when we should. For example, there are dozens of Christian denominations which say they are patterned after the Bible, but if that were true, then why are there dozens of Christian denominations? We need to ask ourselves if we are consistent in the application of the words of Proverbs 14:21 to our lives. Do we have exceptions when it comes to certain people or certain kinds of people? Do we treat certain people differently? Does the Lord approve of our personal preferences and exceptions? One of the key words of this verse is “neighbour.” “He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth.” You probably remember the day when a self-righteous lawyer came to Christ trying to entrap Him. “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ replied with a question of His own – “What does the law say?” “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all they soul, and with all they strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” And then he asked, “But who is my neighbor?” Christ answered with the story about the good Samaritan. Who is my neighbor? My neighbor is not limited to the families who live on either side of my house; across the fence and across the street. In fact, if...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:17

  I thought that I had dealt with the subject of the first half of this verse already, but I was mistaken. It was a small point in a message from Ecclesiastes, but with another theme in mind I only touched it. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says – “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.” Not that it is significant, but the Hebrew word used in Ecclesiastes is different from the one here. And yet anger is anger no matter which word we use. Let’s say you are trying to tell someone what the Bible says about sin and salvation. Immediately that other person blasts you in the face, calling you a “hypocrite.” Fueled by the man’s anger, your own anger is ignited and you explode with an inappropriate reply. You are justified in your anger aren’t you? The man lied; he accused you of sin; he defamed you. But is your anger any less wicked than his? There are many synonyms for anger – “passion,” “irritation,” “resentment,” “annoyance or “wrath” and “rage.” Whatever word we use, it boils down to “anger,” and the Bible has much to say about that subject. But our two Hebrew words approach the subject differently. For example, the word used in Ecclesiastes speaks more of the heart than of outward actions. And this takes us to the words of condemnation from the Lord Jesus. The omniscient God knows EXACTLY what is going on inside that soul of yours. You may try to explain or justify your outburst, but the Lord knows the real source of...