Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 23:17-35

  Most of this chapter of proverbs is self-explanatory – to people who are relatively mature – particularly for Christians – people’s whose eyes have been opened by the grace of God. Most mature Christians have no problem understanding what the Holy Spirit is saying. But what about new saints – people who have just spent 20 years in a moderately licentious life-style? What about kids in their mid-teens – who are just now being tempted with adult-type sins? They may not see the dangers of alcohol and sexual immorality. They need to be warned. I’d like us to engage our imaginations at least for the introduction to this message, and maybe beyond that. Picture King Solomon, laying aside his crown, as he sits with three or four of his oldest sons. Don’t visualize the palace throne room or even in the king’s office with the big fancy desk. This takes place in the family living room with a big fire blazing on the hearth. The setting is casual and friendly, and there is some give and take, even though we only have Solomon’s words recorded. I think it might help us to maintain this picture, if we break apart and rearrange this collection of proverbs. Solomon begins at a point where he has been many times before. Verse 22 – “Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old. Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 23:17-18

  I need to do more research on this, but hasn’t the expression of envy changed over the last hundred years? Just think about it – 150 years ago advertising, as we know it, didn’t exist, making envy a bit different. A shop keeper might put up a sign in his window saying that he had some new product to sell. But there wasn’t the media, repeating over and over again, “You need this new product.” Everyone was getting along fine without it, and they didn’t know any better. Why do so many people want the newest cell phone or tablet? Not because we need it, but because we are repeatedly TOLD that we need it. And then we see others using that latest technology, making our mouths water – creating envy. Of course, envy has been around from the beginning of time. Lucifer was envious of Jehovah. He was foolishly JEALOUS of the Lord. And his first temptation of man was empowered with envy – “God has it; don’t you want it? Aren’t you just a little jealous?” But since then – until recently – hasn’t most envy involved important things – life sustaining things? The poor man envied the rich man’s big, full barn, or his plow-pulling ox. In Abraham’s day there may not have been much envy over a string of pearls or a fancier tent. Was Achan’s desire for the Babylonian clothes and wedge of gold common – or was it an aberration? As I say, I need to do more research on this. Whether or not our problem with greed, jealously and envy is...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 23:10-11

  For the two summers before and after my final year of high school, I worked for a uranium company. It was my job of lay out mining claims in central Wyoming so that drillers could come in and pull out core samples to see what was under the surface of the ground. For those of you who know Wyoming this was between Muddy Gap and Lander; primarily between Highway 287 and the continental divide a few miles to the south. Our crew would go out in search of a specific benchmark, a government landmark, and from there we’d lay out our 1200′ by 600′ claims. Those benchmarks had planted at exact geographic locations, sometime with other data – like elevation. My job, as a young fit, 16-year-old, was to carry 4, large posts which we’d set in the corners of each claim. This was wild country – sometimes desert and sometimes on the sides or tops of those short “mountains” which mark the continental divide in that region. It often looked like no man had ever been on this land before, but with work we’d find that benchmark. I have no idea when they were driven into the ground, but someone HAD preceded us. They were “old” and perhaps even the word “ancient” might apply. I doubt that Israel had government surveyors who planted brass benchmarks all over the country. But there were probably agreements made between residents, whereby property lines were identified. And when two grandfathers agreed that their properties were divided by a straight line between two posts or cairns of rocks that arrangement was to...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 23:1-8

  I can’t tell you if Solomon or the Holy Spirit intended these verses to be considered a paragraph. But that is what I’d like to do. At least for our purpose tonight, I think they all talk about the same general subject. For the purpose of an introduction I take you back to late 1990. Just a few weeks after our family moved to Post Falls, I was invited to attend the local Chamber of Commerce meeting. I was young and naive so I agreed. It involved a nice free lunch at Templin’s Resort. After the opening remarks by the president, I was asked to lead the mixed multitude in prayer, and I did. It was a standard Christian prayer which I concluded in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t remember the meal, but I do remember being ignored for the rest of the afternoon. And I also remember feeling very uncomfortable. Did the Chamber have an agenda in asking me to bless their meeting? I really don’t know. If I was asked to attend and lead in prayer again, I would try to politely refuse. Now back to Proverbs. If I was trying to develop this scripture into a sermon, the title would be “Beware.” And it would have three points. Beware of an evil appetite, beware of the evil eye, and beware of the evil heart. First, beware of the evil appetite. “When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.” Obviously, it...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 22:17-19

  In Deuteronomy 8, Moses was preaching to Israel, commanding obedience to God and pointing out the Lord’s past lessons and blessings. In verse 3 he said, “And (God) humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by EVERY word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” When he said, “every word” how specific do you think he was? Was he thinking of every single noun, pronoun, verb and adjective, or was he speaking only of principles and ideas? When Christ quoted Moses, was HE referring to every individual word or was it only to principles? Matthew 4:4 – Jesus “answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Later Solomon will say, “EVERY word of God is pure.” Did he mean that each individual word spoken by God is pure? I believe that he did. We are obligated to think of every syllable of God’s Word as important. And that is one reason why I look at the original languages of the Bible, comparing the nuances of those words. I believe that God has preserved His Word so that we can read His will in the Authorized Bible of 1611. But light can be shed on our ever evolving English by reaching back to the original Hebrew and Greek. For example, is there a difference between the verbs “to...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 22:12

  The theological principle behind verse 12 should be obvious to any mature Christian. “The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge,and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.” In other words, the sovereign God is in control of His creation, including all the human creatures in it. In one area, Jehovah’s providence protects the knowledge which mankind has of Him. “He left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” So if some agnostic, evolutionist attempts to overthrow God’s truth, he shall fail. While he may corrupt the minds of a few simpletons, as Solomon calls them, God’s truth still stands. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” There remains in the heart of all men an innate understanding that God exists, and our observance of creation reminds us. Additionally, we might apply this “knowledge” to God’s Word. When the humanistic educator or scientist suggests that the Bible is myth and folly, God brings another evidence of its truth to the surface. Elohim has said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away.” And after 2,000 years and specifically 250 years of concentrated effort, the Bible is still “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit.” Basically, the Holy Spirit says – God is in control. But it’s...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 22:5

  As I was preparing our devotional for two weeks ago, I determined what my subject would be this evening. But whereas I thought I’d have time to prepare while we were gone, such was not the case. As it turned out today was the only day that I would have to prepare, but that was not really a problem. Then this morning, before I got to my study, the Lord put His stamp upon my chosen subject. As I was working my PHYSICAL heart on an elliptical machine at the gym, the Lord was working on my mind and my SPIRITUAL heart. I started reading some of David Brainard’s journal notes. Brainard was an 18th century missionary to the American Indians in the east. But before that I read a short autobiography written by George Whitefield. Both men were sovereign grace preachers, who failed to attain a knowledge of God’s church. Whitefield was a key part of America’s 18th century Great Awakening. In the first paragraph of Whitefield’s autobiography, he declared, “I can truly say, I was froward from my mother’s womb. I was so brutish as to hate instruction, and used purposely to shun all opportunities of receiving it. I soon gave pregnant proofs of an impudent temper. Lying, filthy talking and foolish jesting, I was much addicted to, even when very young. Sometimes I used to curse, if not swear. Stealing from my mother I thought no theft at all, and used to make no scruple of taking money out of her pocket before she was up. I have frequently betrayed my trust, and have more...

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...