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...

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...