Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 28:14

I don’t think the Lord will mind if we take verse 14 and reverse the order of its presentation. Tonight, we’ll retain the parallel poetry, but start at the end. I’m doing this because the second statement helps to shed light on the first. And there is the fact that the second part is easier to understand than the first. “He that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief, but happy is the man that feareth alway.” “He that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” Notice the word “hardeneth.” I am convinced that every human heart begins its life in a soft and malleable condition. Place two one-year-old babies together – one black child and one white – they will play together without any racial recognition or prejudice. Oh, they may quarrel toys and fight for affection or dominance, but it won’t be because of their skin color. Children learn prejudice and hatred from their parents, from other adults and children – and from society. It is by choice that they harden their hearts against others. And those two small children will listen as we tell them about the Lord, learning the Bible lessons and believing what we tell them from the Word of God. But eventually their depravity will take over, and it will harden them toward the sovereign God. We know children to be sinful little creatures, initially devoid of spiritual life and spiritual perception. But as this verse suggests, it is over time that they actually harden their hearts. To have a hard heart is a choice we sinful creatures make. That is one of...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 28:13

Perhaps you have heard verse 13 quoted during either a gospel message or a message on Christian-living. It is a verse which sheds light on a great many sermons, and so it has become a noted supporting actor. It is so clear and obvious – transparent and simple – that it doesn’t become the preacher’s primary text. That is a shame, because there are things about this verse which, I think, will surprise you. The general meaning won’t surprise, but some of the details may actually shock you. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Once again, let’s break the verse into its component parts, and compare them with a few other scriptures. Then we’ll bring them back together, closing for maximum effect by reversing the verse. Let’s start with the word “SIN.” Most of us are mature enough to understand this word, so you’re already waiting for me to move on to the more surprising stuff. But wait just a minute first. Don’t get too far ahead of me. “He that covereth his SINS shall not prosper.” One of the common Hebrew words translated “sin” is “chata.” Many experts, including Robert Young in his Concordance, defines the word as “missing the mark.” The Lord has a standard of holiness to which He commands us, but we often fail – usually fail. In that failure, we “miss the target” – we “sin.” But if I might extend the metaphor, at least that sinner is trying to hit that target. But this “sin” is not “miss the mark” it is...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 28:9

Yesterday, I was reading the biography of a 18th century preacher, named John Kerr, who left the ministry to become a US. Congressman. According to the essay the man was a really good preacher; he could really move the hearts of men. And I am sure that was a part of his successful political campaign. He eventually came to his senses and returned to become pastor of the First Baptist church of Richmond, Virginia – an extremely large and important church in the South. I don’t know if the man ever did this, but what might he have done with verse 9 in some political speech? “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” If he ever ran on a law and order ticket he might have said … “The man who ignores, rejects or refuses to respect the laws of the land, will have no defense at his trial.” For example, if the law says, “Thou shalt not steal,” but a man is an compulsive thief, and he has been arrested for theft before, his pleas for leniency or clemency should be rejected by the judge. Probably most honest citizens can see the sense contained in this verse when it is used socially. But Solomon wasn’t speaking as king, and he wasn’t thinking of these words in a social or political sense. “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the WORD of God, even his prayer to the LORD shall be abomination.” Let’s examine this proverb by breaking it into its four component parts. “He that TURNETH AWAY his...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 28:1

There are two or three truly proverbial proverbs here in this chapter. By that I mean, they are so common that they are lifted from this book to become a part of many sermons. “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” We may spend a few minutes on verse 9 next Wednesday. Verse 13 is also a well-known statement – “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaken them shall have mercy.” This evening, I might have skipped over v.1, if the Lord didn’t make me look at it again in the light of v. 5. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” “Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.” These verses don’t say the same thing, but they shed a little light on each other. Why do the wicked flee when there is no one pursuing them? This has been the theme of thousands of stories down through the centuries – both fiction and true. Isn’t this a part of “Les Miserables.” Sometimes the guilty man goes insane – driven there by the chauffeur of his own heart. Sometimes he becomes obsessed about doing good to offset the evil he committed in his youth. Then after years of fear, he is relieved when he is finally exposed. Why do the wicked flee when no man pursueth? Because God created into every human heart something we call a “conscience.” The word comes from Latin and speaks about “knowing oneself.” That...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 27:21

My interest this evening is in verse 21 – “As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.” Doesn’t this essentially say – “As fire refines silver and gold, praise can also prove someone’s true value”? That isn’t something that I’ve ever considered before, but I’d remedy that this evening. I’m not sure my opinion of praise, over the years, has been Biblically accurate in the light of this verse. I have been taught that praise is more often bad than good. I have been taught – and I have re-taught – that there is too much unjustified praise. Some kinds of praise given to kids can encourage them to mediocrity – praising them for sloppy work for example. The same thing takes place in the adult work place. I also know from experience that praise can lead to pride – one of humanity’s worst sins. Praise, improperly applied can lead to idolatry. Am I incorrect in thinking that Bible-believers tend to shy away from giving or receiving praise? As I read another of Solomon’s proverbs, I’d like you to keep your eye on this verse from Proverbs 27 – look at verse 21. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold; but the Lord trieth the hearts.” Do I have any right, as a Bible teacher, to meld these two verses together? Can I say that “as the fining pot is for silver, and the furnace is for gold; so the LORD trieth human hearts with praise?” Assuming that is an acceptable statement,...

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...