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 to you, but can you say that about the next person? When, in my reading, the Lord snags my heart with a verse, I am obligated to stop, even if it is just for a moment.

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

“A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.” Why does the evil man do the things he does? Why does the liar spread his lies? The sociologist and the psychiatrist may debate the subject, but the Bible-believer doesn’t have to. Sometimes people say the man is evil because he listens to evil people or was exploited by wicked people. But why does he listen to that evil, and why did he react to evil with more evil? Isn’t it because he possesses a wicked heart, and as a result he has a fondness for lies and evil? Is he corrupted by his society, or does his corrupt heart automatically lean toward its surroundings?

When – as a child – I lived in Omaha, the people on Frederick Street were a pretty close-knit group. For a time, my favorite friends were Mark and David Wormington who lives half way up the block. One of the boys was my age and the other was just a year younger. There were lots of other children, but these were my favorites, until I met Craig Lemaster who lived a couple blocks up the hill and to the west. Mr. Wormington sold used cars to the poorest people in town, usually carrying the note himself. When the buyers were unable to keep up the payments, he would repossess the cars, and then he would resell them to yet other poor people. My parents didn’t particularly like the Wormingtons. Mr. Wormington had another habit which irritated my mother in particular – he liked to argue. He would argue with anyone about anything. He didn’t adhere to any particular philosophy at least as far as we ever learned. The man would simply argue for the sake of arguing whatever position differed from the other person As you might imagine, in order to do that, he was an excellent liar. Looking back, I wonder how many people were influenced to do evil by watching the business practices of Mr. Wormington and listening to his lies?

After five years in Nebraska, the Oldfields moved to Colorado, and I lost touch with my friends. I wonder what became of Mark and David? I have no idea. But is it possible to draw some parallels between them and their friend who once lived at the east end of the block at the bottom of the hill. I’ve already suggested that I once believed in Darwinism. Didn’t everyone who wasn’t a Christian? How did I come to receive that falsehood? I listened to lies. And why did I listen? Among other things, I listened because my heart was as corrupt as the lies on which I was feasting. Evolution makes the half-thinking child feel good about himself – he is at the pinnacle of nature.

I could change the subject to any kind of wicked “doing” or unbiblical thinking. What if I later had friends, who loved the thrill of shoplifting, and they convinced me that stealing candy was not serious enough to be taken seriously? Has anyone ever moved from sneaking candy out of a store without paying for it, to joy-riding and eventually to grand theft auto? “A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.”

For some people it might have been drugs. An ignorant “friend” says that marijuana makes a person feel good – and there is no danger in it. Or it might be a dealer who gives away “free samples” to groups of kids as they go home from school. He lies to that group of 13-year-olds, “Sure, the cops say it’s illegal, but you can’t trust them to tell you the truth.” You can’t trust the liar to tell you the truth.

Why did your Catholic neighbor take catechism and the Mormon kid attend his pre-school class at the stake? It was because the leadership knew that to create good Catholics and Mormons those kids needed to hear the denominational lies over and over again starting at young age. And our corrupted little hearts swallowed those lies about evolution, marijuana and becoming gods. Which came first the lie about self-deification or the heart which yearned for it?

David’s son, Amnon, committed a horrible sin against his own family. But he might have never gone so far if it wasn’t for the lies and encouragement of his friend Jonadab. Ahab was a relatively weak man, who could be pushed about in almost any direction. Ahab had his wife Jezebel – a murderous idolater and the push was toward evil. Why didn’t these men put their feet down and put their evil counselors in their proper place? They didn’t want to. They wanted their encouragement to wickedness. Genesis 6:5 has always been true – “GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Because the heart of man is evil, his ear is naturally open to lying and evil counsel. “A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.”

Was Amnon raised in a spiritual vacuum? Or was he surrounded by filial or family wickedness? He was a son of David, a man after God’s own heart. You might say that he was “raised in church” – a good, sound, fundamental Baptist Church. But as a natural son of a man who was a sinner by nature, he rebelled against the truth; he loved the lies. Jonadab had words which appealed to Amnon’s flesh, but Amnon would say he “loved” Tamar, his sister even before the lies encouraged him. It didn’t matter what the Bible said, what his father said, what his church Statement of Faith said, his corrupted heart listened to the lies of his corrupt friend. And his native evil exposed itself in even more evil. What is even more abhorrent about the story of Amnon, was Jonadab’s cavalier reaction when Amnon was executed. “Oh well.” It was as if he expected it – and he should have.

Have Christian families in the 21s century experienced anything similar? The nature of children has not changed in 6,000 years. The nature of human beings of every age, has remained the same. Among the sons of David there have always been Absaloms and Amnons, but also Solomons, by the grace of God.

And churches, like families, throughout the centuries have experienced the same sort of things. People, children, have gotten crosswise with their church and started listening to the lies of the best-selling authors. They began to question the long-established doctrines of the church and sometimes encouraged others to join them. From where does that come? What comes first the chicken or the egg?

Obviously, this is not supposed to be the testimony of the saint.

The Christian, possessing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” In I John, the Apostle teaches some important doctrine. Then in both II John and III John he speaks of his joy when he found those brethren “rejoicing not in iniquity, but rejoicing in the truth.”

Sometimes we can not stop Mr. Wormington or Satan, from spreading his lies. But we have the ability to stop our ears from hearing it. Even though I continued to play with Mark and David, because they were neighbors and classmates, my parents didn’t spend much time with their parents.

Once again Solomon is giving us some very practical warning which is as relevant today as it was 3,000 years ago.