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 God. Like my Bible, in everything I write, when I make reference to any member of the God-head, I capitalize the title, name, and even the pronoun. I think it dishonors God for man to use common pronouns in reference to Him. The very least we can do is capitalize the word which refers to Jehovah. Anyway, this verse says that the poor man has a Maker, and by extension, SO DO YOU.

And the Bible teaches us that Jehovah, our Creator, our Maker – God – is sovereign. He is in control of all things. He is King. Even though He appears to permit man, men and even Satan have their way, He is still Master of all things. That homeless man on the corner may have not caused his current condition. It may simply be God’s will for some specific purpose. On the other hand, that man may have made bad choices which have brought him to that corner. But God established rules and the consequences which fell into place as that man broke them.

And then there is you. You in your warm house, with $50 spending money, with your smooth-running car, and healthy kids. You and I should constantly praise and thank God for His grace. You and that poor man have a Maker – the same Maker. And God has been so very, very gracious toward us.

Whosoever mocketh the poor man reproacheth his Maker.

Whoever makes fun of someone in his problems reproaches that man’s Maker. And what is it to “reproach” someone? In English “reproach” refers to uttering words of disappointment, disapproval or rebuke. In English, whosoever makes fun of another for whatever reason is disappointed with or rebuking that man’s Creator. Lay aside what you are personally doing to that man – it is God you are abusing. In Hebrew, besides “reproach,” this word is translated “blaspheme” and “defy.” Whosoever ridicules the condition of another man blasphemes and defies his Maker. In either language Solomon is warning us of a very serious sin. Keep this verse in mind when you stop your car in front of that homeless man with his sign and his dog. As John Bradford said while looking at a man being taken to the scaffold, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” There is an appropriate thought for Thanksgiving.

In first analyzing this verse another thought crossed my mind, but I cast it out as not being Solomon’s intention. And yet, for the sake of application let’s consider it for a moment. “Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his OWN maker.” I don’t believe that is what Solomon was saying. But remember that the same God who “maketh” that suffering man also made YOU. Your good health came from the hand of the God who ordained disease in the other person. I know a beautiful young teenager, from a Christian home, who has been diagnosed with potentially terminal leukemia. Why is your leukemia non-fatal? Why don’t you have leukemia at all? “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” As you sit down to your wonderful Thanksgiving meal, consider not only what you have, but also what you do NOT have.

He who is glad at other people’s calamities shall not be unpunished.

That is not an idle threat – and there is more to the statement than what meets our Anglicized eyes. The word “unpunished” is translated a number of additional ways in God’s Word.. It is “unpunished” – 11 times, and then “guiltless,” “innocent,” “clear,” “free” and “acquitted” – 17 times. “He that is glad at the calamities of others, is not innocent and shall not be acquitted.” The reason why this mocking person is punished is because God considers him guilty of sin.

There are several occasions where Israel’s enemies rejoiced at the afflictions with which God punished His chosen nation. Ezekiel 25 describes just one of them. “Son of man, set thy face against the Ammonites, and prophesy against them; And say unto the Ammonites, Hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou saidst, Aha, against my sanctuary, when it was profaned; and against the land of Israel, when it was desolate; and against the house of Judah, when they went into captivity; Behold, therefore I will deliver thee to the men of the east for a possession… And I will make Rabbah a stable for camels, and the Ammonites a couchingplace for flocks: and ye shall know that I am the LORD. For thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced in heart with all thy despite against the land of Israel; Behold, therefore I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen; and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.” The people of United States need to study scriptures like these and decide if they want to mock the poverty or calamity of Israel.

As described in Revelation 11, during the Tribulation God will send two special witnesses to be a testimony to the world. “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” Then after a globe-shattering earthquake God’s seventh trumpet shall blow and this wicked world will be devastated by unimaginable judgments. How closely related will the wicked mocking cast upon God’s martyrs be to the severity of God’s judgments upon the world?

No day is a good day to mock anyone in their problems – their tragedies or their judgments. However, every day is a great day to praise God for His grace toward us. In the light of what has befallen so many people around us, we need to keep Ezra 9:13 in our hearts and minds this Thanksgiving Day. “After all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this…” Should we be guilty of breaking thy commandments or should we join them that mock the afflictions of others? God forbid.

True spiritual thanksgiving demands humility as much as it does joy and praise.