Shall we turn now to Proverbs 16, the sixteenth chapter and begin our study this evening.
The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD (16:1).
God works in our lives even when we’re not aware of it. If we’re a child of God, God is continually working in our lives. It’s amazing how many times we say things that we don’t realize that at the time we are saying it, but actually it’s a word from the Lord. It just comes up. God prepares your heart. The preparations of the heart, they’re from God. In Philippians we read, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that is working in you both to will and to do” (Philippians 2:12-13). You see, God is planting now His law in the fleshly tablets of our heart, even as He promised to Jeremiah. “The day will come when I will no longer write my law on the tables of stone but in the fleshly tables of their heart.” So God plants His Word, God plants His desires right in your heart, so the preparations of the heart are from the Lord. How great it is to be a child of God and to have your life submitted to the Lord so that the Lord is directing from that just inner kind of desires and all that He plants within your own heart.
All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weighs the spirits (16:2).
Now no matter what a guy does, it’s right. “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes.” You can justify everything you’ve done. We’re so full of excuses. “I did it because…” Even if it’s wrong, we got a good reason or at least a good excuse. Of course, Benjamin Franklin said the man who is good with excuses is seldom good for anything else. “The ways of a man are clean in his own eyes, but God weighs the spirits.” Now God knows the motives. God knows why I did it, the motive behind it, and that’s what’s important.
Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established (16:3).
So many times we’re worried that we haven’t done enough. And probably correct. However, when we look at our service to God, we so often say, “Oh, but, you know, I should have done such a better job. You know, I…” Could you have done a better job? “No. I did the best I could.” Well, that’s all God expects. God doesn’t expect more from you than what you can actually produce. So you’ve got to commit your works unto the Lord. Do your best and then just commit the rest. And your thoughts will be established.
“Well, you know, Lord, that’s the best I can do. Sorry You have to use this kind of instrument to do Your work, Lord, but that’s the way it is and that’s all I can do.” And I don’t go home and worry, “Oh, could I have done this? Could I have done that? Oh, I should have done this. I should have done that.” You just do your best and then you just place the rest in His hands. Your thoughts are then established. You rest. “Well, Lord, here it is, such as it is the best I can do.” And you just commit your work to the Lord and your thoughts then are established. Just resting. Best I could do. “God, you know, use it if you can. It’s my best.”
This is an interesting and yet a difficult proverb to understand.
The LORD has made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil (16:4).
Now the word evil, of course, is a reference to the judgment that is coming. There is a Scripture in Isaiah that has brought a lot of problems to people, where God has declared that He has created evil. And they say, “Oh, how could God create evil?” The word actually is judgments. God has created the judgments that come upon the evil. So, “The Lord has made all things for Himself.” “Thou has created all things, and for thy good pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). And God has even created the evil or the wicked. Now God didn’t create them wicked, but He created wicked people. Can you catch the difference?
God created people; some of them are wicked. They don’t have to be, but they are. God created them. You can’t deny the fact that God created them. So in a sense, you can say God created the wicked. He didn’t create them wicked, but He created the wicked. They became wicked. God created them. And He has actually created also the judgments that shall come upon those wicked persons.
Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD (16:5):
One of those, another one of those which God has a lot of things that are an abomination to Him. Again, you need to take your concordance and go through the book of Proverbs and go through this word abomination and find out how many things are an abomination unto God. Now, I don’t know exactly what an abomination is, but it sounds bad. And I know I don’t want to be one.
Now, “The proud in heart are an abomination to the Lord.” Oh, that pride. What a destroyer it is. We’ll get to that in a minute.
and though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished (16:5).
This “hand in hand” again, the striking of the hand, making a deal, it’s usually a…in this case, joining hand in hand for strength, yet you can’t escape the punishment.
By mercy and truth iniquity is cleansed (16:6):
God’s mercy and God’s truth. You remember John in the opening remarks concerning Jesus Christ said, “For the law came by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Of course, grace and mercy are sister kind of words. Mercy and truth. Grace and truth. “By mercy and truth iniquity is cleansed.”
and by the fear [or the reverence] of the LORD men depart from evil (16:6).
Now the fear of the Lord is to hate evil. And so here, “By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.” There is a tremendous inconsistency; John points it out in his first epistle. He said, “He that saith he hath fellowship with God and walketh in darkness is lying” (I John 1:6). He isn’t telling the truth. You cannot walk in fellowship with God and have a desire and a love for evil. “By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.”
When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him (16:7).
Thus, really the goal of each of our lives is and should be to be pleasing to God. Not what pleases you. Now usually we use as our standard, is it right or is it wrong? And trying to measure… and this was, of course, the mistake that the religious leaders in Judaism made concerning the law. Now what constitutes bearing a burden on the Sabbath day? What if you had false teeth? If you put your false teeth on on the Sabbath day, that means you’re bearing a burden, doesn’t it? You’re carrying something that isn’t natural to you. What about if you have a wooden leg? Sure, that’s a burden so you can’t put it on on the Sabbath day. And all of these little fine points, you know, they’re trying to tune the fine points of right and wrong.
You can throw all of that out the window. The real question is: is it pleasing to God? Is God pleased with it? Because you may sit down and rationalize that a particular action, a particular thing that you want to do, you may rationalize and say, “Well, sure, look, it’s all right,” and give all of your rationale for why it’s right. But it may not be pleasing to God. So really the rightness or the wrongness of a particular action isn’t what really matters. What really matters is, does it really please the Lord? My life, I desire that my life be pleasing. Jesus said, “I do always those things that please the Father” (John 8:29). Now, if you use that as your standard, you won’t have to worry about right or wrong. You won’t have to sit and examine the thing to see if it’s really right or really wrong. Hey, does it please God? That’s where it’s at. “When a man’s ways please the Lord, then the Lord makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
Better is a little with righteousness, than great revenues without right (16:8).
“A little that a righteous man hath is greater riches than many wicked” (Psalm 37:16). Same concept.
A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps (16:9).
How many times our plans have been changed by the Lord. We’ve decided we’re going to do something, and God throws the monkey wrench in and stops us. I’m always sensitive to interruptions. Maybe God is trying to stop me. You know, the man who is expecting to be disturbed is the man who is never disturbed when disturbances come. If you are open to God and you think, “Well, Lord, any time I’m heading down a path You don’t want, You just stop me.” Therefore, I am expecting to be disturbed. Therefore, when the disturbance comes, it doesn’t disturb me, because my life and my steps are committed to the Lord.
So we devise something in our heart, but God directs our steps. And I want it that way. I don’t want to do my own will. I don’t want to fulfill my own purposes. I want God to stop me whenever I am getting out of line and doing something that isn’t from Him and directed by Him. I want the Lord to interrupt me. I want God to disturb me. I want God to direct my steps.
A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment (16:10).
Now herein, of course, is a beautiful situation. When the king is a godly king, then God will direct his mouth, his lips and place, actually, God’s sentences within his lips. And his mouth will not transgress. Will be faithful in judgment.
A just weight and balance are the LORD'S: all the weights of the bag are his work (16:11).
Now, again, we’ll get another proverb that deals with this pretty soon. All of their merchandising was done with the balanced scales. And so they would have little bags of weights. And the crooked merchant would have two bags of weights, divers weights: one that they would sell with, and one that they would buy with. So butchers have had their thumbs on the scales for years. Goes back to the time of Proverbs. Where in the balancing, they would use one set of weights to buy, and they would use another bag of weights to sell. It’s an abomination unto the Lord. False balances, an abomination unto God. But the true, honest in business. “A just weight and balance are the Lord’s, and all the weights of the bag are His work.”
It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness (16:12).
So those who are in leadership actually have a greater responsibility before God.
Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaks right. The wrath of the king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it. In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favor is as a cloud of the latter rain (16:13-15).
So here we have four proverbs that are related to each other because they all deal with kings. And inasmuch as none of you are kings, I don’t know, maybe you are. You’re the King’s kids.
Now Solomon declares:
How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! (16:16)
You remember when he started out, God said to Solomon, “Ask of Me whatever you desire,” and Solomon prayed for wisdom. And God said, “In that you have asked for wisdom, you’ve asked for a good thing. And I will grant unto you wisdom. But I will also grant unto you that which you did not ask: riches and so forth.” And so wisdom, understanding, these are more valuable than gold, treasure, silver.
The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: and he that keeps his way preserveth his soul (16:17).
Then one that is very familiar, but so often misquoted. How many times you’ve heard people say, “Pride goeth before a fall.” That’s not a Scripture. This is the Scripture from which that quotation is taken, but it is misquoted.
Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (16:18).
So pride goes before destruction. That haughty spirit, going to be brought down. “Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord, He shall lift thee up” (James 4:10). “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted; he that exalteth himself shall be abased” (Matthew 23:12).
Better it is to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud (16:19).
So a couple of them that deal with pride and humility.
He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he (16:20).
How neat it is to just have your trust in the Lord. Happy man. You’re not really disturbed by the circumstances of life. My trust is in God. Happy is he.
The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning. Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly (16:21-22).
So understanding. “With all of thy getting, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7), David said to Solomon. It’s a wellspring of life to him who has it. Oh God, grant to us a better understanding. I think to have understanding is so important, because I think it is the key to compassion. There are many people in many circumstances in which we find it difficult to be compassionate.
In operating summer camps, which I did for years and years, you get those kids that are just behavioral problems. I’ve had the counselors come in and say, “You better get that kid out of my group or I’m going to kill him. He’s horrible. You know, he’s just screaming at night and always creating problems. I can’t stand that kid. Get him out of there before you have to carry him out. Going to do something rash.” And so I’ll bring the little kid in and I’ll sit him down and, of course, you know, he has to go to Chuck. And he comes in all trembling, and you know here he is. Like I’m going to be a monster. And I’ll go over and buy him an ice cream bar and sit him down and start talking, asking him, you know, about his home, about his background. Little kid will start unfolding the story how his dad, he never sees him. Doesn’t know where he is. Comes home, his mom’s usually drunk. Different men in the house who yell at him and tell him to get out of there, and all this kind of stuff. Man, you get the background stories of some of these little guys and you can’t believe it! It's horrible. And then I’ll call the counselor back in and I said, “Do you realize that this is what happens when this little kid goes home and this is what the situation is?” “Oh, wow.” We have a whole changed attitude towards him. Now you understand why he’s fighting everybody. Man, this little kid has to fight for survival. And as you understand now the background, now you can have compassion, and now you can deal with him, and now you can minister to him.
Understanding is such an important thing. Ezekiel said, “I sat where they sat” (Ezekiel 3:15). And you really need to sit in another man’s place for a while to really understand that other person. I think one of the keys to relationship is to put yourself in the other person’s position. We have so many labor problems. Well, if you could reverse roles, if management could sit where labor is, and if labor could sit where management is, you could remove so many of these labor problems. The management would understand that this guy has to have a decent wage to live. But also this guy would understand that management has to have a profit to survive.
If a wife could sit where her husband sits, and if a husband could sit where his wife sits, how many problems this would solve. When he comes home at night, just all frazzled from the pressures and the hassles that he’s had all day, and sits down and just wants to turn on TV, and just tune out for a while, and he’s uncommunicative to his wife, well, if she could just understand the pressures, the hassles he’s had. On the same token, if he could just be with those kids all day long and be communicating to them, he’d understand the wife’s need to communicate on a different level when he gets home. “And I sat where they sat.” Understanding, understanding the other person’s position is so important, really, to compassion, to love. “It’s a wellspring of life to him who has it.” Oh God, grant that we might have better understanding.
The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips (16:23).
So the heart is the issue of life.
Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, health to the bones (16:24).
Now, I don’t know if the scientists have ever made any relationship between honey and the bones, but it’s sweet to the soul, honey, and health to the bones. What are they? Pleasant words. Oh, just cheerful words, pleasant words. How good they are.
There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (16:25).
I think of so many people today who are deceived by false prophets, who are deceived by false religious systems. They’re convinced that they are right. “There is a way that seems right unto man, but the end of it” (Proverbs 14:12). There’s another Scripture, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 21:2). But here, “There is a way that seems right.” The way of life, you know. The philosophy of life that a man has chosen. It seems to be right. Eat, drink and merry. Tomorrow we die, you know. And you talk to that guy and he’s convinced that his philosophy is correct. “But the end thereof, the way of death.”
He that laboreth, laboreth for himself; for the mouth craves it of him (16:26).
It’s a thing that your labor goes to feed yourself.
An ungodly man digs up evil: and in his lips there is a burning fire (16:27).
Actually, James says, “Behold, what a great fire such a little matter kindleth! And the tongue is like a fire” (James 3:5-6). The things that it can enflame.
A perverse man sows strife: and a whisperer can separate the best of friends. A violent man entices his neighbor, and leads him into the way that is not good. He shuts his eyes to devise perverse things: moving his lips he brings evil to pass. Now the hoary head [which is the gray, the hoary frost, the white hair] is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness (16:28-31).
I think that one of the worst things in the world is a dirty old man. You know when people get old and gray-headed, they’re supposed to all be sweet and kind and loving. After all, they’re getting towards the end, and so you ought to be mellow. And to see a little old gray-hair lady using four-letter words and all that kind of…it just, it’s just wrong. It’s out of place.
My daughter used to work for a medical supply firm and she had to deliver some things to this little old lady in the hospital. And she walked in and saw her and thought, “Oh, what a sweet-looking little old lady.” And then this lady you know says, “Who the hell are you? And what are you doing here?” And just started all this filthy language. And it’s just somehow incongruent; it’s just out of place. “The gray hair is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.” But man, if it’s not.
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit is better than he that takes a city (16:32).
How important it is. Slow to anger, ruling our own spirits. Important.
The lot is cast into the lap (16:33);
Now it’s a…the lot is a thing whereby they would oftentimes determine. You know, it’s like drawing a straw. They would cast lots into their lap.
but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD (16:33).
Trying to get guidance or direction or to determine, they cast lots. But the real direction, the disposing of the thing comes from God.
Better is a dry morsel, with quietness, than a house full of sacrifices with strife (17:1).
Now the house full of sacrifices refer to the sacrifices. It’s, if in that economy the of the Judaism, if you decided that tonight you wanted to have roast leg of lamb, to butcher your lamb you’d take it down to the temple and you bring it to the priest. And you’d say, “I want to offer this as a peace offering unto God, a sacrifice.” So you’d butcher the lamb and the priest would take the fat and put it on the fire and burn it and the smoke and all, of course, smells real good and that’s your portion, God, you know. And I take and the priest gets his portion out, puts his hook in, gets his portion, but then the rest of it I roast tonight, and I gather together my family and friends, we have a big barbecue. So the house full of sacrifices actually refers to a house full of meat, which in those days, and is becoming more so now, a real delicacy. “But a dry morsel in quietness, in peace, is better than a whole house full of sacrifices with strife.”
A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have a part of the inheritance among the brethren. The fining pot is for silver, the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts (17:2-3).
Now the Bible speaks about God testing our works by fire. God trying our hearts. The testing of our works, really, when it comes down to it, is not so much what we have done, but the motive that was behind what was done. Bible says that all of our works are to be tested to see what sort they are. Tested by fire. And those works that can remain after the testing of fire, you’ll be rewarded for. But many of the works that we do are as wood, hay and stubble. They’re going to go up in the flame. I really didn’t do them with a pure motive. Though the work may be a very commendable thing, “Oh, look what he did!” You know. And a very commendable thing, yet it was done with the motive of bringing glory or honor to myself. I was doing it to be a big show. I was doing it so people would know what a great, neat guy I am, you know. And to bring attention or honor to myself. Well, those kind of works are going to be tried by God, for God tries the hearts and He knows what is in my heart when I am doing something. All of our works tested by fire.
Jesus said, “Take heed to yourself that you do not your righteousness before men to be seen of men.” Don’t let that be the motive. The approval, the praise, the recognition of man. “For,” He said, “I say unto you, you have your reward” (Matthew 6:1-2). So even as the fining pot is for silver and the furnace is to burn out the dross in the gold, so it is the Lord who through the fire will try our hearts, our works, the manner or sort they are.
A wicked doer gives heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to the naughty tongue. Whoso mocketh the poor reproaches his Maker (17:4-5):
Now God takes up the cause for the poor. So if you’re poor, take heart. God takes up your cause. And anyone who mocks the poor is reproaching his Maker. “Has not God chosen the poor of this earth yet rich in faith?” (James 2:5)
he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished (17:5).
One of the characteristics of this agape love in I Corinthians 13 is that it rejoices not in iniquity. It rejoices not in the calamity. You know, there are some people we just hope something bad happens to them. They deserve it. And when it happens, you say, “All right, I knew it, you know. They had it coming and all.” And yet, “He that is glad at calamities shall not go unpunished.” So be careful of that. It’s the wrong attitude.
Children's children [or your grandchildren] are the crown of old men (17:6);
Amen. They are glory.
and the glory of children, their fathers. Excellent speech becomes not a fool: much less lying lips a prince (17:6-7).
Quite a contrast.
A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that has it: wherever he turns it, he prospers (17:8).
In other words, it’s just a precious stone wherever you turn it you see the different colors and facets. So is a gift like a precious stone to the man who receives it.
He that covers a transgression seeks love (17:9);
Now the Bible says, “Love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8). If you cover it, you’re seeking love.
but he that repeats a matter can separate friends. A reproof enters more into a wise man than a hundred stripes into a fool (17:9-10).
It’s interesting how that in raising children you find the diversities of personalities even of your own children. And you learn that there are some kinds of punishment that work for one child but don’t work for another. With some, just a word of reproof and they’re devastated. Others you can wail on them and it doesn’t touch them.
My little grandson Bradley, we were down in Phoenix and we were having Thanksgiving dinner with the family there. And I think it was during prayer that he had been naughty or… so I said, “Bradley, Grandpa is ashamed of you.” Well, the kid, he was like I had beaten him. He wailed and cried. He was…broke tears. Grandpa had never said anything before to him of a cross or angry nature and it just devastated the poor little guy to have grandpa disappointed about him. It just almost destroyed him. “Reproof enters more into a wise man’s heart and all than a hundred stripes enters into a fool.”
An evil man seeks only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him. Let a bear robbed of her cubs meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly (17:11-12).
That one I thought was quite interesting. I wouldn’t want to meet a bear robbed of her cubs. But I wouldn’t want to meet a fool in his folly, either.
Whoso rewards evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house (17:13).
That’s quite a proverb and it’s quite a warning. “Whoso rewards evil for good, evil will never depart from his house.”
The beginning of strife is as when one lets out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with (17:14).
Once you start letting the water out, it’s awfully hard to stop. Therefore, stay away from contention, the beginning of strife.
He that justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, even they both are an abomination unto God (17:15).
“Woe unto them who say who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Why? Because it’s an abomination to the Lord.
Wherefore is there a price in the hand of the fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it? (17:16)
I love this one.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (17:17).
A friend, they love at all times. Brother, he has been born for this time of adversity.
A man who is void of understanding strikes hands, and becomes a surety in the presence of his friends (17:18).
Now he really warns about this business of striking hands and being a surety for someone else. Evidently, he got burned many times on this.
He that loves transgression that loves strife: and he that exalts his gate seek destruction. He that hath a perverse heart finds no good: and he that has a perverse tongue falls into mischief. He that begets a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool has no joy (17:19-21).
Wouldn’t it be tragic to have a child that’s a fool? He who begets a fool does it to his own sorrow; the father of a fool has no joy.
A merry heart does good like a medicine (17:22):
You know, more and more they are learning what a healthy thing it is to be happy. The merry heart. When you eat laughter, just gets the right juices going that really help you to digest your food well. A merry heart is just as good for you as medicine. The relationship between our attitudes and our physical well-being, how that these glands that are excreting the various chemicals into our systems, the good chemicals that come in joy and in happiness. And the other chemicals that are produced in fear or in anger and bitterness or whatever, those chemicals which destroy you. So without knowing all of the capacities and work of the pituitarian, hypothalamus and everything else, Solomon just made an observation that a merry heart is good like a medicine.
but a broken spirit can dry up the bones. A wicked man takes a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment. Wisdom is before him that has understanding; but the eyes of the fool roam to the ends of the earth (17:22-24).
The one is before you; the other is always looking out to the ends of the earth.
A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him. Also to punish the just is not good, nor to strike princes for equity. He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit (17:25-27).
“He that hath knowledge spareth his words.” How does it go? “There was an old owl who lived in the oak. The more he saw, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Why can’t you be like that old bird?” And of course, in the same line is the proverb there in verse 28.
Even a fool, when he holds his tongue, is counted wise: and he that keeps his lips shut is esteemed a man of understanding (17:28).
You know, just sit back and say, “Hmm. Well, uh-hmm, you know.” Feeling, “Man, he’s smart.”
Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeks and intermeddleth with all wisdom. A fool has no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. When the wicked comes, then comes also contempt, and with ignominy reproach. The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook. It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment. A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes (18:1-6).
That is, the fool’s lips enters into contention, and by his mouth, the strokes is really, is blows.
A fool's mouth is his destruction, his lips are a snare of his soul. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. He also that is slothful in his work is a brother to him that is a great waster (18:7-9).
Now Solomon has quite a bit to say about the slothful or the lazy person. The man who is lazy, slothful in his work, he’s a brother to him that is a great waster.
The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe (18:10).
What a strong tower the name Jehovah is. How many times we have run into it to find safety.
The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as a high wall in his own conceit. Before destruction the heart of man is haughty (18:11-12),
That’s again, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before the fall.” “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty.”
and before honor is humility (18:12).
Humble thyself; He shall exalt thee. Exalt thyself; He’ll abase you. So same concept, another proverb.
He that answers a matter before he hears it, it’s a folly and a shame (18:13).
So many times we we answer a person before we really understand completely what they’re asking for. They’re starting to explain their situation and we assume that, “Oh, yes, this is what they want to know,” and we start giving out all these worthless information.
Like the little child who came in to her mother one day and said, “Mother, where did I come from?” And the mother thought, “Uh-oh, this is it. Time for the story of the birds and the bees and all.” She said, “Well, honey, you go outside and play for a little while and then come on in and Mother will tell you.” So she sent the little girl out and she got into this psyche books on how to explain the facts of life to your child and all and boned them all up. And then called the little girl in and sat her down and started through and explained to her the whole process of life and procreation and everything else. And she said, “Well, now, honey, do you think you understand?” She said, “Oh yes, Mommy.” She said, “The little girl next door said she came from Missouri and I just wondered where I came from.”
So it’s possible to answer a matter before you really know what the matter is. And he that answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and a shame to him.
The spirit of a man will sustain his weakness; but a wounded spirit who can bear? (18:14)
Oh, how hard it is when your spirit has been wounded. And yet, if you have a strong spirit, how it can bear the infirmities, the weaknesses, the sicknesses.
The heart of the prudent gets knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men (18:15-16).
Actually, he’s saying that by giving gifts you can open a lot of doors. It gives a place for you. It will bring you before great men. It actually brought me before Begin last week. I’d never be able to see Begin if we didn’t have a gift for him, for Israel.
He that is first in his own cause seems just; but his neighbor comes and searches him. The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parts between the mighty (18:17-18).
So the casting of the lot. You’re arguing over this thing. Let’s cast lots for it. Stops the argument. It’s idea of flipping a coin, you know. Same idea. Let’s flip a coin. Can’t agree on something, we’ll flip a coin. Heads, we will. Tails, we won’t. And so it stops the contentions.
A brother who is offended is harder to be won than a strong city (18:19):
So the idea is, don’t offend your brother.
and their contentions are like the bars of a castle (18:19).
You can’t get through them.
A man's belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled (18:20).
This is, I think, quite an important proverb, the next one.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Whoso findeth a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor of the LORD (18:21-22).
So Solomon found a thousand of them. He surely learned an awful lot about women.
The poor useth entreaties; but the rich answereth roughly (18:23).
The poor man has to entreat; sort of beg.
A man that hath friends must show himself friendly (18:24):
That’s basic now. If you want to have friends, you’ve just got to show yourself friendly. A lot of people complain, “Oh, we don’t have any friends.” Well, you’re not you’re not showing yourself friendly. You if you’re going to have friends, you’ve got to just be friendly.
and there is a friend [there is a special friend] who will stick closer than a brother (18:24).
That, of course, is Jesus Christ. That’s an important proverb to me. A man to have friends has to show himself friendly. But there is one friend who will stick closer than a brother.
Better is the poor that walks in his integrity [or in honesty], than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth. The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD. Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is even separated from his neighbor (19:1-4).
If you’re rich, you have a lot of people coming around. But you really don’t know. It would be hard to be rich and have all of the people hanging around, because you don’t know if they’re really your friends or not. What will happen in adversity? So you have all of this crazy problem of accepting people because I don't know, “What you really want? You know. Because I’m rich you’re coming around. Do you really love me?” And so they have a hard time.
A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaks lies shall not escape. Many will entreat the favor of the prince: and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts. All of the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursues them with words, and yet they are wanting to him (19:5-7).
The poor man.
He that gets wisdom loves his own soul: he that keeps understanding shall find good. A false witness shall not be unpunished (19:8-9),
We had that one just a little bit ago in verse 5. But then the latter part is just a little different.
he that speaketh lies shall perish (19:9).
Verse 5 says, “Shall not escape.” Very similar, though, proverbs.
Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes (19:10).
Oh man, the worst thing in the world is to give a little power to some people. They don’t know how to handle it.
The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression (19:11).
Much better just to say, “Oh, let it go.” Just to pass over the transgressions.
The king's wrath is as a roaring of a lion; but his favor is as the dew on the grass. A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping (19:12-13).
That’s like the Chinese torture trick, you know. Or you ever have a leaky faucet and you’re trying to sleep at night and hear the ploop, ploop, ploop.
House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD (19:14).
Oh, isn’t that neat? “He that finds a wife finds a good thing.” A prudent wife is from the Lord. God is good to us.
Slothfulness [the laziness again] casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger. He that keeps the commandment keeps his own soul; but he that despises his ways shall die. Then he that has pity upon the poor is lending to the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again (19:15-17).
Now here’s an interesting thing. As I told you, God takes up the cause of the poor. And if you have pity on the poor and give to them, then God will repay you. In other words, it’s like loaning to God to give to the poor. That’s how much takes up the cause. And God says, “I’ll repay you.” So it’s a neat thing to give to the poor. You’re lending to the Lord. I like to lend to the Lord. I think it’s grand to be able to lend to God. How can I do that? By giving to the poor. You’re lending to the Lord and the Lord will repay you. The Lord will pay you back. Try it.
Chasten your son while there is hope, and let not your soul spare for his crying (19:18).
Now, kids learn very quickly to start wailing the minute you look at them, you know, so that you won’t hit them so hard or you won’t spank them so long, or whatever. And so they really, they catch on quick, you know. Really wail and scream. Even when you miss them, you know, because they’re already conditioned for that. So go ahead and spank your son really while there is hope. Don’t spare for his crying.
Now, of course, let me say there is reason, and surely the Bible does not advocate child abuse. And there, in these days in which we live, is so much child abuse. It’s terrible. To abuse a child has to be one of the worst things that a person could do. A little child that is so helpless, can’t defend himself. I think that we need to be extremely careful in our punishment of a child. And I think that when we get to these kind of Scriptures, surely we do not understand them to mean beating a child. Spanking a child, yes. But not beating a child. There’s no value in that, ever.
A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if you deliver him, you’re just going to have to do it again (19:19).
A guy with a hot temper, you know, you may get in and help him out, but man, you’re just going to have to do it again.
Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that you may be wise in the latter end. There are many devices in man's heart; nevertheless the counsels of the LORD, they shall stand (19:20-21).
In other words, you can’t really fight against God or against God’s Word. Now you may have all kinds of devices. You may be figuring out all kinds of schemes, but ultimately, you know, God’s Word is going to stand. There is an old Greek saying, “The dice of the gods are loaded.” That means you just can’t go against God’s Word and win. God has said certain things and you may scheme and device all you want. But the Word of the Lord is going to stand. And any time you try to go against the Word of God you’re going to lose.
The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar. The fear of the LORD tends to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he will not be visited with evil (19:22-23).
So the fear of the Lord, how important it is. Reverencing God. It just tends towards life. You’ll be satisfied. Not be visited with evil.
The slothful man [again, the lazy man] he hides his hand in his bosom (19:24),
And this is really lazy.
he won’t even so much as bring it to his mouth (19:24).
That’s really lazy. When you get so lazy you’re not going to feed yourself, you've had it.
Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge. He that wasteth his father, and chases away his mother, is a [rat, he’s a] son that causes shame, and brings reproach. Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causes to err from the words of knowledge. An ungodly witness scorns judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devours iniquity. Judgments are prepared for the scorners, and stripes for the backs of fools (19:25-29).
Into chapter 20.
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise (20:1).
He will have more to say about wine as we move along in our study next week, chapter 23. “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has babblings? Who has wounds without cause? Who has red eyes? They that tarry long at wine; and those that go to seek mixed wine,” and so forth (Proverbs 23:29-30). It talks about them in chapter 23. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging. Whoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
In the New Testament we are told that in choosing those as overseers in the church, they are not to be given to wine. In the Old Testament, there were two sons of Aaron who, when they had built the altar and were ready to offer sacrifices, the fire of God came down and kindled the altar and Aaron’s two sons grabbed their little incense burners and put coals in them and started in to offer incense before the Lord, and the fire of God came from the altar and consumed the two sons of Aaron. And when this happened, the Lord said unto Moses, “Speak unto Aaron and his sons and tell them that they are not to be drinking wine when they come in to offer sacrifices before Me.” For God does not want service from any kind of a false stimulation.
So there are people today that feel a freedom and a liberty to drink wine, and again, it’s a thing where you say, “Well, Jesus turned the water,” and all this kind of stuff, and you can rationalize and all. But yet, “Wine is a mocker.” Better that you didn’t. The thing is, again, not is it right, is it wrong? Is it pleasing? Is this what God wants? “Strong drink is raging. Whoever is deceived by them is not wise.”
Paul said, “All things are lawful for me.” So you can prove that it’s lawful. But he said, “I will not be brought under the power of any” (I Corinthians 6:12). Does it affect my judgment at all? Does it affect my attitudes? Then I’m being brought under its power.
The fear of the king is as a roaring of a lion: whoso provokes him to anger sins against his own soul (20:2).
You provoke a king, provoke a lion, you’re in trouble.
It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will just keep on meddling (20:3).
You know there are some times you just don’t want to get into trouble. You don’t want to get in a brawl, but the guy just keeps needling. Just keeps going and going and going. The fool will just keep on meddling.
We used to have a great big old English setter, Duke. And he’s the kind of dog every boy should have to grow up with. Of course, we didn’t have leash laws in those days, and everywhere I went Duke was with me. Ride my bike; he would be alongside. Go to school; create worst havoc in school. Through the hallways looking for me and all. And he was big. He could jump up and his feet would be on my shoulders, he could lick my face. And he was just a boy’s dog. Great dog. Those English setters are very independent dogs, and they’re sort of a one-owner type of a dog. In other words, you call them, you try and pet them and they’re very independent. Have nothing to do with you. But their master, you know, they’re just devoted. And Duke was just devoted to me. I was his master and just, you know, I could whistle anything else, and man, he would come charging. He was just my dog.
We went up to Bass Lake one summer and took Duke with us. And he created quite a bit of havoc there at Bass Lake. One evening we were sitting down to eat dinner, and of course, campfire and so forth. Cooked the food and fixing dinner. And he looked sort of longingly at our food. And then he went over and began to dig in the dirt and pulled up a whole string of sausages that he had ripped off from some camp somewhere. And there was this little Terrier dog that was in a camp next to us, and here Duke, big old thing, and this little Terrier was always yipping. And whenever Duke would go running along the lake, this little dog would be nipping at him and yipping, and he just ignored him. You know, just like a little mouse, and you know, “Go away you little runt, you know, you’re…and just leave me alone.” But this little dog kept persisting, and one day Duke was running along the lake and this little dog was along, yipping and nipping, and evidently clipped him and made him mad. And he turned around and picked up this little dog in his mouth and just flung him on out into the lake. But it reminded me of this proverb. “It is an honor for a man to cease from strife, but the fool will just keep on meddling.” Until he’s into trouble, you know.
Now we deal with the sluggard or the slothful, the lazy man again.
The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold (20:4);
Oh, it’s too cold to go out and plow today.
therefore he’ll be begging in the time of harvest, and have nothing. Counsel in the heart of a man is like deep water (20:4-5);
This is beautiful.
but a man of understanding will draw it out (20:5).
Now a really good counselor will be able to draw you out. Deep within you know the answer; you know what’s right. You know what you should be doing. And a counselor really isn’t there to tell you what to do. He’s there to help you understand yourself. Now it’s like a well of deep waters. Down inside you know basically what you should be doing. And a man of understanding, a good counselor, can draw it out of you. And that’s what wise counseling really is. It’s drawing out the answers within the person. I’m not a good counselor so don’t come to me. But I would just know what they should be doing.
Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness (20:6):
Ain’t that the truth?
but a faithful man who can find? The just man walks in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. A king that sits in the throne of judgment scatters away all of the evil with his eyes (20:6-8).
He looks around.
Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin? (20:9)
Can any of you say that? I’ve made my…I’m pure. Who can say it?
Now here’s the thing again on the balances, the weights.
Divers weights, and divers measures (20:10),
This is, you know, as I said, one to buy them, one to sell.
both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD (20:10).
If you have different sizes of cups, different weights, they’re an abomination to God.
Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right (20:11).
You begin to see that even in the child.
The hearing ear, the seeing eye, the LORD hath made both of them. Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread (20:12-13).
Get up. Now this one is so typical.
It is nothing, it is nothing, says the buyer: but when he is gone his way, he boasts (20:14).
“Man, what a deal I got,” you know. Yet when you’re looking at it, “Oh, it’s an old dog. It’s not worth anything. It’s nothing.”
There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are like a precious jewel. Take his garment that is a surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman. The bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth will be filled with gravel (20:15-17).
Deceitfulness. You may think it’s smart, but man, you’re going to grind.
Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war. He that goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets: and therefore meddle not with him that is flattering with his lips. Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in obscure darkness. An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed. Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee (20:18-22).
“Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). And so don’t you go around saying, “I’m going to get even. I’ll recompense him or get even for his evil.” Just give it to the Lord.
Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good. Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way? (20:23-24)
Isn’t that interesting? Man’s goings are of the Lord. God guides my path. How then can I understand my own way?
It is a snare to a man who devours that which is holy, and after vows to make an inquiry (20:25).
In other words, if you make a vow to God then don’t modify it, just keep it.
A wise king scatters the wicked, and brings the wheel over them. The spirit of a man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of his life (20:26-27).
Spirit of man. God’s candle searching within.
Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upheld by mercy. And the glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is their gray head (20:28-29).
I don't know where that leaves me.
The blueness of a wound cleanses away evil: so do stripes in the inward parts of the life (20:30).
Proverbs, interesting little bits of instruction and wisdom. A wise man will take heed to them and will gain in knowledge.
Father, we thank You for the instructions in the way of righteousness and truth. That which is good. That which is wholesome. That which is honest. Help us, Lord, to take to heart these words of instruction. Help us, Lord, to walk in righteousness before Thee. Help us to seek peace and to pursue it. Oh God, keep us from the wicked way. From the false lips. From the talebearing. May we in love relate to each other. Committing, Lord, ourselves, the issues of our lives unto Thee. Knowing, Lord, that You are the judge who will make the final disposition of all things. And thus, may we rest in Thy justice and in Thy truth. In Jesus' name. Amen.
By Chuck Smith
Shall we turn now in our Bibles to Proverbs 21.
Proverbs 21, Solomon declares:
The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will (21:1).
The word “rivers of water” is in the Hebrew “as the water courses.” Now in the land of Israel, they had made many sluices for the water by which they could direct the water from the river to their farm areas. And these sluices were, of course, to turn the water to bring it to a desired area. So Solomon is declaring that, in reality, the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord. And even as the king by the water sluices is able to direct the water to where he desires it to be, so God is able to direct the heart of the king according to God’s will.
How we should desire that our hearts be in the hands of the Lord. That God would direct our hearts, and that’s exactly what the Scripture promises is the reality for us who walk with Jesus Christ. The Lord said, “And in those days, I will write my laws on the fleshly tablets of their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). “No longer on the tables of stone, but on the fleshly tablets of our heart” (II Corinthians 3:3). And as a child of God, God expresses His will and His purpose for my life by the directing of my desires. So as a child of God, we can say our hearts are in the hands of the Lord. He directs them like the sluices of water wherever He wills. That should be our case.
The second proverb is one that we can all attest to.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes (21:2):
It’s amazing how that we can actually rationalize and justify every single thing we’ve done. We can, you know… “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes.”
but the LORD ponders the hearts (21:2).
God looks down at my motives. God is always interested in not so much of what I do but what motivated that action. Now it is possible that a person have the totally proper actions but the wrong motivations. We are told in II Corinthians 5 that we are all to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, in order that we might be judged according to our works what sort they are. Now Jesus tells us that we will definitely be judged according to, not what I’ve done, but what motivated what I did. “Take heed to yourself that you do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of men. For I say unto you, ye have your reward” (Matthew 6:1). There are many things that a person does ostensibly for the Lord, but inwardly he is motivated by his own desire for recognition. His own desire to be a leader or whatever, and the motivation of the work is wrong. God’s going to test one day our hearts, our motivations.
So where every deed is right in my own eyes I can say, “Look what I did, Lord. I prophesied in Your name. I preached in Your name. I did all this.” And the Lord says, “Hey, I never knew you.” You see, your heart, the motivation was wrong. And so that is why earlier a proverb said, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). What is the attitude of my heart? What is the motivation of my heart? That’s something that I need to examine; and yet, who knows? “The heart is deceitful, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). So what can I do? God’s going to one day judge me by the motivations of my heart. But my heart’s deceitful and desperately wicked. What can I do? Exactly what David did in Psalm 139 and say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my way, and see if there be some way of wickedness in me” (Psalm 139:23-24). I don’t know my own heart. Therefore, I ask God, “Search my heart. God, reveal to me if there is something that is there that is unlike Thee. Let it be known, Lord, reveal.”
To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice (21:3).
Now there are people who are always ready to sacrifice. In the New Testament Jesus got after the Pharisees because they were so meticulous in paying tithes of their herb gardens where they raise little seeds. And so they would count out their coriander seeds. “Nine for me, one for the Lord. Nine for me, one for the Lord.” And so meticulous in the paying of their tithes. They tithe of their anise, their mint, their cumin, their spices. But He said, “You’ve totally omitted the more important things: righteousness, mercy, judgment.” And so God is more interested in my seeking to be righteous. My seeking to be merciful than for me coming and offering some sacrifice to God. “To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than to sacrifice.”
God said, “Sacrificings and offerings I would not.” I don’t care about those. What I want is a broken and a contrite heart, the repentant heart. God said, “I will not turn away.” But He spoke about the rejection of their sacrifices and offerings at one point. He said, “Don’t bring Me any more. I’m sick of them. I don’t want any more of your sacrifices. Your heart isn’t in it.” And the sacrifice is meaningless at that point. God says, “Don’t offer, I don’t want any more. What I want is a true repentance.” True judgment, justice, mercy—those are the things that God is interested in.
A high look, a proud heart, and the light of the wicked, is sin (21:4).
The wicked can’t do anything right. But the proud look, the proud heart, the high look, how God hates, detests. Humble yourself. “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted; he that exalteth himself shall be abased” (Matthew 23:12).
The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want (21:5).
They that are hasty to be rich, those that are looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. Here’s the warning, “Hey, you’re going to get burned.” There’s no quick way to riches. The thoughts of the diligent tend towards plenteousness, but the get-rich-schemes are going to leave you broke.
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of those that seek death (21:6).
These are those persons that go around with fraudulent schemes. “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue.” All of the scams that they have. But how often when they get caught they get rubbed out.
The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment. The way of a man is perverse and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right (21:7-8).
Notice the contrast in the poetry here.
It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house (21:9).
Now I would say that probably one woman in a thousand is brawling. But inasmuch as he married a thousand, he got one of them. And so he speaks probably from experience, one of his wives. And better to dwell in the corner of the housetop. I really wouldn’t know. I say that seriously. Better to dwell in the bedroom.
The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbor finds no favor in his eyes (21:10).
The soul of the wicked. The mind, the consciousness. He just desires evil.
When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge (21:11).
Some of these really don’t really call for any further kind of amplification.
The righteous man wisely considers the house of the wicked: but God overthrows the wicked for their wickedness. Whoso stops his ears at the cry of the poor, he shall cry himself, not be heard (21:12-13).
Now, again, God taking up the cause of the poor. All the way through we see God’s taking up the cause of the poor. “He who lends to the poor lends to the Lord” (Proverbs 19:17). Now if you close up your ears to the cry of the poor, then God says He’ll close up His ear to you.
A gift in secret pacifies anger: and a reward in the bosom, strong wrath. It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity. A man that wanders out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead. And he that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: and he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich. The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright. It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman (21:14-19).
Again, one in a thousand, and he had his one and he had to deal with her.
There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but the foolish man spends it up. He that follows after righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor (21:20-21).
Let’s look at that again. “He that follows after righteousness and mercy,” what will he find? “He’ll find life, righteousness and honor.”
A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof. Whoso keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from troubles (21:22-23).
How many times I wish I hadn’t said it. That word that was said in jest or carelessness, or just off, how you’d like to draw it back so many times. “Whoso keeps his mouth and his tongue will just keep himself from a lot of trouble.”
Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who deals in proud wrath. The desire of a slothful man absolutely destroys him; for his hands refuse to labor (21:24-25).
He has so much to say about the slothful man, the lazy person. And here the desire of the lazy person just eats him up. It kills him. Because you desire, but you don’t have because your hands refuse to labor. So it’s that desire but no fulfillment.
He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not (21:26).
That is, the desire of the slothful kills him; his hands refuse to labor. He is coveting greedily all day long.
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination (21:27):
Now, we dealt with this a little bit earlier in one of the earlier proverbs here in the chapter, where God is interested in justice and judgment more than sacrifice. And the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination. God doesn’t really want any sacrifices from the wicked.
how much more, when he brings it with a wicked mind? (21:27)
When he is regarding iniquity in his mind and heart, and yet brings a sacrifice before the Lord.
A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly. A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way (21:28-29).
There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD (21:30).
There’s no way that you can bring to naught the works of God. There’s no wisdom, no understanding, no counsel that you can take against Him.
The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD (21:31).
Now what are you trusting in for safety? For your own personal safety? You say, “Well, I got a permit to carry a gun. Living in horrible days.” No, the Lord said, “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). What are you trusting in for safety? “A horse is prepared against the day of battle, but the real safety is in the Lord.” “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). Unless the Lord is keeping you, all of your endeavors to keep yourself are in vain. Better to put your trust in the Lord and your keeping into His hand than to take it in your own hands. How important that we learn to just trust in the Lord for His protection.
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold (22:1).
The good name, so important, so valuable. Good reputation, so important. “Rather to be chosen than great riches. Loving favor rather than silver and gold.”
The rich and the poor meet together (22:2):
Where? In the eyes of the Lord.
for the LORD is the maker of them all (22:2).
You know, God can’t be impressed with your bank account. We all meet together when we stand before God. The rich and the poor, we’re all alike. We meet together. There’s a common ground. Whenever we stand before the Lord, we’re meeting on common grounds. Except, as I understand the Scripture, the poor man has maybe a few advantages. “How hard it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mark 10:24). That is, how hard it is for those who trust in riches. The danger of riches is always that tendency and temptation to trust in your riches. I’ve learned that I can buy my way out of problems with my money. I learn that I can use money to influence people or to control people. And I’m used to, then, the manipulation of people because of my financial prowess. Poor person doesn’t have any of those problems. When you stand before the Lord, the rich and the poor meet together.
The prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hides himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished (22:3).
The prudent man. Now we see the evil that is going to result from a life of sin, and we hide our self in the provisions that God has made through Jesus Christ. We hide from that day of judgment. But the simple, they’re going to pass right on into it and will be punished.
By humility and the fear of the LORD [or reverence of the Lord] are riches, honor, and life (22:4).
Now, “He that follows after righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor.” Here, “By humility and the reverence of the Lord are riches, honor and life.”
Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse: and he who keeps his soul shall be far from them. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (22:5-6).
This particular passage of Scripture has been the center of great controversy. There are many people who, with an aching heart, looking at their children who are rebelling from the things of the Lord, and their hearts filled with wonderment as to how the child could turn so far from God. But yet, God has declared, “Train up a child.” Of course, it does involve that responsibility of training the child. The Hebrew word is one that we translate kanakais, it’s a systematic form of training.
But what did you train your child to be? What was your primary purpose for your child? What was your goal for your children? What did you want for them above everything else? You say, “Well, I wanted them to be successful. I wanted them to be happy. I wanted them to have a successful career. I wanted them to have a good education.” Well, they are purely pagan goals and ideals for your children. They’re totally un-Christian. The primary goal that we should have for each of our children is that they walk with the Lord. That they learn to know God and serve God and walk with Him.
And that is not undervaluing education. I think that it’s great. I think a person should avail himself the opportunity of every educational advantage he can receive. But that should never be our goal. Our goal should be that our children will walk with the Lord. And I’d rather have them walking with the Lord and be an ignoramus and work in some very menial work than I would to have them have their Ph.D.’s and be agnostic or atheistic or blasphemous against God.
Not all of our children graduated from college. I have to confess a disappointment that they did not take full advantage of all of the natural God-given intellectual capacities that they had in going to college. And yet, we’ve learned to commit this completely into the hands of the Lord. The fact that they went to college or graduated from college or not doesn’t really make any difference to me. I’m thankful they’re walking with Him. That’s what’s important. It could be that in college their minds could have been twisted. It could have been that their values could have been destroyed. The true values. I would much rather that they be walking with the Lord than to have their Ph.D.’s.
“Train up a child.” What is the goal that you have? That’s important. If you’re training a child to be successful, he may be successful. But he also may be a successful infidel. “Train up your child in the way he should go, when he’s old, he will not depart from it.”
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail. He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor (22:7-9).
God’s mark upon generosity. “He that has a bountiful eye shall be blessed when he will give to the poor.”
Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease (22:10).
It’s amazing what one scorner can do in bringing strife and contention. So, cast out the scorner. Here at Calvary Chapel, actually, we have requested many scorners not to come back. That’s usually Romaine’s job, and he does it quite effectively. But it’s valuable. You know, it’s a healthy body that can purge its system of the poisons. And when a body is no longer strong enough to purge itself of its poisons, that body is going to die.
In the New Testament it says to get rid of the leaven for, “a little leaven will leaven the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). So cast out that leaven. Same thing here. Cast out the scorner and you can get rid of so many problems. The contentions and all will cease.
He that loves pureness of heart, for the grace of lips the king shall be his friend. The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor. The slothful man says, There is a lion outside, I’ll be slain in the streets (22:11-13).
Any excuse to keep from going to work. And, again, as Benjamin Franklin said, “The man who is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
The mouth of a strange woman is a deep pit: and he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall in it (22:14).
Verse 15. Again, as far as the correction of our children.
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it from him (22:15).
Solomon, no doubt, observed his father David’s mistake. David was an extremely poor disciplinarian. And as a result of his being a poor disciplinarian, his sons rebelled against him. It is spoken of one of David’s sons that he never once punished him or did anything to antagonize him. He just left him alone. And that son grew up to hate David and rebelled against David. Of course, Absalom also rebelled against his father. David was just a poor disciplinarian.
So many times we have the false concept. “Well, I don’t want, you know, I don’t want to break this bond between my child and I. I won’t punish him. I’ll just let him go.” And that laxity, lack of discipline. “The foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of instruction will drive it far from him.” A child left to himself will bring reproach to his parents.
He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he who gives to the rich, shall surely come to want (22:16).
Now at this point, the whole thing of the Proverbs begin to change a bit. We’ve had proverbs for a long period that more or less are isolated singly and stand alone. Sometimes you have a couplet, two of them together. But now the whole procedure of the Proverbs change, and we now have longer proverbs. That is, they take two, three, four verses in the proverbs that we now follow. You’ll notice this definite change, and rather than just little four-liners, they now expand on a particular thought.
Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips. That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee. Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, That I may make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee? (22:17-21)
So that whole paragraph now is the one idea of just hearken to the instruction that I’m going to give to you. Keep it. And basically the instruction is to teach you to trust in the Lord.
The next two verses form one thought.
Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them (22:22-23).
Again, God taking up the cause of the poor person. Twenty-four and twenty-five make up one thought.
Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest you learn his ways, and get a snare in your soul (22:24-25).
Twenty-six and twenty-seven are together.
Be not thou one of them that strikes hands, or of them that are surety for debts. For if you have nothing to pay, why should they take away your bed from under thee? (22:26-27)
How many people who have you known signed as a surety have been stung. So it’s a warning against signing as a surety for someone else. Co-signing on this loan for me, friend, be careful.
Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set (22:28).
Now this, of course, came as a law in the book of Deuteronomy where they were prohibited from removing the landmarks. The landmarks have been established by God. Property ownership and the limits of that property ownership. “Remove not the landmark.” I think of it in a spiritual sense. The landmark is the guidelines, and in a spiritual sense, unfortunately, we are living in the day when many men have sought to remove the spiritual type of landmarks or the foundational truths of the Word of God. And what confusion has ensued when men start playing around with the foundational truths of Christianity. Questioning the authority of the Word of God. Questioning the deity of Jesus Christ. And men starting to remove these landmarks. Confusion results.
You see a man that is diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men (22:29).
Or in the Hebrew, obscure men.
Now the next three verses are coupled together.
When you sit to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to your throat, if you be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat (23:1-3).
So you don’t go in and start scarfing up the hors d’oeuvres, you know. All of these dainty little fancy things, you know, and you go in and just start woofing them down. And never any way you’re going to fill up on hors d’oeuvres. So when you sit with the ruler, just consider diligently what’s put before you. And if you’re given to appetite, better to just take your knife, put it to your throat. Don’t be desirous of those little dainties. Keep your hands off. They’re deceitful.
Labor not to be rich: cease from your own wisdom (23:4).
The Bible says, “If riches increase…” Now it says, “Labor not.” Don’t let that be a goal of life. But, “If riches increase, set not your heart upon them” (Psalm 62:10). God may see fit to increase riches. Just don’t let your heart get set on them.
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven (23:5).
The next three verses are coupled together.
Eat not the bread of him that hath an evil eye (23:6),
Now, this isn’t referring to the old superstition that there are some people that have an evil eye, that they can look on you with that evil eye and put a hex on you. It’s almost humorous to watch the preliminaries of some of these boxing matches where they have these guys over in the corner, you know, to put the evil eye on the other boxer, and you see them trying to put this evil eye and hex, and you see the boxer deliberately avoiding, won’t look and see that evil eye. But this is not at all a reference to some kind of a power that a person has to put a hex on you with an evil eye.
Actually, it is just referring to a person whose mind is evil, to an evil person. “Eat not the bread of him who is evil.”
neither desire his dainty meats: For as he thinks in his heart, so is he (23:6-7):
If he is thinking this evil in his heart, then he’s an evil person.
Eat and drink, he says to you; but his heart is not with you. The morsel which you have eaten you will vomit up, and lose thy sweet words. Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of your words (23:7-9).
And again, we had in the last chapter.
Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: For their Redeemer is mighty; and he shall plead their cause with thee (23:10-11).
In other words, God will take up the cause of the widow or of the orphan, of the poor. If you’re a widow, if you’re an orphan, you’re poor, you got a fantastic ally. God will take up your cause.
Apply thine heart unto instruction, thine ears to the words of knowledge. And withhold not correction from the child: for if you beat him with the rod, he shall not die (23:12-13).
You'll get arrested.
Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (23:14).
Now, as we mentioned this morning, “Train up a child in the way he should go.” In the Hebrew literally is, “Train up a child according to his way.” That is, recognize that there is a vast difference in the character, in the personalities of children. And there are some children where spanking is excellent discipline. There are other kids you can beat all day and it’s not going to do any good. So learning that children have different temperaments, you’re training then is according to their temperament. “Train up a child according to his way.” And there’s no sense of wailing on a kid that doesn’t do any good. Find another form of discipline. You can find an effective form of discipline. Maybe the depravation of certain privileges or desires that the child has is an excellent form of discipline for particular children. But I don’t advocate child beating, and neither do I believe that the Scriptures advocate that. But for some kids, a good wailing once in a while isn’t a bad idea.
As I said, several years ago I knew much more about raising children than I do now. In our first pastorate, small little church, sort of a one-room church, and for Sunday school we just had curtains to divide off the auditorium into the classrooms. It wasn’t an ideal situation at all. In fact, it was a very difficult situation, especially because the lady who was teaching the high school class had a little girl that she never disciplined. And a child left to itself will bring reproach to its parents. And because this little girl was never disciplined, she would just start screaming, and because we were all in the same room only divided by curtains, it would disrupt the whole Sunday school. And, of course, I was very young and very new to pastoring, and I didn’t have any children so I had all the answers for raising children and everything else.
So the second Sunday that we were in this church and the same procedure started again as this mother started to teach the class, her little girl started screaming and yelling. I went up to her and graciously offered to take her little girl for a walk. I would never do it now. But I spanked that little gal when I got her outside. Got her about a block away and then I applied some psychology where I thought it would do the most good. It worked. I don’t advocate it, but it worked. I’ll tell you, from then on whenever that little girl would start to scream, I’d look at her and she’d go.
Several years ago, I was directing a summer camp in Arizona and this nice looking young lady about eighteen years old came up to me and said, “Do you know who I am?” And I looked at her and I said, “Well, no, I don’t.” She said, and she gave me her name, and I said, “Oh, no.” She grew up to be a very lovely young lady. I don’t know that my spanking had anything to do with that, but I’d like to think that it did.
These next few are coupled together.
My son, if your heart is wise, my heart shall rejoice. Yes, my reins shall rejoice, when your lips speak right things (23:15-16).
Now the reins are really the kidneys. And they felt that the deepest emotions of a person are not really felt in your heart, Valentine’s Day notwithstanding, but the deepest emotions of a person are felt down in the stomach region. When you really feel an emotion extremely deep, you feel it in the region of the stomach. That’s why in the New Testament you have “bowels of compassion” (I John 3:17). As the deepest area of feeling is way down and we say, “I had a gut-level feeling, you know.” And we’re trying to describe a feeling that is more than just an emotional moment. But where I feel something very deeply. So here is the father talking to his son. “My heart will rejoice. Yea, even deeper than that. If you’re a wise son and you speak wise things and right things, down in the deepest area I rejoice.”
Let not your heart envy sinners: but reverence the LORD all day long. For surely there is an end; and your expectation shall not be cut off. Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide your heart in the way (23:17-19).
Again, there is an end. Look down the road. Consider the end result. There is an end to all things. That is, of this life, and then I’m going to stand before God. So consider that.
Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of meat: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. Hearken unto your father that begat thee, and despise not your 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 begets a wise child shall have the joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bore thee shall rejoice. My son, give me your heart, let your eyes observe my ways. For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit. She also lies in wait as for a prey, and increases the transgressors among men (23:20-28).
Now this next portion is all together to the end of the chapter and it’s just extremely interesting.
Who has woe? who has sorrow? who has contentions? who has babblings? who has wounds without cause? who has redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, or when it moveth itself aright (23:29-31).
Or when it moves by itself. Some believe that this is talking of the fermentation process. And after the fermentation has taken place, then you should avoid it. In other words, they did have non-fermented types of wines. And once the wine moves of itself in the cup, the fermentation process, then leave it alone.
For at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. [As the result] Your eyes will behold strange women (23:32-33),
You will lose your inhibitions.
your heart shall utter perverse things (23:33).
Things that you would not normally say. Things that you would not normally do. But now that you’re under the influence, your inhibitions have been loosed, you’re going to do all kinds of weird and stupid things.
Yea, thou shalt be as he that lies down in the middle of the sea (23:34),
Doing just really dumb things.
or as one who lies on the top of a mast. They have stricken me, you will say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, but I didn’t feel it (23:34-35):
You’ll wake up with all the bruises and cuts and you don’t know how you’ve got them.
when shall I awake? (23:35)
And then what happens?
I’ll go right back and seek it yet again (23:35).
The tragic effects of alcoholism described quite graphically here in Proverbs.
Again, he continues in twenty-four in putting them together in couplets or in phrases.
Be not envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart studies destruction, and their lips talk of mischief (24:1-2).
The next one.
Through wisdom is a house built; and by understanding it is established: and by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all pleasant riches (24:3-4).
Wisdom and knowledge, the value of them.
A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increases strength. For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate (24:5-7).
The gate was always the place of judgment.
He that devises to do evil shall be called a mischievous person. The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men (24:8-9).
Now we have some more that are…no, not yet.
If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If you say, Behold, we knew it not (24:11-12);
In other words, if you fail to help someone when you have the capacity to do it, if you do it not, if you say, “Behold, I didn’t know.”
doth not he that pondereth the heart considereth it? and he that keeps the soul, does he not know it? and shall not he render every man according to his works? (24:12-13)
You know, you can’t beg off your responsibility because God knows your heart. God knows what’s in your mind. And you may try to excuse your actions. “Oh, I didn’t know.” But yet God is going to ponder your heart. God knows what’s in your mind. And God will render to every man according to his works.
My son, eat honey, because it’s good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to your taste: and so shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto your soul: when you have found it, then there shall be a reward, and the expectation shall not be cut off (24:13-14).
How sweet is a nugget of truth. How sweet it is to get understanding from the Lord on a particular thing. It’s just as sweet as honey into your mouth, there is a sweetness in your soul when you gain knowledge and wisdom.
Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place: For a just man falleth seven times, but he will rise up again: but the wicked will fall into mischief (24:15-16).
We may fall, but thank God we rise again. I’ve often said there isn’t any great evil in falling unless you just lie there. Everybody stumbles. Everybody falls. None of us are perfect, and God knows that we’re not perfect. He knows our frame, that we’re but dust. We usually expect more out of ourselves than God expects. And we’re usually harder on ourselves than God is. We get so disappointed when we have fallen. We get so disappointed when we have failed. It doesn’t disappoint God at all. He knew all the time we were going to stumble. It was just I was expecting more out of myself than God is. And God doesn’t judge or condemn when you stumble. It’s only when you lie there. God understands. He has great patience with us. Even as you have great patience in teaching your child to walk.
You expect your child to stumble. You expect your child to fall. Oh, of course, you will do your best to keep your child from falling. But there are those times when the child is learning to walk and he falls. Now a wise parent won’t get all excited and scream and run over and say, “Oh, are you all right?” He just says, “Well, get up now. Try again.” If you show all fear and excitement, then the child will get excited and start to cry and get discouraged. But you say, “Well, that was great! You did real well. You took five steps before you stumbled. That’s good.” And you encourage the child to go again.
Now God is teaching us to walk and we stumble. And we get all discouraged. “I tried so hard. Failed again.” And God is saying, “Hey, that was a good try. Let’s go at it again. Now here’s where you made your mistake. You got your eyes off of Me. You got them on the way, that’s when you began to sink.” And the Lord picks us up, dusts us off, and sets us up again. He’s so patient with us. He’s so understanding with us. And if the righteous falls seven times, he’s going to rise again.
Now here’s a hard one:
Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turns away his wrath from him (24:17-18).
Now that’s not too good a motivation not to rejoice. If you rejoice, God may take it off. So don’t rejoice and let God just continue to whip him.
Fret not thyself because of evil men (24:19),
You remember Psalm 37, it seems like this is probably something that Solomon picked up from his father David. “Fret not thyself,” David said, “for evildoers, for they shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:1-2). Now, “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 (24:19-20).
Don’t be envious of them. They’re going to be cut off.
My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knows the ruin of them both? These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment. He that saith to the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them. Every man shall kiss his lips that gives a right answer. Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build your house. Now be not a witness against your neighbor without cause; and deceive not with thy lips. Say not, I will do so to him as he has done to me: I will render to the man according to his work (24:21-29).
Don’t say that. That’s so often. “I’m going to do to him what he did to me. Boy, as we grew up as kids. Always. I just did to him what he did to me, you know.” God said don’t say that. “Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord, I will repay” (Romans 12:19).
Now from thirty on we have ode to the slothful man.
I went to the field of a slothful, and by the vineyard of the man who is void of understanding; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall was broken down (24:30-31).
Now you that have been over into the land, you can picture this. All of those stone walls that are around the vineyards and all, and they are set usually in such neat order. But the slothful man, the stone wall is broken down.
Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and I received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: And so shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth; and thy want as an armed man (24:32-34).
A lesson from the slothful.
Now in chapter 25. These proverbs were gathered by Hezekiah when he became king, and they were added to the books of proverbs by Hezekiah’s scribes. During the period of Hezekiah’s reign, it was a period of national revival. Prior to Hezekiah, the kingdom had reached a low point. As Hezekiah began to reign, there was a real spiritual revival, and it was a national movement among the people. And as is true in all spiritual revivals, there is an interest, a concern and a returning to the Word of God. Where you see people really interested in the Word of God, you know that there is a revival that is happening, because a revival always brings a renewed interest in the Word of God. And so Hezekiah’s scribes began to search for the Word of God, search for the Scriptures. And they found these proverbs and they added them to the book of Proverbs. So 25:1 explains it all.
These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied (25:1).
So they found these and they copied them and added them to the book of Proverbs, proverbs of Solomon.
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter (25:2).
How much God has concealed of His own wisdom and understanding and power and might. The secrets of the universe concealed by God. Yet the honor of the king is to search out a matter.
The heaven for height, the earth for depth, and the heart of the king is unsearchable (25:3).
Four and five stand together.
Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness (25:4-5).
So the removal of the dross. Now we know that the day is coming when God is going to test our works by fire and the dross to be purged as we stand before the King. And He will establish then His kingdom in righteousness. All of the dross will be taken away.
Put not forth thyself in the presence of a king, and stand not in the place of great men: For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than you should be put in the lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen (25:6-7).
Now this was referred to tonight by Hal, and Jesus said, “When you’re bidden to come to a feast, don’t go and take the most honorable table and the honorable chair. Sit in a lesser place. It’s much, much better to have the host come and say to you, ‘Oh, come up and sit up here,’ rather than to be sitting in the place of prominence and the host come up and say, ‘Hey, buddy, you’re in the wrong place. Get down there, you know.’” So Jesus really is more or less taking from Solomon. “Better it be said unto thee, ‘Come up hither,’ than you should be put in the lower place in the presence of the prince.”
Don’t be in a hurry, don’t go out quickly to strive, lest you know not what to do in the end thereof, when your neighbor has put thee to shame. Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself; and discover not a secret to another: Lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and your infamy turn not away (25:8-10).
Verse 11. Very picturesque.
A word that is fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver (25:11).
Now I don’t know if that’s Golden Delicious apples in a silver picture, but that would look awful good, you know. But a word fitly spoken. Some people have the gift of saying the right thing at the right time. You know, you can have a very explosive kind of a situation. Everybody is tense. And somebody with this gift just comes along and says the right thing and it just diffuses the whole thing. And you think, “Oh, you know.” You’re just expecting the whole thing to go and this word that is fitly spoken. How glorious it is. God grant to us this gift of saying the right thing at the right time.
Now, I don’t know why it is that so many times, though we know the right thing to say, it’s hard to say it. Now what kind of a perversity is that when I know to say the right thing and yet I have difficulty saying it? Now even with my own wife, I oftentimes have difficulty in saying to her what I know I should say. And I don't know why I have this difficulty. It’s some kind of a block of the inability to say the right thing at the right time. There are so many times when we could change the whole atmosphere if we would just say the right thing. “A word fitly spoken.” How glorious it is. And yet many times even when we know that word, we don’t say it. Now that’s no virtue. In fact, that’s probably evil to let something simmer when you, by a word fitly spoken, could stop it. Dumb perversity of our own hearts, I don't know. But God loves me and I like that. But I get so angry with myself sometimes because I know what I should do but I don’t.
An earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover to an obedient ear. As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is the faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refreshes the soul of his masters. Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain. And by long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone. Have you found honey? eat as much as is sufficient for thee, lest you be filled, and vomit it (25:12-16).
Here’s an interesting one.
Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor's house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee (25:17).
You know, you just sit there and sit there and sit there, and they’ve got things that they want to do and you’re not moving. “Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor’s house.”
A man that bears false witness against his neighbor is a maul, a sword, and a sharp arrow. Confidence in an unfaithful man in the time of trouble is like a broken tooth, or a foot out of joint. He that takes away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that sings songs to a heavy heart (25:18-20).
You ever put vinegar in…what is it we used to pour vinegar in? Baking soda, right. You know it. “Vinegar upon nitre, so is he that sings songs to a person with a heavy heart.”
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat (25:21);
Paul quotes this in Romans, chapter 12, or not chapter 12. Yes, 12:15. “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat” (Romans 12:20).
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee (25:21-22).
Now what does that mean? I am certain that the heaping of the coals of fire is not a bad thing. There’s probably something that has to do with their customs that would give you a better understanding of what it means to heap coals of fire upon their head. But it doesn’t mean to really crown them with hell, you know. Some have suggested that it will cause them to burn with shame. In other words, if your enemy is hungry and you feed him, if he is thirsty and you give him a drink, you cause him to burn with shame. The Lord will reward you. My motive for doing it shouldn’t be that I really heap coals of fire upon his head, you see. My motive in doing it should be really kind and generous.
The north wind drives away the rain: so does an angry countenance a backbiting tongue (25:23).
Someone is backbiting, just give them a dirty look. It’ll stop them. Angry countenance a backbiting tongue, drives it away.
It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house (25:24).
Now we already dealt with that one, but these men who were scribes copied it. They evidently got a kick out of that one.
As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring. It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory (25:25-27).
And then the last one.
He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, without walls (25:28). A man that has no rule over his own spirit. A man who is always losing his temper. He’s like a defenseless city, a city that is broken down, without walls. Oh God, help us to rule over our own spirits.