OT Reading – January 8

Proverbs 1-2

The Usefulness of Proverbs

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding,
To receive instruction in wise behavior,
Righteousness, justice and equity;
To give prudence to the naive,
To the youth knowledge and discretion,
A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and a figure,
The words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The Enticement of Sinners

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction
And do not forsake your mother’s teaching;
Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head
And ornaments about your neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait for blood,
Let us ambush the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;
13 We will find all kinds of precious wealth,
We will fill our houses with spoil;
14 Throw in your lot with us,
We shall all have one purse,”
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your feet from their path,
16 For their feet run to evil
And they hasten to shed blood.
17 Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited net
In the sight of any bird;
18 But they lie in wait for their own blood;
They ambush their own lives.
19 So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence;
It takes away the life of its possessors.

Wisdom Warns

20 Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;
21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?
23 “Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.
24 “Because I called and you refused,
I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
25 And you neglected all my counsel
And did not want my reproof;
26 I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your dread comes,
27 When your dread comes like a storm
And your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
29 Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord.
30 “They would not accept my counsel,
They spurned all my reproof.
31 “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way
And be satiated with their own devices.
32 “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them.
33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

The Pursuit of Wisdom Brings Security

My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
Guarding the paths of justice,
And He preserves the way of His godly ones.
Then you will discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 Discretion will guard you,
Understanding will watch over you,
12 To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things;
13 From those who leave the paths of uprightness
To walk in the ways of darkness;
14 Who delight in doing evil
And rejoice in the perversity of evil;
15 Whose paths are crooked,
And who are devious in their ways;
16 To deliver you from the strange woman,
From the adulteress who flatters with her words;
17 That leaves the companion of her youth
And forgets the covenant of her God;
18 For her house sinks down to death
And her tracks lead to the dead;
19 None who go to her return again,
Nor do they reach the paths of life.
20 So you will walk in the way of good men
And keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will live in the land
And the blameless will remain in it;
22 But the wicked will be cut off from the land
And the treacherous will be uprooted from it.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

August 25 – OT Reading

Proverbs 30-31

 

Proverbs 30

The Words of Agur

30 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle.

The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal:

Surely I am more stupid than any man,
And I do not have the understanding of a man.
Neither have I learned wisdom,
Nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son’s name?
Surely you know!

Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
Do not add to His words
Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.

Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:
Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

10 Do not slander a slave to his master,
Or he will curse you and you will be found guilty.

11 There is a kind of man who curses his father
And does not bless his mother.
12 There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes,
Yet is not washed from his filthiness.
13 There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes!
And his eyelids are raised in arrogance.
14 There is a kind of man whose teeth are like swords
And his jaw teeth like knives,
To devour the afflicted from the earth
And the needy from among men.

15 The leech has two daughters,
“Give,” “Give.”
There are three things that will not be satisfied,
Four that will not say, “Enough”:
16 Sheol, and the barren womb,
Earth that is never satisfied with water,
And fire that never says, “Enough.”
17 The eye that mocks a father
And scorns a mother,
The ravens of the valley will pick it out,
And the young eagles will eat it.

18 There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Four which I do not understand:
19 The way of an eagle in the sky,
The way of a serpent on a rock,
The way of a ship in the middle of the sea,
And the way of a man with a maid.
20 This is the way of an adulterous woman:
She eats and wipes her mouth,
And says, “I have done no wrong.”

21 Under three things the earth quakes,
And under four, it cannot bear up:
22 Under a slave when he becomes king,
And a fool when he is satisfied with food,
23 Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
And a maidservant when she supplants her mistress.

24 Four things are small on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:
25 The ants are not a strong people,
But they prepare their food in the summer;
26 The shephanim are not mighty people,
Yet they make their houses in the rocks;
27 The locusts have no king,
Yet all of them go out in ranks;
28 The lizard you may grasp with the hands,
Yet it is in kings’ palaces.

29 There are three things which are stately in their march,
Even four which are stately when they walk:
30 The lion which is mighty among beasts
And does not retreat before any,
31 The strutting rooster, the male goat also,
And a king when his army is with him.

32 If you have been foolish in exalting yourself
Or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth.
33 For the churning of milk produces butter,
And pressing the nose brings forth blood;
So the churning of anger produces strife.

Proverbs 31

The Words of Lemuel

31 The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him:

What, O my son?
And what, O son of my womb?
And what, O son of my vows?
Do not give your strength to women,
Or your ways to that which destroys kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Or for rulers to desire strong drink,
For they will drink and forget what is decreed,
And pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to him whose life is bitter.
Let him drink and forget his poverty
And remember his trouble no more.
Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

Description of a Worthy Woman

10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

A Matter of the Heart

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

Today, we conclude with our series of blogs regarding the life of King Solomon.  Focusing on the question – how did Solomon lose his way?

Philip Ryken puts it like this – “the gifts of God never operate independently or automatically, but always according to the affection of our hearts.”

I am reminded that our talents and gifting can only be used for the kingdom of God when we are committed to His glory and not our own.

When our hearts turn from God, our gifts can be used to actually tear down His work instead of building it up.

In the beginning, Solomon’s heart appears to be in the right place. When Solomon asks for wisdom and an understanding heart in I Kings 3, his motivation was to rule the people well.

Even though he ruled his people well, Solomon’s lost path was a series of decisions made one at a time, step by step. It is a lifetime of choices that took him down the path.

By the time we get to 1 Kings 11, we are told in verses 1-3, “Solomon loved many foreign women”, “Solomon clung to these in love”, and “his wives turned away his heart”. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

The chapter goes on to say his wives turned away his heart toward other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God.

Somewhere along the way, Solomon lost his first love – his love for the Lord.

A sobering thought for all of us in ministry or service is the reminder that the gifts God has given us never operate independently or automatically, – they always work “according to the affection of our hearts.”

Our gifting and talents can be useful for the building up of the kingdom, but only to the extent that our hearts are committed to His glory.

Solomon’s story became a tragedy because his heart loved other things more than the living God. He did love God, it seems to a certain extent, but he had a deeply divided heart that also loved too many women and worshiped too many gods.

When our hearts turn away from God, our spiritual gifts will not prevent us from falling into grievous sin.

Mastering theology, serving the poor, giving to Christian work, teaching and serving at the church, —none of these gifts will protect us from spiritual failure if we love the world or love ourselves more than we love God.

Apart from the grace of God and the work of his Spirit, we could very well end up doing something evil that tears down everything we have built, as Solomon did.

People always seem surprised when well-known Christians fall into sin. Perhaps this is because they have been looking at their gifts rather than their hearts. But the heart is the most important thing of all.

When Solomon’s heart turned away from God, even his wisdom turned into folly.

Until next time… Keep reading!

Jim

Sources used for this blog: ESV Bible, NASB Bible, and excerpts were taken directly from the book – 1 Kings by Philip Ryken.

August 19 – OT Reading

Proverbs 27-29

 

Proverbs 27

Warnings and Instructions

27 Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day may bring forth.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.
A stone is heavy and the sand weighty,
But the provocation of a fool is heavier than both of them.
Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood,
But who can stand before jealousy?
Better is open rebuke
Than love that is concealed.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
A sated man loathes honey,
But to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet.
Like a bird that wanders from her nest,
So is a man who wanders from his home.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
So a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.
10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend,
And do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity;
Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.
11 Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad,
That I may reply to him who reproaches me.
12 A prudent man sees evil and hides himself,
The naive proceed and pay the penalty.
13 Take his garment when he becomes surety for a stranger;
And for an adulterous woman hold him in pledge.
14 He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning,
It will be reckoned a curse to him.
15 A constant dripping on a day of steady rain
And a contentious woman are alike;
16 He who would restrain her restrains the wind,
And grasps oil with his right hand.
17 Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another.
18 He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit,
And he who cares for his master will be honored.
19 As in water face reflects face,
So the heart of man reflects man.
20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.
21 The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold,
And each is tested by the praise accorded him.
22 Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain,
Yet his foolishness will not depart from him.

23 Know well the condition of your flocks,
And pay attention to your herds;
24 For riches are not forever,
Nor does a crown endure to all generations.
25 When the grass disappears, the new growth is seen,
And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in,
26 The lambs will be for your clothing,
And the goats will bring the price of a field,
27 And there will be goats’ milk enough for your food,
For the food of your household,
And sustenance for your maidens.

Proverbs 28

Warnings and Instructions

28 The wicked flee when no one is pursuing,
But the righteous are bold as a lion.
By the transgression of a land many are its princes,
But by a man of understanding and knowledge, so it endures.
A poor man who oppresses the lowly
Is like a driving rain which leaves no food.
Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
But those who keep the law strive with them.
Evil men do not understand justice,
But those who seek the Lord understand all things.
Better is the poor who walks in his integrity
Than he who is crooked though he be rich.
He who keeps the law is a discerning son,
But he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father.
He who increases his wealth by interest and usury
Gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor.
He who turns away his ear from listening to the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination.
10 He who leads the upright astray in an evil way
Will himself fall into his own pit,
But the blameless will inherit good.
11 The rich man is wise in his own eyes,
But the poor who has understanding sees through him.
12 When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
But when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.
13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
14 How blessed is the man who fears always,
But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
15 Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear
Is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
16 A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding,
But he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
17 A man who is laden with the guilt of human blood
Will be a fugitive until death; let no one support him.
18 He who walks blamelessly will be delivered,
But he who is crooked will fall all at once.
19 He who tills his land will have plenty of food,
But he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.
20 A faithful man will abound with blessings,
But he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.
21 To show partiality is not good,
Because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.
22 A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth
And does not know that want will come upon him.
23 He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor
Than he who flatters with the tongue.
24 He who robs his father or his mother
And says, “It is not a transgression,”
Is the companion of a man who destroys.
25 An arrogant man stirs up strife,
But he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.
26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
But he who walks wisely will be delivered.
27 He who gives to the poor will never want,
But he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.
28 When the wicked rise, men hide themselves;
But when they perish, the righteous increase.

Proverbs 29

Warnings and Instructions

29 A man who hardens his neck after much reproof
Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
But when a wicked man rules, people groan.
A man who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
But he who keeps company with harlots wastes his wealth.
The king gives stability to the land by justice,
But a man who takes bribes overthrows it.
A man who flatters his neighbor
Is spreading a net for his steps.
By transgression an evil man is ensnared,
But the righteous sings and rejoices.
The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor,
The wicked does not understand such concern.
Scorners set a city aflame,
But wise men turn away anger.
When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man,
The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.
10 Men of bloodshed hate the blameless,
But the upright are concerned for his life.
11 A fool always loses his temper,
But a wise man holds it back.
12 If a ruler pays attention to falsehood,
All his ministers become wicked.
13 The poor man and the oppressor have this in common:
The Lord gives light to the eyes of both.
14 If a king judges the poor with truth,
His throne will be established forever.
15 The rod and reproof give wisdom,
But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.
16 When the wicked increase, transgression increases;
But the righteous will see their fall.
17 Correct your son, and he will give you comfort;
He will also delight your soul.
18 Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,
But happy is he who keeps the law.
19 A slave will not be instructed by words alone;
For though he understands, there will be no response.
20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
21 He who pampers his slave from childhood
Will in the end find him to be a son.
22 An angry man stirs up strife,
And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.
23 A man’s pride will bring him low,
But a humble spirit will obtain honor.
24 He who is a partner with a thief hates his own life;
He hears the oath but tells nothing.
25 The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.
26 Many seek the ruler’s favor,
But justice for man comes from the Lord.
27 An unjust man is abominable to the righteous,
And he who is upright in the way is abominable to the wicked.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

August 18 – OT Reading

Proverbs 25-26

Proverbs 25

Similitudes, Instructions

25 These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, transcribed.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
As the heavens for height and the earth for depth,
So the heart of kings is unsearchable.
Take away the dross from the silver,
And there comes out a vessel for the smith;
Take away the wicked before the king,
And his throne will be established in righteousness.
Do not claim honor in the presence of the king,
And do not stand in the place of great men;
For it is better that it be said to you, “Come up here,”
Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince,
Whom your eyes have seen.

Do not go out hastily to argue your case;
Otherwise, what will you do in the end,
When your neighbor humiliates you?
Argue your case with your neighbor,
And do not reveal the secret of another,
10 Or he who hears it will reproach you,
And the evil report about you will not pass away.

11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver
Is a word spoken in right circumstances.
12 Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold
Is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
13 Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest
Is a faithful messenger to those who send him,
For he refreshes the soul of his masters.
14 Like clouds and wind without rain
Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.
15 By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded,
And a soft tongue breaks the bone.
16 Have you found honey? Eat only what you need,
That you not have it in excess and vomit it.
17 Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor’s house,
Or he will become weary of you and hate you.
18 Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow
Is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor.
19 Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot
Is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble.
20 Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda,
Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
22 For you will heap burning coals on his head,
And the Lord will reward you.
23 The north wind brings forth rain,
And a backbiting tongue, an angry countenance.
24 It is better to live in a corner of the roof
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
25 Like cold water to a weary soul,
So is good news from a distant land.
26 Like a trampled spring and a polluted well
Is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.
27 It is not good to eat much honey,
Nor is it glory to search out one’s own glory.
28 Like a city that is broken into and without walls
Is a man who has no control over his spirit.

Proverbs 26

Similitudes, Instructions

26 Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest,
So honor is not fitting for a fool.
Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying,
So a curse without cause does not alight.
A whip is for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
And a rod for the back of fools.
Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Or you will also be like him.
Answer a fool as his folly deserves,
That he not be wise in his own eyes.
He cuts off his own feet and drinks violence
Who sends a message by the hand of a fool.
Like the legs which are useless to the lame,
So is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Like one who binds a stone in a sling,
So is he who gives honor to a fool.
Like a thorn which falls into the hand of a drunkard,
So is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
10 Like an archer who wounds everyone,
So is he who hires a fool or who hires those who pass by.
11 Like a dog that returns to its vomit
Is a fool who repeats his folly.
12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
A lion is in the open square!”
14 As the door turns on its hinges,
So does the sluggard on his bed.
15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
He is weary of bringing it to his mouth again.
16 The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
Than seven men who can give a discreet answer.
17 Like one who takes a dog by the ears
Is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him.
18 Like a madman who throws
Firebrands, arrows and death,
19 So is the man who deceives his neighbor,
And says, “Was I not joking?”
20 For lack of wood the fire goes out,
And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.
21 Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
So is a contentious man to kindle strife.
22 The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels,
And they go down into the innermost parts of the body.
23 Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross
Are burning lips and a wicked heart.
24 He who hates disguises it with his lips,
But he lays up deceit in his heart.
25 When he speaks graciously, do not believe him,
For there are seven abominations in his heart.
26 Though his hatred covers itself with guile,
His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.
27 He who digs a pit will fall into it,
And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him.
28 A lying tongue hates those it crushes,
And a flattering mouth works ruin.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

August 8 – OT Reading

Proverbs 22-24

 

Proverbs 22

On Life and Conduct

22 A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,
Favor is better than silver and gold.
The rich and the poor have a common bond,
The Lord is the maker of them all.
The prudent sees the evil and hides himself,
But the naive go on, and are punished for it.
The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord
Are riches, honor and life.
Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse;
He who guards himself will be far from them.
Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.
He who sows iniquity will reap vanity,
And the rod of his fury will perish.
He who is generous will be blessed,
For he gives some of his food to the poor.
10 Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out,
Even strife and dishonor will cease.
11 He who loves purity of heart
And whose speech is gracious, the king is his friend.
12 The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge,
But He overthrows the words of the treacherous man.
13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside;
I will be killed in the streets!”
14 The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit;
He who is cursed of the Lord will fall into it.
15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.
16 He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself
Or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

17 Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise,
And apply your mind to my knowledge;
18 For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
That they may be ready on your lips.
19 So that your trust may be in the Lord,
I have taught you today, even you.
20 Have I not written to you excellent things
Of counsels and knowledge,
21 To make you know the certainty of the words of truth
That you may correctly answer him who sent you?

22 Do not rob the poor because he is poor,
Or crush the afflicted at the gate;
23 For the Lord will plead their case
And take the life of those who rob them.

24 Do not associate with a man given to anger;
Or go with a hot-tempered man,
25 Or you will learn his ways
And find a snare for yourself.

26 Do not be among those who give pledges,
Among those who become guarantors for debts.
27 If you have nothing with which to pay,
Why should he take your bed from under you?

28 Do not move the ancient boundary
Which your fathers have set.

29 Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before obscure men.

Proverbs 23

On Life and Conduct

23 When you sit down to dine with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you,
And put a knife to your throat
If you are a man of great appetite.
Do not desire his delicacies,
For it is deceptive food.

Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,
Cease from your consideration of it.
When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.
For wealth certainly makes itself wings
Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man,
Or desire his delicacies;
For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
He says to you, “Eat and drink!”
But his heart is not with you.
You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten,
And waste your compliments.

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
For he will despise the wisdom of your words.

10 Do not move the ancient boundary
Or go into the fields of the fatherless,
11 For their Redeemer is strong;
He will plead their case against you.
12 Apply your heart to discipline
And your ears to words of knowledge.

13 Do not hold back discipline from the child,
Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
14 You shall strike him with the rod
And rescue his soul from Sheol.

15 My son, if your heart is wise,
My own heart also will be glad;
16 And my inmost being will rejoice
When your lips speak what is right.

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But live in the fear of the Lord always.
18 Surely there is a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.
19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
And direct your heart in the way.
20 Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
21 For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe one with rags.

22 Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 Buy truth, and do not sell it,
Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.

24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him.
25 Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her rejoice who gave birth to you.

26 Give me your heart, my son,
And let your eyes delight in my ways.
27 For a harlot is a deep pit
And an adulterous woman is a narrow well.
28 Surely she lurks as a robber,
And increases the faithless among men.

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has contentions? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who linger long over wine,
Those who go to taste mixed wine.
31 Do not look on the wine when it is red,
When it sparkles in the cup,
When it goes down smoothly;
32 At the last it bites like a serpent
And stings like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange things
And your mind will utter perverse things.
34 And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea,
Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast.
35 “They struck me, but I did not become ill;
They beat me, but I did not know it.
When shall I awake?
I will seek another drink.”

Proverbs 24

Precepts and Warnings

24 Do not be envious of evil men,
Nor desire to be with them;
For their minds devise violence,
And their lips talk of trouble.

By wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
And by knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.

A wise man is strong,
And a man of knowledge increases power.
For by wise guidance you will wage war,
And in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Wisdom is too exalted for a fool,
He does not open his mouth in the gate.

One who plans to do evil,
Men will call a schemer.
The devising of folly is sin,
And the scoffer is an abomination to men.

10 If you are slack in the day of distress,
Your strength is limited.

11 Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.
12 If you say, “See, we did not know this,”
Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts?
And does He not know it who keeps your soul?
And will He not render to man according to his work?

13 My son, eat honey, for it is good,
Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste;
14 Know that wisdom is thus for your soul;
If you find it, then there will be a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.

15 Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous;
Do not destroy his resting place;
16 For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again,
But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.

17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
18 Or the Lord will see it and be displeased,
And turn His anger away from him.

19 Do not fret because of evildoers
Or be envious of the wicked;
20 For there will be no future for the evil man;
The lamp of the wicked will be put out.

21 My son, fear the Lord and the king;
Do not associate with those who are given to change,
22 For their calamity will rise suddenly,
And who knows the ruin that comes from both of them?

23 These also are sayings of the wise.
To show partiality in judgment is not good.
24 He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,”
Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him;
25 But to those who rebuke the wicked will be delight,
And a good blessing will come upon them.
26 He kisses the lips
Who gives a right answer.

27 Prepare your work outside
And make it ready for yourself in the field;
Afterwards, then, build your house.

28 Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause,
And do not deceive with your lips.
29 Do not say, “Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me;
I will render to the man according to his work.”

30 I passed by the field of the sluggard
And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,
31 And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles;
Its surface was covered with nettles,
And its stone wall was broken down.
32 When I saw, I reflected upon it;
I looked, and received instruction.
33 “A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest,”
34 Then your poverty will come as a robber
And your want like an armed man.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

Why Even the Wise May Fall

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

While reading through Proverbs 19, part of our reading for today, I was struck by verse 27.  This follows along the lines of what I wrote about last week in regard to wisdom.

“Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 19:27 ESV)

One of the saddest tragedies in the Bible is the story of King Solomon. I will explore Solomon’s life over the next three weeks in my blog. What lessons can we learn from him?  This week we will focus on his accomplishments, his legacy. We must ask ourselves what went wrong?

As I wrote last week – we can learn wisdom the hard way or we can learn by the teaching of scripture and lives of others.

As we read though 1 Kings 1-11, we read the story of this great king. Solomon was one of the greatest kings the world has ever seen.

Yet at the end of his life he made one of the most foolish choices that anyone has ever made, with disastrous consequences for himself and his kingdom. How can we learn to avoid making the same mistakes that Solomon made?

Born into royalty, Solomon starts well – we learn that almost everything he ever did was a success. He was a master builder – he built the great Temple, a grand palace, and the great stables for his many horses.

He was wealthy beyond measure.

Above all, Solomon was a man of wisdom, for this was the unique gift that distinguished him from all others, the gift that he received from God.

Solomon was the wisest man in the world—maybe the wisest man in history (apart from the Son of God, of course).

People came from all over the world to hear what Solomon had to say.  When the Queen of Sheba witnessed first hand his wisdom, his wealth, his palace and the temple, scripture says it took her breath away! (1 Kings 10:5)

Countless people have enjoyed his writings – Song of Solomon and Proverbs for thousands of years.

Solomon was also a man of prayer.

Solomon’s dedicatory prayer in 1 Kings 8:22-53 is one of the best prayers in the entire Bible, a model for thanksgiving, confession, intercession, and praise. I will review this prayer in next week’s blog and how it moved me while on vacation!

So, how did a man, such a godly and wise man fall into such disgrace?

He forgot his own teaching – “Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

I am sure folks of the day would have said, “others may fail, others may fall, but surely not Solomon!”

So what can we learn?

The Christian walk is made up of daily choices.  The smallest of sins can grow and grow until we find ourselves in a bad place wondering how we ever got there.

Somewhere along the way we convince ourselves these little choices are not that bad, no one will know – God will forgive me.

I pray we all examine our own lives this week, are there “little” sins, bad choices that you are making that need to stop? Secret stuff no one knows about that you would be embarrassed or worse disgraced if others found out?

May you heed this proverb and never cease to hear instruction, and never stray from the words of knowledge.  Call upon the Holy Spirit that He may keep your heart true!

Until next time…  Keep reading!

Jim

Sources used for this blog – ESV Bible, NASB Bible, Reformed Expository Commentary – I Kings by Philip Graham Ryken (I love this series!)