The Proverbs

Proverb 1: 1 – 7

These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles.

What better way to begin our journey through the proverbs than to discover the author and have him tell us the purpose for giving them? The book of Proverbs is the ultimate book of wisdom. Of course, wisdom is found throughout the Bible but this book succinctly discloses golden nuggets of wisdom for us.

Solomon begins his disclosure on how to receive wisdom in the very next verse when he tells us that the beginning of all wisdom is in reverential awe and respect of Yahweh. In God is all the wisdom of the universe so when we give our lives and time to Him, He reveals Himself and His wisdom to us.

Through this journey, we will acquire wisdom, discipline and insight. It’s going to be a great voyage!

True Humility

Psalm 72: 8 – 9

May he also rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. Let the nomads of the desert bow before him, and his enemies lick the dust.

You will undoubtedly sense a change of tone in this psalm. David didn’t write this one. It is written by his son, Solomon. The kingdom falls apart after Solomon, the kingdom that God gave to David for eternity. You begin to see the unravelling even here. Compare this psalm with the one’s David wrote.  Here, we find Solomon praying for himself, not about rescue from enemies, but increasing his holdings.

This is another example where one must really read the entire psalm to get the flavor. Solomon was concerned about his ability to rule the kingdom. At first glance his importuning of God for the wisdom to rule the country appears as humility, and at one level I believe it to be so. At a higher level, though, Solomon mirrors our prayers and feelings. Compared with the prayers and the songs of David, we see that humility is often a cloak for the real underlying demon – pride.

David didn’t have confidence in his ability to rule the kingdom either. He did, however, have confidence in the Father, and David trusted his friend and strong right hand to be with him and to rule through him. It may be a subtle shift, but this micron of perspective shift makes all the difference in the world. Solomon was overwhelmed with by the responsibility of leading the kingdom. The reason, though, is because his eyes were fixed on himself.

We can all become overwhelmed by what God has called us to do, but if we do it is because we are looking at our own abilities. We become focused on ourselves rather than on the Father. David told Goliath that he came in the name of the Lord and that the God of Israel would deliver the Philistine giant into his hands. David was looking for God to do something. If he had considered himself responsible for the victory, we would not have this great story to admire. He either would have been defeated, or, more likely, he would never have faced the giant. We know we cannot succeed in our own strength so we think God will anoint us with his strength and then we will prevail. In our spirits we know this is not quite right. The victory is not ours, but the Lord’s.

So, David spent less time in prayers like these and much more time praising the Lord and declaring His greatness. He focused his attention on the righteous kindness of God and His delivering power. He glorified God in song and in deed. Go back and look at the construction of David’s prayers. There is a real secret here. Our words show where we are in our walk with God. Solomon’s show that his eyes were on himself. He lacked confidence because he was looking at himself rather than at God. He prayed for God to make him a great king with much land. Perhaps, those breaths would have been better spent praising the real King.

Promises, Promises

1 Chronicles 1: 9

Now, O Lord God, Thy promise to my father David is fulfilled; for Thou has made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth.

When God made that promise to David it probably seemed as impossible as any of the promises you have read in the Bible. Yet God was able to fulfill all He promised to David. David’s son Solomon bears witness to us that all has been fulfilled in his sight. In other words, we have an eye witness account that God did exactly what He said He would do.

The word “promise” in the above passage is even more accurately translated as “word.” That would make the sentence read, “Thy word to my father David is fulfilled.” I do not find it any coincidence that we call the Bible God’s “word.” To bring this verse forward to each of us, that would mean that God fulfills his word to you. That would include everything that He has said to you in His Word, the Bible. This is a very significant revelation. Just as God fulfilled His word to David, He is obligated to fulfill His word to you. You have an entire book of transcriptions of what God has said to you. Every word in God’s word is His obligation to you.

You should be encouraged, therefore. If God fulfilled His word to David, then He will fulfill His word to you because the Bible says that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10: 34). In other words, He does not favor one child over another. As a matter of fact, the NIV version of Acts 10: 34 says that “God does not show favoritism.” What He was willing to do for one, He is willing to do for all.

Now you put a demand on the promise given you. That is what faith does. Expect God to be good to his word. Expect Him to meet your every need; emotional, physical, financial and spiritual. After all, He is the one that promised. We are just holding Him to His “word.”

The Proverbs

Proverb 1: 1

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 naïve, to the youth knowledge and discretion.

Above are four objectives. These outline the reasons Solomon gave us the Proverbs. I had a friend one time, who was quite versed in the Bible but one day as we were talking, confessed she had never found the attraction to the Proverbs. I was flabbergasted. This is the first book I discovered in the Bible and to this day, one of the most highlighted books in my Bible. I guess I just needed more instruction than did she.

When I began my deep discovery of the Bible my pastor instructed me to read a chapter from the New Testament beginning with Matthew 1, a chapter from the Old Testament, a Psalm and a Proverb. That advice served me well. The Old Testament gave me my history and the grounding of my faith. The New Testament brought me salvation, grace, the New Covenant and Jesus, the Psalms speaks to my heart and the Proverbs inform and instruct me in the way to go. They are a floor beneath my feet preventing me from falling into the depths while the Psalms give me wings to fly.

I was young when I discovered the Proverbs and was aware of my naivety and ignorance. That was a grace because I was not too arrogant or proud to receive instruction. When we become unteachable, the Proverbs call us fools. I can be foolish, as we all can at times, but foolishness is something I would rather avoid. There are consequences with foolishness. A proverb is a “wise saying or precept.” So, the Proverbs, I think, guard us from the distasteful consequences of foolishness.

God offered Solomon anything he wanted. Solomon chose wisdom and now through the Proverbs he offers us this prize from God. Join me as I take a sojourn through the Proverbs. Let us see what we may and glean from Solomon, the wisdom of God.

Balance Beam

Proverb 21: 17 – 18          NIV

He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

Wow! That is a powerful statement. We have become very developed in seeking pleasure whether it is our TV time, our hobbies, food, drink, vacations, or any of a number of pleasures. There is a place for recreation, no doubt. There is a time for play and there is also a time for work. Ecclesiastes teaches us that there is a time for everything (3:1). Solomon isn’t denying that in today’s proverb, after all, he was also the author of Ecclesiastes. The point I believe Solomon is trying to convey is that using our energy in seeking pleasure is a vain activity which leads, ultimately, to emptiness. We even work to fulfill our pleasures but there must be things of substance in this life and in this world which would give us much greater satisfaction that simply chasing pleasure.

Of course, the clear point that Solomon makes is that this seeking after pleasure will lead us to poverty and this is from the richest man to ever live upon the earth, even to this day. Solomon was so rich that he didn’t even bother with silver. I accept what Solomon suggests here but also speculate that the endless search for fulfillment in pleasure leads to an impoverished lifestyle. I mean to say that perhaps this person’s poverty does not see him living on the streets and begging at soup kitchens but that he is none the less very poor in spirit, in friends, in fulfillment, in rewarding relationships with his family, and a plethora of other ways.

The one pleasure that Solomon highlights in this passage is the desire for wine and oil. There are so many among us whose life seeps away at the bottom of a wine glass. Their ambition for more fruitful pursuits is swallowed up by the pleasure they seek in that glass. Time, which is such a valuable commodity, gets wasted when much good could have been done. All this pursuit buys is regret. We do not want this for our loved ones. Life is so meaningful but can we wasted so easily.

One of the biggest life lessons I have learned is that it is all about balance. You can work too much, play too much. Almost all things, even good things, can turn into negatives when we exercise them out of their proper balance. There are many nice and pleasurable things in our life and God gave us all good things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6: 17), but they can be overdone and then become detrimental to our lives. Paul wrote, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify (1 Corinthians 10: 23). Perhaps this is the admonition which Solomon is giving us today, that is, to spend our time in fruitful pursuits. Let us not run the race seeking pleasures only because at the end of our days on earth we, ourselves, will say, “Vanity, vanity; it was all vanity.”

Make a Wish

1 Kings 3: 5

In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, “Ask what you wish me to give you.”

Wouldn’t we all like for God to appear to us with the promise to grant whatever we wish? That is what happened to Solomon. As you probably know, Solomon asked God for an understanding heart so that he would know how to rule God’s people. God was pleased with Solomon’s wish and granted him not only great wisdom but also riches and honor. God also promised long life if Solomon would continue to walk in the statutes and commandments.

I wonder sometimes if God isn’t posing the same question to us today? Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7: 7). “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14: 14). Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full (John 16: 24). If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John 15: 7). Perhaps, then, it is true that the Father is making us the same offer He made Solomon.

What is your Solomon wish?

Dangerous Friends

1 Corinthians 15: 33       NIV
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

This is the tune that parents have sung for hundreds and even thousands of years. You will become like who you hang around with. How does the expression go, “Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.” King Solomon would have been benefited from hearing Paul’s sermon. Solomon was an extremely blessed man. His father, David, left him an intact kingdom, one that was finally enjoying peace. Solomon had fame, honor, and extreme wealth. He had everything! Still, he fell. And do you know why? He hung out with the wrong people. He had heathen friends and heathen wives, heathen simply meaning that these were not people of the kingdom. They were not Israelites and more importantly they did not practice the Hebrew ways.

Have you ever noticed that in associations the lower person usually pulls the other down rather than the higher pulling the lower up? I do not know why this is the case but it is typical. It sure was the result in Solomon’s life. These non-believers, if you will, corrupted his testimony. He became like them instead of them becoming like him. He even ended up building altars to heathen gods. It is hard to believe that the son of David could fall so far. This is Solomon who was chosen to and in fact did build the temple of God. Then later in life he built pagan temples and altars. It is hard to fathom. The end of the story is that Solomon fell hard. The throne was torn from his lineage except for one tribe. And all of this happened because he did not choose his friends wisely.

Who you hang out with will affect you. Period. We must zealously guard our hearts or the thief will steal our fervent love for God. The next thing you know your life has made a radical departure from your former self. Of course, the other danger is that we lie to ourselves saying that we are still serving God, we still love Him but in the depths of our hearts we know that we have left our first love. So here is the question, “Where are we allowing our associations to lead us?” We’ve got to be honest with ourselves in answering this question. We should also be aware that it is not only the people that we associate with that entice us away from time spent with God. We can also be lured away by “things.” That new boat can become an idol or even a new house. A book series can become an obsession. In short, there are many things that can tempt us away from God. We’ve all spent too much time at work or too much time at play so this isn’t a recrimination. It is a warning. Look at who you are associated with. Ask yourself if they are leading you towards or away from God. Assess where your time is spent. Besides work, what dominates your time and thought? Be cautious, otherwise the enemy will steal your zeal for God. Before you even know it you find it easy to cut church when you used to attend regularly. You never pick up your Bible anymore and your prayer life has become a burden rather than a joy.  

Everything you need for life is in the Lord our God. Do not be misled. Turn your face to God and be blessed and renewed.