1 ¶ A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.
When I began to look at this verse, on the surface it simply seemed to be about an honest measure. After all, we have government agencies that make sure that what the gas pump says you are pumping into your car is accurate and truthful. These agencies have the power to call into account businesses that deceive and lie about the amount of almost anything you buy and its contents. It is clear that God does not approve of a merchant deceiving someone with regard to weights and balances.
But there is more to it than that. God approves of fairness, a level playing field, where everyone has the same opportunity. We have come far in this country in that we don’t say you can’t achieve or even survive because of the color of your skin or your national origin. Undoubtedly, we’ve gone too far and perverted the concept of what’s fair and reasonable but the point is that God’s delight is in honest measurements, notice I didn’t say even measurements, because that’s a different argument entirely. The point here is that God does not approve of the fisherman who catches a fish in a tournament and shoves weights down its throat to cheat the scale and win a prize anymore than he approves of the merchant whose scale says you are buying a greater weight of meat than you actually are and, further, nor does he approve of an industry that says, sure you can start a new business and compete with us, while the established businesses all agree to shut you out and keep you from competing either by extortion (threatening their suppliers not to work with you) or by appealing to the government for regulation that would shut you down.
In the building industry it would also be like the customer expecting that for his money he was getting a certain strength concrete wall and that by testing it appeared that he was but in reality the wall was weakened by too much water. It is deception, trickery, and craft to do such things and God will not honor it.
2 ¶ When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
There are certain things about pride that you should know if you are experiencing that sentiment.
Psalm 10:2 The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.
Psalm 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
Later in Proverbs we’ll see how pride precedes destruction. Pride is a spirit that places you on a par with God or even above God. Pride was Satan’s iniquity, the first sin of a created creature. Pride has built empires on the graves of the murdered and fortunes on the backs of people barely able to survive each day with their pay.
For the Hebrew, shame was promised after pride came, but for those who are lowly and humble, there is wisdom. Pride is highly valued in our culture. We are a proud people. Instead of saying, “I’ve been blessed by seeing what you’ve done” when a child does well the parent usually says, “I’m proud of you”. We rarely give God the credit for anything as a culture. Our Supreme Court permits “In God We Trust” on our coinage and opens their own sessions with something like “God save the United States and This Honorable Court” because they call it Ceremonial Deism. In other words we say it but its okay because we don’t really mean it. We are a proud people.
One of the shocks of 9/11 was that symbols of our economic power were brought down by our own devices, passenger airliners, or so we are told. We are proud.
When we think of Sodom we think of homosexual perversion but look at the list of Sodom’s sins and the first reason for the city’s destruction listed in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
God has much more to say about pride in Proverbs. Remember that it is only by God’s grace and mercy that you are walking around and not suffering horribly in this fallen world, a condition which many people around the world find themselves. Don’t be proud, because when you the Christian stand before Christ you’ll know the truth about your supposed accomplishments and you will be ashamed.
God blessed you and like Nebuchadnezzar you looked around and commented on how great the things you had done were.
3 ¶ The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
Integrity is a heart issue.
Genesis 20:5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.
It is synonymous with righteousness, doing right by God’s standard.
Psalm 7:8 The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.
Later it will be said in Proverbs that a just man walks in it. Here, it says that integrity will guide the upright, determine their goings and their decision making. This is opposed to simply acting and walking in the flesh and doing what you feeeeel is right rather than what you know is right from the Bible.
The transgressors, the ones who do wrong habitually as a matter of course, will be destroyed by their perverseness. These froward people will die by their own sins. It happens every day, all around us, little tragedies of people dying as a result of their own lust; for immoral sex, for alcohol, for drugs, for speed, for whatever it is that pleases them at that time; for self. Their entire life is characterized by their sin and its perverseness, the “shall” as a consequence of their “I will”.
4 ¶ Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.
Here’s something we can all agree on, at least the first part, which we can understand easily. Your wealth will not protect you from God’s judgment, whether you are Bill Gates or Ted Turner or even the late Sam Walton.
Psalm 37:16 A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
Psalm 39:6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.
Psalm 49:6 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; 7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:
And there is more about the subject in Proverbs to come. As far as the last part of this verse it is certainly a promise to the Hebrew, individually and to the people as a whole, if they had continued in God’s righteousness they would have been delivered from all of their troubles. You will have some difficulty with your faith in this dispensation if you believe that your good works will deliver you from anything. But, apply this to eternity and we can say that Christ’s righteousness, imputed to us, will save us because it is by Christ’s righteousness that we enter into heaven, not our own.
But, many Judaizers among the fundamentalist brethren will make this verse a heavy weight for the congregation to carry. If you get sick, if you face calamity, misadventure, or accident, and die, well, then you must have not been right with God because if you had been right with God you would have been spared to die in a ripe old age in your sleep. Tell that to murdered missionaries and the martyrs of old who were burnt at the stake. Once again, beware of taking physical promises to physical Jews under the Law given to Moses as literal doctrine for you. There is an application but you must rightly divide the word to find the right one.
Romans 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
5 ¶ The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness. 6 The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.
The application here appears over all times and dispensational arrangements. In our application we can say that Christ’s righteousness, imputed to us by the virtue of our being born again, for those of us who are complete and whole in Christ, will direct and guide what we do, how we act, what we buy, who we marry, where we work, how we pay our bills, how we treat our neighbors, how we raise our children, how we act toward our spouses, etc. etc.
Let’s review what perfect means again;
The “perfect” Christian walks with God (Genesis 17:1). They are obedient to God (1 Kings 8:61). They are upright (Job 1:1). The watch what they say and don’t make others stumble and fall with their words (James 3:2). They do things that are pleasing in Christ’s sight (Hebrews 13:21). They are complete Christians, lacking nothing of God’s will for their spiritual lives (James 1:4, 2 Timothy 3:17). And there can be a lot more said about perfect and being perfected.
All of us, especially the older people, have seen people fall by their own wickedness. That’s usually how it happens. Sin tends to suck you in like quicksand and before long you’re sinking out of sight. Many of the people that you knew when you were young and unsaved, people you partied with, are probably dead now or suffering from the consequences of their lust for alcohol, cigarettes, and immoral sexual behavior. We see, in the news, famous people, politicians and celebrities caught and disgraced in the trap of their own selfish and even criminal behavior.
Naughtiness is one of those words whose meaning has changed over the centuries. We discussed that in Proverbs 6:12. Naughtiness is wickedness. Young people, whether or not this was said to Hebrews under the Law, it applies to you. Following Christ in obedience, reading and taking in to your minds the admonitions of Paul, and all of the instruction for the righteous in the Bible will direct and can deliver you from trouble.
Just don’t fall into the trap of ignoring God’s words and then saying in your head that you’re really obeying them. Bible believing Christians do it all the time. We’ll do wrong, make it appear to be right, and convince ourselves we’re really doing what God has called us to do. Live by the Book, not by the Christian culture you see around you. Get your attitude toward Christ right.
7 ¶ When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.
The expectation of the just, the saved, is eternal. Our hope has a permanent grounding in forever. Those who reject Christ have no hope outside of this life.
8 ¶ The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.
Remember how Haman was hung on the gallows he had built for Mordecai?
9 ¶ An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.
The hypocrite, according to old commentaries such as the one by John Gill, can corrupt by flattery and false doctrine, smoothing it over with pleasing words. The knowledge of the Bible and its doctrines such as the gospel for this age and the words written specifically to Christians can deliver a just person.
Romans 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Knowledge of Satan’s devices, found by searching the scriptures, will add in the deliverance of the just from such hypocrisy, as the commentary by Matthew Henry points out.
2Corinthians 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
10 ¶ When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting. 11 By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
With regard to verse 10 and looking ahead prophetically, Dr. Ruckman refers to Revelation 19:1-4 and parallels it with Joshua, chapters 6-7. He declares a fulfillment of this verse in Matthew 21:9. Gill looks to Isaiah 3:10. Now, just think of this in a practical way for the ancient Hebrew. If things go well with the righteous, then things will go good for the city. No enemies can get in, no crops will fail, and all things will be good. Even the heathen are blessed by the blessings poured on the righteous. America was a Bible believing nation blessed by God. There were many evil people who did monstrous things. In fact, from slavery to the genocide of the indigenous population down to personal morality such as the fact that our colonial forbears drank three times as much alcohol as the average American today drinks. But, all of these people benefited from the blessings poured upon the righteous.
Today, for America to turn around, all it would take would be for a revival to break out among those who claim to be Bible believers. Let the people of God rejoice and, yet, weep over their sins. Let the fruits of the spirit pour out of all of us and watch God’s hand of blessing return to a nation starving for His word. Or…..just let the dog and pony show that is modern American Christianity continue and watch it burn.
In context, with the hypocrite of the preceding verses, mouthing false doctrine and twisting God’s word, corrupting it, notice that the most dangerous people in America are those wicked false believers spouting false doctrine; prosperity gospels, laughing and barking revivals, and political religion. If all your faith need be about is following the form and playing church, voting for the Republicans, and going along with any amusement as long as there isn’t any cursing or sex in it then you have a pretty sorry religion with no power to overcome sin or counter the downward slide of the world systems.
The city rejoices and the city is exalted when it goes well with the righteous and the upright are blessed, however;
Psalm 12:8 The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.
12 ¶ He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. 13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
Getting along with your neighbors is not always an easy thing but remember that Jesus defined our neighbor as anyone we happen to run across in our daily dealings by his Parable of the Good Samaritan. Here it is said that a person of understanding keeps his mouth shut rather than treats his neighbor shabbily. “Holding your peace” has become a part of the English language in meaning that you don’t say something that might cause a verbal confrontation or even just to remain silent.
Verse 13 reveals that the reason for being silent is to keep from gossiping or betraying a trust and that goes back to our previous Proverb where we talked about how, if you talk a lot, it’s inevitable that you’ll sin against God and your neighbor. Proverbs 17:28 confirms the meaning of “holding your peace”. People who talk too much generally can’t be trusted to keep their mouth shut when you have entrusted them with something personal. In my life I’ve seen both men and women guilty of this. One thing God seems to be trying to tell us over and over again in Proverbs is not to talk too much. Guard your tongue.
14 ¶ Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.
Where no counsel is, the people fall. In Judges 17:6 and 21:25 it is said that the people did what was right in their own eyes. In the French book, Madness and Democracy, it is said that Democracy makes every man think he is his own god and in doing so drives himself insane. Our country has no sane and Godly counsel in the government. All are gone by the way.
Now, look at Absalom’s acceptance of the counsel of David’s man, Hushai the Archite, over Ahithophel, to his own doom, accepting the counsel of one.Where you are concerned, look to several different people for opinion on a matter. Don’t just accept the ideas of one person. Discuss your situation with different people and get a more rounded view of what you should do. Then pray to God for guidance before your decision because many counselors can also confuse the issue if God is not a part of your decision as what happened to Rehoboam. If the multitude of counselors are not right with God then their counsel will be no good. However, seeking advice from several Godly people who read their Bible and pray faithfully will help you.
I have had several issues turn into disasters lately because the only counsel I sought was my own with regard to what to do.
15 ¶ He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.
Simply, and it has been said before not to put yourself on the hook for someone else’s debts. Here, specifically, the stranger is mentioned. The stranger, the foreigner, probably a heathen man, is not someone you should be so closely linked with.
2Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
It is foolish to give your good word, as well, for someone who is not born again or who is a carnal Christian. Do not vouch for someone’s character who lacks the character of Christ. Don’t co-sign notes for them or give references. Their bad character may bring yours down. This is often true in families where pressure is made on someone to lift up another, who sometimes doesn’t deserve to be lifted up and whose acts of bad faith make the person speaking for them look as bad as they are.
A long time ago you just didn’t walk into a Baptist Church, listen to a couple of sermons, and be pleaded with to join up. You were welcome to come and worship and hear the sermons but if you weren’t recommended by a couple of members you weren’t going to be a member. Those members, as well, needed to have been members for awhile. If you came forward and got saved you were under the “watchcare” of the church for a time to see if your conversion was real. Even in the Southern Baptist Church when my daughters went forward to announce their belief, before they were baptized they had to appear before a Deacon who questioned them as to whether they understood what they had publicly professed. Even the communist Viet Cong required that two members of at least six months good standing recommend someone for membership in the National Liberation Front before accepting them as members.
Not long ago, just a few years, we went to a church for a few sermons and the Pastor asked us to make a decision and join. I was a little taken aback by that. He hardly knew us. Anyway, the point is to be careful who you are vouching for and making surety for. I refer you to what was said about 6:1.
16 ¶ A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.
There will be more to be said later about what an honorable woman is, under God’s standard. Grace and class are two things that most modern women are sorely lacking. Grace used to be something that was cultivated among women. Young women were taught to carry themselves with an air of what we used to call down South, “being about something”. A simple word search in the Bible will show you that gracious is linked as synonymous with merciful, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. A gracious person has compassion, is quick to forgive, and slow to anger.
What a gracious woman is not is mouthy loving to gossip, prone to wearing gawdy clothing dressing outrageously, flirtatious, lazy, self centered, carnal, gluttonous, addicted to loud music, romance novels Christian or otherwise, loves money and what it can show, and I’m sure you can think of a few other things that would say anything but gracious when thinking of a woman.
The contrast here is of a gracious woman holding her honor like strong and powerful men hold onto their wealth. Clearly, a gracious woman’s honour is her wealth.
17 ¶ The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.18 ¶ The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.
19 ¶ As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.20 ¶ They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight. 21 ¶ Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.
There is a theme in these verses although they can each be taken separately without harming the text. A merciful and righteous person does himself good and is a delight to God. The wicked, the one that pursues evil with a froward heart, is destined to destroy himself and is an abomination to God. No matter how the wicked get together and unite to execute evil they will face judgment but God’s own will be delivered.
Under the Law you have a physical promise that evil will be punished in this world, the only condition that needs to be met is that the Hebrews obey God, first believing Him. There would have been no Jeremiah complaining that everyone was ignoring God, no Isaiah saying that no one was good, if the Hebrews had honored their own promises to follow God.
For us it is clear that the wicked, those who ultimately reject Christ’s free gift of eternal life, have only hurt themselves and are completely responsible for their own destruction. Let me say this again. Those people in the Lake of Fire are not there for any failing on the part of Almighty God to love people but they are there because of what they are; lost sinners who rejected Christ.
Those that pursue righteousness, those that have the righteous one in their own spiritual hearts, will be delivered for eternity by virtue of the righteousness of Christ.
22 ¶ As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.
What a wonderful proverb. What a waste beauty is on a woman who is coarse, without grace or class, a gossip, a busybody, mouthy, selfish, and completely self centered. Just imagine here how God creates the picture of a pig with fancy gold jewelry in its nose, wallowing in the mud. I could tell you, but I won’t, stories of the grossness and coarseness of some very attractive females I knew in college and have known when it was fashionable for girls to get involved in Boxing. To be given looks that men write songs about and start wars over only to have a mind and personality like small child, a small, hateful child or an animal, is a sad thing.
Some of the most beautiful women you will see in the news and on the TV and movies are not much better than animals. They will soon lose their good looks, as well, as time, gravity, and carnal living take their toll. There is nothing that sucks the looks out of a woman’s face more than cigarettes, alcohol, and a bad attitude.
We discussed discretion in the very first part of our study on Proverbs. To be discreet, the root of discretion is to exercise self restraint, to have power and rights under control. It is also to be wise. A truly beautiful woman will exercise care, self restraint, moderation, take care of her body and health, her mind and her thoughts, and will look to Christ as her guide in all things. The cigarette sucking, beer swilling, vulgarity screaming, immodest dressing women that enjoy popular music, professional sporting events, and other public amusements out in the world have beauty for only a moment, beauty which they then trade for depravity and despair as they grow older.
Young men, don’t trust beauty. It’s like a shiny new quarter, nice to look at but easy to carelessly spend. Beauty is not necessarily goodness. Behind the face of beauty can hide much evil. Look rather for evidence that a women is truly beautiful in her heart.
23 ¶ The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
Here’s a twist for you. If you want to test yourself to see if your heart is right with God, ask yourself what your desire is. Do you desire a bigger house, newer car, more and finer clothes, some material possession that would set you apart from others? Or is your desire to have the Fruit of the Spirit emanating from you in every relationship you have? Is it to know Christ better, to draw closer to Him? Is your desire to walk closer to God and to know His word? For every desire you find in yourself that is for yourself, come back to this verse and reflect on it. The desire of the righteous is only good. You, Christian, are supposed to be righteous by virtue of having Christ’s Spirit dwelling in you, by having the Holy Spirit living inside you. But ask yourself, do your desires reflect righteousness?
The next part of the verse might could be looked at this way as well. Deep in the heart of the unsaved, of those who will never receive Christ as their Saviour, there is an understanding, a knowledge, however subtle, however buried in the subconscious mind that their expectation is wrath. Bob Jones, Sr. implied once that the unsaved, when facing God, will know and understand that their fate is a burning Hell and a never ending lake of unquenchable fire. Not all of them, but many unsaved people you talk to, who have an angry, hateful spirit toward you, have that spirit for just that reason. Their expectation is wrath, the coming judgment of those who have not received Christ and don’t have the sure mercy of trusting in His righteousness and not their own. With regard to those lost multitudes who are judged by God’s standard of righteousness;
Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Revelation 20:11 ¶ And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
By rejecting Christ, they have chosen to be judged by God’s law not blessed by His mercy.
24 ¶ There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
This was understood by commentators such as John Gill and Matthew Henry as a reference to the idea that if you give generously, God will bless you but if you hold for yourself more than is necessary, right, or just then God will take from you.
Here is a rule from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians that would help us understand how the church is supposed to view this.
2 Corinthians 8:12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. 13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
You are not promised the physical blessing of great wealth under the dispensation of grace but are promised what you need.
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Your goal should not be to become rich.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Sadly, modern Christians have turned much of their true giving over to the government in taking care of the needs of the congregation such as unemployment benefits, medical care for those who can’t afford it, and welfare for the aged. So, we now think of much of our giving as when we buy tracts or make payments on a big church building. The New Testament church cared for the well being of its members. Those who were able to were expected to work and those who couldn’t work were taken care of.
But, back to the verse. The promise is made that a generous person spreads his money around and yet his money grows, while the ones that keep more for themselves than God intends will find himself in poverty.
25 ¶ The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.
Here is a companion verse to the last one that needs no explanation. Liberal is generous.
Note the word’s use here;
2Corinthians 9:13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;
With regard to the use of the word, “fat”, understand that throughout history, at least until about 40 years ago, to be overweight was a sign that you were successful and had plenty to eat as opposed to the rest of the people who were not so fortunate. Cheap, plentiful food is a rather new condition of mankind.
26 ¶ He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
Here, hoarding food, and not bringing it to market is criticized. This, too, is something most modern people wouldn’t understand. Perhaps the person might hoard crops, waiting for the price to go up. Corn is a reference to any cereal grain in the English language, such as wheat. It only came to be referred to as Native North American Maize after the Americas were founded.
27 ¶ He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.
Pr 22:1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
Ec 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment;
Look at Daniel. In spite of being a prisoner, he diligently sought to do good and even his captors had to acknowledge that he was trustworthy. In 1 Peter 3:17 it is said that we should be better off for suffering for doing right than for doing wrong, as Christians. In this Proverb the Hebrew was told that if he DILIGENTLY sought good he would procure or gain favor. People that look for trouble, will get trouble back on themselves. This is so true, even now. Even the most hardhearted boss has to acknowledge that a person who is trying to do their best and to do right is someone to be trusted. Why would I promote someone who was competent, even skilled, but whom I could not trust; a liar, a slanderer, a troublemaker, and a backstabber. Although some do promote lowlifes, it is a pretty poor employer who does.
Now if you want to take this verse as a promise that God will do good things for you if you seek good then I would point out that God doesn’t make business deals with Christians. If you do right aren’t you only doing what you are supposed to do? Why do you think you deserve something from God in the bargain? You have eternal life and you are called to good works. God doesn’t say, well, if you are honest today, I’ll give you nice weather or make your car payment for you. Doing right procures favor among men and doing right is what God has called you to do.
Job 4:8 Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.
But, if you seek mischief, then you’ll get it dumped on you by the bag. Look at the lives around you of people who live for the purpose of doing wrong. Even the people whose lives are defined by their sins. Look what they will miss.
1 Corinthians 6: 9 ¶ Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Remember, “shall” is a consequence of “will”. I will becomes I shall by necessity. This is the result of the fact that wicked people tend to define themselves by a particular sin or sins. That becomes their whole point of living unless they become sick of themselves either by their own disgust or by the work of the Holy Spirit in their spiritual hearts.
28 ¶ He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.
The first part of the verse, contrasted with the last shows that this person trusting in his riches is wicked and we know what is said in Job about that.
Job 20:15 He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly.
Psalm 37:16 A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
All through the Old Testament the warning is made not to trust in riches but God rewards men like Solomon and David with great riches. In the New Testament under the doctrines of grace written to us by Paul under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit the riches we are promised are spiritual, not physical like the Hebrews. The Christian is not promised physical wealth, as in money in the bank. Don’t look to be making business deals with God. We, too, are warned in no uncertain terms about trusting in riches and loving them.
1 Timothy 6:6 ¶ But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
And look what the Lord Jesus Christ says in His very own words.
Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Mammon is the Syriac languages personification of wealth and riches, money to keep it simple.
Back to the verse. Notice we have said before that the righteous really is Christ and those who are righteous are righteous only by virtue of their having Christ’s Spirit in them. Notice also the reference to the Branch which is one of the references to Christ in the Old Testament. We are to be like Christ if we are righteous by His righteousness and we will flourish. We are not promised physical wealth but we are promised that our needs will be met.
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Just type in “riches” in a computerized Bible and look at the references in the Old Testament warning against depending on them and the references in the New Testament promising spiritual riches to the Christian.
29 ¶ He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.
Here, with “inherit the wind” is where the reprobates in the literature, drama, and movie world came up with the title of the book, play, and movie about the Scopes Monkey Trial. This was an early cinematic attack against Christianity in America.
But with regard to this verse, an important note here must be made about the Bible’s use of the word, “house”.
A house is a family or a dynasty in the case of a king.
Genesis 7:1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.
This word is used over 75 times in Genesis alone. It can also be expanded to refer to the place where a family lives. When someone troubles their own family, their own house, they cause their own family problems and later it will be said that he that is greedy of gain does this to his own family. Men and women can bring lots of pain on their own families. Christian’s might not have daily devotions with their children. They might not read from the Bible or talk about what God has done in their lives that day. They might be greedy of material things and devote the time they should be having devotions, prayer, or family Bible reading to watching TV or movies or attending sporting events. They might be incon-sistent and drive their children to that abiding wrath that inevitably comes from not knowing what to expect next from the carnal, fleshy, world loving parent. Perhaps they hold bitterness in their heart toward a spouse who doesn’t live to their demanding expectations. Remember, the Pharisee always goes beyond God in every rule he or she lays down.
Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Colossians 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
What do you get when you bring trouble to your own house? You inherit the wind. You get nothing. False doctrine is another way of hurting your family. Giving them unreasonable expectations of God’s will, “If you’re good bad things won’t happen to you, son”. “So and so is sick. He must not have been right with the Lord or maybe didn’t have enough faith”. It might be easy to throw things at your kids to keep them in line that simply are lies from Hell but it won’t get you what you desire in the end.
The fool will need the wise in heart to get through the problems that people will automatically face in the world. The fool has no light from God of his own. He needs the wise person’s light. In the context of the family, have you any experience with a member of the family, in their foolishness and stupid behavior, winding up being totally dependent on others in the family who have tried to live right?
30 ¶ The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
An interesting parallel can be found in the first chapter of Psalms.
Psalm 1:1 ¶ Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Later in Proverbs the tree of life is likened to desire fulfilled and a wholesome tongue. You remember the tree of life from Genesis and from the later chapters of Revelation, which is, of course, a different study.
This is the only time in the Bible the phrase “winneth souls” is found. Although we use it for our efforts to win new converts and call our efforts “soul winning”, older commentators like John Gill referred to this winning as the actual teaching of a Christian of God’s words and in his footnotes, referring to older Jewish thought, winning souls takes on the meaning of actually freeing a captured bird from a snare as in freeing the new Christian from the tricks of the Devil. A reference is also made to the taking of a fortress, in this case, Satan’s fortress, the human heart, which is deceitful and wicked, as we know from the verse in Jeremiah 17:9.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Matthew Henry talks about winning souls in the same context. It is not enough to tell someone the gospel and perhaps they make a profession of faith with only the knowledge required to get saved, that Christ rose from the dead for their justification after dying for their sins, but rather, as Paul says, or more importantly even as we would say, to teach and show that person what God actually says in His words. One of our biggest weaknesses in the modern fundamentalist church is that we lead people to Christ and never see them darken the doors. In case you’ve forgotten let me remind you that immediately upon a genuine profession of faith in Christ the new convert is assaulted mercilessly by Satan. That very day, old friends come around, old thoughts and lusts come into one’s head, and doubts, many doubts can assail the new Christian who is not found with his nose IN the Bible, letting God speak to his heart. For those of you who are very blessed at “soul winning” how many of YOUR spiritual children have you left in the street?
Notice I have referred to two commentators from before the event known as “The Second Great Awakening” in America where Christianity went off the rails and fell into the gorge with the charismatic movement, Mormonism, Campbellites, new Bible versions, secularized political religion where salvation was looked to from the government rather than God, and 1-2-3 repeat after me salvation experiences became the norm. You would be surprised at the difference in worship even and home life in a Bible believing Christian’s life before 1800 and after.
In any event, the point of these commentators is that there is more to soul winning than knocking on doors or handing out gospel tracts, although those things are good, they are only the beginning.
Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
The new Christian needs to hear God’s word preached, but as good preaching isn’t necessarily always good doctrine, as Pastor Harvey Keck of Green Bay, Wisconsin has said, they also need to hear God’s words clearly explained without any distortion and to know how to read the Bible in order not to force it to contradict itself, rightfully dividing the word. You need it all, preaching, teaching, and fellowship with wiser mature Christians to keep from being taken captive by Satan at his will.
31 ¶ Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.
Now, here, clearly is a promise for the Hebrew in his physical existence which does not apply to the Christian as a result of his faithfulness. Our reward comes when we were in front of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and the wicked person shall face God at the White Throne Judgment. The Ancient Hebrew was promised many physical, temporal things if he and the people of Israel obeyed and believed God. Although our lives will be better if we do the same, we are not promised the physical things they were here and now. Many Christians get sucked into the Law and look at their religion as kind of a business deal with God. If I do right, God, you have to bless me. Read Job. If you do right, that is what’s expected of you. You have eternal life. But, in this life you may have great Tribulation, suffering, and persecution. The Christian is in no way promised a bed or roses; neither wealth and fame, nor political power, nor exemption from disease, pain, or early death. To be a Christian requires faith that Christ will make all things right over there, not over here. Unless, of course, He returns before you leave for over there.
Just don’t get caught up in the faith destroying heresy that if I follow Christ and do what God has said I’ll get a pass on all pain and suffering. Under the Law the righteous would be recompensed in the earth and the wicked would get his due, as well. Under Grace we look to the author and finisher of our faith to complete his plan when He returns to physically reign from Jerusalem. Rightly divide the word.
2Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
It infuriates me to see Christians who are sick or suffering to be told that if they had faith they wouldn’t be sick or that their sickness or trials are the proof that obviously they weren’t walking with the Lord. Its sick stuff you hear these days. As the song goes, you are a poor wayfaring stranger on this earth. You are just passing through.