Saturday, December 31, 2011

Proverbs 29:2 commentary; when the righteous one rules the earth

2 ¶ When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

A land is spoiled by bad leaders. Men and women who trade off prosperity for deals that pad the pockets of their friends and supporters, men and women who pander to the lowest element in the people to get votes, and men who have no regard for God’s standards of right and wrong will lead a people into despair and calamity. One of the problems of democracy is that the lowest of men in character can get elected if they are good at packaging and selling themselves. One of the problems of a kingdom is that men, by virtue of their bloodline rather than their character, are elevated to the highest authority.

Satan, the devil, aka Lucifer, is the god of this world;

2Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

And through him;

Luke 4:5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

…God permits the lowest kind of man and woman morally to rule over men. All human government on a national scale is by its very nature, wicked.

Daniel 4:17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.

So, how would a righteous man rule under such circumstances? Understand that this Proverb in context was written to God’s kingdom of Israel, which He had set apart from other kingdoms and was not counted among the nations of the Gentiles.

Numbers 23:9 For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.

The question then becomes for Christians what is the condition of the righteous being in authority? When Christ physically returns to rule, the righteous will certainly rule, and His righteous people will rule with Him for a time.

Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

2Timothy 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Those who are the righteous today are made righteous by virtue of having Christ’s righteousness in them by virtue of being born again by belief in Him having trusted in Him. They have no righteousness of their own. The wicked are wicked because they reject Christ’s authority and His sacrifice and His love for them at the Cross. Right now, the wicked do bear rule and wars and rumors of wars have covered the globe repeatedly throughout human history. That’s why Trevor and Dupuy’s Military Encyclopedia is over a thousand pages long. Over the last 4,000 years mankind has had roughly only 300 without war, one can imagine, in order to have time to reload. The wicked bear rule; death and bloodshed and oppression constantly cover the earth. As Thomas Edward Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia said, the Europeans have been slaughtering each other for 1500 years. They ought to be doing it well by now.The 150 million people killed by war and violence in the 20th century attest to that fact.

But, Christ is coming back and mourning time will have ended. The righteous will rule and be in authority. The people, even the whole earth, shall rejoice. So, Christian, look up.

Titus 2:11 ¶ For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Proverbs 29:1 commentary; stubbornness

1 ¶ He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

This Bible idiom, “harden the neck”, refers to refusing to hear something, to accept it, and obey.

2Kings 17:14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God.

2Chronicles 36:13 And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.

Nehemiah 9:29 And testifiedst against them, that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear.

Jeremiah 7:26 Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.

To reprove is to correct or admonish just as reproof is correction. Note again parallel phrasing which provides meaning;

Proverbs 15:10 Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.

Here is one use of reprove in Job.

Job 13:10 He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons.

The simple statement in this Proverb is that the person who stubbornly refuses to hear when they are corrected and shown the error of their ways will be destroyed without any chance of being saved from the calamity in which they have put themselves.

To be destroyed usually carries with it the meaning of being killed.

Genesis 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Genesis 9:15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

God often talks about the judgment of the wicked coming suddenly on them like one who slips and falls quickly, out of control. Here are two verses prominent in Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

Psalm 73:18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. 19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.

Deuteronomy 32:35 To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

The Babylonian empire falls overnight as the Persians and the Medes conquer the unconquerable city.

Daniel 5:30 ¶ In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. 31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.

Virtually the entire Assyrian army is killed by an angel of God while asleep.

Isaiah 37:36 Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they (the men of Jerusalem) arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

When the Christian hardens his neck against God’s reproof and correction he can be brought down in an instant. There are a million ways that you can die in this world; from an aneurysm to that car you didn’t see coming. Don’t think that all your plans and all of your worldly accomplishments can’t be erased in a moment. And when that happens there will be no remedy, no one to save you, and then you will face Christ Himself at His judgment seat for those who belong to Him.

2Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

The Christian is not in any danger of losing his or her salvation but may face the shame of his stubbornness and foolishness in the wake of all of God’s tender mercies. Don’t harden your neck as a response to God’s word of reproof in the Bible. God plucked you out of the depths of Hell itself. Do you not feel that He is worthy to be heard? And how do you hear but by allowing Him to speak to you through His words in His Book and through sound, solid preaching and exhortation on His precepts and statutes? How many times does He have to correct you before He has to take you out of this world because you won’t hear him?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Proverbs 28:28 commentary; when the wicked rise

28 ¶ When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.

When dictators and tyrants come up men who believe in liberty must operate in secret. Thus, it has been all through history. Finally, when the monster in charge either dies by natural causes or is assassinated, if a good person takes his place, the righteous flourish. Now, this isn’t just a political statement referring to the oppression of tyrants versus freedom loving people. This, in the Bible, is a reference to the wicked, as in Satan’s minions, those who care not for God, God’s ways, or His people. They achieve power and the faithful to God are forced underground until the wicked is overthrown.

1 Kings 18:1 ¶ And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. 2 And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria. 3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly: 4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.) 5 And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts. 6 So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself. 7 And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah? 8 And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. 9 And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? 10 As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. 11 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. 12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. 13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD’S prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? 14 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me. 15 And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day. 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

The Hebrews who had to hide from a wicked king weren’t hiding from an Assyrian, an Egyptian, or a Persian. They were hiding from one of their own, someone who should have been extolling God but who was a murderous hypocrite, brazen enough to claim God’s blessings but foolish enough to worship other gods, including himself. Beware of the leader who proclaims faith in God with his mouth but with his actions causes Christians to hide just as you would rail against a Communist or Muslim controlled government that persecuted Christians as in Indonesia or Vietnam. (Sometimes the wicked is a system and not just a person, as in the medieval Roman Catholic Church.)

Throughout major and minor persecutions of Christians under Roman emperors, including some who wanted to steer the empire back toward paganism and away from the paganized state Christianity that their predecessors had created; Christians who escaped the burnings, tortures, crucifixions, and being eaten by nearly starving wild animals in the arena had to hide themselves until such despots died or were overthrown, praying the next pagan would be more tolerant or at least nominally one of their own.

Paul says in 2Timothy 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

Christians today, the righteous only by virtue of having the Spirit of Christ implanted in them by the new birth, are being martyred at a much higher rate than in the Roman Empire rivaled only by the murders committed by the spiritual Roman Empire in the Medieval period of Western history. Perhaps Islam will experience a Reformation of its own which will make its governments more tolerant of other religions politically. Perhaps Vietnam and China will morph into modern, secular democracies with an impartiality toward religious expression, even if a negative impartiality as in Europe and America.

As it stands today in the United States, you can still say your Merry Christmas’s, you can still pray at work even if not openly, you still have a legal right under the Civil Rights Act to your particular day of religious observance that you can demand free from your work responsibilities without fear of retribution, and you can still unite together as a church, the body of Christ, and even command tax benefits if you don’t venture too far into political demagoguery. In fact, many politicians proclaim their faith in Christ, on both the left and the right, although it’s more fashionable to express that faith on the right. Enjoy it while you can because a day will come when you or your spiritual descendants will be driven underground if the Lord doesn’t return first to call His church out. Of course, we can rejoice that when the wicked Beast of Revelation, who is popularly called “The AntiChrist”, is vanquished by Christ and He sets up His millennial reign on earth the righteous will not only increase but will flourish under His authority as the faithful believers rule with Him for the thousand years before eternity begins.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Proverbs 28:27 commentary; giving to the poor, not hiding your eyes from their plight

27 ¶ He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.

The Bible here promises that if you are generous to give to those who are less fortunate than yourself you will not lack what you need. This verse, written under the Law, to the inhabitants of the kingdom of Israel, promises a physical reward for a physical offering.

Christians, too, are told of the importance of generosity, particularly to their poorer brothers and sisters in Christ, and to all men in general.

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.

The Christian attitude toward giving is clearly preached by Paul as he talks to the Corinthian church.

2 Corinthians 8:10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. 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.

The context here is in helping poorer churches. In this context of Christian helping Christian Paul goes on to say;

2Corinthians 9:6 ¶ But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

Notice how the early Christians lived in Jerusalem.

Acts 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Acts 4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

This is not about giving to the church organization so that the Pastor can have a new study or so that the basketball court can be under roof. This is about what a truly New Testament church should be doing for the poorer believers in its own congregation and for churches it is associated with that are going through rough times. A Christian church that spends money on new buildings and parking lots and yet has one elderly person in their midst without a family who can’t pay their heating bills is hardly worthy of being called a New Testament church. In fact, the Christians in Rome early on, at least, were known for being generous in feeding not only their own poor but the pagan poor as well.

Many Christians have expressed a belief that our country should be run this way if it is to be a Christian nation. However, the actions of the church are voluntary, in obedience to Christ, not peformed at the point of a gun. In any event, we have two huge issues in governance that would hinder the proper application of this on a national scale.

The first is in how the government throws money at people who refuse to work when work is available and feel that aid is owed to them by virtue of their race or ethnicity or for any other reason in order to gain their political support and vote.

2Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

The second is the largesse awarded to those who don’t need it in the form of tax breaks in order to get their political support and money.

Proverbs 22:16 He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

Anyway, if you truly wanted to run the country Biblically you would first go to a person’s family to demand that they help them in their poverty before you threw it on the taxpayer.

1 Timothy 5:3 ¶ Honour widows that are widows indeed. 4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God……….16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.

So, government taxation is an entirely different issue than Christian giving. We are told by Jesus Himself to pay our taxes faithfully as a testimony which even He did (read Matthew 17:24-27) but there is little comparison to be made between having your property confiscated so that a government agent can attempt to purchase someone’s vote with it and you giving out of a heart of love to help someone less fortunate then yourself. I will admit that some people have declared that they are happy to pay taxes if that will help others and that’s a wonderful attitude. But, again, taxation generally is by force of law and Christian giving is voluntary out of love. Not the same.

The Christian must remember that all of his money and personal possessions he has by God’s grace and kindness toward him so that all of his resources should be available for God’s use. The actions of the Christian should be voluntary out of an unfeigned love of the brethren, which is what the word “charity” means in 1 Corinthians 13. If it meant our day to day definition of charity then this verse would make no sense;

1Corinthians 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

As God promises in this Proverb that the person who hides his eyes from the poor’s plight will suffer many curses under the Law, under Grace God promises us that if we are generous and bountiful in our giving that we will not suffer lack.

Philippians 4:15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Proverbs 28:26 commentary; do you trust your heart?

26 ¶ He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

I can remember in the 1970’s the mantra was all about following your heart, doing your own thing, blah blah blah. It was the battle cry of idiots. We have had generations of Christians who have trashed their lives and hurt the lives of their children by replacing what is right and what does God want me to do with how do I feel about this or that.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

There is a problem with the human heart, at least the spiritual and emotional one we refer to when we talk about the seat of our emotions and desires.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Your heart is not just wicked. It is desperately wicked. It’s wicked in a way that a person is desperate when they are trapped in a burning building. In some of the more horrible nightclub fires it’s been a known fact that people trapped in a tangle of bodies will actually pull an attempted rescuer in to his death, much like a drowning victim will drown an attempted rescuer, in unthinking desperation. Your heart desperately craves sin. It is of the flesh. Never follow your heart unless it is firmly in Christ’s hands. Then you can follow Christ. I didn’t say “imitate” as in pretend to be or mimic as some of the modern Bible perversions read but follow. Seek not to imitate Him but to obey Him and to do things that He would want you to do in the way He would want you to do them.

Walk wisely in Christ. Do not trust in your own heart but put your trust in Christ’s heart. Deliverance from day to day sin or even Hell does not come from following or trusting in your heart. It comes with first trusting in Christ and then letting His word change you day by day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Proverbs 28:25 commentary; the proud heart

25 ¶ He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

Fat, depending on the context in which the word is used, often (but not always) represents bounty, success, and an abundance of blessings. Historically, human beings lived between times of feast and famine. A person who was fat certainly had no lack.

Genesis 45:18 And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.

Genesis 49:20 Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.

Psalm 92:14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;

The proud heart, the arrogant, self-worshipping fool, whether he be unbeliever or Christian, stirs up conflict as he or she always places himself above everyone else. They are self centered and gloating, always thinking of themselves as above reproach, or THE manly one, or THE godly woman.

The proud heart looks with contempt at all that are around him, cannot permit contradiction or competition, and creates disturbance to everyone and to himself. His family becomes a train wreck and his life a misery for himself and others. The proud heart trusts in himself only. But the one who trusts in the Lord shall be made abundant and bountiful in blessings.

One of the many sins that are listed in the first chapter of Romans as being the result of man worshipping the creature rather than the Creator is pride.

Romans 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

In the last days, in the church itself according to the context, this will become and has become an issue.

2Timothy 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Christians are to put their trust in the Lord, not in themselves. The philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s self reliance, not dependent upon anyone, of being your own person without caring one whit what others think or care about, Ayn Rand’s religion of self, of going your own way, Thoreau’s marching to the beat of a different drummer, etc. etc. are not Christian, but are pagan idolatry. We are to depend on the Lord, His words are to be our final authority in all matters of faith, practice, and doctrine. We depend on each other and live in a Christian community of believers who are accountable to each other as well. If you are proud and haughty of heart don’t expect to be blessed by God. Your lot will always be strife, contention, and frustration.

1Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Proverbs 28:24 commentary; using God as an excuse

24 ¶ Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.

Jesus made a similar statement with regard to withholding help from your parents for so called religious reasons.

Mark 7:10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

(Corban is a gift dedicated to God.) The person in this Proverb steals from his parents and justifies it with his mouth as well. This could easily be applied to caring for children as some Christian cults have had people charged under our secular law for allowing their children to die from starvation while having dedicated money they could have fed the child with to their church. This is, of course, wicked and twisted, having no value for good in God’s sight as the Bible in both Testaments makes clear.

Modern Christian churches will borrow money for additions to the building in which the church meets or to increase the size of the parking lot or for some audio-visual aid for the enhancement of services while there are poor church members, often elderly and infirm, who can’t eat a proper diet or even pay their heating bills. Since the modern church has thrown their poor onto the state in defiance of what the mandate was for churches as exemplified in the New Testament this is similar to the complaints made by God against self righteous religious people.

The person who takes money that should help parents or family, or should be used to help the poor in their midst and declares that the reason they can’t do what God has told them to do is because they have dedicated the money to God is associated with “a destroyer.” The destroyer was the angel of death whom God sent to waste the Egyptian firstborn while sparing the Hebrews who had the blood sprinkled on their door lintels in the Passover.

Exodus 12:23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

The implication here is that you cannot use God as an excuse to not give proper time and resources to aid your family by saying that that time and those resources are dedicated to Him and can’t be used for their need. God will not accept that. Don’t use church as an excuse not to be a dutiful parent or child, a faithful friend, employee, or an honest broker in all you do representing Christ in the world. As Bob Jones, Sr. is reported to have said, “Duties never conflict.” The person who does not take care of his family has denied the faith and is worse than in an infidel as per 1 Timothy 5:8. The church body that does the same is no New Testament church but a modern parasite on society that deserves the contempt the unbelieving world lays on it, no matter how often they street preach at “gay pride rallies” or picket abortion clinics (sarcasm.)

The point is that God doesn’t want you to use Him as an excuse not to act as He has defined clearly how a Christian is supposed to act.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Proverbs 28:23 commentary; a word of rebuke is better than flattery

23 ¶ He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.

Previous Proverbs have said;

Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Proverbs 9:8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

It is far better for the benefit of a friend to correct his or her errors than it is to flatter them. Although flattery at first will be received gratefully, eventually it will be turned to disappointment when they realize you didn’t do anything to keep them off a self destructive path. Although rebuke might not be taken well at the outset, if it is done with the right intention, to help, to direct, and to guide then in time it will be viewed gratefully.

No one likes to hear bad things about their behavior and certainly, if it’s done self righteously or arrogantly, it won’t be received well. When advice is based on experience or on a clear understanding of God’s words, His admonitions, and His instruction, even when it is rebuke it will help. A true friend is less concerned with someone’s immediate approval of their comments as they are with that person’s long term benefit. Rebuke, if done in love, is far better than flattery, which is merely a shameless attempt to gain approval.

A preacher’s efforts to skin the hide off of his congregation to keep them from wallowing in their self destructive impulses are far better and will be appreciated more in the long run than one who soft soaps everyone and tells them how wonderful they are. We’re humans. We’re not wonderful. Our primary instinct that we inherited from our first ancestors, Adam and Eve (Y-Chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve for you compromisers with the current fashion fad of science), is to sin against God. And even if that did not end up in a burning lake of fire for eternity, sin by itself would still burst out into flames and destroy us in this life, given enough time. Tell the truth; rebuke, exhort, plead if you have to, but stir people up to seek the better way of God’s way.

It is much easier to appease the egos of people sitting in the pews than it is to convict them of gossip, lying, dissimulation, fornication in thought, a desire for revenge, covetousness, cruelty, pride, self righteousness, and not staying immersed in God’s written word and prayer. But, in the long run, as lives are changed and train wrecks of lives are avoided people will be grateful.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Proverbs 28:22 commentary; the "get rich quick" attitude revisited

22 ¶ He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.

Here is another warning about hurrying to be rich. Remember, earlier in 23:6 there was a discussion of what an evil eye is.

What is “an evil eye”? From a purely literal and practical point of view there is this paragraph in Matthew where Jesus is telling His disciples where to store what is truly valuable;

Matthew 6:19 ¶ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No man 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.

Apparently there is something wicked in the greedy way the person with the evil eye sees things. Again in the parable of the householder, which is typically understood as it is not our concern that some work most of their lives for Christ and some come to Christ at the end of their life and yet both are saved. Notice verse 15.

Matthew 20:1 ¶ For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. 8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

And then in Luke Jesus reproves the people listening to Him for rejecting what He has said,

Luke 11:29 ¶ And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. 30 For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. 33 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. 34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. 35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. 36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.

A single eye is healthy and whole while an evil eye is sick and imperfect, worldly and focusing on the wrong things. Our Creator, God, has made us for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11). He wants us to see things His way voluntarily (Isaiah 1:18.) The warning here is that the person who views wealth in the wrong way, who wants to get rich quick, will eventually be destined to poverty. Now, this verse was certainly written under the Law given to Moses but the principle definitely applies to us living under Grace.

The way you look at things, your viewpoint, determines usually how you live and what you hold valuable. There are tons of get rich quick schemes out there that people try to get you hooked into. Rarely does either a business or a career yield quick riches. If it does it usually ends up in ruin. Many people who have won great lottery fortunes have wound up filing for bankruptcy. We have a hard time with wealth suddenly acquired. Look at the stories of athletes from poor backgrounds who can’t handle the money they make and wind up in prison or ruined.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Proverbs 28:21 commentary; don't play favorites

21 ¶ To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress.

To have respect of persons is to show partiality to a person because of social position or rank. Sometimes it involves accepting a bribe such as a Congressman voting for a particular appropriations bill that helps out a corporate interest in return for a job offer once he retires from Congress. Or, it could be a local official granting a waiver for some rule to a person of importance in the community.

Deuteronomy 1:17 Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.

Deuteronomy 16:19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.

God doesn’t show partiality because of your social status that you obtained or were born with on earth.

Romans 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

Gill points out how people will show that partiality, that respect of persons, for the most basic of needs, as he points out the Roman Cato said, “that he might be hired, for a morsel of bread, to speak or hold his peace.”

When you consider the parties involved more than the merit of the case there is injustice. When a parent supports his or her favorite child over another regardless of their rightness or wrong there is injustice. When a Pastor refuses to hear a complaint against an important contributor in the congregation there is injustice. Having respect of persons is not something that God wants from Christians, either.

James 2:1 ¶ My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of* evil thoughts? 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

(* of can mean by, with, through, and from depending on context. Here it means “judges with or judges having. Compare “of” and “through” in Romans 3:30 and look at Luke 4:2.)

Judge and discern rightly, not with prejudicial favor toward someone who can do you some small good regardless of the merit of their cause.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Proverbs 28:20 commentary; the faithful man versus the get rich quick huckster

20 ¶ A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.

To be faithful constitutes a lot of things in the Bible. Faithful to God, faithful to your word, faithful to covenants and promises, faithful as dependable among others. The contrast here is important to note as the faithful man in this Proverb is put up against the man who wants to get rich quick. It is in the contrast that we find what is meant by faithful in this particular verse.

A person who honors his commitments, pays his debts, and keeps his word, and, of course, follows the logical flip side of that argument; doesn’t make excessive promises, keeps his debts small, and doesn’t offer guarantees he can’t keep shall abound with blessings. We don’t know too many people like that. Modern life compels many Christians to go into great debt, to spread themselves so thin with their time that they can’t honor every word they say, and, of course, urges them to just keep piling on debt and making promises of time that it is impossible for them to honor. Honor your word and be faithful and God promises that you’ll abound in blessings.

In church settings we like to limit a person’s faithfulness only to how often he attends church functions and how much money he gives. But, this is a rather narrow view of faithfulness. You can’t be faithful to Christ while making promises you can’t keep outside the church. A promise you make to an unsaved person, such as your employer, sports, community service, or something like going to visit or help an aged parent on a regular basis are extremely important as testimonies manifesting your following Christ.

Proverbs 20:6 ¶ Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?

Don’t over extend yourself. But keep your promises. Your word is a testimony. Your faithfulness to Christ includes your testimony. Don’t use church as an excuse to avoid keeping your word. The key is to not make promises that you can’t possibly keep. Think about what you say. You are faithful to Wednesday night service. Don’t promise a child’s coach or your employer you’ll be available on Wednesday night then, and go back on your word. When you stick your nose up in the air and say, “well, its church”, you encourage the unsaved person to blaspheme because you lack all credibility. It would have been better not to promise at all than to promise and not be faithful. Bob Jones, Sr. said that the greatest ability is dependability.

Are you faithful to Christ in all your doings with people who are unsaved or with weak Christians? Are you a testimony and an example?

The contrast here is with a person who seeks to get rich quick. He makes many promises that he has no intention of keeping. He hurries to be all things to all people for the sake of getting their money. Every contact is a prospective customer, even people in the assembly of believers. He can’t make a phone call or a visit without trying to find a way into making it a business opportunity. He’ll press his card into your hand before or after the service and make every effort to pressure you into doing business with him, perhaps, he’ll say, because he’s a brother in Christ.

The person who hungers to get rich quick has no problem making merchandise of the Lord. A church where networking, not worship, is the main activity is a sorry church. People who are in a hurry to get rich quick will compromise every precept God lays on a Christian’s heart in order to be successful and often are only limited by the constraints of the law, if that even, in order to keep from being arrested. True success is a rock climb that takes great effort and time. It can’t be accomplished by a Christian quickly and without effort lest he trample on some important precept of God’s word.

Now, about faithfulness to church attendance, a clear and simple rule should be to unite with your brothers and sisters in Christ for worship, prayer, fellowship, and service whenever at all humanly possible. It means not making unnecessary commitments on those times when you have that opportunity. Work, family emergencies, sickness, and testimony opportunities may interfere with that but we all agree that that should be your goal. Church is a place where many blessings are gained through encouragement and edification. Once again, though, keep in mind not to use church as an excuse not to honor your word, your responsibilities, or opportunities to manifest Christ before others. Sticking your nose up in the air, Bible tucked under your arm, as you inform your nephew that you can’t make his birthday party because there is a speaker at church that night may or may not be a good way of drawing him closer to Christ. You might want to think very carefully about that. Don’t let anyone outside of the Bible dictate what it means to serve Christ. You also serve Christ by your witness in the world and that witness is not served well if you are viewed as an uncaring, sanctimonious boor who is a member of a cult that controls him rather than a Spirit filled Christian from whom the love of God exudes like a sweet perfume and who cares for lost souls.

Those of us who are in church on Wednesday night and Sunday or even Saturday should be praying that those who are not are declaring Christ by their very actions at work, with family, or in some other situations. The person who has to work on Wednesday night could sure use some prayer help to have an opportunity to show Christ to someone with whom they work rather than condemnation or scoffing because they aren’t sitting in the pew. If someone tells you on Sunday that Wednesday they’ve been asked to attend a township meeting then maybe instead of telling them that they’re backsliding and they’ll answer at the judgment seat of Christ for every sermon they missed you should help them pick out the right tracts to carry or figure out a plan on how they can witness while there. When was the last time a church member felt comfortable telling you they were going to an out of state family reunion next Sunday and what do you think would be a good way to get a chance to talk about Christ?

Still, most people miss church for reasons like “my yard needs mowed”, “I’m tired”, or “my show is on TV”, so excuses are just that, pathetic reasons for not feeling a need to hear God’s word preached or to fellowship with other Christians in worship and praise.

A Christian should be faithful in all things and should not seek to be wealthy in the world’s goods, and certainly not hastily.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Latest Reading - Livy's History of Rome

This is translated by D. Spillan and Cyrus Edmonds. Titus Livius' History of Rome is an exciting and fascinating work that I highly recommend. Livy, as Livius is called, is an entertaining and informative writer with a great handle on describing battles, comparing sources, and inserting his own opinion on the truth or error of the sources he uses. It is believed he died in AD 17.

Proverbs 28:19 commentary; following vain persons and poverty

19 ¶ He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.

This really has some bearing on young people. It is absolutely essential that you pick your friends well and not follow after people who “ain’t ‘bout nothin’”, as we used to say in Georgia. Get down to the work of life early and you’ll have plenty of what you need to survive. But, follow these worthless people to the sports bars every night and to riotous, pointless entertainment every weekend and you’ll one day find yourself worrying about where your next meal is coming from.

The Bible is filled with warnings about following after such people. Vain and vanity are meaningless and empty.

Isaiah 40:17 All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.

Psalms 26:4 I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers.

(Dissemblers are deceitful people who believe one thing in their hearts which they intend to do but say another with their lips as in a false promise. See Jeremiah 42:20,21. The boy who tells a girl he loves her just to get her to sin with him is a dissembler, among other things.)

Proverbs 12:11 He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.

One of the surest ways to end your life in abject poverty is to hang out with the other losers down at the Arooga’s or some such similar place several nights of the week. Get your education and training; work hard to provide for your family and for your old age, give bountifully to the Lord’s work with due diligence and discretion, and find your entertainment and your enlightenment in God’s word and in your relationships. Spending countless hours following vain persons on the television or the computer is just as bad. Make your life mean something in eternity, and don’t waste your time on the meaningless and pointless frivolity and vanity of a world that just wants to anesthetize your mind so you can be controlled more easily.

Psalms 62:9 Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Proverbs 28:18 commentary; upright or perverse?

18 ¶ Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.

The phrase “at once” is used for “at one time”.

Numbers 13:30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.

Deuteronomy 7:22 And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee.

Luke 23:18 And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:

1Corinthians 15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

Under the Law, in God’s Hebrew kingdom on earth, the man who obeyed the commandments and followed God’s standard of righteousness would be protected and guided by God.

Psalms 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

Proverbs 2:7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly

Previous Proverbs have shown us that a man who walketh uprightly has understanding, is sure and confident, and works righteousness.

Psalms 15:2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

Proverbs 10:9a He that walketh uprightly walketh surely………..

Proverbs 15:21b ……..but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.

Perverse is a synonym of crooked and of froward.

Deuteronomy 32:5 They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.

Proverbs 4:24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

Proverbs 8:8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.

It is the antonym of perfect (which means “complete” in the Bible; see 2 Chronicles 8:16; James 1:4; and Colossians 4:12.)

Job 9:20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.

We have seen how a perverse person’s life can become unraveled quickly when his perverse, immoral behavior is exposed to public scrutiny. In the same way, a private person’s perverseness can expose him for the wicked person he really is and bring him down at one time. People don’t usually fall in regards to shame and derision, contempt and disgust, by degrees. That’s how a person’s reputation is built up, step by step. But, when you come crashing down because of your perverse ways it often happens rather quickly and at one time.

So, if you’ve been hiding something or things in your life and you have not walked uprightly, especially if you pretend to be what you aren’t, expect the crash to come rather suddenly, quickly, and at one time regardless of the spin you try to put on your porn obsession, adultery, fornication, drunkenness, gossiping, thefts, lies, and wrathful spirit.

So, take this as a warning for the Christian. Walk uprightly, walk with Christ, stay in His word, and fellowship with other believers in accountability and counsel. God will keep you and guard you. Walk perversely and expect your fall to come quickly, immediately, and at once, when you are found out.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Proverbs 28:17 commentary; the unrepentant murderer

17 ¶ A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him.

When God blessed Noah and his sons after they left the Ark and gave them permission to eat the flesh of animals for the first time (compare Genesis 9:3 with Genesis 1:29) He also commanded that, unlike in His dealings with Cain after the murder of his brother, Abel, He would now ordain capital punishment for the murder of a man, whether it be by a beast or a man.

Genesis 9:5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

In fact, the shedding of innocent blood pollutes a land when justice is not executed.

Numbers 35:33 So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.

And again, with the exception of the cleansing of the promised land of Canaan from child sacrificing, bestiality loving, temple prostitute (male and female; the dog and the whore of Deuteronomy 23:18) using, incestuous degenerates; the Canaanites, God told the Hebrews that they were not to kill.

Exodus 20:13 (Deuteronomy 5:17) Thou shalt not kill.

Which the Lord Jesus Christ defined as murder.

Matthew 19:17b ……but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness...

Here it is said that the man who commits murder will flee to his own destruction, the pit.

Psalm 30:3 O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

Psalm 55:23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.

It is the place of torment, Hell, prepared for Lucifer (Satan) in his judgment.

Isaiah 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

And for those angels who chose or choose to follow him.

Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

[Important doctrinal note for Bible believers (the rest of you can go back to sleep): The Devil, Satan, aka Lucifer is not a “fallen” angel but a cherub (Ezekiel 28:14), one of the living spiritual creatures that are the spiritual prototypes for all living things (Ezekiel 1 and 10; Revelation 4). He has wings and is a reptilian dragon (Job 41; Revelation 12:9; 20:2; Isaiah 27:1) but can appear as an angel of light to deceive you as do his preachers (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) and he is the god of this world system (2 Corinthians 4:4). Angels don’t have wings (compare Daniel 9:21 with Luke 1:19; Revelation 21:17.) If you see an angel with wings start running….and praying. You’re in big trouble. You might invite an angel into your house unaware but I doubt you’d think your guest was just a poor stranger if he had the big wings of the mythological angels the Roman church borrowed from Persian Zoroastrianism (Hebrews 13:2). Angels are appearances, representatives of things and persons that can act as those things and persons and for all practical purposes are those things and persons. See Judges 2:1 for an appearance or angel of God; see Matthew 18:10 for angels or appearances of children, see Acts 12:15 for one reference to an appearance or angel of a man; and see Revelation 1:20 for appearances or angels of churches.]

This Proverb would say to not prevent the unrepentant murderer from fleeing to his own destruction. That would be under the Law of Moses. Under the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ even a murderer could obtain forgiveness if He called on the name of the Lord. The assumption here is that he is unrepentant and flees to his own destruction without receiving the free gift of forgiveness by faith in and trusting in Christ. Let no man prevent him from his fate then but every murderer in every prison in the land should hear of Christ’s forgiveness and as much as it might rattle you, Christ might just decide to save that murderer. It may not be our way but it is certainly God’s way to forgive, even a murderer, if in sincerity and simplicity he asks for salvation.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Proverbs 28:16 commentary; the hungry prince

16 ¶ The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.

To lack understanding is to lack wisdom.

Deuteronomy 4:6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.

Just a note, things connected by “and” usually have like meanings or are in the same class but sometimes can be opposites based on the context. Notice how Paul uses “abound” in his letters if you have a computer version of the Bible that lets you search words and verses.

Covetousness is idolatry, worshipping things other than God. For instance, placing something in front of you that is more important to you than your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Here, in contrast, it is not being satisfied with what you have.

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

To covet is to lust after something that you don’t have.

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

The ruler, which is what a prince is, who is possessed by a spirit of covetousness is oppressive. He’s never satisfied and always wants more; whether it be wealth for himself or territory and power. We have seen this many times in history, even over the last century. Leaders like Hitler were never content with any territory they had but always wanted more, living space, as he called it in German.

Let this be a lesson for the average Christian. Be content with what you have if YOU wish to prolong your days. A life of always hungering for that which you don’t have is not the life God has willed for any of us. It is sin.

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.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Proverbs 28:15 commentary; roaring lions and ranging bears

15 ¶ As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.

Saddam Hussein, Robert Mugabe, and other tin horn despots have ruled over miserable people, impoverished by the outright theft their leaders have perpetuated on them and the corruption their families and cronies have been allowed to perform.

The roaring lion is said to have found his prey.

Amos 3:4 Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing?

There is great symbolism here as a lion and a bear figured well into David’s introduction to King Saul.

1 Samuel 17:34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: 35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.

Some commentators insist this is a prophetic reference to the Beast of Revelation, the end time ruler that is commonly called The AntiChrist, although that is a reference in the letters of John to anyone who denies Christ’s divinity and is not found in the Book of Revelation.

So, from a prophetic point of view the verses in 1 Samuel and this Proverb would be like saying that David, a type of Christ, kept God the Father’s flock, as in the believers, safe from the lion and the bear, two types of Satan.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one.

This has been the subject of a great many sermons, I am sure. But, back to the literal take on these verses. Rulers who make their people poor, who rule over them like wild predators, are wicked. People in the halls of governments that strip the prosperity from an inventive and industrious people by deals made with other countries and outright theft of their own, padding their pockets and the pockets of their wealthy corporate friends whom they intend to work for once their days of tax supported plunder are over are wicked rulers. Since the world is under the operative control of Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4) until Christ returns to take over the kingdoms of the world (Revelation 11:15) it is highly unlikely that any UN sanction or threat from the World Bank is going to change that, especially as those entities are part of a greater wickedness, where predatory men and institutions have a global reach.

One way, then, of viewing this Proverb, in light of current events, is to see how our global governors; giant international corporations and world reaching global institutions are like wild predators who will eventually carry the plunder until they rule over a world of grey mush; a mass of poor people, slaves pleased with any crumb thrown their way, compliant and fearful. At least, until the Prince of Peace returns, it will be that way.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Proverbs 28:14 commentary; Fear God

14 ¶ Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is an awe and reverence toward God. It is obedience to His commandments, statutes, judgments, precepts, and ordinances which you obey not to get to Heaven or to pay for your salvation, which is impossible, but because you love and fear God. It is something that American Christians have lost in this feel good, its your thing age of the people’s rights, which we dispensationalist minded call the Laodicean church age for the last church listed in the Book of the Revelation.

Job 28:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.

Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

Psalm 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Deuteronomy 6:2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.

Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

Many have hardened their hearts. Too proud to unite with a church body. Too cold to read the Bible every day. Too busy to pray unless some tragedy faces them. Very few concern themselves with their so called faith except in a proud proclamation of their right to eternal life by virtue of their belief in Christ failing to acknowledge that it isn’t about their decision but about God’s mercy and Christ’s sacrifice. In fact, I would go on to suggest that most Christians have faith in their faith more than they do in an Almighty God.

They talk about the power of prayer rather than the power of the One to whom they pray. They talk about the dead going to a better place rather than going to face the One that made them. They talk about God as if He were nothing more than an idea, a force, rather than an entity, a person if you will, with a will.

Abraham Lincoln learned the fear of the Lord. He went from mocking the Bible to viewing God as a power to telling people as the Civil War raged that he knew there was a God who had a will and who wasn’t on the side of either belligerent and had judged the nation for slavery. He announced the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet as a promise he had made to this God, a promise which he dare not go back on (From Gettysburg College’s Allen Guelzo in his book “Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.) Now, whether or not you believe he was sincere or just another politician trying to look pious and spiritual, my point is that the fear of the Lord IS the beginning of wisdom and, for the Christian, the beginning of joy and happiness once he or she receives Christ.

But, for the Christian who hardens their heart and has no time or place for God, a great deal of trouble awaits in this life and after, not the least of which is their standing at the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account of things they have done and why. You aren’t in danger of losing your salvation but what joy you are missing out on now and then. This is not the great judgment of the unsaved but of those who have believed on Christ.

Romans 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

2Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Fear God, trust Christ, depend on the Holy Spirit, and know the joy and peace He gives.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Proverbs 28:13 commentary; what sins are you hiding?

13 ¶ He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

When we hide our sins we are handling poison that can destroy us. We have promises in the Bible for us if we go to God, our Creator, for forgiveness. It is only through Jesus Christ that we can have forgiveness of sins, and mercy.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

First, remember that sin is a transgression of God’s Law, His standard of righteousness, from 1 John 3:4. Even though the Christian is not in any way justified by the Law or the keeping of it, it is still God’s standard of righteousness.

Psalm 103:11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Notice that there are two conditions for having mercy; confessing your sin and forsaking or turning your back on it, repenting of it and doing a 180, going the other way. Our base natural instinct is to sin against God. We inherit that from our parents so it is pointless to say you were born this way or that way. We are all born to sin of various kinds and any given person is capable of any sin. We first must have Christ and then God forgives our sins based on what Christ did on the cross at Calvary. Then, when we sin after that we go to God to forgive us, expecting that He will. However, one important factor of repentance is forsaking your sin. Turn your back on your sin. Reject your desire to do it even though that desire may haunt you for a long, long time.

Christians are notorious for asking for forgiveness for a sin they have no intention of walking away from. Now, I am aware that it is not always easy to do. We are frustrated by the failure of our good intentions. You have to submit your thinking to God’s word and let Him speak to you through it and make you a fit vessel for His use. For Jesus said;

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

So, you may have a sin that denies your constant efforts to turn away from it. You need to apply the medicine of God’s word every day, and even often throughout the day, to have it removed from you. But, first, you must have a will that it be removed. You must give it up. What is the sin you’ve been covering? Gossip? Lying? Envy? Covetousness? Inordinate sexual desires? Are you implacable? Pride? Arrogance? You know you’ve been hiding something. Are you bitter toward your spouse? Is it impossible for you to forgive a wrong done to you? Do you have an unforgiving spirit?

If you expect God to show you mercy today, to relieve the pain in your own heart, then look to your heart for the sin you’ve been holding onto like someone who just can’t bear to bury a deceased loved one and keeps the decaying corpse around the house. Bury the dead by confessing your sin to Christ and be forgiven, turn from it and walk the other way. If you aren’t able to do it then look to God’s word to relieve you of the burden you’re carrying before it kills you. It’s already robbed you of your joy and your testimony. How much more power will you surrender to it rather than Christ?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Proverbs 28:12 commentary; freedom of religion

12 ¶ When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.

In countries where there is freedom of religion and freedom of conscience righteous men and women are free to rejoice, to give thanks, and to give glory to God. But, when a country is ruled by wicked men and women or a wicked culture that does not regard freedom of religion and conscience the righteous must hide. You don’t find outspoken Christians in one of those wicked nations where Christians who speak up glorifying God and rejoicing in their salvation are murdered or locked away.

2Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

The greatest gift that America has given the world, the greatest ideal, is not our economic system but our commitment to freedom; freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and the like. Within certain arguable bounds our government permits people to speak their minds and worship as they so choose. Yes, there are many divisions of religion here, many denominations and many arguments as to what true faith is but that is also our strength in that no one church organization can openly rule the rest. As long as the government stays secular the more freedom Christians will have to worship and to serve Christ.

There will be a constant struggle as to what the bounds are of expressions of faith but this argument is also good in that the dialogue implies that there is freedom and that we are only arguing about what the limits should be in order not to infringe upon another’s right to enjoy their freedom. When righteous men are free to rejoice, there is great glory. But when the wicked rise, who wish to impose their own brand of faith whether it be in a god or gods or whether it be in man alone, so that no one else is free to follow the dictates of their own conscience in who or what they worship and how, then the righteous are hidden, the man is not to be seen who glorifies the God of the Bible, the One who created all things.

In America you have the freedom to believe and to worship and walk God’s way or the freedom to go to Hell in your own. You have the freedom to search out the difference. It’s a freedom we must always guard.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Proverbs 28:11 commentary; exposed by a poor man of understanding

11 ¶ The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.

To be wise in your own conceits is to be self righteous and full of self worship. You’re puffed up and think you’re better than other people. Previous Proverbs have said;

Proverb 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

Proverb 26:12 Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

The Christian is told not to be wise in his own conceits. Neither over the Jews;

Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Nor over other Christians in his own congregation.

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Rich people are not necessarily wise because they have money and poor people are not necessarily stupid because they have not. Solomon, the king and the preacher, noticed this in his life.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 ¶ I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

The poor man that has understanding can expose the rich man without wisdom, which is what understanding is, for the fool that he may be. Here are wisdom and understanding given as synonymous, as in many cases, words connected by “and” are synonymous and are alternative words to each other in definition;

Exodus 36:1 Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded.

Deuteronomy 4:6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.

For instance, this is the nature of the inspiration given to men from God to write the Bible, to translate it, or to copy it, if such inspiration has, indeed, been put on them. The Bible is not usually word for word dictation but the results of the wisdom God gave unto men who were sometimes exiles, poor, despised, and ignored who obeyed and honored Him, and whom He chose to preserve His words.

Job 32:8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.

2 Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

So, with regard to this Proverb, don’t mistake being clever, resourceful, cheap, arrogant, manipulative, and selfish for wisdom. You might be exposed for a fool by someone you wouldn’t permit to shine your shoes. Just remember Paul’s admonition to us.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Proverbs 28:10 commentary; so you like to see people trip and fall?

10 ¶ Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.

The Christian is only righteous by virtue of having the Holy Spirit living inside of him, something which happened at the new birth when he or she first trusted in Christ. A Christian knows he has no righteousness of his own no matter how spiritual and holy he THINKS he is. You may be genteel, have been taken all sorts of business oriented sensitivity training, watch your speech very carefully, and just be an all around polite person but you are only righteous because Christ is righteous and you have Christ’s Spirit inside.

This Proverb can very easily be applied to Christians. The person who would seduce and deceive a Christian into committing sin, that person who delights in wrong doing and in convincing people who should know better to follow them will fall into the pit he digged himself.

The upright, a synonym for the righteous, who is only upright because Christ holds him upright, has eternal life, a relationship with his God, and God’s very words to read and to hear, to comfort and to exhort him each and every day. He possesses all things in eternity in Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:21 ¶ Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

Do not be deceived, Christian. Anyone who tries to seduce you into sin is not your friend. Who tries to make you go astray either with unbelief or doubting or wickedness is a fool and to be avoided. And you, who think it amusing to get a believer to do wrong or to doubt his faith or his salvation. Beware.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Proverbs 28:9 commentary; is your prayer an abomination?

9 ¶ He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

Proverbs 21:4 told us that even the plowing of the wicked is sin. Here, under the Law given to Moses for the Hebrews, even the prayer of someone who turns his ear away from the law, is an abomination.

Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.

Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

Because of Christ and the Holy Spirit, God will never turn away from hearing us. This is a great tragedy, though, to think of a blood bought born again Christian who does not care to hear God’s words and by the use of to hear in the Bible, obey God’s words written for Christians. What a shameful thing. There are many people who believed on Christ, who still claim to be His, and yet, neither care to unite with the body of Christ in fellowship and worship, nor care to hear God’s words of grace from the New Testament about God the Son dying for our sins, and rising from the dead for our hope of eternal life, about loving each other, not getting revenge, not envying or coveting, living in peace with all men, and how God would that all would be saved if they would only hear; such sweet, gracious words of peace with God and man.

We have been shown such mercy as God has washed us from our sins in His own blood. How can we neglect the hearing of His word either plain from the Scriptures, or preached? They will not hear God speak to them but they will pray when they are in trouble. Their prayer, indeed is an abomination.

Ask yourself if your child was at death’s door or perhaps your spouse, if you would not plead with God for mercy, and yet, you, right now will not darken the door of a church building nor read or hear His word preached. Ask yourself if you expect someone to talk at your own funeral about how you have “gone to a better place” or are “at rest in the Lord.” How sickening it is that you don’t care any more for the One from whom you will beg for mercy than to ignore what He has said in His Bible. You’d rather be anywhere on Sunday morning than at worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ; sporting events, work, or some entertainment, perhaps a dinner. I understand that there are reasons why people who are sick or those caring for the sick might not be able to unite in worship with others likeminded but at least they could take the time to read His word each day and fellowship with Him. But, when the time comes they who refused to hear or obey or even read will cry for His mercy. How dare you.

I’m not spiritual enough to judge whether or not you are saved and I’m certainly far less of a decent human being than most of you are but, at least I know my Maker and I thank Him, praise Him, and worship Him every day and not a day goes by that I don’t read or hear His word. You who treat the One who made you with such contempt when you aren’t in pain, grief, or afraid are abominations. You should be ashamed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Proverbs 28:8 commentary; from ill gotten gains to pity on the poor

8 ¶ He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.

This is one of those verses that crosses Christians up when they try to use claim it. This was written under the Law given to Moses for the Hebrews. Under that Law it was wrong to charge interest to impoverished fellow Hebrews or foreigners on a loan.

Leviticus 25:35 And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. 36 Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.

Here we see that usury is increase or profit charged on a loan, which is what we know as interest.

A stranger is a foreigner.

Exodus 22:21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

A stranger and a sojourner are synonymous as a person who sojourns in a place is foreign to it and just passing through, abiding only temporarily.

Genesis 23:4 I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

An example of a sojourner today might be a migrant worker, a foreigner or stranger from another country, or you, a sojourner on this earth, just passing through, whose home is a far country.

The Holy Spirit, in this Proverb, is saying how a person who gains wealth dishonestly and oppressively might one day see it taken from him by someone who will show mercy on the poor. It would be ironic justice if the money he took from people were used to help that same group of people impoverished by him.

This is unlikely to happen today as the ill gotten gains of a criminal would just go into the coffers of the state who would spend it quicker than you could say “Jack Spratt could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean.” I doubt any money Bernie Madoff pays in fines will go to show pity on the poor. Its even doubtful the investors he scammed will see much money.

However, there is a principle here. If a Christian is one of those who would make a dishonest profit and charge exorbitant interest God might well take his money and give it to someone who would show mercy on the poor.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Proverbs 28:7 commentary: you are known by the company you keep

7 ¶ Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.

Notice the contrast here creating a definition as the Bible does in many places. The wise son keeps the law; obeys it, guards it, stays close to it. But the opposite type of son hangs out with party people. The first one is a wise son and by the understanding of the phrase makes his father glad whilte the second son shames his father.

Young people, you are often known by the people you keep company with. I used to be one of the riotous people it refers to here back when I was unsaved, and in some part, even afterwards for a time until God’s word took hold of me. I was not the kind of person you want to hang around to keep your reputation from being dragged through the dirt. That condition began with me hanging out with the wrong people and learning from them while I ignored the good people in my life. Guard your good name, keep your reputation clean. I have been denied employment recently based on events that transpired nearly thirty years ago.

Proverbs 22:1a A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…….

Ecclesiastes 7:1a A good name is better than precious ointment…..

(I have heard that ointment for burial purposes, as was applied to Jesus’ head in Matthew 26, could cost as much as a year’s earnings for a Hebrew.)

What characterizes riotous men? For one, they are party people.

Proverbs 23:20 Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: 21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.

You know the kind of young person who hangs out at the local sports bar every night after work or the older person who has to stop off at the club for a drink or two before he can go home. On weekends they overindulge: drink too much and eat too much. Its always happy hour for them, sort of like the premise of the TV show, Cheers. The Prodigal Son in Luke 15 wasted his entire inheritance on riotous living and wound up eating with the pigs.

Riotous living looks like fun for awhile but unless God has mercy on you and you repent of your lifestyle your life will usually come to ruin if riotous living is your life code. The Christian is not in danger of losing his or her salvation but you hardly appear saved to others or have any kind of testimony for Christ with a drink in one hand and a noisemaker in the other falling down drunk on New Year’s Eve. Listen to my advice carefully. Make friends with people of good character regardless of their social status or political views. Make friends with people who are, as we used to say down South, about something.

The frivolous, immoral party girl like the one glorified in the songs by the pop artist Kesha or the wild boys extolled by many different artists are fools and if you make the mistake of associating with them outside of presenting the gospel in an attempt to save them from Hell, then you will not only appear unwise but bring shame to your parents, most likely.

A wise son or daughter will spend their time with people who will help them, build them up, strengthen their faith, and who display Christian character and the Fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5. Do your friends drink alcohol, stay up late, and are they irresponsible, loud mouthed, going nowhere losers or do the following things emanate from them like a good smelling ointment?

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

It’s your choice. Are you a wise son or daughter or are you a fool who causes unbelievers to blaspheme the name of God because of your foolish companions? Think carefully. You may answer for your choices thirty years from now in this life or at the very least at the Judgment Seat of Christ at the end of it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Latest Reading

Rights and Duties: Reflections on our Conservative Constitution by Russell Kirk. Introduction by Russell Hittinger. Dallas, TX: Spence Publishing Co., 1997. Russell Kirk was one of the great conservative thinkers of the 20th century. This book is a must for people to understand the origins and intents of our founding documents and of the people who changed those documents through amendment. Our constitution is more than just words on paper but a rich body of social, religious, and political traditions that go back thousands of years. Liberals won't like it. Neocons will be disturbed by it. But, it is basic stuff. I took a year to read it to try to soak it all in.

Proverbs 28:6 commentary; a tale of two Christians

6 ¶ Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

There are several ways of looking at this Proverb from the most obvious, literal way to some very spiritual ways for the Christian. The first thing that is important to note is we need to have a handle on what a person’s ways are. Is it their manner of living, their personal attitude, the way they handle problems, or just what are a person’s ways?

In the following verse, ways is a reference to the Law given by God to the ancient Hebrews through Moses.

Deuteronomy 5:33 Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.

So, the commandments of the Lord are called His ways.

Deuteronomy 8:6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.

A man’s ways are the way he lives day by day and moment by moment, step by step.

Job 31:4 Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?

Man’s ways are often and usually different than God’s ways. Here we see ways as thoughts by the method of parallel phrasing.

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

When man’s ways line up with God’s ways for him, then he is right. As one of the fundamental understandings of the Christian is that he is wholly incapable of pleasing and obeying God without God’s intervention through His Holy Spirit by the method of speaking to the heart through His words in His Bible how can we take this verse, written literally under the Law, to the Christian, saved purely by God’s grace and mercy?

Jesus said that it is out of the thoughts that evil and sin proceed.

Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

And Paul, speaking through the wisdom given to him by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 3:15) says that we are to bring our thoughts into subjection to Christ.

2Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

He also says that the Bible will discern those thoughts, knowing what our real intentions are.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

So, let’s move beyond the obvious and literal explanation of this verse under the Law, that it is better to be poor and right with God than it is to be rich and perverse in your ways, something which is obvious to every one with any common sense. Just as the reverse is true, it being better to be rich and right with God than to be poor and wicked.

The American Christian who has everything to commend himself as spiritually rich; freedom of religion and conscience, a great church, much access to the Bible, commentaries, great preaching, and an opportunity regularly to meet with the saints and to spread the gospel and yet, is perverse in his thoughts and actions is in far worse shape than the Sudanese Christian who has not even so much as seen the printed word, a copy of the Bible, but has committed himself to Christ’s keeping and faithfulness to Him even in the face of torture, mutilation, and death by an oppressor of another religion.

The poorest Christian in the jungles of the Phillipines hedged in on every side by fanatics of other religions, hunger, disease, and hardship who has to walk miles to hear any preaching of God’s word and that under great danger, and who has to share a Bible with someone else, and yet is faithful to Christ, is far better off in his or her relationship with God than the Christian in Pennsylvania who attends church when nothing good is on TV, rarely cracks open his Bible, and thinks of prayer as some meaningless poem you mutter hurriedly before dinner or repeat with your child before bed, and who views things of God as for church and the rest of the week follows the perverse ways of the world.

The most impoverished Christian in the heart of Africa who is barely able to eat enough to keep body and soul together and who is oppressed on every side by corrupt leaders and haters of Christ and Christians but is faithful to Christ and His ways is far better off than the Christian in the heart of Alabama who listens to every TV or radio preacher, lots of gospel songs by his favorite celebrities, and calls himself a Christian and yet, is so carnal and worldly he reeks of it.

It is better to have nothing and Christ than to have everything you ever desired and not to have Him or to claim His mercy and grace and then live like the devil. We need to think on that the next time we start being fearful of some politician whittling away at our freedom. Perhaps God will make us poor so that we can be rich.