1 ¶ Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. 2 ¶ A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.
Dr. Ruckman places these two verses together as one thought. There are several opinions as to what these verses mean so I searched and prayed for help and I think at least one possible explanation, for us, and that’s the main thing I’m looking for, is that there are people, saved or unsaved I can’t tell, who will separate themselves from the local church body in which they were saved or in which they prayed a prayer for salvation and were nourished spiritually but in which they never really believed or were taught that they needed to read and digest the Bible and the sermons they heard went right over their heads, and they will look for knowledge of God in many places. They’ll seek out what other religions say, they’ll seek out what science says, they’ll seek out what philosophy says, and they’ll look for the wisdom of other “great” preachers, “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).
What these fools have is no delight in the understanding that God wants to give them through His words in this Book and in their local church body, but that they are only interested, in the end, in worshipping themselves, in adoring their own intellect and their own knowledge. Their heart isn’t interested in God’s understanding but in discovering itself. When they look at others they only really want to see themselves to compare themselves with themselves. 2Corinthians 10:12 “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. “
I have had these people ask me pointless questions like “what about the lost books of the Bible” or “what about the Gospel of Cain” or Thomas or Matthew’s Q gospel, or “how do you account for evolution” or have you read Strauss’ “Life of Jesus” or Schweitzer’s “The Quest for the Historical Jesus” and on and on and on.
These fools have sometime rejected the faith of their childhood and want to argue with me, “prove the Bible is true! Prove it!”. After all this time I have realized something. They don’t want truth. They don’t really want the Bible to be true. It terrifies them. The prospect of the judgment seat of Christ if they were saved and sealed as a child or the Great White Throne if they know they’re lost as a goose in a horse race makes their soul sick with fear and trembling. They’ve spent their life searching out the world’s wisdom so that they can justify themselves. That’s their motivation. They are their own god.
It’ll happen. One day someone will walk through our doors and sit in the assembly and listen but at some point he’ll ask you or the Pastor, “yeah, but what about……?”. You’ll know what he’s been doing. Looking for an excuse.
3 ¶ When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, and with ignominy reproach.
Ignominy, used only here, is linked with contempt as a synonym. It is defined further in Webster’s 1828 as public shame and reproach. The commentators go from the Calvinist, John Gill, saying that when the wicked is born he bears the contempt of God to others who speak of this happening when the wicked shows up anywhere. But just look at the news and the websites devoted to attacking Christianity and conservative politics, when the unsaved man enters the congregation of God’s people, the body of Christ, the church, the house of God and puts himself up as a saved man, seeking position and influence within the assembly, he will inevitably bring contempt, shame, and reproach on the people of God’s house.
Websites such as “Conservative Babylon” reveal mockingly that when the unsaved person rises to levels of authority within so called Christian congregations that they will inevitably bring shame, ignominy, contempt, and reproach on the body of Christ. Many an unsaved person has wound up leading in some way Christian congregations only to be found out later as pedophiles, thieves and robbers, or serial adulterers.
Certainly, Gill and Henry and Ruckman are correct in their sense. When Gill talks about the birth of a sinner, though, he’s talking about someone not of the elect. When Henry talks about the wicked coming he is referring to any transaction the wicked are a part of, and Ruckman even takes the phrase to the contempt that people like Hitler have brought on their own nation. This is certainly all true but I prayed for an application for the household of faith.
Paul, speaking with the understanding given to him by the Holy Spirit says;
Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Just click on the radio or TV and you’ll find people putting themselves up as men and women of God denying the literal truth of the Bible or making applications that overthrow essential doctrines that God has laid down for the church, attempting to either put us back under the Law or removing all conviction of any kind from our faith. The only way you can discern those people is if you know God’s word backwards and forwards and that should be your lifelong goal, among others, as Christians.
4 ¶ The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.
13:14 ¶ The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
10:11 ¶ The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.
In these verses what comes out of a wise man’s mouth is called a fountain of life, a well of life, and deep waters, a wellspring. Notice what Jesus says here;
John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
The word’s that come out of a saved person’s mouth should be calm and sure as deep waters and as refreshing from being full of wisdom as a flowing brook. You wouldn’t dare set sail in shallow water over sharp rocks. You’d want something deep and trustworthy. You aren’t refreshed by a stagnant pool of water with dead animals and slime in it, but by a flowing brook.
This would most definitely apply to someone who preaches the word of God without any agenda other than to preach the word of God, to give life giving words to the hearer. When you witness to someone or impart the words of life in this book to a new babe in Christ you must be faithful to the book and not soil it with your own prejudices and biases. Most of the verses written to the Christian particularly are so clear only a fool could twist them into knots. People need to hear these words of life, both the unsaved and the saved. The Bible is deep, a wellspring of waters, like a flowing brook. You are to be refreshed by it, nourished by it, and you are to live by it.
And folks, you may dearly want the Bible to say something it doesn’t say but don’t change the words and throw manure into the water. Don’t pollute the water with false doctrine simply because it makes you feel better or because of some tradition.
2Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
5 ¶ It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment.
There are plenty of examples of this evil, in religion, in politics, and in every walk of life. The Hebrews were told clearly;
Deuteronomy 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:
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.
And the minister to we Gentiles, Paul, confirms;
Romans 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
It is wrong to justify a person, to be favorable to someone because of who they are and to, as it says, overthrow the righteous in judgment. I’ve been working on a paper about the effects of the Cold War with the Soviets on the expression of Christianity, particularly fundamental, as in those who claim to believe the Bible literally, and evangelical, those who believe it is our duty to win souls for Christ, in America. I am stunned and dismayed as I read over case after case after case among the Independent Fundamentalist Brethren of preachers, so called men of God, who have committed horrible crimes against women, children, and even other men who, when those charges are made in court, even when proven by an abundance of testimony, the people in the offender’s congregation don’t care. Why? Because he’s the “man o’ God” and “bless God” they are going to “stand by the man o’ God”. As a result we are looked at by the reading public who is interested in these things as a justification in their own hearts as to why they should not only not accept Christ as their personal Saviour but should flee when we approach them.
Folks, Nicolaitanism, victory (nike) over the laity, a separate and special and unimpeachable priesthood, is something that Jesus hates in this age.
Revelation 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Revelation 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
You better be thankful, as you look around you, that you have a humble and loving Pastor who wants to do what God wants him to do. Not like some of the ones that the church then and in the last days are warned about by the Holy Spirit;
3 John verse 9 ¶ I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. 11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
Likewise, in 1 Peter 5
1 ¶ The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
When a church takes the doctrine of Pastoral authority to the extreme that says that even if a Pastor commits a crime against God’s word, His people, and against the civil law protecting the weak that it doesn’t matter because he’s the “man o’ God” then they are not doing God’s work but Satan’s. They bring shame on the cause of Christ and a reproach on their own head. I actually read testimonies by people who said that even if their Pastor is guilty of sexual and physical abuse it doesn’t matter.
And even if the abuse doesn’t enter into the illegal zone, look what God has said, through the inspiration, the understanding, he gave Paul to say to the young pastor, Timothy.
1 Timothy 5:1 ¶ Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
I have heard sermons online where so called great “men o’ God” talked to the people in their congregations like they were animals making a mess in the wrong place, not like it says in the aforementioned verse. I heard a IFB preacher actually brag about how he disrespected an older woman in his congregation, making her apologize to him publicly while he admitted privately to her that he might have been wrong. Now, I’m not going to make the mistake of Job’s friends and tell you that people always get their just deserts on this earth. The fact is a Christian may not even see his error until he stands before Christ as His judgment seat.
But, folks, the Lord is calling on the body of Christ to not accept the person of the wicked or to overthrow the righteous in judgment. Your Pastor, your Sunday School teacher, bus route drivers, and your custodian are all held to a standard. Are they filled with the Holy Spirit? When you listen to an IFB preacher on the radio, online, or in a revival meeting do they sound as if they have the fruit of the Spirit spoken of in Galatians 5?
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. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
It is one thing to hate sin and that is an important thing for a man of God. It’s an important thing for all of us. But, I swear to you, from listening to some of these preachers I think its women they hate, or fear. That’s called misogyny. I’ve heard some really venomous sermons, or as one critic calls them, schizophrenic sermons, by people I’m sure some of you have admired in the past, that have NOTHING to do with the Bible and everything to do with the fear that a woman might actually do what Jesus said was the good part and serve Him rather than attending to work as it shows in Luke 10:38 -42.
God is no respecter of persons. We are supposed to believe in the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9). We should elevate a Pastor and communicate to him all good things.
Galatians 6:6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
1Thessalonians 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
See those verses, they are written directly to us, as Christians, in this age. These aren’t tribulation verses or verses written specifically to Jews back under the Law. But, no church worker or leader, no Pastor, is exempt from God’s standards. Remember this verse in Proverbs the next time you hear an unanswered accusation against someone in a pulpit somewhere. There were some great expectations and some high regard for so called great preachers like Bob Gray, who really let Dr. Ruckman down, you could tell, even though Dr. Ruckman has too much class to talk about it openly. But, men like Gray and Charles Shifflett, who have pled guilty to their crimes, have soiled the ministry and what is so distressing is that there are people in their congregations who say it doesn’t matter. They’ll still follow them or anyone they choose as their successor.
6 ¶ A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. 7 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
The words of a fool start fights and plead for him or her to get a good whipping. Their mouth is the engine of their own destruction and even their soul is entrapped by their words. More marriages are destroyed, friendships wiped out, and lives ruined by the careless words of fools than almost anything else and often they are the ones who suffer the most from their own careless words.
8 ¶ The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
Of course, this is talking about people who pass stories around about other people and the implication is that they are untrue stories. True or not, talking about people behind their backs is a terrible thing. It can harm marriages, business relationships, and friendships.
Proverbs 11:13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
Proverbs 26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
Verse eight here is repeated word for word in chapter 26. Paul wants the young widow to marry because of the temptation to wander from house to house;
1 Timothy 5:13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. 14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
People who wander about getting into trouble and starting trouble are warned about in both testaments. We have an old word for someone who just won’t stay at home but simply must go around, among other things, gossiping and starting strife called a “gadabout”. The Old Testament has a warning for men, and men are huge gossipers down at the local “watering hole”.
Habbakuk 2:5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:
Titus 2:5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
With a “keeper” being a guardian, a protector, a manager whether it be caring for a garden;
Genesis 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
Guarding it from those unworthy of it;
Genesis 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
Protecting and nourishing;
Genesis 6:19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.
Maintaining a sacred trust;
Genesis 17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
Teaching and upholding God’s words in your home;
Genesis 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
Christian men and women have too much to be doing at home to be able to justify running to the phone or physically from house to house or to the local “Moose” club so they can bad mouth their neighbors or their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Some people are under conviction that a woman should not have employment outside of the home. Others don’t have that conviction. But, whether you view your position as a housewife, managing and guiding the home, or you are a veterinarian, a doctor, a judge, or own a small business plus guiding your home, ladies, you are called NOT to be a talebearer. And neither are you men. Talebearers cause a great deal of pain and can’t be trusted.
And, of course, we have “good, Godly ways” of bearing tales while sounding as if we’re just concerned for our brother or sister, as you all know. It’s really a matter of intent. You can ask for prayer for someone because you genuinely are concerned about them and also because you just want to gossip without sounding like a gossip. Remember, old Dr. Samuel Johnson, the most quoted man in the English language outside of Shakespeare once said, “The morality of an action depends on the motive from which we act. If I fling half a crown to a beggar with intention to break his head, and he picks it up and buys victuals with it, the physical effect is good; but, with respect to me, the action is very wrong. So, religious exercises, if not performed with an intention to please God, avail us nothing. As our Savior says of those who perform them from other motives, 'Verily they have their reward.'"
So, when you talk about someone’s troubles remember, God knows your heart, even if you don’t.
9 ¶ He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.
Isaiah 54:16 has “waster” as one who destroys. God has linked here a lazy person as the brother of one who messes things up. I’m sure any employer who has had to deal with both would say that they both take a lot of money that could be better used elsewhere and if either one is found out they have to go.
A man that is slothful in spiritual things, who doesn’t hear the sermons or read the Bible, who is careless about cross referencing verses or understanding how the Bible defines words, and how the Book is divided is the brother of the heretic who destroys the Christian’s authority in preaching by attacking the foundation of his authority, the word of God. What is the difference between a Joseph Smith, an Alexander Campbell, Charles Taze Russell and Judge Rutherford, William Miller, Philip Schaff, Westcott and Hort, and a Christian in the pew too lazy to read his Bible or to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit, and who doesn’t think uniting with a local church body for worship as important. Not much. They’re brothers. One is deceived and being deceived while another just complacently waits to be handed a line of mush. Those leaders were willfully deceived and they deceived others. The only difference is that they, the wasters, had the will to lead people away while the slothful man is just willing to be led.
10 ¶ The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
We were saved when we;
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
And we are called as believers to;
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Jesus Christ is the name of the Lord and there is power in that name only to save.
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
There is one thing that God has placed higher than His own name;
Psalm 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
And these things are what we must teach others including our children and what we must live each day.
11 ¶ The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.
This is clearly a reference to those people who rely on their money for their temporal salvation and have made no provision for trusting in Jesus. Over and over again in the Bible men and women are warned not to count on wealth. Jesus even goes as far as to say you can’t serve God and money, which He personifies as the Syriac Mammon.
Matthew 6:24 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.
As an aside, Luke 16:13 inserts “servant” for “man” as the verse in Matthew is given as part of the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and Jesus gave the one in Luke at a different time in the context of the parable of the unjust steward right after the Prodigal Son story. Don’t let a modernist tell you that it’s just a different report of the same verse because just as Jesus overturned the money lenders tables twice, just as Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount is NOT Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, look at the context and see why a variation of a verse is reported. It’s usually from a different talk Jesus gave on a different topic to a different audience where He draws in similar principles.
1Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
“The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.” When the end comes these people will be asked the same question that the poor man will be asked, “What did you do with Jesus?” Their strong city, their high walls will not protect them.
1Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
12 ¶ Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Pride and haughty are linked as synonyms, having like meanings, in this verse and in;
Proverbs 21:24 Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.
It has been said that we sow the seeds of our greatest failures as we enjoy our greatest successes. God will bring you low, Christian, if you start thinking you’re all that and a bag of chips or that you deserve something because God is awful lucky to have you on His side. Humble yourself before God if you want God’s approval. I think these statements, although made under another dispensation, are entirely applicable today.
James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
1Peter 5:5,6 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. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
With regard to the love Christian’s are to have for each other as the body of Christ on earth under the doctrine specifically written to a Gentile Christian church, Paul says;
1Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
13 ¶ He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
Speaking with authority about something about which you know nothing is foolishness. Many people have already made up their minds on an issue before they even hear the whole story and they really get embarrassed when the truth comes out. I get several emails a week, mostly from conservative and right wing minded people, that make accusations. Often I find that these are recycled lies that the liberals told about Bush, but have been changed and are now circulated about Obama. Now, I can’t necessarily trust snopes.com or factcheck.org or any one of a number of websites to tell me that these aren’t true because of their own biases but before I believe something I need a primary source for where this was gotten that I can verify other than Rachel Maddow or Glenn Beck.
I also get politically charged things stated as truth that I can’t prove on my own. The statement that James Madison got our three branches of government, not from the French political philosopher, Montesquieu, as most scholars claim, but from Isaiah 33:22, makes a lot of sense, if he did say it at the Constitutional Convention. It’s quoted on pp.241-242 in Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History: The Principle approach by Rosalie Slater and other pro-Christian books. The trouble is, I have volumes on the debate over the constitution, Madison’s writings, and the Federalist papers, and even have read his notes online on the constitution debate. I can’t find that quote directly from him. It sounds good. It may be true. It makes perfect sense, but if I go around quoting it as fact I’m going to be very ashamed if an opponent presents the entire known body of this man’s writings and it simply can’t be found. If you find it, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll keep looking. Whether it be a photoshopped picture of George Bush laying the Ludowici lip lock on the King of Saudi Arabia or David Barton insisting that Jefferson signed thousands of documents as in the “Year of our Lord Christ”, you better check it out for yourself or hush up about it. We need to look faithful not gullible and naieve.
The only thing I can say for sure and what I should stick to in debate is what the Bible says. Its right here in front of me. When we Christians go off on a tear about things we have no actual first hand knowledge of we bring shame on ourselves and the cause of Christ by our arguing without real knowledge.
Now, another take on this verse, a literal take, is that we should be swift to hear and slow to speak. Don’t make a judgment when you haven’t heard the whole story. Listen to all sides and judge based on God’s word. Don’t fly off the handle or shoot your mouth off before you know what you’re talking about. Someone recently asked for prayer for someone in their church who had given up all of his work for the church, supposedly due to stress. The man’s wife said, in confidence, that she feared he was being unfaithful. The person asking for prayer simply said that they didn’t know what the truth was but they just wanted God’s hand in the situation, for relief and a resolution based on His will and wanted to offer to the man in question any help he could. He was not willing to say he knew what was wrong without actually knowing it. As this was asked in a private situation I don’t believe it was a left handed attempt at gossip. Most of us are too quick to assume we know what’s happening in someone’s life. We are too ready to answer a matter before we actually hear it, and although we may be right many times, we just might wind up bring shame and reproach on ourselves.
14 ¶ The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?
I am convinced that a wounded spirit is one of the primary causes of many suicides especially among the very young or the very old. A feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that grows and grows eventually giving one the false notion that their family, their friends, and the world would be much better off without them or that they just can’t go on, can’t deal with it, can be overwhelming. A wounded spirit can lead a person to do many hurtful things to themselves and others. The 1970’s Elton John song called “Ticking” about a confrontation between a crazed gunman, a devout Roman Catholic youth, and the police in Queens, New York reminds me of what some of the consequences of a wounded spirit can be.
A healthy spirit, in communion with the Holy Spirit indwelling him or her, can sustain anyone through the sufferings that life can bring; through grief, disappointment, and even unfair or unreasonable conditions. People who pray, read their Bible, and have a strong relationship with their church body can endure almost anything. But, when you’ve got someone who is isolated, who doesn’t connect or fit in, who feels as if they are all alone even when they’re sitting with the church, then you’ve got someone with a wounded spirit.
Children, in particular, can’t verbalize the pain of a broken home, poverty, or disease often. However, it will come out in their behavior. Women who have been beaten and battered, not only physically but emotionally time and time again will withdraw into themselves and sometimes not even interact with the world around them expecting every touch to be something you can’t trust, either promising pain or exploitation.
One of the things I’ve learned that parents must do is to help build a healthy spirit in their children, one that has a strong relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit, one who knows that they are not the only one who has suffered and that they are not alone as others do care about what they feel, as does their Lord. These things have to be taught and they must be seen in the parent as a living example.
2Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
2Corinthians 7:6a Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down,
And, remember, just because someone says they’re okay or isn’t verbalizing agony in their spirit doesn’t mean that they aren’t dying inside. Don’t think, well, it’s okay, they aren’t talking about it, and that’s good. A wounded spirit will lie in wait for the right moment and strike like a wounded animal. A person appearing to be strong or appearing to have overcome their pain can be misleading, and sometimes fatal, as Satan in particular looks for weaknesses like that.
My wife has pointed out that as the Bible refers to Satan as a roaring lion looking about for whom he may devour in 1 Peter 5:8, we need to remember that lions will seek out the elderly, the young, and the injured to prey on. Lions will patiently stalk for a long time and when things are seemingly peaceful, attack. Just be alert, and to those who may be suffering from a deeply wounded spirit remember, resist the Devil and he will run, as it says in James 4:7 if you submit yourself to God.
15 ¶ The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.
Prudent and wise persons are linked here by parallel phrasing as is God’s habit of speaking in the Bible. Both persons seek and get knowledge. You hear it because you seek it and your heart absorbs what you hear, your spiritual heart, the reference to the human being’s thought processes which include reason and emotion working together with the Holy Spirit.
Notice the way the heart is used here in the way of salvation which we modern Christians like to add all sorts of things to;
Romans 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Here is a truth about seeking God that is true, I believe, across all dispensations.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
The prudent aren’t getting knowledge of the newest information on the history of Roman warfare; they are getting knowledge of God. Wise hearts aren’t seeking knowledge of the latest fad in Quantum Physics; they are seeking knowledge of God.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
Proverbs 2:5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Isaiah 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
Isaiah 33:6 And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.
16 ¶ A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.
While Henry views this verse in a negative way, Gill takes the opposite turn. He says that this verse does not necessarily have to refer to a bribe but like Abigail coming to David, a gift to pacify someone’s anger. However, that would seem to go against some of the verses against giving and receiving gifts or bribes in the Bible when it comes to officials. Certainly, this may literally be simply a word to the wise for the ancient Hebrews to bring a gift, even a token gift, when they come before an important person for help. Every salesman who calls on businesses has heard the admonition to study the company you want to sell something to, to learn the owner’s birthday and special likes and dislikes and to bring him a thoughtful gift that he would enjoy and remember you by.
The ability to preach is a gift from God, as well. And no matter what their attitude many so called great men want to hear what a preacher has to say even if they will totally disregard it. Just look at the prophets of the Old Testament and their work. The words “great men” almost always refer to great men of the world, not of the faith.
Paul says to Timothy;
1 Timothy 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
Indeed, every one of us has the gift of faith given to us by God.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Perhaps we could refer to this gift that we have coming from God also as a means by which we would be heard by those in power. Perhaps we make a mistake when we dismiss those in political office and don’t try to stand before them speaking God’s word for them to hear. I should think this verse would make a good hinge point for a sermon on witnessing to people in power, not for political reasons but for spiritual.
17 ¶ He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.
Matthew Henry says “one tale is good until another is told.” The literal meaning for the Hebrews was that the person who gives their statement first to the judge will say what makes them look the best. This will hold until someone gives a conflicting view. This is certainly a practical application but is there more to it? Dr. Ruckman points out that a man justifies himself before God until Romans, chapters 1 to 3, show up. Even when you are dealing with absolute truth you never get the whole story from one viewpoint which is perhaps one reason why God has put four gospel versions in the New Testament.
Ruckman goes on to make some very disturbing parallels to our history and its hypocrisy. He says that Germany’s merciless bombing of civilians cities in the Spanish Civil War looks horrible unless you compare it to our dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He says that Nazi atrocities look terrible unless you compare it to the mass murders by our ally, Stalin, in Siberia. I have seen the historian’s disgust with the human sacrifice and conquests of the Aztecs in Mexico and yet praise Europe, a place at the time of the Aztecs AT LEAST as barbarous and bloodthirsty, as civilization.
The first tale is good until the second tale is told. The Bible student thinks that the arguments against the King James Bible are good until he looks at the reasoning behind and the source of the disagreement with it. You think that you’re behavior isn’t so bad until God catches you condemning someone else for the same thing. In the 60’s there was the statement to the parents of why are you condemning the drug addicts when you, mother, are addicted to drugs as well, just legal ones. If you follow Ruckman’s understanding of the Proverb you can make a great many analogies to sin like this.
Remember what Jesus said;
Luke 6:41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
The first tale is good until the second tale is told. The Christian who screams about men and women living together or about homosexuals may have been guilty of sexual sins before they were saved. The fundamentalist who can’t understand why everyone doesn’t use the KJV forgets that it was years before they came to believe it. We expect more of the unsaved and ignorant Christians than we expected of ourselves. The first tale is good until the second tale is told.
When the unsaved man stands before God at the Great White Throne he may say, but I did this and this and this and was a good person and then, and then God points to the Book and silences them. The saved person stands at the Judgment Seat of Christ and talks about how wonderful his soul winning efforts and his faithfulness to his church was or gives an excuse why they didn’t involve themselves in soul winning or faithfulness to church and Christ, then, points to their heart and shows him that he or she only did it for show, to glory in the flesh, or just didn’t want to be bothered in the latter case. The first tale is good until the second tale is told.
18 ¶ The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.
We’ve already seen that there’s really no such thing as pure random luck.
Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.
This is saying that once the stones, dice, or sticks are thrown, if everyone is honorable and agrees to the conclusion, then arguments cease, and even the powerful men accept the decision. In the 19th century American Christians began to speak out against all forms of gambling as one) an addiction, two) a frivolous use of the money God has given you to support your family and give to His work, and three) an affront to God’s sovereignty over all matters. However, the latter is only true if you believe in luck, a purely pagan concept that centers on the charismatic individual who seems lucky and hoping on random chance, excludes God. I’ll show you what I mean by way of a test. If you have no convictions about it (I would never suggest you go against your convictions which God has placed in your heart) then buy a lottery ticket after praying about it. If God wants you to be wealthy He’ll have you win. If not, and you continue to buy more tickets then I question your sanity. Better yet, just forget about wealth without work and trust in God. For those of you who do buy tickets, I’d recommend that you record how much you spend in a notebook and how much you actually win and then at the end of the notebook write a letter to God as to your reason why you threw so much money away that you obviously didn’t need to pay your bills but could have gone to pay another Christian’s bills rather than the lottery commission.
19 ¶ A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.
Whether or not it is in your family at home or within the church body, when someone close to you has been offended it usually causes a rift so strong that there is a break in fellowship when one person is offended. We have the hardest time forgiving those closest to us for wrongs we would often ignore if done by people we barely know.
Jesus is so adamant about this issue being important He tells His Jewish disciples in a part of what is popularly called “The Sermon on the Mount”;
Matthew 5:21 ¶ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Now, this is in the context of not letting disputes go on long as the next line refers to legal proceedings over debt in civil court, but I think it can apply here. In fact, offenses over money are things that drive wedges between men more often while offenses over what someone may have said or implied may be the issue that sets women off. The important thing to remember is to try not to offend and if you do reconcile as soon as possible. This is one reason I don’t ever want to be employed by a family member or borrow money from a family member if I can help it.
The last part of the verse lets you know it’s going to be tough to try to win your brother back.
20 ¶ A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. 21 ¶ Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Your life and death as well as the lives and deaths of other people count as much on the words that come out of your mouth, often, as they do the food you eat. Here, in these verses, is a combining of how we are nourished physically and how we are nourished spiritually. Remember that in the first three chapters of Genesis, where mankind’s doom is sealed spiritually until the coming of Christ, a variation of the verb ‘to eat’ can be found at least 18 times.
When you’ve misrepresented the Bible to your children, changed what it literally says or means, to make it mean something that suited your purpose, you will reap the fruit of that corruption. What you’ve wanted it to mean may be a very good thing like obeying you or not smoking cigarettes but if you underscored that good thing by twisting the scriptures into knots then you have done evil and will pay for your unfaithfulness to God’s word in your child’s life. What you say can mean all the difference in a child’s adult life. Will they grow up to be dependent on God and a lover of the words of God, reading every day, or will they be cast adrift on a stormy sea without a rudder to guide them or oars to pull them along?
What about those people you’ve prayed with to receive Christ? Were they told immediately to get into the word of God, to pray, and then did you mentor them, being there for Bible study, and guiding them into a good church body? Or did you just mention to them to find a good church and get into the Bible and say goodbye, satisfied that you’d done your part and going off to find another soul to fill your quiver with? Sort of like saying to someone who is hungry and cold to be filled and be warm and then walking away isn’t it?
And those of you who have been called to preach, have you heard the sarcastic saying that “good preaching ain’t necessarily good doctrine?” Why isn’t it? What makes you think you have the right to confuse a congregation by taking verses deliberately out of context to twist them to mean something they only mean in your imagination? Do you realize that you’re taking the Bible God gave to His people away from them? If you have a conviction, an exhortation, or something that you think God has laid on your heart then find the scripture that clearly backs it up, written to Christians, without mystery, and expound on it to your people. If you can’t find a Bible reason that you know, if they would just look and reflect and pray, that the people could find, then perhaps it’s not from God.
Your words have the power of life and death. Not only will you eat from the nourishment they give but others will, as well. Children remember what you say, if not word for word, then in their hearts in an emotional way. New believers in Christ will key on what they are told immediately after being saved. If they aren’t encouraged to dive into God’s word and swim in it then Satan’s attacks will drive them away from uniting with the body of Christ. Your congregation is affected by what you say. If they leave the service and think to themselves that what you said was profound but they must not be spiritual enough to ‘get it’ because they can’t see your point in the scriptures written to them then they might just abandon the Bible as understanding it is a hopeless enterprise.
Words are powerful. Does your mouth encourage, uplift, and edify, or do your words wounds hearts, spirits, and souls? Are you kind? Are you loving? We have gone over and over in Proverbs the importance of what you say, not only to others, but now, to yourselves. What do you say to yourself? Most of the lies we tell are to ourselves. Just remember, life and death can flow from the power of the tongue. I’d refer you to the book of James which has a good discussion of the power of the tongue. Also, Paul warns Christians repeatedly about speech and words. It’s all through the Bible.
22 ¶ Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.
Now, here’s an interesting statement. Finding a wife is not only a good thing but God favors the man who does. This literally is applicable to a country, a kingdom on earth supposedly dedicated to God which God promised to make fruitful, with abundant offspring and large families in Deuteronomy 28. The family is the basic unit of civilization and without the family there is no civilization, and nothing but chaos. The government and all institutions in civilization exist and have their legitimacy on a practical, earthly or temporal note in the establishment and making secure the family of father, mother, and child or children.
A husband and wife are to be as one, as if neither are complete without the other. Read Genesis 2:24, although it’s hard to find a man or a woman, for that matter, who is willing to leave his or her parents, to form their own family these days, but that’s another story I won’t get into. In Ephesians Paul shows that the marriage between a man and a woman is to pattern the relationship between Christ and His church. God has taken the fundamental unit of civilization, which He has created, to pattern His relationship as God the Father with Israel (Jeremiah 3:8,20) and God the Son with the church.
Later in Proverbs, we’ll get to the ideal for a wife. Husband and wife and family relationships are often determined by economic situations and God gives us a lot of leeway, home rule, so to speak, in many things but there is a basic pattern that He approves of for the marital relationship. Things tend to go awry with society when that relationship, in the form that he approves of, is broken. For instance, there are many reasons why a wife may be engaged in business outside of the home but if she is engaged in business under another man’s authority, other than her husband, as is often the case in the world today, there is many times a breakdown in the family. We are all to submit to each other but wives are to submit specifically to their OWN husbands, as it says repeatedly in the doctrines of the church in the part of the Bible written specifically to the church.
The assumption in this verse is that the wife who is a good thing to find, and in the finding a man obtains favour from the Lord, that she is a Godly woman, a woman who wants to do right. It has been said that a marriage is not a 50-50 relationship, it is a 100-100 relationship. Both are to give each other 100% through the Lord Jesus Christ. In marriage a man and a woman’s body don’t even belong to themselves but to each other. That’s God’s way and it works. Within the details of the marriage there are so many things that are left up to you to understand based on Godly principles revealed in the pages of the Bible. But, for our purposes, young men, you must look first, not for beauty, although your flesh desires it, but for a Godly woman, one who wants to do right by the Lord and to grow with you in the Lord. You must have similar if not the same goals for your lives together even though you won’t have the same talents or strengths and weaknesses. Beware of selfish, spoiled little girls who want nothing but attention and beware of domineering, control freaks who want to lead you around by the nose, even if they APPEAR submissive. Also, remember, that a girl can act a certain way to reel you in but not be that person she pretends to be. A long courtship is to be desired so that you both can watch how each other treats stress, adversity, grief, joy, and success. Watch how she treats her parents. And, finally, if your parents aren’t comfortable with her then pay attention to what they are saying. Leaving your mother and father and becoming one flesh has to do with how your run your household, not as an appendage of your parent’s household. It does not mean you don’t take their advice or the advice of pastors and other married people in the church. If something about a girl creeps people out then you will be sorry if you don’t listen and pay attention.
A man, though, without a wife, is rarely a happy man. Don’t rush it. Look for God’s woman and wait on God until you find her.
23 ¶ The poor useth intreaties; but the rich answereth roughly.
One of the good things about poverty is that it tends to make a man or woman more humble and less likely to the arrogance of the rich. Of course, in a country like ours that can be turned upside down. But Jesus to His Jewish disciples that the poor in spirit are blessed, those who realize that without God they have absolutely nothing. Those that are meek toward God’s will, who come to Him as suppliants, not acting as if they have something to offer Him but that He has what they need, who will inherit the earth (remember, He is talking to His Jewish disciples). Just as the rich in earthly wealth are likely to be arrogant and assume that they are in need of nothing, those who have the riches of man’s religions, the big church buildings, the robes, the altars, the incense, and the expensive trappings of manmade religion are not likely to come to God as the beggars that they are.
To His Jewish disciples, Jesus said;
Matthew 5:3 ¶ Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
To the church at Smyrna, the martyr church, He said;
Revelation 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
And to the church at Laodicea, the church of the “people’s rights” or the “people judge”, He said;
Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
24 ¶ A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
Anyone would be reminded of Jonathan, Saul’s son, and David, and their friendship.
2Samuel 1:26 I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
I have never been comfortable enough with people to be that close with another male. I had a Pastor once who made every effort to be my friend and I felt he was and still is my friend but I’m sure I was disappointing as friends go. I’m just not open enough or outgoing enough to be the kind of friend I ought to be. Still, if you don’t have any friends it is probably because you aren’t friendly yourself.
From a Christian perspective, Christ has said to His apostles, and to us by extension;
John 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
Truly, Christ is closer than a brother. We have His Spirit living inside of us, having quickened our spirits, and guiding us if we let Him. Just before that verse He also said;
John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Now, notice the verse that lies in between those two.
John 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
What did He command them to do? Well, first, he summed up the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament in this way when talking to the right wing Fundamentalist Pharisees after he had shut up the left wing Modernist Sadducees about there being marriage in heaven.
Matthew 22:34 ¶ But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
But, to His disciples He added a new commandment;
John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Somehow, the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are to show their commitment to Him by their commitment to each other. Keeping this within the standards of God’s righteousness and keeping evil people out of the congregation, I should think, would be a wonderful thing, showing the world what it means to be a Christian by how we treat each other and them. I think, beyond the explicitly literal, this is the proper application for this verse to the Christian. Of course, you have to apply this verse with care lest some manipulator or clever wolf get in among you for the purpose of manipulation or exploitation.