“There is no wisdom and no understanding And no counsel against the LORD.” (Proverbs 21:30 NAS95)

The first thing that strikes me about this verse is what the meaning of the word against is.  Here are some ways that it is translated:

  • that can succeed against – NIV
  • against – ESV, NASB, KJV
  • stand against – NLT
  • oppose – LEB
  • en face de – (LSG – French version)

So we can see that the translators pretty much agree that the word means, “against, to oppose, to stand in opposition from,” something along those lines.

Who then, is opposing whom?  That’s the funny thing, Solomon doesn’t tell us whom exactly.  He tells us what, and that is the point.  He wants to emphasize the what here, not the whom.

There are three “whats” in this passage: wisdom, understanding, and counsel.  Solomon tells us that none of these three will stand against the Lord.  Why not?  Because they all three are characteristics of the Lord and are used by him, they serve him, and when they serve him, they cannot possibly serve another.

True wisdom and counsel and understanding are three faithful servants of Yahweh, they will never stand against him, they will never oppose him, any person who stands against Yahweh or opposes him will never do it using biblical wisdom, counsel, and understanding because those three serve only the Lord.

 

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“A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” (Proverbs 19:11 NAS95)

Solomon assumes here that being slow to anger and overlooking transgressions are good things.  Why?

It would seem that from both the experience of life, and his own intellectual investigation, Solomon has learned that anger rarely serves man in a positive way.  Sure, sometimes it can, one can certainly have righteous anger [David’s anger listening to Goliath curse the God of Israel comes to mind] however, most of the time when we are angry we make rash decisions, say things that we wouldn’t say when we are calm, and do a lot of damage to relationships.  Indeed Solomon recognizes the danger of being a hot-tempered person: “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,” (Proverbs 15:18 NAS95)

The characteristic that is most likely to have an influence on our emotions—for anger is an emotion—is discretion.  Discretion here means: “intelligence, good sense. This intelligence is more than just mere book knowledge or learning about a particular subject. It has a greater significance and means insight or understanding. This insight is a gift from God (1 Chr. 22:12); and God holds the freedom to give it or to take it away whenever He chooses (Job 17:4).” [Complete Word Study Bible]

Discretion then, comes from God as a gift, but we need to use it wisely because God can take it away if he so chooses.  Discretion will serve us well and prevent a lot of broken or damaged relationships if we cultivate it correctly.  It is a good gift from God, but takes work on our part to use and to sustain.

 

“that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2–3 NAS95)

Paul makes an interesting point to the followers of Jesus who live in Colossae (and Laodicea).  He says in essence that if we want to truly understand the mystery of God—those things which God had kept hidden until now [which happened to be the fact the the Gentiles also are welcome in God’s kingdom] we need to find it in Christ himself in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

In other words, the “secret” to growth in the Christian life [if it can be called a secret] is this pursuit of Jesus.  In Jesus we discover God’s wisdom; in Jesus we find God’s knowledge; in the pursuit of Jesus we come to understand that great aim of “growth” is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col 1.27).

What does that even mean?  I think we only discover what it means as we come to pursue and know Christ himself, but I’ll say one thing for sure, you can’t have Christ himself if you don’t discover him in the gospels.  This is why we need to be going back again and again to the gospels and reading and meditating on and working through Christ and his actions and his teaching because it is there that we come to understand who Christ really is.

 

 

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.” (Proverbs 15:8 NAS95)

Solomon contrasts two things here and we should probably begin with the words he uses to describe the contrast.  One thing is an abomination to the Lord, another thing is a delight to the Lord.

The word abomination is used again and again in the Mosaic Law to describe what God does not like, what is an offense to him.  The Law was given to show how an unholy people could live with a holy God in their midst and if something was an abomination to God, then the people should not do that thing.

In our verse, then, a wicked person should not be offering sacrifices to the Lord.  In Proverbs the wicked [and scoffers and fools] are those who do not love God, do not desire to live with a holy God and encourage other people to also not love God.  It’s easy to see that someone like that who offers a sacrifice to God is merely doing it for show because their heart attitude is the opposite of one who offers a sacrifice.

In contrast, the Lord delights in the prayer of the upright. Upright means “just, right, or straight.”  It is basically the opposite of the wicked person.  The upright person in Proverbs, loves Yahweh, wants to follow Yahweh, and wants to please him and encourages others to do likewise.  This person’s prayers (not to mention sacrifices) are well-pleasing to the Lord.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’d prefer to be in the category of the upright, doing things that please our Lord and encouraging others to please him as well.

 

Then Jesus, knowing everything that was about to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Who is it that you’re seeking?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered. “I am he,” Jesus told them. Judas, who betrayed him, was also standing with them. When Jesus told them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. (John 18:4–6 CSB17)

The thing that strikes me most strongly as I read John’s account of Jesus’ arrest and trial is how through it all, up until almost the very last moment, Jesus seems to be the one with the upper hand.  It’s as if all of the bit players around him are puppets in a stage show, and while he is the one arrested and he is the one put on trial, he is in control of everything.

At the moment of Jesus’ arrest we discover that Jesus responds to the soldiers, the torches, and the weapons with—get this—words.  He speaks these words: I am he, and the whole group that comes around to arrest him step back and fall to the ground! Jesus calmly waits for them to get off of the ground and stand up and get back to arresting him.

This is not a man who seems to be in the destiny or under the power of others.  He is giving himself up, and glad I am that he does give himself up because if he doesn’t allow himself to be arrested, he won’t be crucified and if he isn’t crucified, he will not rise again, and if he doesn’t rise again, then we of all people are the most to be pitied because we are still in our sins: If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone. (1 Cor 15:19 CSB17)

But…even while in control of the whole situation, he allowed himself to be arrested.

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,” (Ephesians 2:14–15 NAS95)

When we were apart from God because of our sins, what we needed desperately was for there to be peace between God and ourselves.  Our sins were the catalyst that broke the peace, and it was up to God to come up with a way to restore that peace.

His elegant solution was for Jesus to be our peace, and this is the truth that Paul works out here in Ephesians. God came down to earth and lived a perfect life and was sacrificed for our sins on the cross so that there might be peace between God and ourselves. Paul will put this truth elsewhere in this way:“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1, ESV)

When we follow Christ by faith we are at peace with God, rather than being estranged from God, we enter into his family and become one of his own children, no judgment, no punishment, no separation from God, only peace with God.

 

 

“Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.” (Proverbs 3:34 NAS95)

In this proverb there are three people mentioned: scoffers, the afflicted, and He (meaning God).  Some things to note here:

  • God gives something appropriate to both scoffers and the afflicted.  He gives scoffers what they do deserve, and he gives the afflicted [poor, poor in spirit, humble, afflicted] what they do not deserve.
  • The scoffer/scorner is going to reap what he sows.  This type of person arrogantly scoffs, mocks, and generally opposes God and all that he stands for because they do not love God, do not trust God, and hope that God’s purpose fails.  In turn, God will oppose scoffers with every fiber of his being, an their purpose will certainly fail.
  • The afflicted is going to be given grace which the afflicted does not deserve, because he is ultimately just as sinful, just as guilty of sin as the mocker.  The difference between scoffers and the afflicted is that the latter person understands his spiritual poverty.  The New Testament version of the second half of this verse is:““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 NAS95)

May we recognize our own spiritual poverty and gladly receive the grace of God.