Archives for posts with tag: Proverbs

What the wicked fears will come upon him, And the desire of the righteous will be granted. When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.” (Prov. 10:24–25 NASB)

Some thoughts about this short passage:

  1. Only two types of people and they are fundamentally separated: the wicked and the righteous.
  2. The wicked will get what they fear, the righteous will be given what they long for. I find it interesting that Solomon doesn’t say exactly what the wicked fear or the righteous long for. I think Solomon didn’t feel he needed to say.
  3. The whirlwind comes “when” not “if” and strikes both the righteous and the wicked.
  4. The future outcome for the righteous is an everlasting foundation, the present outcome for the wicked after the whirlwind is that the wicked is no more.

The Tyndale Commentary summarizes this proverb as: “The insecurity of the wicked,”another way of saying this is: “the security of the righteous.”

The security of the righteous is of course—and Solomon does not feel the need to point this out—Yahweh himself, the God who stands guard over his people at all times in all circumstances.

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“Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5 NAS95)

I love the book of Ecclesiastes, mainly because it is so different from other Bible books.  People have argued over what the point of Ecclesiastes is, practically ever since it became a book, some even say that it shouldn’t be in the Bible because it is written by someone who is a critic of God and his ways.  I do not believe this.

Our verse would seem to imply that Solomon—our author—is trying to figure out what God is doing.  Why are there exceptions to God’s rules as laid out in Proverbs?  Why do evil men sometimes seem to flourish, and righteous men are sometimes overcome by calamity?  Why can’t we count on God blessing us if we are righteous?  Sometimes he does and sometimes he does not.  What’s up with that?

Solomon is after the answer to this question throughout book of Ecclesiastes and he admits here, towards the end of the book that neither he, nor anyone else understands the activity of God, and God rarely explains what he is doing as he weaves the huge tapestry of historical redemption together through the ages.

If we cannot understand fully what God is doing, what is left for us?  Solomon tells us at the very end of Ecclesiastes:

“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.”(Ecclesiastes 12:13 NAS95)

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

 

“The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.” (Proverbs 29:25 NAS95)

Solomon sets up a contrast here between the fear of man and trust in the Lord.  It seems pretty clear that the two concepts are mutually incompatible.  One cannot fear man while trusting in the Lord, and one cannot trust in the Lord truly and completely if one fears man.  We can trace much of our difficulties in spiritual growth to our attempts to trust in the Lord while still holding onto a fear of man, or at least that is my problem anyway.

Solomon has two outcomes for these two opposite concepts.  The outcome if one has a fear of man is that one will be caught up in a snare.  This was a trap that was used to catch animals or birds.  Needless to say, this is a negative outcome.  The fear of man won’t lead you to any place that you will like to be.

On the other hand, trusting in the Lord brings security and confidence.  The word translated “will be exalted,” means metaphorically “will be lifted up to a high place,” which is to say, they will sit in a place of safety, a refuge. Trusting in the Lord is our goal and aim, it gives God glory because he raises us up to a place of refuge, and gives us the help we need as we battle to rid ourselves of the fear of man.

 

“Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, But those who keep the law strive with them.” (Proverbs 28:4 NAS95)

This proverb has three people in mind, or perhaps we could better describe it as how two different types of people interact with the wicked.  To understand Solomon properly here, we need to remember that “the wicked” in the book of Proverbs are those who do not fear God, are not interested in doing what he commands, want to do their own thing, and encourage others not to fear God or obey his commands.

The type of person who agrees with the wicked, who praise them! is one who forsakes the law.  The law is God’s instructions for how an unholy people can get along with a holy God.  Understood this way, we can see that God’s law is an act of grace.  Rather than leave us to discover his standards on our own, he tells us exactly what his standards are—or rather, he told the Israelites because the law was given for a specific people at a specific time.

The type of person who praises the wicked is a person who isn’t interested in what God commands, isn’t interested in obeying God, and indeed actually rejects God’s grace as given through his instructions.

On the other hand, those who keep the law [the word “keep” means guard, watch over, or watch carefully] do not praise the wicked, they contend with them. This is a verb of opposition.  The one who keeps the law stands against those who are not interested in what God says and do not want to obey him.

Things haven’t changed much since Solomon penned these words, perhaps because the human heart hasn’t changed.  We are still faced with a stark choice: side with and support the wicked, and by doing so stand against a holy God, or side with and obey a loving God, and stand against those who oppose him.  This seems like an easy choice to me, sometimes difficult to implement, but the choice is easy.

 

“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.

 

“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.

 

“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.