Today is Independence Day. Independence Day is the day that Americans celebrate their declared independence from the alleged tyrannical rule of King George III of England. Not a bad thing to celebrate.
Yet, for the Christian every day is first of all Dependence Day. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) …
By justice a king builds up the land,
but he who exacts gifts tears it down.
A ruler who rules justly builds up his land. He encourages and blesses his people. This was true in the days of the Israel’s divinely ordained theocracy, and it is true today of governments of every variety. The promotion of justice fostered by those in authority is…
He who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
When I was twelve years old, I played Little League baseball. I was not a particularly good hitter, but there was this one at bat that I will always remember. It was the time that I hit my only home run right over the center field fence. My…
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
A couple of days ago we looked at Proverbs 28:28, "When the wicked rise, people hide themselves, but when they perish, the righteous increase." Proverbs 29:2 provides a kind of flip-side observation: "When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan."
He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,
will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
Who in your life is a pain in the neck? Don’t answer that! The issue before us in this proverb is not family members, friends, or neighbors whom we might regard as a pain. The issue before us in this proverb is the pain that we sometimes inflict…
When the wicked rise, people hide themselves,
but when they perish, the righteous increase.
The writer of the book of Proverbs will sometimes just watch. He will observe. He will notice. Such is the case with this proverb. When wicked rulers come to power, people will hide. They will run away. They will look to become invisible. They will seek to stay far…
Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
and never satisfied are the eyes of man.
In the 1948 Humphrey Bogart classic, Key Largo, the Bogart character says to the gangster, Rocco, played by Edward G. Robinson, “What does Rocco want?” Rocco is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and he has difficulty answering the question. Bogart helps him out by saying…
As in water face reflects face,
so the heart of man reflects the man.
Some, like Forrest Gump, would reduce a person to his or her actions. Others might reduce a person to his or her motives, “Well she meant well,” someone might say. Still others might reduce a person to words, “But you said…………..” What all of these have in common…
Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit,
and he who guards his master will be honored.
This seems strange. Shouldn’t we be watching out for the little guy? Can’t the big guy (the master, so to speak) take care of himself? Why does Proverbs admonish the wise person to watch out for (to guard) his master? And how is it…
Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.
One good book written by Christians about how to watch movies as a Christian makes the claim that the reason why superhero movies are so popular is because American culture today has given up on real solutions to real problems. They claim that this gives rise to the tendency to look to the fantasy…
A continual dripping on a rainy day
and a quarrelsome wife are alike;
to restrain her is to restrain the wind
or to grasp oil in one's right hand.
Once again, I find myself a cultural dinosaur. For those few of you who remember Henny Youngman, the title of this essay makes sense. For the rest of you, there…
As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a sluggard on his bed.
The thing about doors is that they don’t actually go anywhere. People will go in and out of doors. People will get somewhere, but the door itself just swings back and forth—open and shut and open again. Doors don’t get out much. They don’t accomplish much. People and life, so…
The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!”
The writer of Proverbs has some pretty uncomplimentary things to say about the fool and the myopian (the person who is wise in his own eyes). He also sets his sights against the sluggard—the lazy person. Here, the sluggard is described as one who won't…
Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Who in the world could be in a more precarious spiritual condition than the fool? Remember, the fool is the one who says in his heart that there is no God. Apparently, there is one who even outshines (so to…
Like a dog that returns to his vomit
is a fool who repeats his folly.
If you have ever seen a dog slurp up its own vomit, you will not need to be reminded what a disgusting sight it is! We will not dwell on this part of the verse.
Rather, we will move on to ask the question: how is…
Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
One would not normally think of a thorn bush as a weapon of choice. Here, the drunk is not merely grabbing a thorn bush and injuring himself. Rather, this insensible man somehow gets hold of a prickly thorn bush and starts flinging…
Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
and be not envious of the wicked,
for the evil man has no future;
the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
Is there anyone who has not said at some point in their lives, when something bad happens, “Why me?” I’ve been good. I don’t deserve this. I suspect that as many of…
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
lest the LORD see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him.
Okay, not really. I am not a Dallas Cowboys fan. Truth be told, I have not followed professional football since Franco Harris caught the Immaculate Reception in 1972. (Google…
Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous;
do no violence to his home;
for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
If you are afraid to walk from the church building over to Rittenhouse Square after the evening service, raise your hand. Philadelphia is a…
My son, eat honey, for it is good,
and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, there will be a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.
Sometime in the 12th century, German Jews began a custom whereby children going to school for…