This past quarter in the Adult Bible School our class looked at the topic, “Who Is Jesus? Mistakes Concerning the Identity of Christ.” Certainly, this was not an exhaustive series, but we did look at a limited number of New Testament characters who were faced with this very critical question. As in our day, people continue to seek to reckon with the deity and authority of Jesus of Nazareth. Though…
Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
In yesterday’s devotional we saw that when Agur received wisdom, he realized his own unworthiness before God. Proverbs 30:4 reminds us that to know God is to know…
The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.
The man declares, I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God, and worn out.
Surely I am too stupid to be a man.
I have not the understanding of a man.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has ascended…
An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous,
but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.
When I used to change the engine oil in my car, I would sometimes leave the old oil outside. After it rained, I noticed that a pool of water would collect on top of the oil but would never mix with it…
Many seek the face of a ruler,
but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.
How do people hope to succeed and advance up the corporate or educational ladder today? Most feel, there is no better way than knowing someone who can help you. As we say, “It is not what you know, but who you know,” that determines our…
The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.
We all, if we are really honest, must confess to “fearing man” at one time or another in our life, whether it is a coach or an employer or a teacher. We were tempted to think that if we said something or did something that these people did not…
If a wise man has an argument with a fool,
the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.
Is it worth our time and energy to dispute with a foolish man? We can all, no doubt, remember having to discuss and seek some resolution with one who had no intention to come to an agreement. Proverbs 29:9 directs the wise…
Scoffers set a city aflame,
but the wise turn away wrath.
Who would you rather have in your immediate community? A scoffer? Or a wise man? Obviously, we would rather have one who seeks to build up the public arenas rather than one who tears down the community. Poverbs 29:8 contrasts these two and their contribution (or lack thereof) to the fabric of…
A righteous man knows the rights of the poor;
a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.
What are the reasons for poverty in the world? Sometimes I ask my students that question, and frequently the answer is that they are poor because they are not even seeking work. It is an easy assumption, and though this may be the case, it certainly…
An evil man is ensnared in his transgression,
but a righteous man sings and rejoices.
My mother often reminded me growing up that one of the dangers of sin is that if committed once, it often is very easy, unless confessed and repented of, to commit the same sin again and again and again. After awhile, the sin becomes a habit, and our…
A man who flatters his neighbor
spreads a net for his feet.
Be careful of flattery! Someone may be flattering you or you may be flattering someone else. To flatter someone is to commend others either for the good they do in life or for the goods they have. In reality, however, the praise you give others may not be as good as you…
If one is burdened with the blood of another,
he will be a fugitive until death;
let no one help him.
How serious is the crime of murder? The Scriptures speak quite clearly that to take one man’s blood requires that that man give his life for the innocent (Exodus 9:6). There is, too, consequences for the guilty…
A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor,
but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
I remember reading the testimony of Chuck Colson, the political aide of Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandals in the 1970’s. Colson described his intense desire to be accepted by Nixon as a “lust for power.” Colson described how the more power…
Like a roaring lion or a charging bear
is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
If you remember some history, you may be able to identify several qualities of a wicked ruler. You need not go too far back in history to discover such a man—they certainly are not hard to find. The Scriptures speak about a “wise” ruler and…
Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always,
but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
What do you really fear? The Bible speaks of a proper fear, namely a reverence and great respect for who God is and what he has done. We tend to think that to be truly happy, fear should be absent. The opposite is…
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
Have you ever had to deal with unconfessed sin your life? You knew what you did was not right, but refused to make it right with God or with others. It is miserable. It feels like it is there all the time and just…
When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves.
Who would you rather have ruling over you? A good man or a wicked man? Obviously, we all would desire to see the righteous one over us. We can trust that ruler and we feel protected and cared for.
In Proverbs 28:12, the…
Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice,
rising early in the morning,
will be counted as cursing.
A bit of encouragement and recognition goes a long way. This is true of ourselves as well as others whom we love and work with. Too much undue encouragement, however, is not helpful; sometimes it can be very damaging.…
Take a man's garment when he has put up security for a stranger,
and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for an adulteress.
Some years ago a former student of mine did work for me over a series of years. This young man, I believed, was so trustworthy that at one time I said to my wife that I…
The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
but the simple go on and suffer for it.
If we are truly honest with ourselves, we must confess that at some times in our lives, we have been able to see evil coming. Can you think of a time when this was true in your experience? This is not always the case; sometimes, we…
Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad,
that I may answer him who reproaches me.
It is always a blessing to see my 27 year old son make right decisions. Only recently, he agreed to do some work for a friend. When he got into the job, he realized it was much more involved and would take more time and…
Do not forsake your friend and your father's friend,
and do not go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity.
Better is a neighbor who is near
than a brother who is far away.
One of the great joys of the summer months is seeing family members as well as special friends. In many of…
The words of a talebearer are as wounds,
and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
Having worked with high school students for over 40 years, I have often heard students discussing what they have overheard others saying about them. It may be a friend talking to another friend or a teacher talking to another teacher about a student. The words…
As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
Have you ever watched the TV show, “My Wife and Kids?” One thing that strikes me about that show is the constant arguing between the husband and wife. Think of how each response adds to hostility between the couple. No doubt, every spousal abuse had…
For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
Have you ever gotten caught inadvertently gossiping? It is not a pleasant scene. It is very embarrassing and even more shameful that one can do little to make amends for the wrongs. It only begins a more dangerous route of division and strife between people. Contention…
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools.
How do we begin to comprehend the depths to which sin can lead us? Sometimes the best way is through an analogy.
In the proverb, a wicked man (fool) is compared to the horse and donkey. In Solomon’s times, these animals were not as domesticated as…
Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight.
Have you ever been in the presence of someone with power who seeks to angrily intimidate you for something of which you were fully innocent? It is a frightening experience and leaves one helpless before the other. Nothing one can say or do will ever…
Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool.
One does not have to read much history to know that the life of a nation is often very complicated by the rule of a poor leader. Think of a Nero in Rome, a Henry in France, or a Stalin in the Soviet Union. Though God allowed these to rule and ultimately he…
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
How many men or women can you count who are able to “rule” their responses to others? I know very few. If we are honest with ourselves, we cannot either.
This proverb compares one who does “not rule over his own spirit” to a city with broken walls. Consider several…
It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one's own glory.
Now that spring is here, I greatly look forward to a double-dip ice cream cone. What if, however, I were to have this every day for all summer? Without question, the ice cream cone would become quite distasteful to me.
Proverbs 25:27 warns us of two things: (1)…
What your eyes have seen
do not hastily bring into court,
for what will you do in the end,
when your neighbor puts you to shame?
Argue your case with your neighbor himself,
and do not reveal another's secret, lest he who hears you bring shame upon you,
and your ill repute have no end.
Honestly, how clearly…
Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence
or stand in the place of the great,
for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.
If you had 30 minutes to converse with one person in this world, who would you choose?
It may be of…
Take away the dross from the silver,
and the smith has material for a vessel;
take away the wicked from the presence of the king,
and his throne will be established in righteousness.
At times, it is very easy to believe that evil in the world is not restrained. Is there any control on the extent of evil, or is Satan…
As the heavens for height, and the earth for depth,
so the heart of kings is unsearchable.
At times we may think the world is out of control. In reality, from a Christian perspective, God is ruling the nations, even the very hearts of the kings and rulers.
In Proverbs 25:2-3 we observe the contrast between God and the kings; specifically…
These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.
It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out.
Do you sometimes count a task below you? Or do you at other times look down on someone who is doing a task that you wouldn’t do yourself?
Several weeks ago, I sent an email to some members of Tenth asking them to describe Marion Clark in two or three words. Marion is a man of few words, so I figured that few words would fit him well. Essentially, what I discovered were descriptions of the same things I was reading in my devotions from the book of Proverbs. Of course, we know that wisdom is a picture…
When God chose to deliver the Israelities from the hands of the Midianites, he chose to use Gideon and a small band of men (“With the 300 men . . . I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands.” Judges 7:7–8). God could have chosen to supply many men for the work; instead, he chose to use a small number to demonstrate that the real victory comes…