Resources from 2013


Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.

We can say, "Amen," to both of these statements for their verity. Anxiety weighs a person down. He feels drained; he lacks enthusiasm. He has difficulty sleeping; his attention span is short. He can even physically look weighed down as though carrying a burden on his back, which is truly what he is…
Proverbs 12:26

One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

For good or ill we are all guides to our neighbors. Whether we are vocal or silent, withdrawn or sociable, we guide our neighbors and they guide us. This is called life experience. Some neighbors are consciously guided by us; some are unaware that we affect them at all…
Proverbs 12:27

Whoever is slothful will not roast his game,
but the diligent man will get precious wealth.

When I was principal of a high school, each year the valedictorian had the same characteristic. Most years, he or she was not the smartest student. But every year he or she was the most diligent student. Diligent people know the truth of this proverb; slothful people don't get it. They blame…
Proverbs 12:28

In the path of righteousness is life,
and in its pathway there is no death.

The best commentary on this proverb is Jesus' statement: "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die" (John 11:25-26). Or consider another statement: "I am the way, and the truth, and the…
Proverbs 13:1

A wise son hears his father's instruction,
but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

The attention here is on the order of authority. Whereas, our society exalts the maverick who rejects authoritative instruction, Scripture upholds an authority structure by which we are to live. A wise son listens to his father and his mother because of their position over him. A wise employee listens to his supervisor…
Proverbs 13:2

From the fruit of his mouth a man eats what is good,
but the desire of the treacherous is for violence.

We reap what we sow, and we sow what we desire. If I desire peace with my neighbors, I will sow seeds to bless them and thus obtain peace. If I desire to gain advantage over them, or if I desire only my interests, I will sow…
Proverbs 13:3

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life;
he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

Every time we speak we provide opportunity for trouble. We might insult someone; we might offend; we might lie; we might speak folly; we might gossip; we might ignorantly pass on wrong information; we might speak out of turn or what is inappropriate for the moment. It is perhaps easier to sin…
Proverbs 13:4

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

The sluggard lacks the basics of physical provision because he does not work, whereas the diligent applies himself. But there is a deeper craving that is not satisfied as well the craving of the soul for a purposeful life. Whatever the sluggard may claim or disclaim, because he is human…
Proverbs 13:5

The righteous hates falsehood,
but the wicked brings shame and disgrace.

The righteous person hates falsehood, whether it be to hear it or to disseminate it. It is distasteful to him. The wicked person is intrigued by falsehood. He appreciates a good lie; he likes to see how he can use falsehood to his advantage. Inevitably he will bring upon himself and those connected with him shame and…
Proverbs 13:6

Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless,
but sin overthrows the wicked.

Righteousness is not only a standard to meet, but armor to wear and protect us from the enemy who would destroy our souls. A garment of sin not only doesn't protect us from the evils of life, but strengthens the power of evil to harm us.

The Christian has failed already, who, thinking it necessary to…
Proverbs 13:7

One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

One can take this proverb negatively or positively. We look down on the person who pretends to be what he is not. We consider him foolish who pretends to have wealth he does not possess by spending himself in debt or going to great length to look like he has wealth…
Proverbs 13:8

The ransom of a man's life is his wealth,
but a poor man hears no threat.

The wealthy person is more likely to be kidnapped for ransom. His wealth becomes both his danger and his ransom from danger. The wealth he accumulates for pleasure must also be used for protection. But the poor man hears no threat since he has nothing worth taking and no wealth for a…
Proverbs 13:9

The light of the righteous rejoices,
but the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

Note the contrast between the light of the righteous and of the wicked. It is not merely that the light of the righteous will continue to shine and the wicked's will end, but that the righteous' light "burns merrily." Righteousness is not merely about living right but about living well. The wicked…
Proverbs 13:10

By insolence comes nothing but strife,
but with those who take advice is wisdom.

This is insolence of pride. The insolent person rudely rebuffs help and counsel, especially from others whom he deems below himself. He believes it is beneath his dignity or a sign of weakness or a giving in of his authority. Thus the insolent professional does not need advice, especially from a nonprofessional. The person…
Proverbs 13:11

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,
but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.

This is a proverb we don't like. We all dream of being surprised by a large inheritance from an unknown relative or winning the lottery (from a ticket someone else bought for us). If only I could get rich now! But this proverb teaches that wealth gained quickly without effort is likely to dwindle…
Proverbs 13:12

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Remember this proverb on motivation. If you desire a person to work hard towards a goal (produce more, win a competition, be nice to you, etc.), then see that desires are fulfilled along the way. Provide rewards. Positive motivation is more effective than negative motivation.

What are desires that can be fulfilled? Receiving…
Proverbs 13:13

Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself,
but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.

The proverb sums up Jesus' parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus. Because the rich man did not heed "Moses and the prophets," he brought destruction upon himself in Hades. Lazarus, though he suffered in his earthly life, was rewarded with heaven, no doubt as a keeper of the commandments.

Proverbs 13:14

The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.

How well are you tuning into wise teaching? Are you reading daily the wise teaching of Scripture? Do you read the wise teaching of the Gospels, of Christ himself? Do you listen to the sermons of wise preachers, to the lessons of wise teachers? Do you read the…
Proverbs 13:15

Good sense wins favor,
but the way of the treacherous is their ruin.

There are two reasons the "treacherous" come to ruin. The first is justice. Usually in this lifetime, always in the next life, justice punishes wrongdoing. The other reason is that wrongdoing is not wise. It can seem to be clever to lie, to plot ways to get ahead of a competitor or take advantage of…
Proverbs 13:16

In everything the prudent acts with knowledge,
but a fool flaunts his folly.

How will you act today at work, at school, the home? Will you speak without thinking, merely reacting to others and circumstances? Will you lose your temper because traffic is bad or a sales clerk is rude? Will you express your frustrations to whoever happens to be near? Or will you go through the day…
Proverbs 13:17

A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
but a faithful envoy brings healing.

I can't help but apply this to preaching. I tremble for the preacher who uses his pulpit to preach that the Scriptures are not reliable, waters down the Gospel to a formula of good works, and assures sinners and unbelievers that they have nothing to fear.
I tremble for the preacher who uses his pulpit to…
Proverbs 13:18

Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is honored.

The downfall of the person who ignores instruction comes about for two reasons. One, he remains an ignorant person. Those with knowledge will pass him by in competition. His ignorance will expose him to danger and traps. It will lead him along the wrong paths. Two, he loses respect before others. Only the…
Proverbs 13:19

A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
but to turn away from evil is an abomination to fools.

The key to this proverb is knowing what should be our desire. John Piper's book, Desiring God, has seemed misguided, even heretical, to some because of his strong emphasis on fulfilling desire. His argument rests, however, on having right desires, namely the enjoyment of God. We are often…


Proverbs 13:20

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

There are individuals who were foolish in their behavior and beliefs, yet fell into friendships with mature, godly believers and came to a strong faith that turned them around. There are also individuals who professed Christ and seemed mature, yet came into the circle of unbelievers and/or foolish people and then fell away…
Proverbs 13:21

Disaster pursues sinners,
but the righteous are rewarded with good.

Sinners do not merely flirt with danger; they place targets on their back to make sure danger does not miss the mark. Furthermore, they do not see that disaster is already upon them. They are unaware of the seeds of destruction they have sown: a marriage destroyed before they know it; a job loss before the notice has…
Proverbs 13:22

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children,
but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.

Much could be said about what the inheritance of a good man entails. Foremost is leaving a legacy of faith in Christ and of walking in righteousness. But we should not be quick to lay aside the subject of money. Indeed, Christians are quick to do so, somehow…
Proverbs 13:23

The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food,
but it is swept away through injustice.

Here is a sobering observation, not to make us cynical but to make us compassionate and zealous for justice. It is a reminder that righteousness is not merely to be about personal holiness, but about how we care for others, particularly those who are poor and defenseless.

Somehow, evangelical Christianity has…
Proverbs 13:24

Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Understand the message here. It is that parents - because they love their children - will exercise appropriate discipline to correct them. They teach their children that sinful behavior brings punishment.

The message is not that parents must always use physical punishment for discipline.
Wise parents will choose the appropriate means…
Proverbs 13:25

The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite,
but the belly of the wicked suffers want.

The righteous has enough because: 1) his lifestyle curbs immoral and unethical impulses that lead to trouble and loss; 2) he curbs his appetite so that it does not control him; 3) God blesses the righteous; 4) his appetite is for God and God satisfies such an appetite.

Like the person who…
Proverbs 14:1

The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down.

Though the proverb may be contrasting two persons, one who is wise and another who is foolish, it can be describing a person who starts off wise and later turns foolish. Solomon himself is an example. By wisdom, he built Israel to its greatest height; and, yet, in foolishness he prepared its…
Proverbs 14:2

Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord,
but he who is devious in his ways despises him.

C. S. Lewis writes of this fear phenomenon in his Narnia Chronicles in the reaction of characters when they first meet Aslan. The good are drawn to him. As the horse Hwin said to him, "Please, you're so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I'd sooner be eaten by…
Proverbs 14:3

By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back,
but the lips of the wise will preserve them.

When David was still on the run from Saul, he asked for food from a rich rancher named Nabal to feed his men. Nabal, as a fool, rebuffs the messengers sent to him. As a miserly, harsh man, Nabal does not consider the ancient custom of showing…
Proverbs 14:4

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

When there are no oxen, the farmer does not have the trouble of feeding them or cleaning up after them. He can keep his barn nice and neat. His one problem is that he cannot plow his fields! If he desires abundant crops, then he needs his oxen and…
Proverbs 14:5

A faithful witness does not lie,
but a false witness breathes out lies.

For some people, lying makes them uncomfortable, while for others it is second nature.
I think of a movie in which a "city-wise" cop is teamed with two "do-it-by-the book" cops. All through the movie, he tries to loosen them up and tell lies whenever necessary to keep out of trouble with the police department…
Proverbs 14:6

A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.

The sad irony that Proverbs teaches is that the people who need wisdom the most - the fool, the scoffer, the wicked - are the ones least likely to attain it, while the wise are the ones who find it and profit from it.
The scoffer/fool just doesn't get it. Like Simon the…
Proverbs 14:7

Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not meet words of knowledge.

We can save ourselves much frustration if we would heed this proverb. There are times in which, literally, we need to walk out of a room in which foolishness is spoken. There are many times in which we ought not to answer foolish words, be they spoken or written. With the advent of…
Proverbs 14:8

The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way,
but the folly of fools is deceiving.

Here is the great prize of the prudent - he can see where he is going. If he has strayed from the path of righteousness, he will catch himself and turn back to the path. If he is heading into trouble, he can see the danger ahead and act accordingly. Thus…
Proverbs 14:9

Fools mock at the guilt offering,
but the upright enjoy acceptance.

Fools never apologize for their foolishness; even when they make an attempt (which they do only from pressure), they always add "but" - but I did not intend to harm anyone; but I am trying to do my best; but I am misunderstood. Fools see admission of sin and mistakes as a sign of weakness. They want…
Proverbs 14:10

The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.

Ultimately we are alone with our hearts. Even now, as you read this, sadness or joy that only you know lies in your heart. The closer we are to others, the more open our hearts; but even in the most intimate relationship, the other person cannot see, and more to the point, cannot feel all our…
Proverbs 14:11

The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
but the tent of the upright will flourish.

The end of the wicked is seen every day. They cheat their way to success and yet end in jail, are killed, or experience some other kind of calamity. Because they build with worthless materials and through unethical practices, their very works lead to their downfall. But the upright, though they may…
Proverbs 14:12

There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.

This proverb makes two matter-of-fact statements that, depending on who we are, we tend to ignore. One is that the man of the world lives the way he does because it seems right to him. We Christians seem to forget this.
We get angry with nonChristians who live what we…


Proverbs 14:13

Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and the end of joy may be grief.

Not all is what it seems. That neighbor who is laughing may be experiencing immense anguish. That couple who seem so happy may be filled with sadness. The news of joy may be setting in motion great grief. This is the character of life in this world - that joy is either mixed…
Proverbs 14:14

The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways,
and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.

Once, I commented on the poor luck a certain fellow seemed to keep having. My companion replied that sometimes a person makes his own luck. He could have quoted this proverb. We often question why we are having so much trouble. It…
Proverbs 14:15

The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.

The simple believes the advertisements that happiness, sex appeal, and popularity are found in merchandise, especially expensive merchandise. The simple buys into the messages of pop music and media, because they are expressed with passion. The simple believes whatever appeals to his senses and promises him happiness without change or cost. He believes everything, not because…
Proverbs 14:16

One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil,
but a fool is reckless and careless.

Our culture today, at least our popular media culture, disdains such a proverb. It celebrates those daring to live on the edge because the one virtue that truly matters is passion. It makes no difference what one is passionate about. One person is passionate about serving the poor; another is…
Proverbs 14:17

A man of quick temper acts foolishly,
and a man of evil devices is hated.

This proverb points out the danger that comes with anger: we make fools of ourselves. More times than not, we regret our words spoken and actions committed in anger. We harm people we love; we lose or destroy possessions valuable to us. Anger makes us dumb. All the more trouble then for a…
Proverbs 14:18

The simple inherit folly,
but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

The simple complains about his bad luck. He can't seem the find the right job; he always gets the unfair teacher; he never gets a break. He can't see what everyone else sees - that his folly leads him into further folly. The prudent, on the other hand, because he is prudent learns and benefits from his…
Proverbs 14:19

The evil bow down before the good,
the wicked at the gates of the righteous.

How galling for the wicked! They are wicked precisely because they refuse to bow down before the good. We may be quick to point out that many do not bow down, that they get away with their wickedness; perhaps, but many also do have to bow down. Typically, the good do not end…
Proverbs 14:20

The poor is disliked even by his neighbor,
but the rich has many friends.

This is an "observation" proverb, not one intended to instruct us on how we should be. It makes the unpleasant observation that a poor person must go through extra effort to prove himself to be a "good" person, while a rich person would have to make the effort to prove himself not a good…
Proverbs 14:21

Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner,
but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.

This proverb is likely intended to complement the previous proverb:
The poor is disliked even by his neighbor,
but the rich has many friends.

The poor may be disliked by his neighbor, but that neighbor then is sinning. Here's the point. Our attitude towards out neighbor is not to be controlled…
Proverbs 14:22

Do they not go astray who devise evil?
Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness.

Those who devise evil certainly go astray from the path of righteousness; they also go astray and miss what they desire (unless they believe such things do not exist) - steadfast love and faithfulness. Who does not desire to have friends and family who love them and will remain faithful to…
Proverbs 14:23

In all toil there is profit,
but mere talk tends only to poverty.

Or to put it in modern terms - just do it! Be reluctant to make promises; be resolved to carry out commitments. And definitely let the making of excuses be rare. If you demonstrate through your actions that you keep commitments, that you labor conscientiously, taking pride in your work, then you do not need…
Proverbs 14:24

The crown of the wise is their wealth,
but the folly of fools brings folly.

Wisdom often leads to literal financial wealth, for though the wise do not prize wealth, they nevertheless prize the behavior that is conducive to building wealth. They are not spendthrifts, wasting money on what is trivial, vain, and of low quality.
They set money aside, saving it for lean days, which rarely come…
Proverbs 14:25

A truthful witness saves lives,
but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.

The witness who truthfully testifies to the innocence or guilt of a suspect...the witness who brings to light criminal conduct...the witness to truth who is willing to expose false teaching and refute false reasoning or accusations...the witness who speaks the whole truth, not merely what is critical or congratulatory...the witness who led by the Witness…
Proverbs 14:26

In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.

The fear of the Lord produces confidence, for to properly fear the Lord is to recognize him as the Sovereign God who rules over his creation for his glory. It is to recognize that nothing takes place outside his control and that he always carries out his will, a will that…
Proverbs 14:28

In a multitude of people is the glory of a king,
but without people a prince is ruined.

A king cannot reign without a people. Indeed, without a people to rule over he is not a king. By its very definition, kingship is about relationship. A person may have great qualities, but if there is no one over whom and for whom to exercise those qualities, then he…
Proverbs 14:29

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,
but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

It requires wisdom to control anger. One must be wise enough, first of all, to know what circumstance calls for anger. Jesus knew when to act in anger and when not. Thus, he spoke in anger at the proper times against hypocrisy and injustice; and yet, when the greatest injustice was…
Proverbs 14:30

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot.

This is a good proverb to post on your mirror or refrigerator, wherever you are going to see it daily. The apostle Paul who faced more troubles and deprivations than most people found the blessing of a tranquil heart. Read what he says in Philippians 4:11-13:

"Not that I am speaking of being in…
Proverbs 14:31

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,
but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

God takes personally how we treat our neighbor. Here are other verses making the same point.

"So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconiled to your
Proverbs 14:32

The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing,
but the righteous finds refuge in his death.

This is a recurring theme in proverbs. The wicked, who is seeking his advantage through evildoing, is actually causing his undoing. He is working against himself. Most of the wicked experience downfall in this life. They create enemies and make themselves enemies of the state, so that often they get caught and brought…


Proverbs 14:33

Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding,
but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools.

The person of understanding possesses wisdom in his heart. He is wise because he is understanding of truth, of the ways of others, and most of all of God. To understand - to have the ability to listen and observe well so as to discern truth -…
Proverbs 14:34

Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.

Righteousness exalts a nation. It is good for a nation to excel in liberty; it is good for a nation to become prosperous and enable its people to prosper. It is good for a nation to protect its people from threats. But, as ultimately an individual is judged by his righteousness, so a nation.Thus, above…
Proverbs 14:35

A servant who deals wisely has the king's favor,
but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.

The servant who has the king's favor deals wisely in two ways. The work that he carries out on behalf of the king is wisely done. He is efficient and fruitful in his labor; he makes wise decisions that benefit the king's welfare. Secondly, he is wise in his dealings…
Proverbs 15:1

A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Harsh speech only breeds resentment and stirs up anger. Indeed, the harsh word will stir up anger where there is peace. Many Christians are guilty of stirring up anger both within the Christian community and outside it, because of the harsh manner in which they speak. It is not enough to value truth; one must…
Proverbs 15:2

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

The thought here is that the wise make good use of knowledge in their communication. Unwise use of knowledge is devastating and has a long history. From the childhood friend who shares that the other girls don't like you to the misuse of statistics and research, abuse of knowledge can wreak havoc. The…
Proverbs 15:3

The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.

This is either bad news or good news, depending on who you are and what you are doing. For the wicked, this is bad news. They can get away with nothing. God sees all; he cannot be deceived, cannot be mocked. For the righteous, this is good news. God sees all…
Proverbs 15:4

A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

Seek a gentle tongue, which is another way of saying seek a gentle spirit. Seek a tongue/spirit that is a tree of life to the broken, the downtrodden, the person weighed down in suffering and/or in guilt.
And this is the case of more people than you realize. It is often the case…
Proverbs 15:5

A fool despises his father's instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.

The fool despises his father's instruction, thinking that he is smarter than his father. In some ways he may be. He may know more than his father about technological gadgets. He knows more than his father about what is fashionable. He may have more street smarts. But what the son (or daughter) doesn't know as well…
Proverbs 15:6

In the house of the righteous there is much treasure,
but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.

There may very well be financial wealth in the righteous, because he will be prudent with his money, will not spend it foolishly, and will put savings aside. He will also use his money righteously, tithing ten percent or more, being generous to the poor, not defrauding others, and so…
Proverbs 15:7

The lips of the wise spread knowledge;
not so the hearts of fools.

The wise spread knowledge that is useful, that makes one wiser, that is good. Fools spread information that is false or perverted or that harms. Fools often think they are spreading knowledge, not realizing that they are revealing their foolishness. They like to hear themselves talk and think others like listening to them. The wise…
Proverbs 15:8

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.

It is bad enough to act wickedly and ungodly and to think you can get away with bad behavior. But to feign reverence for God, to pretend to love God, or pretend to repent? God will not be mocked. And if it is possible for him to…
Proverbs 15:9

The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
but he loves him who pursues righteousness.

God is not lukewarm, neither about sin nor righteousness. He does not look upon us with indifference; he does not find sin humorous, nor does he regard righteousness mildly. He hates sin and will judge in his wrath the sinner; he loves the righteous, preparing for them a place of…
Proverbs 15:10

There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way;
whoever hates reproof will die.

Understand clearly, there may be two options to choose for how you want to live, but there is only one option if you want eternal salvation. Forsake the righteous way of the Lord, and you will suffer punishment. Reject the reproof intended to put you on the right path, and you will die…
Apr 20, 2013

Adam, Lord of the Garden

Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology 2013

Proverbs 15:11

Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord;
how much more the hearts of the children of man!

For the writer, Sheol and Abaddon represent the places of the dead, that which is beyond human sight and knowledge. They are the uttermost places, far from human existence. If Sheol and Abaddon, then, are open before the Lord as though meadows under broad daylight, how much more then are…
Proverbs 15:12

A scoffer does not like to be reproved;
he will not go to the wise.

The cynic, or scoffer, thinks he is wise because he is able to find fault in others, especially those in authority. And the greatest scoffers are those who have never held position of authority or responsibility. They despise reproof, they think, because of the faults they find in authority figures such as parents…
Proverbs 15:13

A glad heart makes a cheerful face,
but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.

This proverb can be taken as both descriptive and prescriptive. It describes the effect of the heart on the outer being and welfare of its owner. A glad heart cheers up the face and the spirit. It promotes well being. Sorrow, on the other hand, crushes the spirit, makes the face downcast…
Proverbs 15:14

The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,
but the mouths of fools feed on folly.

The point here is that the wise earnestly desire knowledge. Reading is not something they do merely when there is nothing good on TV. They do not catch up on the latest news in order to be conversational. They do not learn trivia to be competitive in games or make themselves…
Proverbs 15:15

All the days of the afflicted are evil,
but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.

It seems here that the proverb is not contrasting those who are afflicted and those who have good things happening to them; rather, it is between those who live feeling afflicted and those who live counting their blessings.

Every life has its share of affliction and blessings. The question for us…
Proverbs 15:16

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble with it.

In truth, the one who fears the Lord is the one who is wealthy, and the one without such fear is impoverished. To truly fear the Lord is to believe in Christ; to believe in Christ is to be born of God, adopted as his child, made an heir of the…
Proverbs 15:17

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is
than a fattened ox and hatred with it.

The message of the proverb is that love is supreme over wealth. Better to only afford a skimpy diet than to dine luxuriously if love comes with the former and hatred with the latter.

This proverb can also teach us an important lesson about hospitality. True hospitality is not the ability…
Proverbs 15:18

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Note the opposite effect each man has. The hot-tempered man stirs up strife. Have you ever been in a Bible study where the discussion has been interesting and then, by the way one person interjects his opinions, an argument ensues? A hot-tempered man stirs up strife when there has been no tension present…


Proverbs 15:19

The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns,
but the path of the upright is a level highway.

For a lazy person there always seems some kind of obstacle to prevent him from making progress. He is an "unlucky" person. For some reason he can't get ahead. For each job he takes, he somehow gets an unreasonable boss or works with people hard to get…
Proverbs 15:20

A wise son makes a glad father,
but a foolish man despises his mother.

This proverb presents a contrast between the wise and the foolish. The wise are the pride and joy of their parents; the foolish are their shame. But I want fathers to consider what they should be looking for in their children.
Look, of course, for wisdom. More than athletic achievement and even more than…
Proverbs 15:21

Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense,
but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.

We may wonder how a person can play the fool, acting and speaking in embarrassing ways. The answer: he enjoys it. Most often he thinks he is demonstrating his sophistication or coolness or daring spirit. He enjoys the attention he gains, even if it is notoriety. What matters is being in…
Proverbs 15:22

Without counsel plans fail,
but with many advisers they succeed.

Many of our plans seem right - the house to buy, the job to take, the strategy for carrying out a project, the method of settling a dispute, etc. But we show a plan to a friend or someone with more expertise, and surprisingly see glaring mistakes in our thinking. Indeed, what were we thinking, we wonder. Or…
Proverbs 15:23

To make an apt answer is a joy to a man,
and a word in season, how good it is!

It is a blessing to give an apt word and to receive it. The blessing of possessing wisdom is giving an apt word that encourages a neighbor; or that saves the neighbor from disaster; or gives guidance that leads a neighbor along the right path. That is the…
Proverbs 15:24

The path of life leads upward for the prudent,
that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.

The prudent is defined as a person who thinks through what he does. He considers his ways, where the path that any decision he makes leads him. He is careful with his remarks that they do not come back to haunt him. He is discerning in regard to the friends he…
Proverbs 15:25

The Lord tears down the house of the proud
but maintains the widow's boundaries.

The contrast of what the Lord does in each situation helps explain who the proud is. He is not merely someone with an ego problem who looks down on others such as the widow; rather, he seeks to take advantage of the needy such as the widow. He is after her property; he enlarges…
Proverbs 15:26

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord,
but gracious words are pure.

The thoughts, the words, and the deeds of the wicked are detestable to God. However witty they may consider themselves, however clever and fashionable they may seem to themselves, even how right they believe they may be, their behavior is odorous to God who will not be mocked. The great illusion of…
Proverbs 15:27

Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household,
but he who hates bribes will live.

It is bad enough to be greedy. Such a person cannot be satisfied with having his needs met, and he is always discontent, wanting to have more. But to be greedy for unjust gain magnifies his own troubles and the troubles he creates for his household.
Now his discontent is mixed…
Proverbs 15:28

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

Note the contrast between the heart of the righteous and the mouth of the wicked. Jesus says that it is out of the heart that evil things pour out. Evil pours out of a heart filled with evil. Evil pours out also because the unrighteous heart fails to check…
Proverbs 15:29

The Lord is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

"Why won't God answer my prayer?"
"Why won't God listen to me?"
"Why is God so distant?"
Such questions are usually spoken as accusations against God for being indifferent. God is on trial. They would be wonderful questions if asked as a matter of personal examination. "If God is good and powerful, should…
Proverbs 15:30

The light of the eyes rejoices the heart,
and good news refreshes the bones.

This proverb gives two practices that make for good health. The first is a cheerful look. We speak of the "gleam in the eye." It is the look that expresses happiness, approval, love, fun. It is the look of approval that the young student hopes for in the teacher as she looks over his…
Proverbs 15:31

The ear that listens to life-giving reproof
will dwell among the wise.

Here is the key to wisdom - simple as most deep truths are. One grows in wisdom as one is able to listen well and heed correction. All scientists know that the road to knowledge is paved with mistakes and then learning from those mistakes. So it is with wisdom. We are all born sinful; all…
Proverbs 15:32

Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.

This proverb states what every teacher has said sometime to his students, "If you don't study/if you cheat, you are only hurting yourself." The fool thinks he is cleverly getting away with something by "outfoxing" the teacher or the system, not realizing that he is only keeping himself ignorant and, indeed, is falling behind others…
Proverbs 15:33

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (1:7). Listening to and reading the words of wise men and women will make you wiser. The keener you observe and learn from the experts in their fields, the more you will grown in knowledge and the more skillful you will become. But until…
Proverbs 16:1

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

The mystery of how this truth takes place is deep, beyond our understanding. Our question is not how this can be, but why we are being told. What message is God conveying to us?

If you are rebelling against God, if you are plotting against him, then know that your…


Proverbs 16:2

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.

All our ways, even our sinful ways, seem right at the time. Our anger seems justifiable; our fudging of the truth seems reasonable; our pride feels more like concern for God's honor; our idolatry seems harmless.

But we are to remember, it is the Lord who weighs the spirit. And…
Proverbs 16:3

Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.

Literally, the term for "commit" is "roll." We are to roll to the Lord what we do. The idea is similar to the expression "put in the hands of the Lord." We are to commit to the Lord what we do, placing in his hands the outcome of our actions, trusting him to preserve us, cause…
Proverbs 16:4

The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.

This proverb is for us to turn to when the wicked commit violence. Such events cause us to ask, "Where was God?" "Why did this happen?" "Is God in control?" "Will the wicked get away with this?" This proverb says that the wicked get away with nothing. It says that even their…
Proverbs 16:5

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.

Who is arrogant in heart? He is the one who is assured of himself. He is assured that his success is the result of his cleverness, his natural ability, his taking charge of his own life. He may even be assured that he has outwitted God and is able…
Proverbs 16:6

By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.

Yes, you can have a second chance. You can put the past behind you. You can turn from being identified with sin to being a child of God. You can have the ending of Scrooge. All it takes is a change of the heart. And God joyfully…
Proverbs 16:7

When a man's ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

We are quick to assert that being obedient to the Lord will bring persecution by the world. Certainly there is much truth to that. But it is also true that pleasing the Lord leads to peace. Christ commands us to love our neighbor, even to love our enemy. He commands…
Proverbs 16:8

Better is a little with righteousness
than great revenues with injustice.

Consider the little wealth of righteousness.

There is the wealth of a good conscious before the Lord, which brings great peace.

There is the wealth of a good name and peaceful relations with one's neighbors.

There is the wealth of truly enjoying what one possesses.

There is the wealth of knowing and valuing what is of true…
Proverbs 16:9

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.

Such words should be of great comfort to believers. It is comforting to know that however foolish my plans may be, ultimately the Lord will establish my steps to lead me to him. My heart always seems right to me, and yet will always lead me astray if not for the Holy Spirit. Many of…
Proverbs 16:10

An oracle is on the lips of a king;
his mouth does not sin in judgment.

Such it should be for those in authority; the higher in authority, the greater the responsibility to conduct oneself in integrity, speaking with wisdom. He should speak as one representing the great King.
Do you pray for those over you that they will exercise wisdom in integrity? It is easy to sin…
Proverbs 16:11

A just balance and scales are the LORD's;
all the weights in the bag are his work.

All ways in which justice is carried out comes from the Lord. Anywhere and anytime there is fair play, its source is the Lord. The very idea of justice and fairness comes from him, and, indeed, serve as evidence for his existence and reign. Every time a charge is…
Proverbs 16:12

It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
for the throne is established by righteousness.

It is terrible enough to do evil. Man was made in the image of God, and every wicked act is a reminder of the great Fall. But to do evil from a position of authority magnifies evils perversion. Whether one be a king or a low-level manager, such positions are created to…
Proverbs 16:13

Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves him who speaks what is right.

Do you wish to give delight to your King? Then let your speech be that which promotes justice and good. Speak the truth in love, as you are taught in Ephesians 4:15. How can you know what to speak?

Speak what is of Scripture. Read it and study it so that…
Proverbs 16:14

A king's wrath is a messenger of death,
and a wise man will appease it.

It is wisdom to recognize danger and to take measures for safety. We recognize the signs of a thunder storm and take appropriate cover. So we should do the same when we observe the wrath of one who has power over us. Take measures to appease one with authority, especially when his wrath…
Proverbs 16:15

In the light of a king's face there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.

If the previous proverb impresses upon us the danger of being under the thunder storm of our Kings wrath, this one stirs us with the refreshment of being under his favor. To know Gods favor is to know life. And that is what Christ came to…
Proverbs 16:16

How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

Gold and silver are good for providing financial security. As long as one possesses these metals, he can feel confident that he has something of value if

- he is willing to part with them when he is hungry or needs shelter or medical care
- they are not stolen…
Proverbs 16:17

The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.

The upright, when it comes to temptation, heeds the warning of his conscience, "don't go there." He does not listen to the various rationalizations that would take him into temptation and danger - curiosity, to become stronger, to protect others, to see what others struggle with, and so on. "Just don't go…
Proverbs 16:18

Pride goes before destruction
and a haughty spirit before a fall.

This is a proverb that has proven itself time and time again, yet seems to be the hardest to learn. Its principle is behind most of the upsets in sports events, in which the clearly better team loses. One reason attributed to the "miracle" win of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team is that it was soundly…
Proverbs 16:19

It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.

The second line gives the context for this subject of pride and humility to divide the spoil with the proud. It is better to be oppressed than to be an oppressor; it is better to be without, than to take away from others. The proud, or arrogant, in…
Proverbs 16:20

Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

This proverb presents a recurring theme in Proverbs a mark of a wise and godly person is being a good learner. Just in the last chapter and a half, there are six proverbs that refer to this theme:

A fool despises his fathers instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is prudent
Proverbs 16:21

The wise of heart is called discerning,
and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

Here is our sweet talker. A wise person will be recognized for his wisdom, and, because he is wise, he will know how to speak in a persuasive manner. Our sweet talker is a wise guy! Do you want to be the person who, when you speak, people listen? There are two routes you can…
Proverbs 16:22

Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
but the instruction of fools is folly.

The good sense spoken of is good common sense, and certainly it is a fountain of life to the one who possesses it. Good sense is what makes one take heed to instruction and be able to detect the wise from the foolish. It puts knowledge to practical use…


Proverbs 16:23

The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
and adds persuasiveness to his lips.

After the wise person speaks, his hearers believe they have heard someone who is fair and insightful. They benefit from his words; they admit where they have been wrong. Perhaps they were upset, and they walk away peaceful.

What happened? The wise person spoke from a heart that was right. The heart of…
Proverbs 16:24

Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Consider the sweet effect of gracious words.

Complement: This is a word we often deny we want, but we certainly do enjoy when we receive it. Isnt it nice to receive an honest complement, especially to get one totally unlooked for? You really look nice today. You made a great contribution. That…
Proverbs 16:25

There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.

With apologies to Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, let me read a famous song that this proverb addresses so well.

My Way

And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.

Proverbs 16:26

A workers appetite works for him;
his mouth urges him on.

Our appetite motivates us to produce. Hunger will drive even the laziest of persons to work to satisfy his hunger pain. How can you get a stubborn mule to walk? Hold an apple in front of him. It is a basic principle that success is predicated on hunger. It has become a sports clich. Who will be…
Proverbs 16:27

A worthless man plots evil,
and his speech is like a scorching fire.

Literally, the worthless man digs up evil. Like an archeologist diligently digging for precious artifacts, he labors to come up with something evil to do. Talk about bad breath, his is like scorching fire. He uses speech for wicked ends, to do harm. This is the first of three proverbs that speak of the "bad…
Proverbs 16:28

A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.

"Did you hear about Joe?"
"I know I probably shouldn't be saying this, but I thought you had a right to know."
"What's going on between that couple? I bet it has to do with..."

And so the poison works in creating doubt, suspicion, resentment. All it takes is a remark supposedly in innocence, even under the…
Proverbs 16:29

A man of violence entices his neighbor
and leads him in a way that is not good.

First the violent man must entice his neighbor. Somehow he must win his neighbor over, pretending to offer something pleasurable. How does he do that? The neighbor must either be completely deceived into thinking that he is being offered something honorably good, or his sinful desires must be stirred. Thus, we…
Proverbs 16:30

Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things;
he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.

Be aware of the subtlety by which the wicked deceive - the unscrupulous salesman and the stranger who seem overly familiar with you; the caller who has a "great deal" for you; the "friend" who wants to show you something new. There are many people who wickedly want to harm you or…
Proverbs 16:31

Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.

Gray hair is a crown of glory. We think it is gained in a trying life. You kids are enough to give me gray hair! I didnt have gray hair until I took this job. We envy the man or woman able to enter middle age with no gray hairs. If Solomon is trying…
Proverbs 16:32

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

This is an important principle to learn, and the ones who have learned it (both the righteous and the wicked) have achieved great success in life. Even the wicked know the truth of this proverb. Anger is a powerful passion. Anger can increase strength due to…
Proverbs 16:33

The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.

And so we can have peace. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to sort out providence, but Scripture teaches providence and God's sovereignty so that we might give due honor to God and that we might learn to trust (and rest) in him.

Yes, your decisions today matter. They have real consequences for…
Proverbs 17:1

Better is a dry morsel with quiet
than a house full of feasting with strife.

This is not a contrast between homes of quiet, mild-mannered families and those of boisterous families, but rather between home of peaceful relations and of conflict. Quiet homes can have their share of conflict. But this kind of quiet is the quiet of peace. It is the home of families who are peace…
Proverbs 17:2

A servant who deals wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully
and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.

This is another way of teaching the primacy of wisdom. Other resources can put us in position to succeed, but it is wisdom that takes us to the top and keeps us there. As talented as pro athletes may be, there are others as athletic…
Proverbs 17:3

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
and the Lord tests hearts.

If the Lord knows our hearts, why does he need to test them? Consider Peter's teaching:

In this (our inheritance) you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes
Proverbs 17:4

An evildoer listens to wicked lips,
and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.

Have you ever been frustrated trying to convince others that a rumor is false? You encourage them to think positively about others, but they assume the worse. Maybe you are trying to clear up your own name. You think that if you can only explain clearly the facts, they will listen. If you…
Proverbs 17:5

Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker;
he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

This is a sober warning for us all. First, we should not be quick to mock anyone. Mocking may have its place, but such times are far fewer than we tend to think. We are quick to mock those whom we do not know and those with whom we differ. As…
Proverbs 17:6

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers.

This is a good reminder of what family relations should be. It is not merely a matter of having children who then have children. It is about investing in your family relationships so that there is a strong, loving bond, and that your children live lives that are deemed honorable.
Fathers can forget…
Proverbs 17:7

Fine speech is not becoming to a fool;
still less is false speech to a prince.

Fine speech from the mouth of a fool comes out as mockery and sarcasm. That which should be deemed honorable is made to seem silly. The speaker is embarrassing. Having said all that, even worse is for a person of high and noble position to lie. Thus, as bad as it is…
Proverbs 17:8

A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it;
wherever he turns he prospers.

This proverb is translated in different ways, and this particular translation can be given two different interpretations: it is observing the way and perspective of the wicked briber but does not agree with him, or it is commenting on the effective use of gifts, another translation of…
Proverbs 17:9

Whoever covers an offense seeks love,
but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

"I probably shouldn't tell you this, but..."
"He didn't want me to tell anyone, but..."
"Did you know..."
"We should be praying for..."

And so begins many a repeating of a matter that creates anger and suspicion that never should have occurred. Every day we say and do things that we should not…
Proverbs 17:10

A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding
than a hundred blows into a fool.

The ultimate distinction between a man of understanding and a fool is not how well they do on an aptitude test but in how well they receive correction. Everyone will make mistakes; everyone sins. What then do they do when their mistake or sin is pointed out?

The fool insists he did…
Proverbs 17:11

An evil man seeks only rebellion,
and a cruel messenger will be sent against him.

Such a person looks at life from the perspective of me versus everyone else. He is in rebellion against everyone because he sees everyone as competitor. The competitor may be someone over him; thus he looks at the competitor as an oppressor, someone whose chains must be thrown off. The competitor may be…


Proverbs 17:12

Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs
rather than a fool in his folly.

We laugh at the fool and dismiss him for his nonsensical behavior. But just as we would run for cover when a gun is placed in the hands of a child who thinks he has a toy, so we need all the more to be careful around the fool.

An evil…
Proverbs 17:13

If anyone returns evil for good,
evil will not depart from his house.

Wickedness is troubling in any form. Even so, there are degrees even for evil to climb. It is condemning to do mischief. It is wrong to take advantage of the innocent. But to return evil for good; to harm someone who has done you good is it possible to sink lower?

The scam artist who…
Proverbs 17:14

The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
so quit before the quarrel breaks out.

When a container of water cracks, when it is opened only by a hair, water seeps out and cannot be retrieved. Cover it with your hands, put a cloth tightly around it, the water continues to seep. It cannot be contained. And even if you do seal the crack, you cannot reclaim…
Proverbs 17:15

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous
are both alike an abomination to the L

God is not a moral relativist. There are the wicked who do bad, who break his moral law; and there are the righteous who do good, who follow his moral law. To flip them around to justify the wicked and condemn the righteous is an abomination to him.

Proverbs 17:16

Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom
when he has no sense?

Even if wisdom could be bought, it still would do the fool no good. But isnt wisdom exactly what a fool needs? True, but the fools problem is that he does not know what to do with wisdom even when given to him.

He may obtain wisdom now. He may turn…
Proverbs 17:17

A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity

How good it is to be a friend and to have a friend, a true friend. A friend always loves; i.e. he always desires the good of his friend. To love at all times is to seek the best for ones friend at all times. That means sticking by him when others desert him. It…
Proverbs 17:18

One who lacks sense gives a pledge
and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.

This is one of several proverbs warning against putting up security for another person (6:1; 11:15; 22:26). The concern is putting ones self at risk. Putting up security for another person is saying that I will make good what that person cannot, even though I will reap no benefit from what
Proverbs 17:19

Whoever loves transgression loves strife;
he who makes his door high seeks destruction.

Consider the transgression of the Ten Commandments in reverse order. One who covets will experience strife with his neighbor through competition and resentment. One who lies presents opportunity for strife by deceit and breaking trust.
One who steal causes strife with the victim. One who commits adultery stirs up strife with the fellow adulterer(ess), the…
Proverbs 17:20

A man of crooked heart does not discover good,
and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity.

The problem for such a man above is not bad luck, as he would think is the cause. Nor is the problem one of circumstances - if only he had money, a good job, a job without a boss, neighbors who appreciated him, etc. Jesus stated clearly his problem: it…
Proverbs 17:21

He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow,
and the father of a fool has no joy.

Too many parents can nod their heads to this proverb. Others may laugh at a fool, shake their heads in disdain or pity. The parent (father or mother) weeps. The father hangs his head in shame and the mother in sorrow. They had hopes for their child; their delight was in…
Proverbs 17:22

A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Centuries before the advent of scientific medicine, this proverb recognized a key element of good health and even for curing illness - a joyful heart. Being happy is not a cure-all, of course, but it does play a significant role in reducing the ill effects caused by stress, depression, anger, self-pity, and resentment.
Proverbs 17:23

The wicked accepts a bribe in secret
to pervert the ways of justice.

Truly there is nothing new under the sun. The giving of bribes has a long history. Bribes are given to sway judges' rulings; to fix betting events; to obtain advantage over business competitors; to gain money and power. It is wicked to give such bribes, but as this proverb points out, it is also wicked…
Proverbs 17:24

The discerning sets his face toward wisdom,
but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.

The contrast here is between the discerning who keeps focused on wisdom and the fool who chases after each fad that pops up from everywhere. Today he would be the one fascinated with the "new discoveries" of the "Da Vinci Code." His home library is an archive of…
Proverbs 17:25

A foolish son is a grief to his father
and bitterness to her who bore him.

Fools annoy others; they make others angry. Others enjoy fools, finding them to be entertainment. But fools grieve their parents who are filled with shame by the public disgrace and filled with sorrow for the path their children are following. They may also be angry, but their anger is stirred by disappointment…
Proverbs 17:26

To impose a fine on a righteous man is not good,
nor to strike the noble for their uprightness.

Injustice occurs in two ways: not punishing the guilty and punishing the law abiding. It is one thing to be lax about prosecuting the guilty, but it is more grievous to take action against the person who is upright. Indeed, this proverb presents not merely a person who is…
Proverbs 17:27

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

How is being few with words connected with being knowledgeable? First of all, the person of knowledge and understanding knows that his value is not found in making others see how knowledgeable he is. He is not compelled to speak louder, quicker, and more often than others. His self-esteem is…
Proverbs 17:28

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

The point of this proverb and the previous one is that the best use of words comes from a measured restraint, or to use a common phrase - think before you speak. The problem with the fool is that he speaks quickly without considering his words. He speaks on impulse…
Proverbs 18:1

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.

The thought here is not that it is wrong to seek solitude or even to work alone. Rather, it speaks to the person who has fortressed himself against companionship. He may be like the hurt lover of Paul Simon's song "I Am a Rock," who isolates himself from relationships so that he might not…
Proverbs 18:2

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.

It is hard to get in a word in a conversation with a fool. Even when he asks you a question, he interrupts before you can say much. He must give his opinion, tell his story, listen to his own voice. And all the while he thinks that he is earning your good opinion of…
Proverbs 18:3

When wickedness comes, contempt comes also,
and with dishonor comes disgrace.

One would think that a truth so obvious would have a sobering affect on the wicked. And yet, far from avoiding behavior that leads to disgrace, they all the more pursue their immoral and wicked ways, even basking in the notoriety that results. For the wicked are also fools who mistake shame for honor and contempt for…
Proverbs 18:4

The words of a man's mouth are deep waters;
the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

This proverb seems to be presenting a contrast between the words of sinful man that hide motive, like the deep waters which hide what is underneath, and the words of the wise which is refreshing and clear like a bubbling brook. We are as likely to use words to miscommunicate than…


Proverbs 18:5

It is not good to be partial to the wicked
or to deprive the righteous of justice.

Surely we all agree with this proverb, but then, how might we be guilty of such injustice? By placing ourselves before God and others. We will ignore political policies that hurt others but either help us or at least do not harm us. We will avert our eyes when confronted by…
Proverbs 18:6

A fool's lips walk into a fight,
and his mouth invites a beating.

What a funny proverb and so true! The fool will even be warned: "You're asking for it. You'd better stop talking." But he won't stop. He must rant and rave; he keeps provoking, keeps sounding off until the listener either literally or figuratively gives him his beating.

Why does the fool invite punishment? Because he…
Proverbs 18:7

A fool's mouth is his ruin,
and his lips are a snare to his soul.

By his mouth the fool shows lack of wisdom and thus loses the respect of others. He irritates others with his thoughtless remarks; he offends; he makes himself a bore; he betrays confidences; twists the words of others; shows arrogance; stirs up trouble. And all the while is troubled that he does not…
Proverbs 18:8

The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.

Such is the danger of the whispering tongue. We are enticed by it. We like hearing secrets "confided" in us. We like being in the know, of being brought into the inner circle. But those words go into our "inner parts." We mull over them, and they begin to…
Proverbs 18:9

Whoever is slack in his work
is a brother to him who destroys.

The slacker destroys productivity. Products, service, goals are sacrificed. He destroys morale, as others are influenced to have the same attitude or frustrated so that they become less productive. He destroys teamwork, as others become not only angry with him but with supervisors for not managing him well. He destroys his own future, his laziness…
Proverbs 18:10

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

What's in a name? How can a name be a strong tower? What's in a name is what is in a person. According to that person's character and relationship to us, the name may evoke joy or sadness, peace or fear. And so it is with the LORD - Yahweh…
Proverbs 18:11

A rich man's wealth is his strong city,
and like a high wall in his imagination.

Note the contrast with the previous proverb. The righteous man looks to the LORD to be his strength; the rich man looks to his wealth. The righteous man turns to the LORD and finds safety; the rich man turns to his wealth and finds an illusion. For wealth can save no one…
Proverbs 18:12

Before destruction a man's heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.

There are several reasons why this proverb bears out, but consider one reason today. Haughtiness is foolishness; humility is wisdom. To be haughty is to be "scornfully and condescendingly proud." It is not merely to recognize your own skill to be better than others, but to actually consider others as lesser beings. You despise them merely…
Proverbs 18:13

If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame.

Strong but true words. We do this on different levels. There is the surface level in which we actually begin answering before the person has completed the question, only to find that we wrongly anticipated what the question would be. "No, that is not what I was trying to ask."

We give unasked for…
Proverbs 18:14

A man's spirit will endure sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?

Undoubtedly many reading this proverb will sadly nod in agreement because of your own crushed spirit. The weight of depression, of anxiety, of feeling unloved feels unbearable and you focus on merely surviving each day. This proverb lets you know that God understands. It is placed in Scripture for you to know that you do…
Proverbs 18:15

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,
and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

Note the precondition of the person who gains knowledge. He is already intelligent, already wise. It is his intelligence and wisdom that spurs him on to attain knowledge. He becomes knowledgeable because he values knowledge. Unlike the student who raises his hand in class and asks the teacher, "Is this going to be on the…
Proverbs 18:16

A man's gift makes room for him
and brings him before the great.

What is the difference between a gift and a bribe? Is this proverb permitting the offering of bribes to get one's way? The proverb may not be giving permission for anything. Many proverbs are mere observations about life, adding no comment about the moral value. That is true of this one.

And yet, there are…
Proverbs 18:17

The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him.

What a true observation! How many times have we heard one speaker lay forth an argument that seems the epitome of commonsense, only to hear someone else give a different opinion or exam the first speaker, and we completely change our opinion? Perhaps the first speaker omitted pertinent information; perhaps he operated…
Proverbs 18:18

The lot puts an end to quarrels
and decides between powerful contenders.

It is interesting how the casting of lots or drawing straws or flipping coins settle matters that could produce controversy or are already controversial. Rival teams let a coin flip decide who gets the ball first; kids arguing over who has to take the worse job will meekly accept the result of drawing the shortest straw…
Proverbs 18:19

A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city,
and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.

The closer a relationship the deeper an offense is felt. It may or may not be easier to offend a brother, but when he is offended the wound goes deep, as is the witness of many, many family divisions. The offense only goes deeper and the brother more unyielding…
Proverbs 18:20

From the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach is satisfied;
he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.

This proverb is based on the assumption that the fruit is good. When our speech produces good fruit by blessing others and conveying wisdom and knowledge, then we receive blessing, as when satisfied by a good, healthy meal. Conversely, when our speech stirs up trouble and offense, we…
Proverbs 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Bad and good result from the power of speech; those who love speech will reap the consequences of how they use it. This proverb carries the weight of a warning to those who love to talk and those who skillfully use speech for bad ends. Sooner (usually) or later…
Proverbs 18:22

He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the Lord.

God instituted marriage as a blessing to man. It was "not good" for man to be alone, and so God created and brought the woman to the man. And he realized it was good, for "she is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone." Marriage is not a trap; it is…
Proverbs 18:23

The poor use entreaties,
but the rich answer roughly.

Our status often determines our behavior. If we are poor, we will rely on entreaties to coax help from others. If we are in a position of power or wealthy enough to procure the help we need from many, we are likely to speak roughly or be more demanding.

Think about this in our relationship with the Lord. It…
Proverbs 18:24

A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

It is not the number but the depth of relationships that matter. It is good to have many companions. We are meant to be social creatures, and we should seek and enjoy the acquaintance of many people. And yet, what will sustain us through the trials of life…
Proverbs 19:1

Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity
than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.

There is too high a price to pay for crookedness. The lost of integrity is worse than the loss of money and position. The world considers a person not willing to compromise the truth to achieve a goal to be a fool. So be it. God, through…
Proverbs 19:2

Desire without knowledge is not good,
and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

Is this not the cause of our troubles? We desire without knowledge. The young man desires the Forbidden Woman, not knowing that she leads to death. The fool desires fortune and fame, not knowing that he chooses ignominy and destruction. The wicked desire to take advantage of others, not knowing that they…


Proverbs 19:3

When a man's folly brings his way to ruin,
his heart rages against the Lord.

This is so true of Christians! Why can't I get a job? Why are my workplaces always so difficult? Why is this ministry by which I serve God filled with so much trouble? Why, when I am devoted to God, am I having so much trouble in my marriage, in my family, with…
Proverbs 19:4

Wealth brings many new friends,
But a poor man is deserted by his friend.

If the writer of this proverb had access to quotation marks in his day, he would have added them around friends and friend. In each instance the friends are nothing of the sort. The friends of the wealthy person hang about to get what they can. The poor person has but one other person…
Proverbs 19:5

A false witness will not go unpunished,
and he who breathes out lies will not escape.

The irony in this proverb is that people lie for the express purpose of escaping punishment. We lie to cover up other sins. We fudge the truth so that our spouses will not get upset; so that our bosses will not blow up at us, etc. We will lie so that suspicion…
Proverbs 19:6

Many seek the favor of a generous man,
and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.

"Generous man" could be translated "nobleman" or "prince." Whatever the case, the point is that the person in a position to bestow gifts - be it of money, of position, of power - will have many "friends" who in truth are lovers of what he can give. The person…
Proverbs 19:7

All a poor man's brothers hate him;
how much more do his friends go far from him!
He pursues them with words,
but does not have them.

If a wealthy generous man has many friends, a poor man with nothing to give has none. They not only do not hang around him; they stay far from him. Of course, such "friends" are neither true friends of the generous…
Proverbs 19:8

Whoever gets sense loves his own soul;
he who keeps understanding will discover good.

Do you love yourself? Do you want what is good for you? Then pursue wisdom! Seek commonsense. Value understanding and discernment. Get knowledge. For it is through attaining good sense - the skill to discern what is right and true and good - that you will discover and enjoy the good in life.

Proverbs 19:9

A false witness will not go unpunished,
and he who breathes out lies will perish.

This is the same proverb as 19:5, except that it spells out what is alluded to in the previous one which states that the liar will "not escape." He will perish. However much he may try to lie his way out of such a destiny, his lies only serve to secure that destiny…

Proverbs 19:10

It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury, much less for a slave to rule over princes.

It is not fitting for a fool who has done nothing to earn or deserve wealth to live in wealth. Like a pig with pearls, he will treat his wealth with disdain, not merely indulging in worthless pursuits, but turning what is beautiful and…

Proverbs 19:11

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Here is a good measure for how much good sense you have: How do you respond to offenses? Are you quick to retaliate? Do you quickly throw back a verbal jab? Do you get easily flustered? Do you dash off curt emails or text messages? Then good sense…

Proverbs 19:12

A king's wrath is like the growling of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.

Consider the wrath of our King. When he acts in wrath against the wicked, no one can withstand his ire. For it is not that he acts with an uncontrollable rage, but precisely because his anger matches justice. God is to be feared because he…

Proverbs 19:13

A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife's quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.

The way to break the spirit of a man is through his family. It may be through the folly of a child or through the grumbling of a wife. There is much to be said in Proverbs and Scripture to admonish the husband and father, but…

Proverbs 19:14

House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

If a foolish son and a quarreling wife are ruin to a man, all the more blessed it is to have a prudent wife. Why prudent? Why not loving? A prudent wife is a loving wife, for she takes care of her husband and home. The epitome of such…

Proverbs 19:15

Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep,
and an idle person will suffer hunger.

Laziness makes a person weary. Inactivity slows down the body's metabolism. Taking it easy causes even the easy to become laborious. And as activity grows more wearisome, so then one is unable to produce a living.

We see this in the workplace. There is the employee who drags into work…

Proverbs 19:16

Whoever keeps the commandment keeps his life;
he who despises his ways will die.

Most likely the sense of despising one's ways is that of being careless about how one lives. Such a person is not so much defiant against God's commands as he is uninterested in the subject. His motto is "go with the flow."

Such a person ultimately is defiant, and he…

Proverbs 19:17

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will repay him for his deed.

The lesson of this proverb is not about how to place God in our debt and make him give us what we want. It is about caring for the poor. It shows the compassionate heart of God for the poor, what we often lack.

We want…

Tenth Community Dinner, a ministry of ACTS, is marking its thirtieth anniversary this Thanksgiving (1984-2013).

Community Dinner is primarily a ministry of hospitality. Each month we welcome our guests—creating a safe place to share with them the meal, our lives, and our Lord. They enter as strangers and leave as friends because we treat them with respect and integrity. Many attend Fellowship Bible Study and are assisted…

Proverbs 19:18

Discipline your son, for there is hope;
do not set your heart on putting him to death.

The principal of a high school learned the ability to discern which poorly performing students had potential of turning things around and which were likely to remain mired in their self-defeating behavior. It was the response of their parents to discipline. If their parents were…

Proverbs 19:19

A man of great wrath will pay the penalty,
for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.

You will have to bail the angry man out of jail again, or defend him in the principal's office again, or speak up for him at work again, or whatever the circumstance may be. A person whose temper explodes gets himself into trouble time and again…

I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music. Psalm 101:1 ESV

Do you feel that music just isn't for you, that it's not your thing? Well, if you answered any varying degree of "Yes!!" I'm here to sing you a different story. A story of how God has actually equipped you to make music to and for him. Whether…

Proverbs 19:20

Listen to advice and accept instruction,
that you may gain wisdom in the future.

The wise understand this principle, for it is what led them to a higher plane of wisdom. Their desire to learn allowed them to seek instruction in the first place. Their interest is not in being perceived as knowledgeable, but rather they value knowledge itself. Furthermore, they understand that what may seem to be…

Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

What a humbling and comforting statement. It is humbling to remember that, however clever and powerful we may think we are, our plans only serve the plan of the Lord. The rebellion of the wicked serves God's purposes. The service of the righteous is carried out…

This week the angels are cheering (and so are we) as two homeless men ministered to by ACTS surrendered their lives to Jesus. Praise God!

Fifteen years ago a homeless person living on the streets of Philadelphia came to saving faith in Jesus Christ through Fellowship Bible Study. His younger brother, also an addict, continued in his lifestyle of addiction and for years ignored our help and stopped…

Proverbs 19:22

What is desired in a man is steadfast love,
and a poor man is better than a liar.

It is better to have a poor friend who shows steadfast love through all circumstances than to have wealthy friends who are false. It is better to be a person who shows such love than to attain wealth and friends through deception. Money cannot compare in value to friendship, and…

Proverbs 19:23

The fear of the Lord leads to life,
and whoever has it rests satisfied;
he will not be visited by harm.

The "fear of the Lord" is not a popular concept in modern Christianity. We associate such an idea with pagan religion in which worshippers cringe before an idol in terror or a slave trembling before a cruel master. And yet Scripture portrays the fear of the Lord…

If I convinced you in Part 1 of this post that you have been given some amount of musical potential by God, your next question might be, “Now what?” Maybe you’re wondering what the best way is to nurture and strengthen this potential in the early years of your own child’s life. How do children become musical, and what part do caregivers and families play in this process?

Proverbs 19:24

The sluggard buries his hand in the dish
and will not even bring it back to his mouth.

The sluggard begins a task and does not complete it, even the simplest task. "I'm tired," he says. Everything is work; it takes too much effort.

But if the hand does not bring back the food to the mouth, then the sluggard will become only more tired and even malnourished…

Phil Kirkland, Tenth Global Partner, just boarded a plane in Greece. He’s one of many partners headed to Tenth for our Global Outreach Conference 2013: Europe & the Persistent Lover. This next week many of our global partners will be speaking at small groups. The intimate small group setting gives you a chance to hear more personally from global partners and to dialogue with them about their work and…

Scripture teaches us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep. And so, with our former associate pastor Rick Phillips, the church staff rejoices in the Boston Red Sox victory in the World Series. And with our former senior minister Phil Ryken, we weep, well we try to weep, actually we chuckle a bit over the defeat of the St. Louis Cardinals.


Proverbs 19:25

Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence;
reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge.

Strike the scoffer and at best he will curtail his behavior; yet he will not learn. As Proverbs 9:7, 8 note: “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse...Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you.” A scoffer is someone to be controlled. His attitude prevents him from…

Proverbs 19:26

He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother
is a son who brings shame and reproach.

Rebellion against parents is an especially grievous offense in scriptures. Striking one's father or mother is punishable by death. Rebellion against proper authority is wrong, but there something more involved in the rebellion against parents. Proverbs speaks of the sorrow, bitterness, and shame that parents of a foolish…

Proverbs 19:27

Cease to hear instruction, my son,
and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

Stop hearing instruction and you will not only stop learning more, but you will stray from the path of knowledge. Ceasing to learn more is not a matter of slowing down and letting others pass you by. Rather, it is straying off the path of knowledge altogether. A patient who stops receiving physical…

Proverbs 19:28

A worthless witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked devours iniquity.

This is yet another proverb recognizing the inner nature of the wicked. They do not act wickedly out of ignorance. They do not have a misguided sense of justice. Showing them the error of their ways does not bring repentance. Rather, they are pleased that the error of their ways is receiving recognition.


Proverbs 19:29

Condemnation is ready for scoffers,
and beating for the backs of fools.

Condemnation and beating is what scoffers and fools prepare for themselves. Scoffers will not win hearers (unless they are other scoffers and fools). For a brief time, some may try to listen to them, but will quickly realize that the scoffers have nothing constructive to say. They will see that scoffers delight in mocking rather than…

Proverbs 20:1

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler,
and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

The drinker takes on the personality of what he drinks. He becomes silly, turns foolish, and loses all sense of control so that he becomes a brawler. Many drink because alcohol releases natural inhibition. The shy person becomes extroverted, but he also loses control of his common sense. He may…

If you found yourself surrounded by people of many tribes, tongues, and nations Saturday night, November 3, you might be in heaven. But if you’re still respirating, you were probably at Missionopoly.

Teams of families, teenagers, international students, and self-proclaimed “old folks” traversed Fellowship and Reception halls, jumping into games and activities. Anees Zaka, founder of Church Without Walls, animatedly told teams about meetings for better understanding…

Nov 10, 2013

Jesus as Founder

How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? Part 1

Series: Global Outreach Conference 2013

Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-3

Nov 10, 2013

Jesus as Visionary

How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? Part 2

Series: Global Outreach Conference 2013

Scripture: Hebrews 10:1-10

Proverbs 20:2

The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion;
whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his life.

This proverb is giving warning to those subject to another's power. Just as the person with power should take heed not to be provoked, so the person under their power needs to exercise proper wisdom not to provoke. Many persons have lost jobs, they claim because of principle…

Proverbs 20:3

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife,
but every fool will be quarreling.

To a fool it is dishonor to walk away from a fight. It is shameful to "back down." The fool believes he is protecting his dignity to respond to every perceived slight. The fool believes that he must correct every perceived error, that he must argue every point. He is…

Proverbs 20:4

The sluggard does not plow in the autumn;
he will seek at harvest and have nothing.

The sluggard does not plow in the time when the cold begins merely because it feels cold. No season is a good time for him to plow. Either it is too cold or too hot; too dry or too wet. And if the weather is ever right, then it is too nice…

Proverbs 20:5

The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water,
but a man of understanding will draw it out.

Every counselor should know this verse by heart. But the skill is not reserved for professional counselors. It is for anyone with understanding - understanding of what? The biblical teaching about the human heart. That it is sinful and deceptive even to the owner of the heart. That even…

Proverbs 20:6

Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love,
but a faithful man who can find?

This is a proverb that would have been as an arrow into the heart of Peter, who after proclaiming his willingness to die for his Lord, denied him a few hours later. It is a proverb that haunts us all. Over and again we profess our steadfast love for God, and then each…

Proverbs 20:7

The righteous who walks in his integrity -
blessed are his children after him!

Blessed are his children who grow up in a home under his influence. They have a father who models the righteous life before them. They have a father who instructs them in the way of righteousness. They have a father who shows them steadfast love and faithfulness, who loves his wife, and who fears…

Proverbs 20:8

A king who sits on the throne of judgment
winnows all evil with his eyes.

So is the task of a just king or a just judge. He listens well and he is a keen observer. He notes the wink or eyes averting his gaze. He sees the smile of arrogance and the nervous twitching of the liar. He sees through the exterior into the heart. Such is…

The Scriptures teach “The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1 ESV). This principle is repeated in I Corinthians 10:26 where we find the words, “The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof” (ESV). The doctrine that God is the creator and owner of all things has significant ramifications to our perspective on life. His ownership includes such tangible…

Proverbs 20:9

Who can say, "I have made my heart pure;
I am clean from my sin"?

Let us give thanks now that there is one man who in his human nature was able to say this - Jesus Christ. And because he was able to do so, he qualified to be our sacrificial lamb who made atonement for our sins. Because his heart was pure, he was able to…

So, Global Outreach Conference 2013 is over, and you’re playing British Invasion music on repeat as you reminisce and yearn for next year. Okay, maybe not.

The first visual reminder of God’s work through Tenth to the nations at this year's conference was the parade of flags by our valiant fourth and fifth graders. What a variety of nations and people groups were represented there! You might have…

Proverbs 20:10

Unequal weights and unequal measures
are both alike an abomination to the Lord.

Cheating customers is an abomination to the Lord; so is cheating clients and cheating anyone to gain an advantage. What is particularly offensive here is cheating through means that of themselves signify fair play. What can be trusted if we abuse the very seals and symbols that are meant to guarantee good faith?

Cheating is…

Proverbs 20:11

Even a child makes himself known by his acts,
by whether his conduct is pure and upright.

How do we "make known" what is in our hearts? How do we reveal our faith? By our behavior.

But one can deceive through his actions. One can pretend to be pure and upright. Not a child. He invariably gives himself away even if he wants to deceive. And not even…

“If my sins will keep me from getting into Heaven, then how will I get there?”

Fellowship Bible Study (FBS) students (homeless/poor men and women) ask this question and many others like it. While many of our Bible students are churched, they lack sound Bible teaching and seek gospel truths.

In addition, FBS leaders seek to help our guests cope with living in a bad environment, offer friendship…

Proverbs 20:12

The hearing ear and the seeing eye,
the Lord has made them both.

"Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?" So spoke the Lord to Moses (cf Exodus 4:10-12). What do we have that is not from the Lord? And what has he given us that is not to be used for his glory…

Proverbs 20:13

Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty;
open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.

Don't suffer sleep deprivation, that is, the sleep that deprives you of being industrious. It is healthy to get a "good night's" sleep, but it is hurtful to linger in bed and block the sun out of your eyes. However comfortable you may feel for the moment, you are robbing…

Proverbs 20:14

"Bad, Bad," says the buyer,
but when he goes away, then he boasts.

The savvy shopper does not reveal how much he truly values the object he wants. He is critical of the object. He points out its flaws. He doesn't need it and certainly can't afford what is being asked. All the while he inwardly prizes it. When he does acquire the object, he then may boast…

The reasons believers should financially give to the work of the Lord are legion. One that deserves our attention is our desire to be obedient to God. Consider Leviticus 27:30–33, from the Pentateuch, which reads: Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees (income), it is the LORD’S. It is holy to the LORD. . . . This passage…

Proverbs 20:15

There is gold and abundance of costly stones,
but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

Like the previous proverb, this one presents a scenario that goes against the common wisdom of the marketplace. There are those who train to become experts in identifying pure gold and costly jewels. Such items are valued for their beauty, but their market value is based on their rarity. However beautiful…


Proverbs 20:17

Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.

Consider the gravel. There is the gravel of a painful conscience. What at the moment seemed to be exciting comes back to haunt the heart that is not given fully to wickedness. The transgressor worries about breaking God's law and its consequences. If he is not too far gone, he…

Proverbs 20:18

Plans are established by counsel;
by wise guidance wage war.

What are the benefits of counsel? One, the mere act of pausing to seek counsel reduces impulsive behavior. You are likely to give the matter more serious attention and to think more deliberately. Two, consulting with others sharpens your thinking as you explain your thoughts and as you listen to the thinking of others.

But this proverb is…

In the Old Testament, as today, it is difficult for people to spend time gaining a livelihood and, at the same time, carry out the complete work of the ministry. To resolve this issue, the Lord designated the tribe of Levi to carry out this responsibility for the other eleven tribes. Today our pastoral staff serves us in this capacity. In Deuteronomy 18:3–5 we find instructions for the eleven tribes…

Proverbs 20:19

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;
therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

Be a realist when it comes to confiding in certain people. The proverb does not advise that we be careful how we tell something confidential to a babbler. We are not given tips on how to assure that the babbler will not reveal our secrets. We are simply to stay away from him. We…

Proverbs 20:20

If one curses his father or his mother,
his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.

Should this proverb be interpreted to mean if a child curses his good father or mother? Certainly the Scriptures instruct fathers and mothers to be good, and the premise in Proverbs is that fathers and mothers have wisdom that their children should heed. Even so, it is the specific family bond…

Proverbs 20:21

An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning
will not be blessed in the end.

Sudden wealth, whether it be through inheritance or winning the lottery or some scheme, as often as not creates trouble. Wealth, as with power and fame, carries its own dangers of corrupting the owner and creating anxiety over its protection. Jesus noted how difficult it was for a rich man to enter the kingdom…

Proverbs 20:22

Do not say, "I will repay evil";
wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.

The sense here is not about bringing the wicked to justice, which we are to promote. It is about exacting our personal revenge. This is a proverb for the worker outmaneuvered unjustly for a job promotion. It is for the student who is beat out for an award because of another student…

Proverbs 20:23

Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord,
and false scales are not good.

Just thirteen verses before there is an almost identical proverb: "Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord." Perhaps the repetition is to reinforce the seriousness which God attaches to cheating.

Consider this proverb with the one preceding it: "Do not say, ‘I will repay evil' wait for the…

Proverbs 20:24

A man's steps are from the Lord;
how then can man understand his way?

How can a man understand his way apart from the Lord who works all things for his glory and purposes? The secular philosopher, despite his intellectual prowess, takes the wrong first step in his contemplation as he tries to understand his way. One may build insight upon insight, but if the foundation is not…

Proverbs 20:25

It is a snare to say rashly, "it is holy,"
and to reflect only after making vows.

Be cautious in making vows. Be cautious saying that you will set something apart for God, which is what saying “it is holy” means. Be cautious because God takes seriously your word. He will hold you accountable for what you say.

Because we are only as good as our word, our…

Proverbs 20:26

A wise king winnows the wicked
and drives the wheel over them.

The wise king is able, first, to discern between the wicked and the righteous (or innocent). Secondly, he is able then to act against the wicked in judgment. Many rulers exercise power but do so indiscriminately, harming both wicked and righteous; indeed, many rulers are especially brutal against the righteous. And there are rulers who know…

At the annual congregational meeting, Dr. Goligher reported the following decision of the Session—to propose to the congregation that Will Spokes be called as an Associate Minister of Tenth Church. Let me unpack what may be confusing.

Will has been serving as the minister of outreach at Tenth for more than a year now. What else needs to be done? Will was originally called by—i.e., he was hired…

Proverbs 20:27

The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord,
searching all his innermost parts.

This spirit is our conscience which bears witness that the law of God is written on our hearts (Romans 2:15). God has placed within all of us - those inhabited by God's Spirit and those who are not - his inner moral compass, or, as this proverb notes, his inner moral lamp…

Proverbs 20:28

Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king,
and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.

This is certainly a different perspective from the world's understanding, which is that what preserves a king or anyone else in a position of power is power. Also needed are shrewdness, the willingness to eliminate the competition, a large ego to fuel the drive for fame and power.

Consider what this proverb…

Proverbs 20:29

The glory of young men is their strength,
but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.

There is glory and joy in being young. It is good to be young and strong, and the young should delight in what their youthfulness gives them strength to do. They have vitality; they are idealistic. They act with passion. They are able to move mountains by their strength.


Proverbs 20:30

Blows that wound cleanse away evil;
strokes make clean the innermost parts.

Blows that come from one who loves you and hates the sin that binds you are essential for your welfare. It is right to be concerned with abuse, but it is as deadly to be denied the chastisement that awakens you to your sin and spurs you to action. It is deadly to be denied love…

Proverbs 21:1

The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.

As a farmer irrigates his fields by creating canals to control the direction of the water, so the Lord provides for the fields of the earth by directing the hearts of rulers. Whether these rulers may be righteous or wicked, devout or profane, they nevertheless serve the deeper…

Proverbs 21:2

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the heart.

Note two insights in this proverb in relation to a Christian. First, a Christian will defend his behavior either through using scripture for justification or by appealing to conscience. There is the husband who defended being critical of his wife by appealing to Ephesians 5:25-27, which refers to Christ has sanctifying…

Proverbs 21:3

To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

For commentary, read these other scriptures:

"When you come to appear before me,
who has required of you this trampling of my courts?
Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations--
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
Your new moons and your

Proverbs 21:4

Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
the lamp of the wicked, are sin.

Scripture makes clear God's displeasure of pride which is the root sin of the wicked. They will not humble themselves before God. This is played out in various ways, most notably through the violence committed against others.

The proverb reveals how pride mars their perspective on reality. Pride is the lamp by which the wicked…

Proverbs 21:5

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

This is a practical proverb to guide you today. It could make the difference between an action that leads to long-term blessing or long-term regret. Like a beautiful house built on poor land, many options look appealing but hide disastrous consequences. Many ideas seemed good "at the time," but proved…

What are you doing for New Year’s Eve? Have you considered spending the last night of the year in church? The New Year’s Eve Watch Night Service is a long tradition at Tenth, and a rare one in the Philadelphia area. It may have borrowed from the tradition of our African-American sister churches, which began on the eve of 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation was to take effect.


Proverbs 21:6

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.

The liar thinks he is setting a snare or escaping it by lying. To gain treasure he thinks he escapes like a fleeting vapor. He tells his lies in order to snatch the treasure. But he is merely setting up his own snare and insuring that his treasure will escape. Ask…

Proverbs 21:7

The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
because they refuse to do what is just.

As we have learned in other proverbs, the wicked bring on themselves their own destruction. They suffer the consequences of their own violence. It is easy enough to see how they create trouble for themselves, but the consequence is that they place themselves under the judgment of God who will not…

A formula is not presented in the Scriptures for the amount a believer should give to the work of the Lord. Minimal standards of 10% are established, but beyond that, giving is based on a believer’s conviction to help in the work of our Lord. Leviticus 27:30–33 is direct in establishing minimal standards. Note how the importance of this act is emphasized by the demand for a penalty payment if…