John T. Willis

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Proverbs 14:6-11

Proverbs 14:6-11 contains several warnings of the danger of associating with fools.

Verse 6--A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge is easy for one who understands.

Verse 7--Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not find words of knowledge.

Verse 8--It is the wisdom of the clever to understand where they go,
but the folly of fools misleads.

Verse 9--Fools mock at the guilt offering,
but the upright enjoy God's favor.

Verse 10--The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.

Verse 11--The house of the wicked is destroyed,
but the tent of the upright flourishes.

What lessons can we learn from these wise sayings?
1. A scoffer is arrogant and self-opinionated. He/She is always right, and others are always wrong. The wise is open to other ideas, and thus constantly grows in knowledge. But the fool closes his/her mind to any ideas other than his/her own.
2. Those with whom we associate have a great influence on our thinking, speech, and actions. Therefore, we must learn to avoid the company of fools (see Proverbs 13:20; 22:24-25; 23:20; 28:7). 1 Corinthians 15:33 says: "Do not be deceived; 'Bad company ruins good morals.'"
3. Fools think they are above confessing sins and seeking God's forgiveness. After all, others are as sinful or more sinful than they are. But the upright recognize their sinful ways, confess their sins to God, repent, and seek God's grace.
4. Although a person can share joy and sorrow with others (Romans 12:15; 1 Corinthians 12:26), it is impossible for one person to share the depth of joy or sorrow that another person feels.
5. God is loving and patient and forgiving. But if an individual manifests no intention of living for God, ultimately God will punish that person; and if a person persists in faithfulness to God, God will bless that person a hundredfold.

John Willis

Friday, July 20, 2007

Proverbs 14:1-5

A major theme of Proverbs 14 is the contrast between the "wise" and the "foolish." This chapter begins with these words in verses 1-5.

Verse 1--The wise woman builds her house,
but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.

Verse 2--Those who walk uprightly fear the Lord,
but one who is devious in conduct despises him.

Verse 3--The talk of fools is a rod to their backs,
but the lips of the wise preserve them.

Verse 4--Where there are no oxen, there is no grain;
abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

Verse 5--A faithful witness does not lie,
but a false witness breathes out lies.

What practical lessons for daily living can one glean from these passages?
1. A "house" is not a building in which a family lives, but the family itself. The wife and mother plays a vital role in the house. With kind words and loving care, she has the power to build up her house. But with harsh words and negligence of her husband and children, she can tear it down very quickly. The "wise" wife and mother builds up her house.
2. A person's conduct, way of life, lifestyle indicates whether that person fears the Lord or not. A profession of faith, a claim to be faithful, an assurance that one will do the right thing, means nothing without living close to God each day.
3. One's speech betrays whether that individual is wise or foolish. The fool's words destroy him, but the wise person's words keep him safe.
4. Human beings have to have help from faithful animals to accomplish their life's work. Oxen were indispensable in a world that had no farm machinery. The wise respected and cared for their oxen, because they depended on them to plant and grow their crops. See Exodus 22:1, 4; 23:4-5.
5. Lying is a terrible sin, which many take lightly. The well-known passage in Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven sins which Yahweh hates, and two of them refer to lying.

John Willis

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Proverbs 13:20-25

Proverbs 13 concludes with six interesting antithetical proverbs:

Verse 20--Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools suffers harm.

Verse 21--Misfortune pursues sinners,
but prosperity rewards the righteous.

Verse 22--The good leave an inheritance to their children's children,
but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.

Verse 23--The field of the poor may yield much food,
but it is swept away by injustice.

Verse 24--Those who spare the rod hate their children,
but those who love them are diligent to discipline them.

Verse 25--The righteous have enough to satisfy their appetite,
but the belly of the wicked is empty.

What are some practical lessons one may glean from these maxims?
1. Friends and associates strongly influence and shape a person's thinking, speech, and daily living--Verse 20. Accordingly, Proverbs 4:14-17 admonishes human beings to avoid associations with those who have given their lives to evil. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:33: "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company ruins good morals.'"
2. Ultimately, God finds ways to bless those who are faithful to him and serve him-Verses 21-22, 25.
3. Injustice is a double evil: (a) It enables those who practice injustice to gain things without hard work; and (b) It robs those who work hard of what rightfully belongs to them--Verse 23. God has a special place in his heart for the victims of injustice--see Exodus 22:21-24.
4. Genuine love has and shows greatest concern for the one loved. Therefore, godly parents often have to practice what some have called "tough love." For the good of their children, they discipline them when they start practicing things which ultimately will harm them. Verse 24 does not advocate what modern society calls "child beating." "Child beating" is obviously contrary to the will of God. At the same time, sometimes it may be necessary for parents to use strict measures to nurture and correct misbehavior by their children, in order to train their children to do what is right and best for them.

John Willis