Scale Those Walls

Proverbs 21:22

A wise [man] scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.

Impregnable

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines the adjective impregnable as “unable to be captured or broken into…unable to be overcome.”* It was used to describe such places as the Maginot Line, the Ardennes Forest, Fortress Singapore, Fortress Europe, and even America.

A similar word to impregnable is unsinkable. It was an adjective used to describe the Titanic, and we all know how that turned out – the “unsinkable ship” lies rusting away at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Sadly, many have placed their faith in the supposed strength and security of fortress walls, only to find out too late that they were unprepared to deal with resourceful invaders. Many have even trusted their lives to the audacious claims of engineers who defied the Almighty. This proverb reminds us that even the cities of the mighty can fall.

Scalable 

The same dictionary that defined impregnable also gives us a definition of scalable: “able to be scaled or climbed.” Believe it or not, there are a lot of walls built by the enemy which are thought to be impregnable, impenetrable, and impassable. They act as fortresses to rebuff any advance. In other cases they act as prisons to keep locked away the captive.

Happily, this proverb reminds us that the wise do not have to give up or walk away when faced with barriers to victory. If history tells us anything, it tells us that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

And hallelujah!, when it’s God’s will, there’s ALWAYS a way.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV

 

*Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).


Why Worry?

Proverbs 21:21

21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.

Can’t Take It With You

Most of us have heard the phrase “You can’t take it with you when you die!” This is one of those euphemisms to allude to the fact that stuff does not matter, and the pursuit of things and money ultimately is pointless.

So many people struggle with getting enough or having enough, and their lives only have trouble or emptiness. Either they are always seeking more or greater, or they feel like they are failing to provide or failing at life.

This can even be true among Christians. We all only want to provide for ourselves and our families, to create a full life, so we seek out the means to do that.

Seek first …

However, God tells us the best and ultimately the only way to provide our needs.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:33

When we seek God’s holiness and more of Him in our lives, we will want the things God wants. In the process, God will take care of all our needs. This is not just making sure we have food to eat, water to drink, clothing, and a place to sleep.

In return for our faithfulness, God, in His faithfulness, gives us eternal life, righteousness, and a good name (honor). All of this comes through His Son, Jesus the Christ.

Heavenly Father, lead us by Your Holy Spirit to seek only You. Give us a thirst for righteousness and mercy, that we may not feel the need to worry and to bring glory to Your name!


Which Generation?

Proverbs 21:20

“There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.”
“The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.” (NLT)

The Greatest Generation

A lot has been said in recent years about “the greatest generation.” Those were the folks who made it through the Great Depression and World War II. They did what many today refuse to do – work and save.

I remember stories my grandfather told. I remember how he literally kept track of every penny, even making note where he found coins on the street. I also remember how there was no worry about money when he died. That was years ago, and my grandmother (in her 90’s) is still living off of his investments.

The “greatest generation” taught us that living on a budget, only spending what you have to, and putting off things you want until you have the things you need was being wise. Where has that wisdom gone?

The Latest Generation

Many of today’s generation know where to find money – it’s at their grandparents’ house. Today’s adults spend and spend without sacrificing their wants, then when there’s no money for bills, guess who pays?

The wise have savings accounts, investments, and even a secret box or two. They are the ones who are living in assisted living homes instead of on the street or in a government nursing home. The wise know how to live on a fixed income.

The fool gets a job, spends everything he makes on impressing his friends and neighbors, robs from his future, then begs from the wise. Then, when the wise go on to their final reward, the fool squanders his inheritance.

Lord, we all need more wisdom in this area. I thank you for family who were able to help me when I acted like a fool. Help me now, however, to act wisely, leaving an inheritance for those who come after me.


Would You Rather?

Proverbs 21:19.

“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” (KJV).

A Simple Youth Group Game:

Today’s Proverb made me think of a game that I used to play with our church’s youth group called “Would You Rather?” Typical questions would include, “Would you rather… share a bed with a skunk, or with a porcupine?” “Would you rather… be rich and ugly, or poor and good looking?”

After the students answered the question, I would usually ask them why they chose the answer they picked. Most of the choices in the game are unappealing, but in choosing the less-unappealing one, it is designed to reveal something about their interests and values.

Two Places to Live:

The above Scripture gives us two different options: To live in the wilderness, or to live with a contentious and an angry woman. Which would you rather? To help you answer the question, let us look at what each of the two different options entail:

What does it mean to live in the wilderness? In John Gill’s commentary on this Proverb, he describes it as, “Where persons live without shelter, and are not only exposed to storms and tempests, but to beasts of prey; where there is lack of the necessaries of life.” That doesn’t sound very appealing, does it? Who would want to live there?

The other option is to live with a contentious, angry woman. The word contentious means tending to argument or strife; quarrelsome. The word angry means a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath. That doesn’t sound very appealing either, does it?

A No-Brainer:

One of my favourite Scriptures is Deuteronomy 30:19. God says, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” The reason I like it is because God gives people a choice: “You can choose life or death, blessing or cursing – the choice is yours.” But then He adds these three little words that make me chuckle. “Therefore, choose life.” In other words, in case you missed this no-brainer, choose life, people!

In today’s Scripture, God tells us the answer to the question about which is better – to live in the wilderness (without shelter, exposed to storms, wild animals and the elements), or to live with a contentious, angry woman. He says, “It is better to live in the wilderness!”

How do we apply this Scripture to our lives? To young single people I would say: The most important decision you will ever make in your life (after making Jesus Christ your Lord and Saviour) is the choice of the person you are going to marry. Since marriage is for life, choose wisely. (Otherwise, one day you may find yourself wishing you were living in the desert). And secondly, to a wife I would say – don’t be angry or contentious, or your husband will be wishing he was in the wilderness!


Establish Your Way

Proverbs 21:29.

“A wicked man hardens his face, But as for the upright, he establishes his way.” (KJV).
“A wicked man displays a bold face, But as for the upright, he makes his way sure.” (NASB).

Righteousness or Wickedness:

We have seen that one of Solomon’s teaching tactics includes contrasting two opposing life choices, such as wisdom and foolishness, diligence and laziness, and humility and pride. In today’s Scripture, Solomon tells us that wicked people harden their face, or put on a bold face. In other words, they pretend to be okay when they are not. The upright, or righteous, on the other hand, establish their way, and make their way sure. They don’t have to pretend to be right, but by God’s grace, choose to do what is right.

Solomon tells us: “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, But righteousness delivers from death.” (Prov. 10:2). And “As righteousness leads to life, So he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.” (Prov. 11:19). To choose a righteous lifestyle leads to life and blessing, and to choose wickedness leads to death and destruction. But – what is righteousness?

Righteousness Defined:

Righteousness can be looked at from two different perspectives. One is right-standing with God, and the other is acting in an upright, virtuous, moral way. Let’s take a look at these two different aspects to righteousness:

1.         Right-standing with God – Putting Your Faith in Jesus:

The first time we see the word righteousness used in the Bible is in Genesis 15:6 where it says, “And Abraham believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Here we see that Abraham’s right-standing with God did not come from living a perfect, holy life (because indeed no one can or ever has lived a perfect life, except for Jesus). Rather, righteousness was credited to his account as a gift when he put his faith in the Lord.

Romans 1:17 teaches us this: “This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” (NLT). Do you want right-standing with God? Put your faith in Jesus, and trust Him to be your Lord and Savior, and forgive you of all of your sins. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ today!

2.         Right-living before God – Acting in an Upright Manner:

In addition to our positional righteousness, which comes from a personal relationship with Jesus, there is also a practical righteousness, where we choose to do what is right and good – that is, we obey the teachings of the Bible. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33).

Lord, help us as your people to walk in righteousness so that we can establish our way according to your righteousness. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Credible Witnessing

Proverbs 21:28  

A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.
A false witness will be cut off, but a credible witness will be allowed to speak. (NLT)

When I was growing up my father used to tell me a story about a boy who constantly shouted wolf when there was no wolf. Eventually the villagers began to ignore his cries because whenever they responded to the call there was no wolf. One day the boy found himself confronted by a large hungry wolf. He shouted for help but no help came. The villagers thought that it was another prank. They never saw the boy again.

My father told me this story to encourage me to be truthful and completely accurate in all things. The ability to twist stories or to lie blatantly is not confined to small children. It is a significant problem in society in general. In the UK in recent years there have been several incidences of prominent politicians being caught out lying, and even more of politicians fiddling their expenses. A number have been sent to prison. Few are viewed as credible on their release. Except one perhaps, the one who came to faith during his incarceration who now speaks for God, instead of addressing Parliament.

Credibility is especially important for followers of Jesus. The early apostles set an example by living their faith. Some didn’t make the grade and perished because of giving false witness. What a difference between Ananias and Sapphira and the rest of the team. What a difference the Holy Spirit makes.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 NIV)


Spurious Gifts

Proverbs 21:27

27 The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?

Spurious gifts

Have you ever had someone give you gift, and it came from someone who you were sure did not like you?

Later it turned out that gift, which seemed like a nice and generous act at first, was actually a way for that person to mock or embarrass you in front of others.

Perhaps you have been in a workplace with a supervisor who did not like you. The only reason they did nice things to you was to look good in front of others or to benefit themselves in some way. In return, all you received was trouble or no credit, perhaps even getting passed over for well-deserved promotions.

These acts and gifts did not bring you joy or thankfulness. They only made you angry.

Spurious sacrifices

How do you think God feels when we bring poor or purposefully bad sacrifices and offerings?

This is done through giving what we feel like when it is time for tithes and offerings. (Malachi 3:6-12)

This is done by saying “Yes, Lord! I will do whatever you ask of me!” when you have no intention of doing anything. (Malachi 3:13-15)

This is done by saying you are a Christian and then calling evil things good. (Malachi 1)

We must always check our hearts as we deal with people and with God, that we may willingly and joyfully give what God desires and deserves. (2 Corinthians 9)

Lord, forgive us for our wicked selfishness and idolatry. Help us to love you and offer true sacrifices (Isaiah 58). Help us forgive those who treat us as wickedly as we treat You.


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