Rest Will Come…One Day

Proverbs 29:9

“If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.”

The first thing we should understand is that this proverb’s setting, according to most commentaries, is in something like a courtroom. The word “contendeth” implies such. However, as we watch the “wise” contending with “fools” in courtrooms around the world, it is becoming harder and harder to determine which is the defendant.

In most situations, if you were to walk into a courtroom, you would expect the “wise” to be on the side of the prosecution, while the “foolish man” would be the other guy: the one slobbering on himself, freaking out, and making outrageous, unreasonable arguments for his case. But sadly, especially in the cases where God is on trial; where morals, faith, and family are under assault; where Christ is deemed an unnecessary and offensive part of Christmas, the “wise” are on the defense.

Consider the following commentary on Proverbs 29:9. As you read it, think of those who want to remove any resemblance of faith and religion from the public square, such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation, American Atheists, Richard Dawkins, etc.

He makes his argument not by logic, reason, or clear evidence but in a range of wild responses in which he “rages [a verb for “earthquake” in 30:21; Amos 8:8] or laughs,” probably in a mocking, sneering fashion to try to sway the verdict. The “peace” that ought to come from reconciliation, or at least a sound decision, is impossible. The matter bubbles on interminably to the pain of the wise and the distress of the community.[1]

English: Professor . Español: Profesor Richard...

In a public speech to his fellow atheists gathering in Washington, D.C., Richard Dawkins gave some suggestions. When contending with those who believe in God, especially Christians, he advised: Mock them. Ridicule them. In public…with contempt. Chillingly, in predictive fashion, the Bible says “that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts…” (2 Pet. 3:3). We must be getting close.

One day the Righteous Judge will hold court, but don’t lose hope. Even though we may have acted like fools in one way or another, those of us who’s Advocate is Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 2:1) have nothing to fear. Wisdom personified will argue on our behalf.

The foolish man, however, will be able to argue his own case. And once again, with rage and contempt, spewing out all manner of hatred and vile, he will attempt to justify himself.

But on that day, God will not be mocked (Gal. 6:7). 


[1] David A. Hubbard and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Proverbs, vol. 15, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1989), 462.

Advertisements

Trapped or Rejoicing?

Proverbs 29:6.

“In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.” (KJV).
“Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for joy.” (NLT). 

Of Monkeys and Bananas:

When I was a youth pastor in Surrey, BC, I hosted True Love Waits teenage abstinence seminars for young people. Over the course of several years (from 1999-2004), we saw around 900 teenagers and young adults make pledges to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. In one such event, we invited Dave Koop, the lead pastor of Coastal Church in Vancouver, to speak at the opening session of the weekend event. To this day, I’ve never forgotten this powerful story.

In Africa, they have an interesting method of capturing monkeys in their jungles. They will take a container with a narrow opening in it, and place a banana (or some other sort of sweet-smelling fruit or nuts), and place it in the bottom of the container. Then the hunters hide in the bushes and wait for the monkeys. When the monkey comes to check out the container, he reaches in his little monkey hands and grasps the banana. However, when he goes to take out his hand, which is now closed in a fist around the fruit, he can no longer get it out of the container. Out jump the hunters and club the monkey to death.

The sad part of the story is that at any time, the monkey could drop the banana and take its hand out of the container, but it won’t. And the result is it is trapped. And then it dies.This is Solomon’s Proverb in action: Evil people are trapped by sin.” Sin is a trap that is very difficult to get out of – on our own.

The Joy of Freedom:

Thank God though for the second part of that verse: “but the righteous escape, shouting for joy!” Even though sin is a trap that is difficult for us to escape, the Bible teaches us that Jesus came to save His people from their sins. In the very first sermon Jesus ever preached, He quoted the prophet Isaiah and said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives.” (Luke 4:18). Jesus wants to set us free – not only from the guilt and penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin.

My favourite Christian author, the 19th century Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, told this story that illustrates today’s Proverb well: I remember my old friend, Dr. Alexander Fletcher say to the children that when men came out of prison, they praised him who had set them free. He said that he was going down the Old Bailey one day and he saw a boy standing on his head, turning cartwheels, dancing and jumping about in all manner of ways, and he said to the boy, “What are you doing? You seem to be tremendously happy.” And the boy replied, “Ah, old gentleman, if you had been locked up six months and had just got out, you would be happy, too!”

If you are a Christian, then Jesus has set you free from the trap of sin. Our response? Rejoice!

cartwheel


Doing a Good Job

Proverbs 29:5 

A man that flattereth his neighbor spreadeth a net for his feet.

Flattery will get you everywhere – or so they say. But what about the person on the receiving end of the flattery – where will it get them? Is flattery a good thing, or is bad? Is it clever to flatter, or is it stupid? For instance, should a husband who has just worked his way through another awful meal tell his wife she is a wonderful cook? Or should the wife of a lazy husband who does little to help her around the home tell him what a fantastic husband he is?

My wife Marilyn was asked to help with the children’s work soon after we joined our present church. Marilyn knew that this wasn’t her calling, but she initially agreed. When she found out that it would involve leading some of the sessions she panicked. Flattery based on Marilyn’s success as mother to five children might have persuaded her that she would make a brilliant Sunday School teacher. Such flattery would have been misguided. Fortunately a wise lady suggested serving elsewhere. Nowadays Marilyn does occasionally help in Sunday School, but she is also a vital member of the church catering team serving where she thinks she can’t be seen. Despite hiding away in the church kitchen, Marilyn’s reputation for cake making means that she is much in demand. When people tell her how good her cakes are it is not flattery, but praise (and possibly a hint that more cakes would be appreciated).

As ever, this proverb is about wisdom, specifically the wise use of words of praise, and perhaps also the ways in which criticism can be provided constructively. If a person is continually on the end of undeserved flattery they may come to believe that they are something that they are not. Flattery has the potential to stack up problems for the person who is flattered to the point where they believe they can do something outside of their gifting or skill set.

God took great pleasure in making us all different, and in giving us different gifts and skills. Yes, it is important to be told when we have done a good job. But we also need to receive guidance and direction when we have not, especially if the reason is that we are in the wrong job. Telling a person they are good at something when they are not will eventually end in tears.


Wisdom over Harlots

Proverbs 29:3

Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.
A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,     but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth. (NIV)

The second half of today’s verse probably does not need much explanation.

Getting prostitutes is not the best way to spend money.

For starters, they can be expensive up front. If they are not expensive up front, and even if they are, they could be even more expensive later.

You may need to also pay for:

  • Divorce
  • Counseling
  • Medical needs
  • Medication for said needs
  • Reputation
  • and much, much more!

Your wealth could be squandered very quickly with prostitutes.

A Happy Father

Wisdom is always the better choice.

It could make you rich, if you are wise with money, but there is no guarantee of that.

It will usually keep you out of trouble (though wicked people often find a way to bring you trouble!)

It is probably true with most parents, but I know when I made wise decisions those were the times my father was the most proud of me.

The satisfaction I think we should all strive for, though, is higher than that.

Solomon became king of Israel at a very young age, and God gave him the chance to ask for anything he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom.

How did God respond? 1 Kings 3:10 tells us:

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.

How amazing would it be to know our Heavenly Father, the God, Creator, and Savior of all creation, was happy with us?

Heavenly Father, give your servants discerning hearts to govern our lives and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours, but You?


Rejoice or Mourn, but Don’t Settle

Proverbs 29:2

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”

‘Ocracies

It would seem like never before in the history of man has it been possible for atheists and all those antagonistic to Christianity, the Bible, faith, or whatever, to have their voices be heard. Of course, I may be wrong and even over-exaggerating a little, but thanks to the media and easy access to the internet, angry voices condemning leaders with morals are screaming from every direction.

This proverb should not be interpreted as saying, “Christians should be in authority everywhere!” No, the idea is more along the lines of promoting wise leadership, honest leadership, or simply men and women with integrity and moral fortitude. Yet, even when and if true Christians were to assume authority, very few would have any thoughts of promoting a “theocracy.” But listen to the atheists and you’d think that the “righteous” would start hanging unbelievers tomorrow, if they could.

The fact is that at it’s founding, when the most Christians (including deists) where in authority in America, that is when they founded a constitutional republic, NOT a theocracy.

Righteous Rule

When the righteous rule, the people rejoice. Why is that? Could it be that the people are treated fairly? The righteous wouldn’t take more than they need in taxes. The righteous wouldn’t lie about issues in order to get elected. The righteous would be responsible with resources. The righteous wouldn’t seek office to obtain power, but to serve others. The righteous wouldn’t compromise his beliefs, but he would work together with his fellow man in search of the common good.

Sadly, many in our society mourn when the righteous are considered for leadership. Many recoil at the thought of a man or woman with integrity, faith, and morals. They see these potential leaders as threats – not to freedom, but to unrestrained behavior.

Wicked Rule

Why do the people mourn when the wicked rule? Because the wicked think only of themselves; they care nothing about the people under their authority.

Do we have wicked leaders, or are our leaders righteous, looking out for all of us? Do those in authority serve, or do they accumulate power in order to manipulate the masses? The answer will be different and vary in intensity wherever you go, but this much is true: there are far fewer righteous leaders than wicked ones.

The Undecided

But then there are those who can’t decide whether to rejoice or mourn. They have been treated so poorly for so long that they have come to accept wicked leadership as the norm.

If you think otherwise, just consider the following defense of President Obama by L.Z. Granderson on CNN:

“Now with president Obama, it is true, he should have been more forthright with how the Affordable Care Act was going to impact the country. But with that being said, all Americans know politicians lie. The question is: which lies can you live with? And time and time again Americans have said, “We can deal with the lies that President Obama tells us, because we believe in his heart – he has the best interests for the American people. Every president’s gonna lie to you. Every politician is gonna lie to you. The question is: which lies can you live with?” – Source

Sounds more like when the wicked rule, the people give up caring. God help us.


Beyond Criticism

Proverbs 29:1 

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery. (NLT)

Following the Rules

Few of us enjoy being criticized, told off, corrected or reproved. What is important, however, is the manner in which we react when faced with criticism or reproof. Take the Pharisees, for instance. These were a group of people who wrote the book on criticism. They had so many rules, you would have thought that they would have walked around heads hung in shame, given the impossibility of compliance.  But they didn’t. They walked around heads held high, proud in the fact that they were rule keepers, not rule breakers. And in their pride they criticized everyone who did not reach their high standards of perfection.

Valid Criticism

What the Pharisees considered perfection was a falsehood, a lie. Jesus was an exposer of lies. When He came to the attention of the Pharisees they invested heavily in using their laws and rules to bring Him down. But they failed miserably because their criticism had no validity. And while the Pharisees were experts at dishing out criticism, they were unable to accept being under the spotlight and told that they were wrong.

Freedom

You could argue that it is simpler to live without rules. That is what infuriated the Pharisees about Jesus. He didn’t just break the rules, He lived as if there were no rules. The problem was that they had become blind to reality through their obsession with a legalistic approach for the one thing that could have brought them freedom, and life. God didn’t send Jesus to earth to write a new book of rules, but to show God’s true character to humanity. Jesus came because humanity had it wrong and has still got it wrong. God does not sit up in heaven criticizing us, but loving us. And if we can truly surrender to that Love then we will find freedom from criticism, and freedom from criticizing.

Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.” (Matthew 15:10-13 NLT)


Stop Hiding!

Proverbs 28:28.
“When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.” (KJV). 

When the Wicked Rise:

Our nation of Canada – much like our neighbour to the south, the United States – has a righteous heritage. Canada was founded on the principles of the Word of God. It started out as a Christian nation, but we fallen so far from that glorious foundation.

You have heard it said, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” What does that mean? Ever since God, the Bible, and prayer were removed from our schools, our nation has been plummeting into darkness. Rape, murder, child abuse, abortion, homosexuality, pornography, divorce, drug use, teen pregnancy and ever-increasing violent crimes are the results of removing the light of God’s Word from our schools and government. All because our nation as a whole has turned its back on God.

Today’s proverb tells us that when the wicked rise – in positions of power and authority – men hide themselves. Because of the wickedness that abounds in our nation, many good people have gone into hiding, afraid to stand up for what is right for fear of persecution. However, it’s time to take a stand for what is right, no matter how unpopular the truth of God’s Word becomes!

When the Wicked Perish:

Our proverb also says that when the wicked perish – or lose their positions of power and authority – then the righteous will increase. In numbers and in influence. Therefore, it behooves us to pray for our leaders! First Timothy 2:1-2 tells us, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” If we want to see righteousness exalted in our nation, it starts with prayer.

In the Canadian national anthem, we pray for Almighty God to keep our country glorious and free, and declare that we will stand on guard for Canada. Whatever nation you live in – whether it is Canada, the United States, somewhere in Great Britain, or another country – it is time to stand on guard for our nations. Let’s rise up and declare that we want God in our countries again!

Let us Pray:

God has given us a promise: “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14). If we want to see God hear from Heaven, and forgive our sins, and heal our land, then we must humble ourselves, and pray, as students once did in public schools, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.”

Revive us, Lord! Amen.

Canada flag