Author Archives: Grady Davidson

About Grady Davidson

Husband, father, and pastor of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, serving at Lookout Valley Presbyterian Church, Chattanooga TN, since 2002. Grady's life verse is Habakkuk 2:14, "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." Amen!

Wisdom Was There

Proverbs 8:27-31

“When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: when he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.”

A BAD RAP

Somewhere along the line, Wisdom has gotten a “bad rap”.  Ask the man on the street about finding Wisdom, and some will likely visualize a Buddhist monk sitting cross-legged, passionless, in a trance-like state.  If you want to discover wisdom, he would say, take your questions to those guys.  Of course the monk will never answer the question as you pose it; rather, you’ll get a Zen-like contradictory statement in reply.

Ask others about finding Wisdom, and they will bring to mind the scolding voice of a worrisome grandmother:  “Put on your hat or you’ll catch your death of cold!  Take an umbrella – it looks like rain!”

Frankly, I find both of those “visual images” for wisdom unattractive, unappealing, and unscriptural.  How different is the Wisdom of Holy Scripture!

 Wisdom was present at creation.  Yesterday we considered how the personified voice of wisdom in Proverbs 8 points especially to the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, by whom God the Father created the cosmos.  In today’s verses, Wisdom is present as God establishes the clouds above and the oceans beneath.

What is of special interest in today’s verses, however, is Wisdom’s demeanor in verse 30:  Wisdom rejoices in the work of creation!  Wisdom dances with delight!  And when the work of creation was completed, with mankind filling the earth, subduing it, and having dominion over all creation (Genesis 1:28, Proverbs 8:31), Wisdom is laughing and dancing for joy, delighted in all that God has done.

DOES JESUS LAUGH?

To even pose the question sounds, well, a bit sacrilegious – and therein lies our problem.  Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God, took raucous delight in the work of Creation.  Jesus Christ, our Singing Shepherd, sings over the Flock with joy and gladness (Zephaniah 3:16-17).  What about His (and our) enemies?  Do they bring a furrowed brow of worry to his face?  Not at all!  Rather, “He who sits in the heavens laughs!  The LORD holds them in derision” (Psalm 2:4).

LIGHTEN UP, PEOPLE

The path of Wisdom is the path of laughter, joy, and delight.  Those who know the One who is Wisdom can afford a holy chuckle every now and then. We can laugh at ourselves, at our own foibles, silliness, neuroticism and mistakes.  We can chuckle at the goodness of Christ who somehow incorporates our screw-ups into his glorious redemptive plan.  We can even laugh the laughter of the Redeemed,

Then our mouth was filled with laughter,

            And our tongue with shouts of joy!” (Psalm 126:2)

Heavenly Father, we take ourselves so very seriously.  Forgive us, Father.  As we seek to know the way of Wisdom, fill us with joy, delight, and laughter!  Through Christ our Lord we pray:  Amen. 

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Wisdom’s Primacy

Proverbs 8:24-26

“When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.”

Yesterday we considered Proverbs 8:22-23, and the theme of Wisdom’s Possession.  Today we look at the subsequent three verses, and the theme of Wisdom’s Primacy.

WISDOM’S PRIMACY

Proverbs 8:24 – 26 point us back to Genesis 1, and the seven days of Creation.  We are reminded of that time when the earth was without form and void (Genesis 1:2a), before the waters were gathered together and the dry land appeared (1:9).  Long before the oceans filled their basins, before the mountaintops pierced the skies, wisdom was there!  Indeed, Proverbs 8:24 – 26 teaches the Primacy of Wisdom.

Wisdom precedes Creation itself, for wisdom is found in the nature of the Eternal God.  In fact, in these verses do we not hear the echoing voice of the Lord Jesus, God’s Eternal Son, the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3)?

THE PRIMACY OF CHRIST

Jesus Christ is described in Colossians 1:15b as “the firstborn over all creation”.  Elsewhere, the Apostle John speaks of Christ as God’s Word, who was with God, and who was God, the Word through whom God spoke creation into existence (John 1:1 – 3).  The Wisdom who was present when “as yet {God} had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world” (Proverbs 8:26), is none other than Jesus Christ!

WISDOM IS A PERSON!

The exciting thought I would have you consider today is that wisdom is a Person!  Wisdom is more than a mixture of native intelligence, cunning strategy, and moral discernment.  The Lord Jesus is the embodiment of wisdom.

Seek Him.  Know Him. Worship Him.

Heavenly Father, please open the eyes of our hearts to see Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  We want to know the One through whom you created the cosmos.  Thank you, Father, for hearing our prayer, for we ask it in Jesus’ name: Amen. 


Wisdom’s Possession

Proverbs 8:22-23

“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.”

For the next three days we will be considering Wisdom’s Possession (vv. 22 – 23); Wisdom’s Primacy (vv. 24 – 26); and Wisdom’s Presence (vv. 27 – 31).

WISDOM’S POSSESSION

This week I’ve been studying that wonderful Old Testament passage of Genesis 11:1 – 9, the story of the Tower of Babel. You recall that in that post-diluvian era, men settled on the Plain of Shinar and pooled their resources toward the building of a city and a tower to reach to the heavens, that they would make a name for themselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth. You might also recall the detail that “they had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar” (Genesis 11:3).

Tower of Babel by Lucas van Valckenborch in 1594

Tower of Babel by Lucas van Valckenborch in 1594 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One scholar suggested an interpretation about Genesis 11:3 that I have never come across before. He pointed out that Moses was writing to that generation of Israel which had been held in slavery in Egypt–forced labor in Pharaoh’s massive building projects. The great temples and pyramids of Egypt were built principally of granite and limestone, hardy building material which has indeed stood the test of time. This scholar was suggesting that Moses was in fact encouraging Israel to scoff and jeer at the builders on the Plain of Shinar.

The many masons of Israel certainly knew that brick and tar were a poor substitute for precision-cut limestone and granite! The proud architects of the Tower of Babel were entirely out of their depth from the outset of their project. They knew what they wanted to build, but had no realistic idea of how to accomplish their task.

THE LORD’S ETERNAL POSSESSION OF WISDOM

How gloriously different is the wisdom of the Living God! Before the LORD began his wonderful work of Creation, He possessed wisdom. He knew what He wanted to accomplish, and He knew how He would go about the task. Solomon is teaching us that wisdom is an eternal virtue, a quality written deeply into the character of God from before the dawn of time. The wisdom which He possesses, He freely shares with us when we ask for it (James 1:5).

Grant us wisdom, dear God, the wisdom which is from above—peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy (James 3:17). Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

 

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The Father In the Window

Proverbs 7:6-9 

“[6] For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, [7] And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, [8] Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, [9] In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:”

The Science of Sin    

In the New Testament epistle of James, chapter 1, verses 14 & 15, the author outlines the process of someone falling into sin.  In that passage James the Just tells how it begins with an “evil desire” by which the individual is “dragged away and enticed”.  Once that desire is conceived, says James, “it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death”.

In a similar way, the Father (7:1) assumes the viewpoint of an intelligent observer of sin in today’s verses.  The Father watches from his window, not with voyeuristic delight, but as one who wants to see what lessons can be deduced from the sad spectacle in front of him.  Sin can be observed, studied, and understood.  There are definable, universal patterns at work in the fallen human nature leading to sin, and the wise son can and should learn from the costly mistakes of others.  If you skim on through the rest of the chapter, you see that ultimately the foolish youth being observed is “dragged away and enticed” by the adulteress (v. 21).  How did this tragic moral failure occur?  Proverbs 7:6-9 provides a case study in a young man taking three downward steps into the sin of adultery.

Step 1:  “I Know What’s Best for Me.”

            The young man is described as a “simple one” and “void of understanding”.  Here is a youth who feels no need for the blessings of moral instruction.   Were you to ask him if he thinks of himself as “void of understanding,” he would flatly deny it.  “No,” he would say, “I know how life works; I know what’s best for me; and I know how to achieve my goals.”  Were you to offer him counsel, he would scoff at the seriousness of your concerns.

Step 2:  “After All, I Can Come Close to the Sin Without Sinning.” 

Notice how the young man just happens to be walking in the neighborhood of the adulteress.  As he is “passing through the street near her corner” (v. 8).  He tells himself that he’s not walking anywhere in particular; no, he’s just out for an evening stroll.  Oh, how deceptive is the human heart!  Readers, how many times have we wandered into sin’s neighborhood, with one side of our mind rationalizing that we are fully under control and will not fall this time; all the while knowing deep inside exactly where we’re headed, and what we intend to do when we get there.

Step 3:  “I Can Manage This Sin and its Consequences.” 

            By the second half of verse 8, the foolish youth is no longer kidding himself.  Tonight, he’s going to the adulteress’s house.  He’s crossed the line of no return.  Does he recognize sin for what it is?  Of course he does.  He’s bears the Creator’s image, and his conscience screams for him to turn around.  But now, he is no longer merely entertaining the notion of sin; rather, he’s determined that he’s going into the situation full steam ahead, because, he believes, he can manage the sin and its consequences.  The lady’s husband?  He’s out of town (v. 19).  Witnesses to the immorality?  There’s no one watching, thinks the youth.

Ah, but here he’s wrong.  There is one watching – the Father in the window!

The Watcher in the Window

Is there a sense in which the narrator of the passage (the Father in the window) is a type of Jesus Christ?  If we take the narrator to be Solomon (and we have every reason to do so), and Solomon is a son of David, could Solomon here in a particular way be pointing us to David’s Greater Son, Jesus Christ?

I tend to think so.  King Jesus allows us to make our own choices.  It’s difficult for us to get our puny minds around, but the Bible teaches both that Jesus is our Sovereign King with all authority at his disposal (Matthew 28:18), and yet we make our choices and we act freely, without coercion from God.  Dear reader, perhaps you are an adulterer or adulteress; then again, perhaps your sin of choice is of a different variety—gossip, slander, hatred, greed, and the like.  Whatever your sin is, Jesus knows exactly what’s going on.  He doesn’t coerce you into sin (James 1:13); no, you have chosen to walk those downward steps all on your own.  But neither does he typically leap in and interfere with the situation.  For many years Proverbs 7 troubled me:  Why doesn’t the observer in the window stop the foolish youth from rushing to destruction?  It has only been as I’ve come to recognize how many thousands of times Christ has watched me taking those downward steps – 1, 2, 3 – all the while gazing at me with love and sadness, that I’ve begun to understand.

The Good News

The good news is that the Watcher in the Window DID come down, not heroically to stop a foolish youth from his own stupidity, but to bear the guilt and shame of that youth for his sin and stupidity.  On Calvary’s Cross, Jesus died for all of our sin, guilt, and shame.  Yes, even for that sin that has just come to your mind, the one that you think nobody knows about, the one that makes you blush or break out in a cold sweat.  He did not come down to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved (John 3:17).  When you place faith in Jesus Christ, trusting in Him alone for salvation and turning away from sin, the most curious thing then begins to happen.  You begin to change from the inside out.  You find that you are still free to do what you want, but your “wants” begin to change.  You no longer “want” to sneak down the dark alley and knock on sin’s door.  You no longer “want” to eat another bite of the forbidden fruit.  What you want, is to be in fellowship with Jesus, the one who came down from heaven, and lived and died for you.

In tomorrow’s posting, we return to the sad saga of the foolish young man and the adulteress.  Hope to see you then!

Father God, forgive this writer the many times he has walked those familiar steps outlined above.  Be merciful and gracious to us, Father, for the sake of your dear Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Transform us deep within, that we might truly hate sin and love righteousness.  And may we never forget that it is not our righteousness, but the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, by which we have this relationship with you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


Get Drunk On Love!

Proverbs 5:18-20

“Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?”

A Sweet Spring

It’s the sweetest spring in the world, that spring seeping from the foot of Wolf Creek Mountain in the South Gap region of Bland County, Virginia.  The water of that spring is so delightful that my ancestors built their two-story log home next to that spring some 200 years ago.  At that time or shortly thereafter, they dug down around five feet, and encased the pool in stone. Later still, they built a log “spring house” to enclose and protect the spring itself, and to create a safe haven for the jugs of milk and tubs of butter which they kept chilled in the pool.  My father grew up fetching buckets of water from that spring every morning, and when he became a man and built a house of his own nearby, he tapped into that same ever-flowing source of sweet spring water to supply his new home.

Once you’ve tasted the best, no other water in the world is going to satisfy!

A Blessed Fountain

I think that’s what Solomon has in mind in Proverbs 5:18.  The precious union between a husband the wife of his youth is a satisfying, life-strengthening fountain to be enjoyed deeply and guarded faithfully.  As I type these words, my mind goes back to the many summer mornings I spent doing farm work in the environs of the spring house, and I recall the immense joy of plunging my sun-burned, sweat-streaked face deep into the pool and gulping down that sweet water.  Twenty-one years into marriage with the wife of my youth, I can affirm that the fountain of union with my precious wife is just as blessed and precious today, as it was on June 15, 1991, when we exchanged our vows of marriage.

Drinking to Intoxication

Did that heading get your attention?  Perhaps a closer examination of the verses above will make you think about the marriage relationship in an exciting and intriguing way.  In verse 18, the sexual union of husband and wife is described as a delightful fountain from which the couple is urged to drink deeply.  In verse 19, that union is depicted in even more intimate terms, with the metaphorical image of drinking from her breasts.  In verse 20, the “drinking” image is re-visited by a rhetorical question which the father asks the son, “Why would you want to be intoxicated in the embrace of a woman who is a stranger?”  (The ESV and the “new” NIV both pick up on the translation of the Hebrew “tis-geh” as “intoxication”, which I believe is preferable to the KJV “ravished”, in light of the author’s chosen metaphor of ‘drinking’.)

What’s the overall message? 

What’s the overall message? Within the context of marriage, to drink and get drunk on love!  Of course, Solomon develops this theme much more deeply in the Song of Solomon, in which the husband describes his union with his wife in similarly poetic language,

I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk

And the community urges the couple to indulge in the joy of marital union,

Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved. (Song of Solomon 5:1)

Can Marriage Really Be that Great?

Can marriage really be that great? Absolutely!  But first, re-visit the implicit warning.  If you’re not happy at home, then you’re most certainly not going to become happy through an affair.  An affair is a sure path to personal destruction.  (Many entries in this blog teach as much.)  If you and your spouse find yourselves struggling to make your marriage work, please know that there is hope and healing in Jesus Christ.  Locate a solid Christian marriage counselor.  If your spouse won’t go with you, then go alone.  You can work on “your stuff” even if he or she refuses to work on “his or her stuff”.  Attend a marriage conference together.  Family Life Today’s “Weekend to Remember” marriage conferences are phenomenal places to re-connect and start over.    http://www.familylife.com/weekend

Father God, I pray for those readers who have taken the time to read this entry.  I ask that by your Spirit, that their marriages would be strong, and that they would drink deeply from the spring of marital love.  Bless them I pray through Christ our Lord, Amen. 


No Shortcuts

Proverbs 3:7-8

“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”

An advertisement on the side of my web browser promises that if I “click here” I can learn a “weird old trick” to eliminate stubborn belly fat. Each weekday afternoon, Dr. Oz hosts a show advocating the addition of blueberries, seaweed and other “super foods” to fight off cancer and heart disease. A billboard overlooking I-24 in my city displays a lean and tightly-muscled torso, suggesting that a few quick visits to the fitness center are all it takes to achieve such enviable results.

THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS!

The achievement of health: Everybody’s looking for a shortcut! And yet, we know that it is the slow, plodding discipline of a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and the elimination of detrimental bad habits (smoking comes to mind) which yield the healthiest bodies over the long haul.

The achievement of wise living is no different! There are no shortcuts (“Be not wise in your own eyes”). Rather, wise living is the fruit of good old basic faith (“fear the LORD”) and repentance (“turn away from evil”). This, says the wise father to the son (3:1) is the only sure path to spiritual health (3:8).

NEED HEALING?

By the way, these verses suggest that by following the way of wisdom, it is in fact possible to extricate yourself from a situation of moral and spiritual “disease”, and gain spiritual health in Christ. Those who are spiritually sick can find healing and refreshment, or as some translations put it, nourishment. One thinks of Subway’s marketing front man “Jarrod”, who lost a couple of hundred pounds simply by “eating fresh”. Praise the Lord, it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17).


It’s Healthy To Be Happy

Proverbs 17:22 

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

Happy Health

Her name is Kay, and she’s my mother-in-law, and without a doubt she’s the happiest person I’ve ever had the privilege to know.  Kay’s happiness is contagious.  There would have to be ice flowing in your veins not to break into a grin when Kay enters the room.  Over the years as my mother-in-law has been deeply transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ, a sincere and powerful love for people has grown inside her, a cheerful love that embraces all and disarms all.  Whether Kay’s changing a baby’s diaper or greeting one of the great potentates of industry (and she does both regularly), the same hearty chuckle wells up from within.  And you can’t help but smile along.

The first half of today’s proverb is one of the most quoted of all the Proverbs, and its verity is universally recognized.  Cheerfulness is good for the body.   It’s healthy to be happy.  The second half of the proverb, though not as well known, nonetheless does contain an equally recognized psychological principal.  A crushed spirit or melancholy disposition will tend to manifest itself in physical infirmity.  However, please remember that the proverbs are to be interpreted as principles, and not as promises.  Cheerful people do become ill, and depressed people can be (otherwise) physically healthy.  But those exceptions merely serve to prove the general rule that “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”

Pharmacists of Cheerfulness

Granted, we come into this world with variations in temperament.  Some people tend toward cheerfulness, while others tend toward melancholy.  I count myself in that latter group!  That’s why I need people like Kay in my life.  We need those pharmacists of the merry heart to dispense the good medicine of cheerfulness for its psychological as well as physical benefits. To the reader who would describe herself or himself as a melancholy, I urge you to prayerfully and intentionally seek out friendships with Christian brothers and sisters who have the merry heart.  We need them!

Christ’s Joy and Our Responsibility

Jesus said in John 15:11, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”  This verse is found in the context of Jesus telling the disciples that He is the True Vine, and we are the branches.  In a vital, dynamic relationship of faith with the Son of God, His joy overflows to us.

However, to return to the metaphor of the pharmacy, it’s our responsibility to drop off the Rx and pick up the meds.  Is the marrow drying from your bones? Take some time alone with Jesus.  Remember, re-claim, and re-apply the promises of the gospel to your life.  Make a list of the things that are good in your life, for which you are grateful to God.  Pray for a fresh anointing of His joy.

Recommended Reading

For further study, order yourself a copy of Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Spiritual Depression:  Its Causes and Cure.

Father God:  I pray for the reader whose spirit is broken, and the marrow of joy has dried within.  Touch the reader with the unconditional love of the Lord Jesus, and renew his or her joy this day.  May cheerful, Godly laughter overflow.  Through Christ our Lord, Amen.