Author Archives: Anthony Baker

About Anthony Baker

Husband, dad, pastor/preacher/teacher, musician, and Time Magazine's Person of The Year in 2006 (no joke!). Loves coffee (big time), good movies, and sarcastic humor. Currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry. Most importantly, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to Him!

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Proverbs 4:5-6

“Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.”

 Get a Travel Agent

Today I had conversation with a co-worker about going to Disney World. Even though she was an adult, this was going to be her first time visiting the park, and she was very excited. But once she got to hear me share my experiences, she got even more excited. She really had no idea what to expect.

One bit of advice I gave her, however, was “get a travel agent.” When I explained to her how a good travel agent could help her get better deals, make more use of her time, etc., she was so grateful. She even said, “I have got to tell my sister what you just told me . . . she needs to know this.”

I can only imagine the advice Solomon was giving his son in verse five had the same imperative. Instead of a travel agent, Solomon said, “Get wisdom, get understanding…” Of all the time savers, money savers, and life savers, wisdom and understanding can’t be beat. Like a good travel agent, Wisdom will direct your paths (Prov. 3:6).

Love Her

No, not the travel agent; I am referring to wisdom. Solomon said to first “get wisdom,” then later “love her.”

The word translated “love” is a word that could be used in describing one’s feelings for another human being (Gen. 24:67), truth and peace (Zec. 8:19), or a good steak (Gen. 27:9). But in this passage it is used of wisdom.

Interestingly, according to one Hebrew lexicon*, one meaning of the original word was “to desire, to breathe after anything.” How much better off would we be if we sought wisdom and understanding in the same way? Do we love wisdom so much that we chase after it; breathe deeply and longingly at the mention of it; desire it as much as the very air we breathe to live?

Do you know what it is like to love someone so much it takes away your breath? Get wisdom, and love her even more.

*http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=H157&t=KJV&page=1

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A Special Son

Proverbs 4:3-4

“For I was my father’s son, tender and only [beloved] in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.”

“Father’s Son”

The first thing that arrested my attention in these verses was the words “father’s son.”

Why do these words stand out so much? Could it be that Solomon was speaking as if he had been an only child? Could it be that of all the children of King David, the one who turned out well was the one who was treated special?

Solomon was not David’s only son, nor his first. Yet, Solomon grew up differently. Even before he asked for wisdom from God, he was well on the right path, unlike his brothers Absalom and Adonijah. Could it be, because of the mistakes that David had already made, he didn’t want to repeat them with Solomon? Could it be he didn’t want another son hanging from a tree?

“My Mother”

Can you imagine what kind of mother Bathsheba must have become? She evidently was not the kind of queen mother who sent her children away to be cared for by nannies. No, she evidently doted on Solomon. She must have cherished and protected him, for he was “tender” (delicate, weak) in her eyes.

Solomon was not Bathsheba’s only son, either. But if we are to understand Solomon correctly, he was definitely treated in a unique way (“only beloved”).

“And live”

Can you picture Solomon remembering the face of David? His father had already had two sons try to take over his throne, and both had died. Surely he couldn’t foret hearing his father cry, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” – (2 Samuel 18:33).

What kind of pain must have been written in the wrinkles of that broken father’s face? As Solomon remembered, did he try to pass on his wisdom in the same way?

Solomon says, “Let thine heart retain my words; keep my commandments, and live.” Was he thinking of his rebellious brothers? Could he see their bodies in his mind’s eye as he looked upon Rehoboam? Oh, if only Rehoboam had listened (See 1 Kings 3).

A Prayer

Oh, God! Am I passing on the wisdom of my godly parents? Do I take my parenting seriously? If the wisest man in the world could mess up as much as he did, what chance do I have of rearing god-fearing children? Lord, my hope is in You. Your Spirit is my strength. Let my children see You in my actions, and where I fail, blind their eyes. Give me a broken heart for my “tender and beloved.”

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Couch Talk

Proverbs 3:31-32

“Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.”

Preface

Let me preface what I am about to write by saying that it is pleasure to study verses of Scripture which would normally be overlooked in casual reading. When I first selected this passage, I only did so based on the calendar. Only when it came time to write did it become clear there was much more to these verses that met the eye.

I can only scratch the surface, today. However, I would challenge each reader, as with the other texts, to study them for yourself. The greatest riches of heaven are not usually handed over, they are wrestled from the Word. Dig, my friends, and you will be amazed at what you find.

The Oppressor

Solomon recognized that there is always the temptation to envy those in power. If honest, few would deny that they, at some point, secretly wished they could be ruler of the world. And in most cases, the wish would not be to become the most benevolent ruler in history, but a dictator.

But we should ask ourselves, what is it about the “oppressor” that we want? Power? Influence? Riches? Fame? The ability to manipulate others in order to have things our way? Why would anyone who seeks God’s will want those things?

Froward

The “froward” man could also be called “wicked” (NLT), “devious” (ESV), or “perverse” (NIV). The word here describes a man who turns away from God to do his own thing. This type of man, the oppressor, or “man of violence” (ESV), the Lord abhors. Again, why would a God-follower want to be like him?

Do you want to be happy? “Blessed (happy) is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful,” says King David (Psalm 1:1). Don’t choose the ways of the oppressor if you want to experience joy and peace.

What is it, then, that Solomon offers as an option? What can the righteous experience that the wicked cannot?

His Secret

The word translated “secret” (verse 32) comes from a word that means a couch cushion, or a triclinium (see Gesenius’s Lexicon). What is that, you ask? A triclinium was a three-sided couch on which the Greeks and Romans reclined when sharing a meal, or conducting casual conversation. It was a place symbolic of friendship, family, and intimacy. God is sickened by the perverse man, but the righteous is accepted at His personal table.

Don’t be like the man who turns from God; but be like the man who runs to Him. The result may not be the aquisition of wealth, power, and fame; but something far, far more valuable: secret, private communion with the Lord. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the almighty” – Psalm 91:1

What on earth could compare to hearing God say, “Come here, son, recline next to me. I want to share some things with you; things meant only for you, and no one else.” The “righteous” have that privilege, not the “oppressor.”

Dear Lord, keep me focused on you, not the things of others. I long to hear you speak in a still, small voice, “Come close, my child, I have a secret for you.” Cover me in the shadow of your wings.


Be Neighborly

Proverbs 3:29

“Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.”

Neighbors

Some neighbors can be the worst examples of humanity. They know how to push your buttons, make you angry, even make your dog bark. Some neighbors have trees that were intentionally bred to shed their leaves when the wind blows in your direction. They’re evil. They even look at you through their windows.

Then again, there are other neighbors who respect your privacy. They watch your house when you’re gone, bring you breakfast in bed, and loan you tools, never expecting to see them again. They’re great. You envy them.

Unless you are one of the few who still live in the wilderness and and drive five miles to collect your mail, you probably have neighbors. And if your neighbors have been around a few generations, they’re not going anywhere, so why be mean to them?

What goes around…

You have probably heard the saying, “What goes around, comes around.” It’s not karma, or fate; it’s common sense. It is a statement born out of experience. When you treat your neighbor poorly, it will come back and bite you in the cul-de-sac.

That is the wisdom to be found in this verse.

When it is obvious your neighbor is settled and “dwelleth securely,” the best thing to do is make friends, or at least keep from being enemies. Romans 12:18 says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”

You never know.

The neighbor you’re trying to run off today may become your in-laws, tomorrow. Solomon had a lot of experience with in-laws (but that’s another story).

Lord, help me to be mindful of the needs of my neighbors. You have put me here next to these people for a reason. May I be a witness and a shining example of what it means to be a neighbor. After all, it was You who said “love your neighbor as yourself.” 


Sweet Sleep

Proverbs 3:24

“When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.”

Expensive Sleep

Have you priced new mattresses lately? Good grief! For what one costs you could feed an entire village in South America for a month!

Companies offer mattresses made with foam that cools, numbers that adjust, and frames that fold you into a sandwich. You can choose from pillow top, memory foam, no-flip, innerspring, or latex. You can even return them if you don’t experience “the best sleep you’ve ever had.”

Lack of Sleep

Yet, with all the money being spent on fancy mattresses, Americans (and I can only assume others) are sleeping less. As a matter of fact, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) published an article on their website claiming “Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Epidemic.”

Citing a study by the National Department of Transportation, the CDC said “drowsy driving [is] responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injuries annually.” If you consider chronic disease, the numbers are far worse.

Sweet Sleep

Looking back at 3:21, nowhere does it say that a $2000 mattress is the key to peaceful, sweet sleep. No, all Solomon suggests is “sound wisdom and discretion.”

When you have done all things wisely, with discretion, and for the glory of the Lord (Colossians 3:23), you should be able to lay your head down without fear, without regret, and sleep like a baby.

“Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

Faith Mattress

Now, I would be leaving out something very important if I didn’t add one thing. Those who put their faith in Jesus can sleep peacefully, no matter the storm (Luke 8:25). The peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) can make the roughest straw or the hardest concrete feel like bed in a Ritz-Carlton.

Dear Jesus, I am tired, I am week, I am worn. Much of it is because I try to do too much, when wisdom and discretion would say, “Be still.” My rest, when it does come, is not always peaceful, for I worry and fret over the waves crashing against the hull. Savior, speak peace. Help me to rest in the knowledge that you are in the boat.


A Win-Win

Proverbs 3:16

“Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.”

Continuing in the description of the value of wisdom, we now come to a verse that paints a picture of a win-win situation. Do you know what that is?

A Win-Win

The best example of a win-win in my life, aside from when my wife decided she wanted to marry me, comes from my years in sales. I believe it was Zig Ziglar who said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” And that is absolutely true!

Without going into a lot of detail, I used to sell a particular big-ticket item. The potential to make a lot of money was always present, but so was the potential to take advantage of the client. I saw more than a few sales professionals convince a client to spend more than necessary, only to have the sale reversed a day later.

My philosophy was pretty simple – exceed the custormer’s expectations. How did I do that? By being an honest listener who never considered profit until after the client’s needs were met. Did I alway make money? No. But I made more than those who foolishly took advantage of others.

Even when I didn’t make an immediate paycheck, I could still sleep at night. That was truly a win-win.

Wisdom is a Win-Win

Solomon is saying that with wisdom comes both long life and honor. Many are the fools that seek riches, but die young. Many are the fools that seek long life, but die in shame.

Seek wisdom, and you will have not only what you need, but you may live long enough to enjoy it.

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:31-33 NLT


Trust the Guide

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

My Dad

Unlike me, my dad was brought up in a rough and tough home. At the age of 14, for his birthday, he received his first moonshine still. In high school he was one of the “protectors” who protected for a fee. Up until he met my mother in the middle 1960’s he was still running white lightning through the hills of Tennessee and building drag cars.

As a high school senior my dad benched 300 lbs.; ran track; threw shot put; was the state heavyweight wrestling champion; loved to fight; and could drink away a paycheck. But just a few years later, on the living room floor of my mother’s house, he gave his heart to Jesus Christ, and nothing stayed the same.

My Dad’s Guidance

My father was a wise man, but make no mistake about it, he earned his wisdom the hard way. And I did my best to follow his instruction, because I figured he knew what he was talking about. He had seen and done a lot, and he had the scars to prove it.

One day he told me, “Son, sin is fun. Alcohol tastes good. The devil has a lot to offer. But let me tell you, when you have friends bleed to death in your arms you’ll realize sin ain’t worth the price.” Spoken like the humble preacher he was.

When I got old enough to run wild, I didn’t. When I could drive, I drove safely. When I dated, I saved myself for marriage. Was I perfect? Absolutely not! But every time I came close to messing up I would remember my dad, his words, and his example. That remembrance helped direct my path.

Solomon’s Dad

Solomon had a father, also. His name was King David, and he also knew the cost of sin, the feeling of spilled blood.

God gave Solomon wisdom, but some of it came through the words of David, Solomon’s rough and tough dad. I wonder if the above verses were based on the following advice given years earlier?

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. – 1Chronicals 28:9 NKJV

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. – Psalm 37:3-5 KJV

Solomon surely took his father’s words to heart. Our Father asks us to do the same.

A Prayer

Lord God, I am so tempted to do things my way. I am tempted so often to trust my own feelings, to follow my heart. Help me, Lord, to acknowledge that you have traveled this way before. Help me to listen and pay attention as you guide me through the curves of life, making them as good as straight.

Related Link: “First Post” – A tribute to my father, Rev. Terry L. Baker.