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!

Be Humble, Don’t Fumble (11:2)

Proverbs 11:2

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

The simple message of this proverb is that the prideful person is more likely to get knocked down to size than the person who is already humble. Shame follows on the heels of pride, while wisdom is already with the humble.

A Story

I don’t know where the original story came from, but years ago my dad told me a story about a proud preacher. The young minister was confident in his abilities and his preparation. So, when asked to preach in a conference, the young man jumped at the opportunity, strutted up to the stage, and manned the pulpit.

It didn’t take long for the prideful young minister to realize he was blowing it. When he was finished, he slowly shuffled down the steps from the stage, head hung low, looking totally dejected. Then, feeling like a total failure, he sat down by an older, wiser man of God.

How do you think you did up there?” the older man asked.

I totally blew it,” the young preacher said. “I don’t know what happened. I knew the material, was prepared, and wasn’t even nervous.

Gently, the old pulpiteer asked, “So what you’re saying is that you went up there with your head held high, but came down with it hanging low, correct?

Yessir, that’s about it,” said the young man. “I don’t know what I could have done differently.

With a slight grin the old preacher looked at the younger and said, “If you’d went up there the way you came down, you’d have come down the way you went up.

You Down With That?

When some people ask if you understand something, they may say, “You down with that?” Ironically, in the case of this proverb, being “down” with it, or being “lowly,” is where wisdom can be found.

Do you understand what the old preacher was saying? He was only echoing Solomon in today’s proverb. Pride, cockiness, and self-assurance are not far ahead of shame, humiliation, and embarrassment. The wise, by being humble from the beginning, will rise in due time, and not in their own strength.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

Don’t let pride cause you to fumble a scoring opportunity.

Advertisements

Watching the Scales

Proverbs 11:1

“A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.”

True Weight

In the attempt to stay a lean, mean, fighting machine (oh, get real), I have found myself watching the numbers when I weigh myself. As a matter of fact, there is a small calendar in our bathroom where I have recorded the numbers over about three months.

One day I was so excited that I had seemingly lost several pounds. I told my wife, “See, I am losing weight!” Then, later that day, I went to the doctor’s office for a regular checkup. It was there that my inflated ego became a lead balloon, for the official scales told a different story.

What I had thought was my weight when I stood on the cheap scales at home did not square with the expensive, worthless-to-argue-with scales at the doctor’s office. Instead of losing weight, I had gained weight. The scales at home lied!

Balances and Ducks

In order to really understand this proverb, we must understand what is meant by a “false balance.” As you can see by the illustration, things used to be weighed by placing one object on one side of a balance, and then a standard weight on the other.

A humorous example of false weights and false scales can be found in a scene from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In that scene a woman is accused of being a witch, so “logically” they decide that since wood burns the same as witches, and wood also floats, then something besides wood must be put in a scale to determine if the woman was actually a witch. They choose a duck, because ducks float in water like wood. Yeah, it’s crazy.

Once they take the accused witch to the scales, they place a duck on the opposite side. When they remove the blocks underneath, guess what? The scales did not move. Hmmm.

False Balances

But what God hates is a false balance. In other words, God hates scales that have been tampered with in order for a merchant (or a witch burner) to make a profit. God hates scales that do not tell the truth, but lead others to believe they do. God loves the truth, even if the scales tell us something we don’t want to admit.

In the book of Daniel we read of Belshazzar of Babylon seeing a message written by God on a wall. Among other things it said, “TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.“(Daniel 5:27). In Belshazzar’s mind his bathroom scale was just fine. But according to God’s scale, he was way, way off.

This proverb is primarily pointed at those who lie to make a profit. It is about those who tamper with what is a “true” weight to perpetuate a falsehood. In other words, hypocrisy.

But from a different perspective, we should remember that how we think of ourselves needs to measure up with God’s standard. The world’s scales are always a little unbalanced.


Watch Your Tongue!

Proverbs 10:31

“The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out.”

A Way with Words

The Bible sure has a way with words, doesn’t it?

Could you imagine if every person who said stupid things, those things that just irk others, cause division, and make people generally feel bad, had their tongues cut out?

For starters, this world would be a lot quieter! Secondly, those who believe the Bible would be seen as cruel (or saviors of Mankind!) for taking someone’s tongue.

The thing is, people who are able to say the right thing at the right time have a way with words, but not all of them are righteous or just. For example, a great teacher can push a student to learn, to have a higher self-esteem, and to want to change for the better, and much of the time only with words.

What about most politicians? Most people cannot wait for these people to stop talking!

This is basically the point.

People generally enjoy listening to someone who speaks wisdom.

A just person builds peace, grows confidence, and is easily respected. But even though some people can pull off one or two of these, without all three one ends up speaking mostly hot air. They may promote more dissension than peace; instill more fear or confusion than confidence; and find it harder to gain or maintain respect.

However, their tongues (usually) will not be cut out! Instead, by the Hand of the Lord, whether through circumstances or other people, they find no one listens to them.

“He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.” – 1 Samuel 2:9

Lord Jesus, give us Your wisdom and heart for people. Help us to not only hold our tongues but to change our minds and attitudes toward all circumstances and people. May we always glorify You in what we say that we may not be silenced.


Never Removed

Proverbs 10:30

“The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.”
It’s About Home

One of the hardest things a person can endure is the forced expulsion from one’s home. The pain and humiliation of being forced to leave the place where your ancestors lived, where your parents played, and where you planned for the future is a terrible thing. And it is especially hard when that home is not only taken away from you, but given to your enemies.

This verse is really all about having a home. It is about staying where one’s planted. It’s about security and peace. It’s about having a place where you belong.

It’s About a Promise

This verse also has to do with a promise that was made to the children of Israel. When Solomon penned (or quilled) these words, he was familiar with the promises and warnings God had given his forefathers. I am sure he knew of the final warnings of Joshua as the Israelites settled down in Canaan…

When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you. – Joshua 23:16

The promise was that if they kept the commandments of the Lord, they could stay in their homeland. But if they decided to act like the heathen and forget who brought them there, they would be evicted. That was a promise.

It’s an Awesome Truth

But stop and think about something. Notice what is said about the righteous: they shall “never be removed.” Never being removed from somewhere tells me that you’re already there. How is that possible? It is only possible through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ by grace through faith.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ … But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” – Ephesians 1:3; 2:4-6

The ESV translates Proverbs 10:30 this way: “The righteous will never be removed, but the wicked will not dwell in the land.”

If we are in Christ, then we are as good as there. But those without His righteousness will never have a place to call their own. They will always be strangers without a home.


Got Rope?

Proverbs 10:28

“The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.”
Hope

All men have a hope of some kind. Men and women without hope are surely to be pitied, for they have no reason to go on, no reason to live.

Hope is what keeps people going even in the worst of times. The hope of freedom keeps prisoners alive. The hope of walking again urges the crippled to keep trying. The hope of seeing one’s family again makes a child’s summer camp experience bearable. Hope is what we hold on to when don’t know what else to do.

Rope

Rope is something we hold on to, also. When people are in deep pits they yell out, “Throw me a rope!” When people want to repel down mountains, or clean the windows of skyscrapers, they put their trust in ropes.

When you think about it, what makes a rope useful? If you are not tying something up, but trying to climb, anchor a boat, or swing from a tree, what makes a rope useful is what it is tied to. In other words, you can’t climb up a rope that isn’t attached to anything. Throwing a rope to someone in a well is only helpful if someone on the other end attaches it to something.

Dopes

According to one prominent lexicon*, the original Hebrew word translated “expectation” came from a word that meant “rope”. A rope is something tangible, something you can see; not a hope that is based on the unseen.

But do you know what a “dope” is? A “dope” is someone who has been “duped;” a person who has fallen for a trick. That is what we could call the wicked in Proverbs 10:28. They have put their hope in a rope that is attached to nothing.

Do you see the irony? The righteous put their trust in a hope that is unseen and based on faith. But the wicked say there is no God, they have no use for faith, and trust in something they can feel, something they can get their hands around. The only problem is when the wicked fall, they will discover a rope tied to nothing will not save. They’ve been duped by the evil one.

Conclusion

The hope of the righteous is grounded in faith, while the expectation of the wicked is tied to nothing. The atheist claims that there is nothing beyond this life, and holds to that rope with tenacity. The righteous hold to the Unseen Hand and follow a voice only heard through the Spirit.

One day the floor will fall out from under both the righteous and the wicked. He who says, “let me fall into the hand of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 21:13) will have his hope fulfilled. But he who holds to the “rope” of unbelief will surely be disappointed.

*Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (872). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Foundational Hope In A Turbulent World

Proverbs 10:25

“As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation.”
Comparison of Versions

To begin with, let us look at some other Bible versions. I think it would be interesting to see how this verse is treated.

  • When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation. – NLT
  • When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever. – NIV
  • When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever. – ESV

Do you see the similarity? Do you understand the point being made? Storms will come to both the righteous and the wicked, but only one has a sure foundation.

Foundations

My favorite hymn is The Solid Rock. It is an old hymn that says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”  The difference between the wicked and the righteous is their foundations.

When the storms come, Christ is the Solid Rock on which the righteous stand.  Everything else, including money, philosophy, relationships, etc., is nothing more than sinking sand.

Comparing Funerals

The best place to observe the truth of today’s verse is in a funeral home. Just watch the family of known unbelievers, then the family of someone with a strong, Christian faith. The difference will be obvious.

One day I walked into a funeral home where two visitations were going on right across from each other. On the left was a Christian family; the right a pagan one. The Christian family was crying at times, but with smiles. The pagan family never smiled.

The Christian family dressed in lighter colors, as if they were going to a Springtime church service. The pagans dressed in black. And when I stood around and listened to the mourners, one family said things like, “I’m so glad I’ll see him again,” and “He’s in a better place.” The other family wept as they came to terms with the fact their loved one was gone forever.

Which family was still standing after the storm? Which one was utterly devastated? Which one had hope?

When the Storm is Over

Storms of all kinds come to each of us. Without God we must weather the storms alone. But righteous know that the only sure shelter is found in Jesus.

Another of my favorite songs is Till the Storm Passes By.  It reminds me that even when storms do come, there is a Fortress. I don’t have to stand out in the open and get blown away.


Wicked Fear

Proverbs 10:24

“The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.”
Scary Things

There are not many of things that scare me now that I am an adult. However, as a child I lived in dread of a lot of things. I was afraid of vampires, clowns, Russians, and girls with cooties. Now I know that vampires can be killed with a good flashlight (the handle part, that is), and Russia is less of a threat than China. Clowns and girls are still a problem, though.

On the other hand, I used to love to fly in airplanes, drink from unwashed soda cans and public water fountains, and drive sports cars at ungodly rates of speed down curvy mountain roads. Now I know that it takes a long time to fall from 30,000 feet, germs are everywhere, and deer have a habit of walking in front of good drivers.

But the biggest thing is that most of the scary things in life are either in my mind, or avoidable. I have no fear of them eventually catching up with me. If killer bees get too close, I’ll just move. The wicked, however, have no such hope.

Gonna Getcha

I like the way the NIV translates the first part of this verse, “What the wicked dreads will overtake him…” Verse 24 is telling us that the wicked are running from something, while the righteous are running to something. And more than that, whatever the wicked are fleeing will eventually catch up.

What do the wicked fear? What will eventually overtake them? A few things come to mind: being alone, pain, loss, falling, and death.  Huh…coincidentally, all of those will be present in hell. Go figure.

Gonna Grant It

But for the righteous…the ones who know every good gift is from God, the ones who know grace can’t be earned…their desires will be granted.

Amazing, isn’t it? What does the righteous desire? To be loved. To be healed. To have treasure that won’t decay. To be caught up. To have eternal life. Wow! Everything that heaven will bring!

But there’s one more thing: the righteous will welcomed into the presence of their greatest Desire – Jesus.

Don’t run from Jesus. Run to Him. Make Jesus your desire.