Category Archives: Armour and Weaponry

A Difficult Thought

Proverbs 26:10

“The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.”
“Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.” – ESV

This proverb is a challenging one because of how many different ways it could be translated. As a matter of fact, practically every scholarly commentary admits the Hebrew in this proverb is difficult to interpret. That is why I am going to quote several of them before I leave my final thought for you.

Spence-Jones (The Pulpit Commentary)

Few passages have given greater difficulty than this verse; almost every word has been differently explained. The Authorized Version is, The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors; Revised Version, As an archer (Job 16:13) that woundeth all, so is he that hireth the fool and he that hireth them that pass by. At first sight one would hardly suppose that these could be versions of the same passage. [1]

Garrett (The New American Commentary)

The Hebrew of v. 10 is almost unintelligible and thus subject to numerous interpretations, all of which are hypothetical. As the NIV has it, the verse reaffirms that one should not commit important tasks to fools (as in v. 6). Notwithstanding all the difficulties of the text, that does seem to be the main point.[2]

Friedrich and Delitzsch (Commentary on the Old Testament)

All that we have hitherto read is surpassed in obscurity by this proverb, which is here connected because of the resemblance of ושכר to שכור. We translate it thus, vocalizing differently only one word:

            Much bringeth forth from itself all; But the reward and the hirer of the fool pass away.[3]

Matthew Henry

Matthew Henry

Our translation [KJV] gives this verse a different reading in the text and in the margin; and accordingly it expresses either, 1. The equity of a good God. The Master, or Lord (so Rab signifies), or, as we read it, The great God that formed all things at first, and still governs them in infinite wisdom, renders to every man according to his work. … Or, 2. The iniquity of a bad prince (so the margin reads it): A great man grieves all, and he hires the fool; he hires also the transgressors. When a wicked man gets power in his hand, by himself, and by the fools and knaves whom he employs under him, whom he hires and chooses to make use of, he grieves all who are under him and is vexatious to them. We should therefore pray for kings and all in authority, that, under them, our lives may be quiet and peaceable.[4]

Anthony Baker (Proverbial Thought)

So, here is what I think. Feel free to quote me 200 years from now.

A man is a fool when he employs a fool to complete a task. However, the biggest fool is one who thinks God, the Almighty Archer, will miss the target when He holds the wicked accountable.

We are always under His watchful eye, but the fool is never out of His “sights.”


[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Proverbs, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 500.

[2] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 213.

[3] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 6 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 387.

[4] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994).


Slings and Stones

Proverbs 26:8

“As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.”

Sling Shots

I used to own a pretty sweet sling shot. It had a handle shaped like a pistol grip, along with a metal brace that would go over my forearm. Attached to the forks was rubber tubing and a leather pouch. I could put a lead or steal ball in that sling shot and kill an elephant (at least in my imagination). However, the sling shot that I had as a child could not compare to the ones that were used during biblical times.

Home-made sling.

Home-made sling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The one that David used against Goliath was a serious weapon which required considerable skill to use. Sure, my sling shot could kill small vermin and knock down targets at close range, but the type of slings Solomon was referring to could, and did, kill people. In Judges 20:16 we read how the Benjamites had 700 left-handed slingers who could aim at a hair and not miss. In 2 Kings 2:35 we read how that the Israelites used slings in warfare. As a matter of fact, lead shot used by the Greeks and Romans in warfare could have an effective range of over 200 yards.

Amazingly, even though the sling was in use over 3,000 years ago, it is still being used today as a weapon by survivalists and fighters alike.  It would seem that its simple construction, ease of use, low cost, unlimited availability of projectiles, and deadly potential could keep the sling in use forever. In the hands of a trained slinger, it is practically foolproof…unless you bind the stone.

Bound Stones

As good of a weapon that the sling shot is, it is worthless if the stone or shot never leaves the pouch. Sometimes a stone can fall out of the pouch by accident, but putting another one in only takes a second. But the idea of securing the stone to the sling so that it never leaves is like plugging the end of a rifle.

But this is what Solomon is trying to explain. Honor, prestige, wealth, giftedness, glory: all of these things are wonderful tools which can be used to great effect by the wise man. However, when in the possession of the fool, all of these things, especially honor, are worthless.

Implications

Solomon is speaking to the one who actually gives honor to a fool. The fool doesn’t posses honor on his own, but has it given to him. The warning in this verse is really aimed at the one who needs the stone thrown.

Some people will honor people who don’t deserve it with promotions and bonuses, thinking that those blessings will make the fool more of an asset. The problem is that the fool will not share in the honor given, nor will he use it appropriately. Therefore, instead of being useful, the fool has now become a liability, much like a soldier who refuses to fight.

Beware of political correctness. Beware of honoring for the sake of honoring. The one who truly makes honor worthless is the one who gives it to the fool in the first place.

 


How Are Your Walls?

Proverbs 25:28

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

City Walls

Most cities today have no walls; they are usually protected from invaders in other ways. But back in the days of Solomon it was common to see a city with large walls built around it for defense. Without those tall, stone walls, much like what we would imagine circling a castle, a city would be completely vulnerable to attack.

English: Building the Wall of Jerusalem; as in...

In the Old Testament we can read of a man named Nehemiah who realized the importance of city walls. When one of his brothers came to visit, he asked how things were going in Jerusalem. That’s when he found out the bad news.

“They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” – Nehemiah 1:3-4 NLT

Later, Nehemiah went before King Artaxerxes, the kink in whose court he served, to ask permission to rebuild the wall. His request was graciously accepted, and the king even provided the materials needed for the job. However, none of this would have happened had Nehemiah not realized the humiliating and dangerous predicament Jerusalem was in. They needed walls.

Walls of Discipline

Solomon knew what he was talking about when he wrote this proverb, for he knew about human desire. But, as a king, he also knew about city walls and the need for defense. He recognized the similarity between a defenseless city and the undisciplined, careless soul.

A person who has no control over his desires is like a city that parties away the night without any clue that an invasion is imminent.

He with no rule over his own spirit is like a city full of treasures ready to be plundered.

The one with no self-control invites destruction.

Maybe it is time we share the burden of Nehemiah and repair the broken down walls in our own lives. 


True Safety

Proverbs 21:31

“The horse [is] prepared against the day of battle: but safety [is] of the LORD.”

American Might

joint colors

The U.S. Joint Service Color Guard (Wikipedia)

As an American, I benefit from the protection of the greatest military fighting force in the world. Some may differ with my assessment, but no invaders have yet to destroy us. No army, air force, or navy has near the combined resources which are at our disposal. If it was our desire as a nation, any country harboring enemy combatants could cease to exist in less than 24 hours.

America is still, despite it’s flaws, despite it’s leadership, a “giant” to be reckoned with. She is not to be underestimated or trifled with. Though she may be in moral slumber, as Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto found out the hard way, she can be “awakened.”

The Soldier’s Creed

I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

True Safety

Nevertheless, America is only a nation of men – flawed men, at that. And despite the power of her military, the greatest kingdoms have always fallen from within.

America, the country who’s motto is “In God We Trust,” has not only forgotten God, but has leadership in her military who is actively seeking to remove any vestige of His name. America’s leaders need to remember that God not only changes the seasons and times, but he “removeth kings, and setteth up kings” (Daniel 2:21).

One of America’s Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, declared to those drafting our Constitution…

“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”

What has changed? We have tanks and armored troop carriers instead of horses, but are we any more safe without the Lord? NO!

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, [who is worthy] to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. – Psalm 18:2-3 NKJV

Oh, America! Remember the God of your youth! Especially during this election season!


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).


The Art of War

Proverbs 20:18 

Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.
Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice. (NLT)

A Chinese General by the name of Sun Tzu is attributed with authorship of a book called the ‘Art of War.’ It is widely believed that Sun Tzu lived several hundred years before Jesus Christ. While there is some controversy over the identity of Sun Tzu, scholars have established that The Art of War has been in existence for at least 2,200 years. It is a book is that is studied by those in the corporate world, as well as those in the military.

The Wikipedia entry for The Art of War states: Sun Tzu considered war as a necessary evil that must be avoided whenever possible. In the introduction to my copy the translator writes: As in the story of the ancient healers, in Sun Tzu’s philosophy the peak efficiency of knowledge and strategy is to make conflict altogether unnecessary: “To overcome others’ armies without fighting is the best of skills.”

Reading such statements reminds me of the way that Jesus lived. Prophecies about Jesus were recorded before The Art of War was written. In Isaiah 53 the prophet speaks of One who would be oppressed and afflicted, but not open His mouth in resistance. These Old Testament writings appeared to be lost on their readership, for the Messiah that the Jewish race expected was a mighty military leader who would crush their oppressors, not One who would be oppressed.

Ordinarily, the execution of one man 2,000 years ago should not have made a mark on history, but the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ changed history forever. Imagine what the world would be like if Jesus had never lived. The fact that He lived, died and rose again gives all humanity hope for tomorrow. If the corporate world can use the writings of an ancient Chinese general to formulate strategy, then how is it that the world continues largely to ignore the teachings of Jesus, which are similar in this instance, but lead to a blessed eternity spent forever in the presence of God?

Like Sun Tzu Jesus taught his followers a better way to overcome their enemies. He said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42 NIV)

Reference: Sun Tzu, The Art of War (Translated by Thomas Cleary), Shambhala, 1988


Run Forest, Run!

Proverbs 16:17

“The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.”

In Genesis 39, we read these verses: (Genesis 39:6-12)

So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.

But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.
Did you catch that very last phrase? That last phrase is a beautiful picture of Proverbs 16:17!

Joseph was a righteous man, or an upright man, and he knew when he was close to danger. The advancements of Potiphar’s wife were a red flag to this fully committed follower of Jesus and he knew without a shadow of a doubt that he needed to be far away from this situation. So he departed from the evil so that his soul would be preserved.

I love the way the ESV reads  – “The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life.”

I Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

We must always be on guard as to where evil may be. We can not assume, at any point, that we are not targets of the devil and his band of demons. We must always be prepared and ready to fight. This is a great reason to always have on the Armor of God!

So, as Christians, what are we to do when evil comes our way? Let’s all says it together…”RUN FOREST, RUN!”

Red Means STOP

Proverbs 15:21 

Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.
Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course. (NIV)

Lack of Judgement

Teenage boys are not generally known for their wisdom. This is particularly the case in our home where my thirteen-year old son John derives considerable pleasure and joy from annoying his sixteen-year old sister. Unfortunately for John his sister is not only older, she is also bigger and stronger than him. That may change in the next year or so, but at the moment John is unable to defend himself against the physical response his lack of judgement incurs when he embarks on each mission to see how far he can push his sister.

Heed the Warning

Unfortunately folly is a contagious disease that anyone can catch. I see folly most mornings while negotiating a junction controlled by traffic lights. Inevitably there Description=19th September 2006. Pic: Paul Rogers A traffic signal showing red.are drivers who believe that they can drive through their red light when mine is green. It isn’t rocket science. Red means stop, and needs to be heeded just like any other warning, be it a road sign, a parental instruction, a safety measure linked to mechanical or electrical equipment, or anything else.

Follow the Instructions

Walking uprightly or keeping a straight course means taking note of warnings, being alert to danger, and avoiding risk. To avoid risk we need to understand risk and the consequences of failure. For followers of Jesus that means trying to avoid temptation. Most of us know our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. If we don’t, then we should. And then we should follow the instructions for walking uprightly given to us in Scripture.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:1-18 (NIV)


Powerful Words

Proverbs 12:6

“The words of the wicked [are] to lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.”
“The words of the wicked are like a murderous ambush, but the words of the godly save lives.” (NLT)

The Power of Words

Words have great power. Words can build up, and words can tear down. Words can point in the right direction, but words can also lead astray. Words can encourage, and words can cripple. Words can heal, and words can hurt. There can be no doubt that words spoken thoughtlessly or without wisdom can cause untold damage. The statement in this proverb that words can be like a murderous ambush provides a serious warning about how we choose to speak, and the words that leave our lips.

Be Careful What You Say

As a teenager I can remember being told to put my brain in gear before opening my mouth! This was good advice. Before we open our mouths we have to consider how our words will be received. What is their purpose? Every word is important. Every word has the potential to be good or to be evil. Be careful what you say!

Say What You Need To Say

Then there are the words that we find difficult to say. These are the words that should restore relationships, or ‘save lives’ as the NLT translates this proverb. We all know what these words are, and we have all struggled to say them with heartfelt meaning. These are words for our families, and for our friends:

“I’m sorry.”

“I forgive you.”

Remember that it is not only the words we speak, but also how we say them. I know when my children are sorry, and I know when they are not. They know when I have forgiven them, and they know when I haven’t.

Then there is God and the things we say to Him. God knows our hearts completely. He knows when we are sorry, and He knows when we are not. He knows when we are hungry for Him, and He knows when we have no space for Him in our busy lives. Here are three words we need to say to Him with meaning.

“I love You.”

Say what you need to say.

Listen

Say what you need to say (Say – John Mayer).

Be careful little lips what you say. For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray (Casting Crowns – Slow Fade).


Fortress Wisdom

Proverbs 4:8-9

“Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.”

Building Wisdom

The defense of many iron-age villages in the UK relied on huge mounds of soil being piled up to encircle a settlement and create a primitive fort. There is one of these ancient earthworks close to where I live. It is situated on the highest point for several miles and must have taken a herculean effort to build. The scale of the earthworks is not immediately evident when walking on its remains, and much is left to the imagination. What is not in doubt is that the earthworks were essential to the safety of those who lived inside. Why else would a group of Ancient Britons have invested so much in the construction of such a formidable barrier?

The word ‘exalt’ at the beginning of verse eight could be applied to the construction of an iron-age fort. Wisdom needs to be built up, and constructed into a formidable barrier to defend against everything that life and Satan have to throw at us. It is useful to remember that iron age forts were not built overnight. Solomon may have been blessed with a gift of wisdom by God, but the process of building wisdom began with the early example and teaching of his parents  (Proverbial Thought – Proverbs 4:1-2 and Proverbs 4 3-4).

Embracing Wisdom

It is not enough to embark on a building project alone. The builders of the earthworks could not spend their entire lives inside never facing the dangers outside. And how good a defense would the earthworks have been if lookouts were never posted to provide warning of possible intruders?

The reason that Solomon tells us we need to embrace wisdom is because he knew that there would be times when however good and strong the earthworks of wisdom around us may be, we still have to venture out, sometimes into the unknown. Solomon is also reminding us in these verses that we need to remain alert. Why? Because danger is all around. Stand on top of the earthworks and take a good look outside:

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NASB)

The journey is not over yet, but look out from the ramparts and you will see that the reward for exercising wisdom is in view.