Category Archives: conversation/speech

Afflicted and Ruined

Proverbs 26:28.
“A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.” (KJV). 

Life Lessons:

There are three main places where we go to learn things. One is the home – where we learn from our parents. Ideally, we learn here values, morals, good habits and etiquette. Second is the school, where we learn the three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic. (I know, neither writing nor arithmetic – math – start with the letter ‘R’, but that’s what they used to call it back in the day). And finally, the third is the church, where we learn about the love of God, how to know Him, how there’s a hell to shun and a Heaven to gain.

At church, we have the benefit of learning from the wisest of all wise – God Himself. The Bible is the Word of God, and in it we learn wise lessons for living life. I want to challenge you, reader – do you read the Bible? If not, then what are you waiting for? A virtual treasure trove of wisdom awaits you!

SpurgeonCharles Spurgeon, an old Baptist preacher from the 19th Century (known affectionately as the Prince of Preachers) had this to say about the Bible: “The best food for you is the word of God itself. Sermons and books are well enough, but streams that run for a long distance above ground gradually gather for themselves somewhat of the soil through which they flow, and they lose the cool freshness with which they started from the spring head. Truth is sweetest where it breaks from the smitten Rock, for at its first gush it has lost none of its heavenliness and vitality. It is always best to drink at the well and not from the tank. You shall find that reading the word of God for yourselves, reading it rather than notes upon it, is the surest way of growing in grace.” The challenge is this: Read the Bible!

Warnings against Lying and Flattery:

After that lengthy introduction, let us now come to today’s text. Here Solomon says: “A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattery causes ruin.” (NLT). Let us look at both of these warnings separately here.

First of all, in the KJV of this verse, Solomon tells us that a lying tongue causes affliction. The original Hebrew word sheqer translated lying means lie, deception, disappointment, falsehood, deceit, fraud, wrong, to testify falsely. And when you lie, you cause affliction. That Hebrew word dak means to oppress or crush someone. Anytime you lie about someone, you are afflicting, oppressing or crushing them. Think about that the next time you go to tell a lie! And Solomon also says here that when you lie about someone, it shows that you hate them.

Secondly, Solomon tells us that a flattering mouth works ruin. Flattery means to praise or compliment insincerely, effusively, or excessively. I don’t mind an encouraging word of affirmation if it is sincere, but someone who flatters insincerely causes ruin. So be warned – our words are powerful, and if we don’t use them wisely, we can cause affliction and bring ruin!


The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Proverbs 26:24-26

“He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for [there are] seven abominations in his heart. [Whose] hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the [whole] congregation.” 

The Big Shots

Yesterday, David looked at verse 23 dealing with those who cover up their wickedness to look good. These verses come out of that.

He mentioned the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Today we tend to think about politicians or corporate bigwigs that put up a front to look good for their employees or their constituents. In truth, they are only out for their own gain.

The really bad ones are those who will stop at nothing, hurt anyone to get what they want or to be entertained.

The Church Enemy

The scariest ones are those in the Church.

Who are they? They are the church-goers who:

  • Gossip (sometimes through “prayer requests”)
  • Complain about everything at the church
  • Complain about everything in life
  • Live two separate lives: one at church and one everywhere else
  • Purposefully disobey the pastor or church teachings
  • Cause divisions (start fights, spread malicious rumors, etc.)
  • Give the minimum effort (and usually have excuses)
  • Never give any effort at church (and always have excuses, if they talk about it)
  • Those who justify every action they take (usually with “But you have to understand …”)
  • Who start debates with “I am a Christian, so …” and then attempt to defend non-Christian behaviors and actions.

I could go on for a very long time. They act like they love others, but they really hate.

The question is …

Did you see yourself in that list?

The scariest enemy is the one who acts like your friend. Read Galatians 5:19-21 for Paul’s list of who they are.

Heavenly Father, help us to remove all the falseness and pretense from our lives. Create in us a clean heart free of all malice, deceit, and wickedness. Help us to be followers of You and not the father of lies.


Just Joking

Proverbs 26:18-19

“As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, so is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?”
“Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” – NIV
Crazy Arrows

OK, so let’s stop and think about this one for a moment. Try to get a mental picture of what is being described in verse eighteen. Picture a crazy man, a lunatic, a maniac, shooting flaming arrows into the the air. Can you picture a man shooting arrows into the sky? Well, I’m sad to say, “I can.”

It might not be good for me to share this, but back in the day when I was young and stupid (and most certainly unwise), a friend of mine got hold of a bow and arrow. Standing in the middle of my friends yard, we got the bright idea that it would be fun to shoot the arrow straight up into the sky, out of sight, then go after it when it came back down. If you can’t picture a crazy mad man with flaming arrows of death, imagine two 14 year-old’s staring into the sky waiting for an aluminum arrow of death to fall.

Oh, it was such fun waiting for the arrow to fall from the sky…until punched a hole in my friend’s roof!

“How am I going to explain that hole to my dad?” he asked in panic. “Things fall from the sky every day, like from airplanes, over-laden sparrows (OK, I didn’t say that), and stuff,” I replied. “Just don’t say anything, and maybe he’ll never notice.” Too bad he did.

Hurtful Neighbors

In a way, I was a hurtful neighbor. I was the one who was responsible for a falling arrow, deceit, and a lousy excuse. However, it could have been much worse; somebody could have been seriously hurt, or killed. But there are worse things to fire off into the air than arrows of death: words.

As arrows are hurtful, so are deceitful words, for they pierce deeply. Only a crazy man thinks he can make jokes, criticize, and even talk about someone behind his back for so long without a projectile falling back to earth and piercing one’s heart.

There is nothing funny about deceit. Saying, “I’m sorry,” and “I was only joking” will rarely heal broken trust and damaged friendships. But there is also something else to consider: as with falling arrows, sometimes the hurtful things we do to others can come screaming down on our own heads.

Arrows of death don’t care where they land.


Conversational Traps

Proverbs 26:4

“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.”

To some it seems like a contradiction in Scripture. Here Solomon is telling us to not answer a fool, but in the very next verse he seems to say the opposite. The Apostle Peter even tells us (1 Peter 3:15) to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” Why, then, should we “answer not?”

Flawed and Senseless

Have you ever tried debate a teenager (or self-assured college-age daughter)? Trying to convince them of truth is like a genuine exercise in futility. When they are convinced they know what is right, there is no arguing, even when they realize their argument is flawed.

Some people will argue over things that make no sense at all, thereby making it impossible to win, no matter what side one’s on. For example, there was lady who called into a radio talk show complaining about the placement of deer crossing signs (signs that warn motorists that deer cross in that area). Let me give you a paraphrased version of the conversation…

deer crossingLady:  I’ve been trying to talk to somebody about this, but no one listen to me.

Radio: Really? What is the problem?

Lady: Well, there have been a lot of people hitting deer on the highway, including me. I just feel they should move these signs to places where there are less cars and slower speeds…I mean, we shouldn’t encourage deer to cross the interstate…that’s too dangerous.

Radio: Are saying these signs are instructing the deer where to cross?

Lady: Yes, and all it would take is moving the crossings to a safer place, like a school zone, where people would have time to see the deer coming and not hit them.

The problem with answering  a fool is that, when we do, we give the fool credence. Answering a fool in his “folly” tends to legitimize the fool’s efforts and encourages him to continue.

“Like unto him”

As a blogger, I receive comments from people all over the world, and believe me, the world is full of fools. Fortunately, I have the option approve or deny the comments people leave. Some of those who visit my blogs challenge me with questions that are obviously meant to entrap, inflame, and waste time. Answering does nothing but frustrate me and make the fool look important, so now I avoid them.

Interestingly, a recent study has shown that “anger is the internet’s most powerful emotion.” Therefore, it is very likely that we will encounter angry, irate, and irrational rants in some future cyber-conversation. The true mark of wisdom is knowing when to avoid getting into the fray, and when to calmly answer (26:5).

Unfortunately, too many of us in this day and age are falling for the fool’s folly and becoming “like unto him.”  Beware of conversational traps.


Cursed Curses!

Proverbs 26:2

“As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.”

Curses!

I recently watched a funny scene from the movie Despicable Me. Vector, the really bad guy, had stolen a stolen shrink ray and was playing with it in his bathroom (lavatory), and that’s when he purposely shrunk his toilet. He then proceeded to mock the toilet like it was a defeated enemy. When the shrunken toilet popped off the water line, Vector yelled, “Curse you, tiny toilet!”

Curses are as old as mankind, I suppose. They have been around long before Vector, Scooby Doo, Endora (Samantha’s mother), or the literal witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7). The first curses recorded in the Bible can be found all the way back in the book of Genesis. There God cursed the serpent (Gen. 3:14), the ground (Gen. 3:17), Cain (Gen. 4:11), and even the anger of Simeon and Levi (Gen. 49:7). So, it would seem that the earliest curses came not from witches, but from God.

However, when God pronounces a curse, it is usually a denunciation of sin (Nu. 5:21, 23; Dt. 29:19–20), His judgment on sin (Nu. 5:22, 24, 27; Is. 24:6), and the person who is suffering the consequences of sin by the judgment of God is called a curse (Nu. 5:21, 27; Je. 29:18).[1]  On the other hand, men use curses as tools to bring something about. However, the difference between a curse from God and a curse from man is capacity: man’s is limited, but God is omnipotent.

Capacity

Those who spew out curses typically have no ability to see them come to fruition. In Eccl. 8:4 we read: “Where the word of the king is, there is power.” In other words, a king can pronounce a curse on his subject’s land or life and have the ability to make it happen. But for most people, “damning” someone is pretty useless.

Click the picture to watch the video.

I once made a video depicting a monkey puppet making fun of evolution. The video asked the question: “What do you get when cross a monkey with time?” The answer was, “A man? No, just a monkey.” Immediately I received hate mail and curses from atheists around the globe.

On other occasions I have written about my views on marriage, which have brought even more hateful language, and even threats. The curses came by the boat load and generally read like this: “I hope you get sick and die!…go to hell!…damn you!” But therein lies the point of today’s proverb – cursed curses are useless.

Causeless

Solomon said, “the curse causeless shall not come.” Therefore, we should not fear the curses of fools, for they do not have the capacity bring about the end result. They presume upon a Power beyond their own to bring about the judgment they declare, but “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Let the witch doctor cast spells; let the voodoo doll be stuck with pins; let the curses come from Hell itself; they will fly by me like sparrows on the wind, for they are as powerless as the cursed fools who send them.


[1] J. A. Motyer, “Curse,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 248.


Foaming Angry

Proverbs 25:23

“The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.”

Which Is It?

This is one of those verses in the Bible that cause interpreters and writers of commentaries to scratch their heads. One puts it this way: “This little proverb is extraordinarily beset with problems.”* According to the scholars and biblical language experts, it is hard to determine what Solomon means, exactly.

You see, there are issues with the “north wind”: does the verb “driveth” really mean to “drive away” or to “bring?” The verb actually means to “bring forth, as with labor pains.” Either way makes the second part hard to interpret: does an angry look come because of a “backbiting tongue,” or does the indignant tongue make the “angry countenance” go away?

If the north wind drives a cold rain away, then the parallel is that an angry look should hush up a slandering tongue. However, if the north wind brings the rain, then a slandering, backbiting tongue causes angry looks. Which one is it?

My Interpretation

One day, a long time ago, I tried to help someone. With a humble, servant-like attitude I bent over backwards to accommodate this individual, even though I knew it was going to be difficult for me. Then, that very evening, I was informed of slander being spread about me – stories that I had done the complete opposite and actually refused to help the person in need.

The word in this verse translated “angry” means “to foam at the mouth, speaking of a camel…”** Dear reader, I am not super spiritual – I am still human – so when I heard of what was being said of me, well…let’s just say I’m glad the walls of my house are made of brick. You could say I was foaming-at-the-mouth angry.

However you choose to interpret Proverbs 25:23, backbiting and slander can cause serious problems. Talking about people behind their backs simultaneously drives away showers of blessing and brings in cold rains of sorrow.

Watch your tongue and the weather will be fine.

“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” – Psalms 34:13-14 ESV

Sources:

*Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 209.

**Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 250.


Out of Context

Proverbs 24:7

“Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.”
“Wisdom is too high for fools; in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths.” (NIV)

Not Where It Belongs

I work in a classroom for children with autism. One of the more exasperating, yet somewhat funny, things about this job is how many times we have to stop the children from doing something gross.

One of their favorite pastimes, it would seem, is picking up something from the floor and immediately sticking it into their mouths.

We exclaim “That is not where it belongs! Spit it out!” We frequently have to “help” them with following that command.

We cannot get them to understand that what they are doing is wrong.

Not Where They Belong

In ancient times, the leaders and older men of a town would meet at the main gate for the town to discuss matters. People throughout the town knew they could go to these men for advice or to resolve disagreements.

These men were respected for their wisdom in matters, because they could usually teach from experience and the Torah (the Five books of Moses, or Genesis through Deuteronomy).

A person who refused to learn from his experiences and continue to make stupid mistakes therefore would have no place to give advice. His wisdom is not wisdom.

Bad Teachers

Others who should not give advice are some Christians.

These are the people who teach about Jesus and the Bible, but either they have not read the Bible or they do not understand what they are saying.

It is like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof quoting scripture that does not exist, only instead of being endearing it can lead others to heresy or drive non-Christians from the truth. They take things out of context or make up information. When confronted, they only get defensive and refuse to look at or change themselves.

Wise God, help us overcome our foolishness, and through Your Holy Spirit guide us in all wisdom. Remind us when it is better to hold our tongues than share what we do not understand.