Category Archives: counsel

Give Them Wine

Proverbs 31:6-7

“Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”

Debate Addressed 

Chris Jordan did an excellent job of dealing with 31:4 and 5. With wisdom and tact, he expressed both sides of the alcohol debate, ultimately showing that “under the new covenant of grace, all things may be lawful for us, but not all things are beneficial.”

My Baptist upbringing was one that left little room for debate on this subject. It was only after a lengthy (before computers) study of the word “wine” as used in the Bible did I begin to realize that there may be more to the debate than a simple black-and-white, drink-or-not-drink argument. Even king Lemuel’s mother understood there were times when alcohol could be useful (and not just in cough syrup).

The Perishing

Just today, not more than a few hours before writing this, I stood beside the hospital bed of a man in pain, a man dying. Cancer had taken over his body, his breathing and heart rate were rapid, and his mouth was dry. The family was standing around crying as they waited for the inevitable.

As I stood beside him, a nurse came in with a sponge on a little stick and placed it in some ice water, then put it in the man’s mouth. At that moment one family member said, “What he really wants is a milkshake.” Then the man’s sister said, “He should get whatever he wants.” Had he wanted a shot of Jack Daniels, they should have given it to him! He will be dead long before you, the reader, read this.

If alcohol was a sin (not just the consumption of it), then it would have been wrong for Lemuel’s mother to suggest giving strong drink to him that is “perishing.” But the king’s wise mother understood that when a man is at the end of his life or even the ends of his ropes, something that will ease his pain, or lift his spirit, is perfectly appropriate in moderation. But is to be used as a temporary remedy, one that can help one deal with his situation, not completely hide from it.

A Giving King

But there is even a deeper message in all this. What kind of king keeps hoards his wealth when his subjects are suffering? What kind of leader draws comfort from his cellars, while the poor search in vain for relief from their heavy hearts?

“Look at all you have,” Lemuel’s mother might say. “You have more than you need, and you don’t even need what you have. Therefore, open up your wine cellar; give to those who are perishing; lift the spirits of those who are discouraged; and lead your kingdom with clarity and compassion.”

Wouldn’t it be great if more kings, queens, presidents, and politicians would think less about what makes them happy, less about their own ambitions, and more about the needs of others? Most are drunk with the wine of power, forgetting the law and perverting judgment, while the powerless suffer.

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A Mother’s Advice

Proverbs 31:1-3 

“The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows? Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.”

Lemuel’s Words

For most of Proverbs we have read the words of King Solomon, son of David. Now, in the last chapter, we read the words of king Lemuel, of whom we know nothing about. Some go as far as suggesting that Lemuel is another name for Solomon, but there is no way of knowing.

Why is it, then, that we have the words of another king? Wasn’t Solomon the wisest man to live? Yes, but even Solomon was wise enough to recognize wisdom in others. It may be (and this is only conjecture) that Solomon included these words of Lemuel, along with Agur, because he thought, “I couldn’t have said it any better…My thoughts, exactly!”

On the other hand, could it be that the compiler of Proverbs wanted to insert wisdom that Solomon would not, or could not have penned? Was it not Solomon who gave his strength to women? Could Proverbs 31 be a final warning to would-be kings that even though wealth and wisdom may be desirable, the wisdom of a godly mother is priceless? Just a thought.

A Godly Mother

Notice that this chapter starts out by saying, “The words of king Lemuel…” But notice, also, that the words of king Lemuel are actually the teachings, the advice of a mother who loved him, who felt for him, and who devoted him to God.

In verse 2 Lemuel’s mother describes him as her son, the son of her womb, and the son of her vows. Here is expressed a natural love that a mother has for her child; there is a deeper love that connects in a physical, pain-feeling way; and there is a love expressed in the fact that Lemuel was a son, probably like Samuel, who was dedicated to God. Why shouldn’t we listen to what she has to say?

Needed Mothers

There are probably numerous ways one could apply the third verse. However, I can’t help but think Lemuel’s mother is calling upon her son to remember who he is. God is also calling us to remember who we are.

“You are a man,” she said. “You are a king!” Oh, how we need more mothers to encourage their son’s masculinity…their leadership potential…their status as “kings.” But needed, even more, are mothers who would warn their sons of the dangers of the fairer sex. We need fathers, but we also need mothers who will shoot straight with their sons and tell it like it is: the wrong women can destroy you, and your kingdom.

I am thankful, not only for a godly father, but for a godly mother who loved me enough to teach me truth…to warn me…to beat my butt when I needed it. I’m thankful for a mother who said, “Listen! Be a man…be a king.”

There are strength-sappers and king-destroyers out there. Warn your son, mom, before it’s too late.


Rejoice or Mourn, but Don’t Settle

Proverbs 29:2

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”

‘Ocracies

It would seem like never before in the history of man has it been possible for atheists and all those antagonistic to Christianity, the Bible, faith, or whatever, to have their voices be heard. Of course, I may be wrong and even over-exaggerating a little, but thanks to the media and easy access to the internet, angry voices condemning leaders with morals are screaming from every direction.

This proverb should not be interpreted as saying, “Christians should be in authority everywhere!” No, the idea is more along the lines of promoting wise leadership, honest leadership, or simply men and women with integrity and moral fortitude. Yet, even when and if true Christians were to assume authority, very few would have any thoughts of promoting a “theocracy.” But listen to the atheists and you’d think that the “righteous” would start hanging unbelievers tomorrow, if they could.

The fact is that at it’s founding, when the most Christians (including deists) where in authority in America, that is when they founded a constitutional republic, NOT a theocracy.

Righteous Rule

When the righteous rule, the people rejoice. Why is that? Could it be that the people are treated fairly? The righteous wouldn’t take more than they need in taxes. The righteous wouldn’t lie about issues in order to get elected. The righteous would be responsible with resources. The righteous wouldn’t seek office to obtain power, but to serve others. The righteous wouldn’t compromise his beliefs, but he would work together with his fellow man in search of the common good.

Sadly, many in our society mourn when the righteous are considered for leadership. Many recoil at the thought of a man or woman with integrity, faith, and morals. They see these potential leaders as threats – not to freedom, but to unrestrained behavior.

Wicked Rule

Why do the people mourn when the wicked rule? Because the wicked think only of themselves; they care nothing about the people under their authority.

Do we have wicked leaders, or are our leaders righteous, looking out for all of us? Do those in authority serve, or do they accumulate power in order to manipulate the masses? The answer will be different and vary in intensity wherever you go, but this much is true: there are far fewer righteous leaders than wicked ones.

The Undecided

But then there are those who can’t decide whether to rejoice or mourn. They have been treated so poorly for so long that they have come to accept wicked leadership as the norm.

If you think otherwise, just consider the following defense of President Obama by L.Z. Granderson on CNN:

“Now with president Obama, it is true, he should have been more forthright with how the Affordable Care Act was going to impact the country. But with that being said, all Americans know politicians lie. The question is: which lies can you live with? And time and time again Americans have said, “We can deal with the lies that President Obama tells us, because we believe in his heart – he has the best interests for the American people. Every president’s gonna lie to you. Every politician is gonna lie to you. The question is: which lies can you live with?” – Source

Sounds more like when the wicked rule, the people give up caring. God help us.


Oppressing the Poor

Proverbs 22: 22-23 

Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
Do not exploit the poor because they are poor
 and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life. (NIV)

Once again the writer challenges our attitudes to the poor. How we treat those who are poorer than us, or even weaker than us is important. Most of us would probably read this proverb and think that it doesn’t apply to us personally because we haven’t robbed or oppressed anybody. Perhaps we haven’t, but are we sure? What about times we have failed to stand up for someone? Take it right back to the school playground where it was easier to walk away than stand up for a fellow pupil facing ridicule or even physical violence. I can remember thinking ‘rather him than me’ on more than one occasion.

Then there is the work place. When I joined the Merchant Navy as a sixteen-year-old cadet it was made perfectly clear to me that I was at the bottom of the pecking order. The chief officer on my first ship used to shout at me regularly, perhaps because he had been treated the same way when he was starting his career. I remember the captain sticking up for me one day and the treatment I received improved a little after that. A few years later when I was an officer I found myself speaking up for a young Rastafarian able seaman who was assigned to my watch. In this case the bosun and another seaman were making this young man’s life a misery, with the knowledge of the chief officer! He had nobody to plead his case until I stepped in. I did not make myself popular in the process, but I could not ignore what was going on.

Oppression takes many forms. Read through these verses again – there is a significant warning in verse 22. Is God challenging you about your attitude to others, or is He calling you to take a stand in someone’s defense today?


The Eyes Have It

Proverbs 27:20

“Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”
“Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.” – NIV

I, I

I enjoy video games. I have done for a long long time. I have worked in a video game shop. When a new big game comes out I find it hard to resist: I want to play it, to experience it. I knew the latest Grand Theft Auto would be a well deserved 18: but I am a sensible deserving adult, right? However upon playing a portion of the game I just simply decided that I didn’t want this kind of thing in my life. I can appreciate that it is a good game: the mechanics work well but for me the mechanics are implemented in a dark fashion. So I got rid of it. To be honest it was a sacrifice. I enjoyed most elements of the game but when it forces me in a direction that I don’t want to go in and have no chance to skip, I have to make a choice.

Why? Because what I fill my life with dominates it. What I let my eyes see affects my actions. Or as Jesus put it: what I fill my heart with will eventually come to the surface. Let me be clear – I’m not suggesting that playing dark or violent video games will turn a person into a killer: just that at some point, on some level, it will have an impact on their mood and outlook. That’s why despite me enjoying parts of the game, especially the chance to play online with friends, I have decided it’s not for me. I guess it crossed a line that I didn’t want to. Now I still have games in my collection that involve things like shooting so what does this verse have to say about them?

Balance in Favour of God

The eyes are never satisfied. They take everything in and the more they see of one thing the more they want it. Be that video games, films, porn or purity. People talk about our lives being in balance but for me the key is to make sure your eyes see enough of God that they just keep wanting more. The times I have genuinely spent focusing on God are the times when all other things in my life take a back seat. You may not like video games but I guarantee there is something in your life that is your go to thing when God is not central. The thing you spend most of your time doing, or thinking about when you aren’t doing it. If we could make God that thing, a lot of our other problems would fade into insignificance.

Matthew 6:33 ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’


Reflections of Reality

Proverbs 27:19

“As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.”
“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” – ESV

A Little Complicated

Today’s proverb, especially in the King James Version, is not for the casual reader. The wording is complicated, to say the least. But even when we look at other translations, the truth of this proverb, like a flower in mid-bloom, is never fully revealed.

It seems that verse 19 is an extension of verse 17, but it takes “iron sharpeneth iron” to a deeper level, “where one is to seek out and discern good advice, but also to heed the counsel of one’s heart (as well as pray!).”[1]

There are evidently several ways to interpret this passage. The New American Commentary explains: “Some take it to mean that one sees one’s inner self reflected in the face of a companion; and others, that one comes to self-understanding by introspection.”[2] However, the explanation of this proverb may be no more complicated than the need to see ourselves for who we really are.

Exposing Reality

A friend once had some things happen that caused him to react in a very fleshly, un-Christian way. Because of the circumstances that led to his angry response to an obvious injustice, I was not going to judge him or think less of him in any way; I might have done the same thing had I been in his shoes.

But that evening, after reading Proverbs chapter 6 in preparation for the next day’s Sunday school class, my friend called me on the phone to apologize for his actions. Then, the next morning in class, as we talked about how reading the Bible exposes who we really are, my friend said, “But sometimes what I see in the reflection is not really me.”

mirrorAh, but that’s not so!” I replied. The fact, I explained, is that when we peer down into the water of God’s word, the reflection we see is the only accurate reflection available. While other mirrors show us what we want to see, the Bible reflects our reality.

“But that’s not who I want to be…I’m not that way,” he said. “Oh,” I replied, “but that is who you are…who we all are…The heart is wicked and capable of all kinds of things, and God’s word reminds us of that.”

The Point

So what’s the point? Is there any hope? Sure there is! It is only when we are able to reflect on who we really are, when we can see ourselves face-to-face, than we can move beyond the pretenses of our own pride and self-righteousness.

But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” – Colossians  3:8-10 NLT


[1] Rowland E. Murphy, Proverbs, vol. 22, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 209.

[2] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 220.


A Proud Dad

Proverbs 27:11 – My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.

Over and over again, I can remember my father introducing me to his friends. It would go something like this, “And this is Jason. He is a chip off the old block”. What my dad was saying about me was that we were (and still are) very much alike. What he liked, I liked. What he enjoyed doing in his spare time, I enjoyed doing in my spare time. What he liked to eat, I liked to eat! I was just a smaller (chip) version of him (block). My dad was proud to call me his son!

father-SonEven though I was a small version of him, there were things that I did to make him proud of me and things that I did that did not make him so proud of me. Those times that I listen to his instructions and was wise in the decisions I made, as our verse says, it made his heart glad. It brought joy to him and even the simplest “attaboy” brought joy to my heart.

We have seen this before in Proverbs 10:1 – “A wise son makes a proud father…”

There are several things we can learn from this verse:

1. There had to be instruction given to the son in order for him to learn or gain the wisdom. Fathers, we can’t expect our children to grow up in this world without giving them the instructions that God has laid out for us to pass along to them. Let’s not miss the opportunity to teach them God’s Word. It may be hard work now but when we are older and our children are following God and teaching their children His Word – I guarantee you there will be many glad hearts.

2. The son had a choice to make. The father may have given up everything to teach and direct him in the way of God, but the son had the final choice in which direction he was going to go. Each of us have to make that choice. Solomon knew his son had to make his own choice, that is why over and over and over again he is pleading with him to get understanding and wisdom.

My prayer is not only will I be willing to instruct my daughter in God’s Word but that she would also be wise and make the right decisions. Now that would make my heart very, very glad!

When we are wise and follow our heavenly Father’s instructions, I can’t help but think HE will have a happy heart as well!

Lord, please guide and direct me as I raise my daughter. Help me to be the man of God that I need to be first, so that I may teach her your Word. Lord I pray that she will hear and understand your Word and listen to your teachings.