Category Archives: Mercy

Beware of Saying “YAY!”

Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him. – Proverbs 24:17-18 

All Political

As of this writing, we are in a tense political season. Everything from the dog catcher to the future Supreme Court Justice is being hotly debated.

What gets me is the constant digging for dirt … the constant jabbing and sticking it to another … the constant slanted and twisted information leaked to the press … the overall sense that it doesn’t matter the means, as long as the enemy falls.

All it takes is one little suggestion that somebody has something incriminating, some new bit of gossip, some possibly damaging bit of info, for the television to flash with “BREAKING NEWS!!” Then, for the next two days, at least, the smallest piece of supposed dirt will become the most talked about item.

Let’s be completely honest, shall we? Every time there’s any suggestion that the current President may fall from office, the excitement exhibited by the media resembles a child before Christmas morning.

Show Mercy

But if people would only take notice of this bit of wisdom found in Proverbs 24:17-18, they would be more careful with their rejoicing. Notice, God is not taking sides with anyone; He’s only saying that we need to be careful how we react when our enemies fall – Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, or whatever.

“Enemy” could even apply to the one who’s done you harm, the crook that stole from you, or the lover that ditched you for someone else.

Search the Word of God and you will find that He would much rather show mercy than pour out judgment upon evildoers, and that is why the Lord calls for them to repent (Ezekiel 18:32). So, to rejoice with giddy excitement over the fall of your enemy is to run contrary to the nature of God.

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. – Matthew 5:44-45

Those who do end up rejoicing over their enemy’s fall may find themselves disappointed with the end result. 

 

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Ransomed and Redeemed

The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright. -Proverbs 21:18 KJV

I see two ways the wicked can be a ransom for the righteous and the transgressor for the upright.

First, the fulfillment of “you reap what you sow.”

Think of Haman from the book of Esther, who hoped to hang Mordecai, but was instead hung on the very gallows he had built.

Or the men who tried to trap Daniel and were themselves thrown into his pit of lions to be devoured.

In other words, if you plan evil against someone, you may very well find yourself suffering that fate.

Secondly, the ransom is not the payment but the prize.

Think of the kidnapped child. The “ransomed child” is paid for and redeemed.

(You probably see where this is going …)

Jesus Christ is the only truly righteous and upright One, and He sacrificed Himself for our ransom. Praise be to God that we wicked transgressors are the ransomed of Christ.

Likewise, we should go out and be willing to sacrifice everything to bring others to the knowledge of our Great Redeemer.


The Cries of the Poor

Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. -Proverbs 21:13, KJV

I have pretty much always been a compassionate person. There was a time, however, when I followed a party line and believed the poor must have done something to deserve it.

This is especially crazy knowing my family went through a time when we almost ended up homeless, wondering if there was enough food to feed the five of us each day.

Personal Rebuke

But God sent me a bit of a rebuke, and in late 2007 through early 2008 I spent most nights on the streets of metro-area Phoenix. If you can not learn more compassion for others when alongside them, you are truly hard of heart.

I was fortunate (though my parents worried like crazy), but others may not be.

Throughout Scripture, God sets His expectation for His people: to love the widows, orphans, and the poor.

In the literal understanding, help those who do not have enough. This is loving your neighbor.

Deeper Cries

The deeper understanding is to help those who are spiritually poor. Help them find the truth of who Christ is. Feed their spirit and mind with God’s Word.

To not do so is to condemn them – and yourself – to eternal death and judgment, to cries of the poor who will never find rest. That is why to ignore the cries of the poor will lead to your own crying that will not be heard.

Believe in and share Christ and be saved.


Reconciling with the World

He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. -Proverbs 17:9 KJV

Read the Second Letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians).

We are called to a ministry of reconciliation. We are to help reconcile our fallen world to a holy God.

How do we do this?

It is not by constantly telling people what they are doing is wrong. We should, ought to point out their sinfulness and need for a savior, but repeating it over and over and putting forth a air of judgmentalism, driving people away.

Instead, we acknowledge the sin, yes, but we make it clear that we still want to be with them and see them.

That we still love them, because God first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

We must cover their sins with the love of God, as He did for us with the blood of Christ. Then they will be able to see God’s grace that much more clearly.

Even with your brother or sister, your crazy mom or deadbeat dad, the customer who complains about everything or the cashier who messes up your order, and the driver who cut you off in traffic.


The Poor Difference

The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends. He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. -Proverbs 14:20‭-‬21, KJV

There are two different kinds of poor people:

  1. The person who owns little but is responsible and honest: They may be poor in possessions, but also being poor in spirit just means they acknowledge their status and keep striving.
  2. The person who is wasteful and irresponsible: They are poor in possessions, but they are also poor in humility and refuse to accept responsibility for their circumstances. They may even think others owe them.

It is easy to not feel bad (or to strongly dislike or even have hate) for the one who squandered everything and blames others. It is easier to feel sorry for and even be friends with the one who owns little but owns up to their station. (Trust me. I have been there.)

Even a rich person can be poor in humility and therefore be hated.

But God calls us to love the lowly of every type, whether of means or of character. We are not to despise them but show mercy acks kindness.

That may mean a handout (even if we think they may spend or trade it for drugs and alcohol), but it definitely means showing them God’s love, mercy, and grace. For that is what He did for us.


Puppaccinos and Mercy

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. -Proverbs 12:10, KJV

Mickey loves his Puppaccino, even when he gets stuck.

I love my dogs. We even sometimes call them our “fur babies.” Sometimes I spoil them with a trip to the coffee shop that has Puppaccinos for dogs (whipped cream with dog biscuits on top). I feel bad when they do not get their regularly timed walks or step on a sharp rock or hot asphalt during those walks.

Even though I love these guys, if my wife or another human were in trouble, I would choose the human over them.

Have Mercy

Some people, however, only view animals as property, at best. Their idea of mercy on their dogs is not kicking them very hard or remembering to feed them today.

Oftentimes, these are people who tend to treat many humans similarly. Whether it is being verbally abusive, deceptive, or simply not caring, this type of person would rather record you having a problem than help you.

This thinking infects most of us in some way, ever since the beginning when Cain asked God about Abel, “Am I my brothers keeper?” In other words, “How is this my problem? What has it to do with me?”

Jesus turned this thinking on its head, most notably in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). To be fondly and righteous means to make others’ problems our own. It means not thinking too highly of oneself, but as a servant to others. It means having compassion and showing mercy on others.

It might even mean caring about what happens to animals. (But always in regards to human life.)


Contrasting the Parallelisms

A New Section

You may notice that starting here in chapter 10, the verses read a little differently. The reason is that here we see the beginning of the second part of this book (Prov. 10:1-22:16) which contains what are called “parallelisms.”

Parallelisms are grammatical and poetical devices which both help make a point and make the point easier to process while including an easier-to-remember element.

Sometimes parallelisms are antithetic (Prov. 10:1-15:33), while others are synthetic (Prov. 16:1-22:16). The first use two lines of prose to make a contrast; the second uses two lines to point out similarities.

A good extra-biblical example of antithetic parallelism can be seen in the words of Sir Winston Churchill (House of Commons, 22 October 1945):

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

A good example of antithetic parallelism from chapter 10 might be the following verse:

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. – Proverbs 10:12

Churchill made a positive point about capitalism, but he did it by contrasting the “vice” of capitalism with the “virtue” of socialism. Solomon highlighted the caring and peaceful value of love by contrasting it with strife: false love can be exposed by the debris it stirs up.

However, neither kinds of parallelisms are meant to be understood as all-encompassing. Some are best understood as being more “rule-of-thumb” than absolute (i.e., Prov. 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” yet some children leave and never return).

Unpacking It All

Because there is no real way to connect all of these parallelisms into one coherent message, unlike the previous chapters which addressed particular themes, we could take a long time unpacking each one. Therefore, I would encourage you to go back and check out our past commentary on Proverbial Thought which dealt with each individual verse. You can do that by clicking on the tabs at the top of the page (chapters 9-12 will be uploaded soon).

But for now, since this time we are going through Proverbs in a more condensed fashion, we will only be addressing the verses which most stand out to the particular writer.

I’m looking forward to reading what the Holy Spirit shows the other writers. It should be interesting.

That being said…

Thinking of Proverbs 10:12 (as seen above), isn’t it wonderful when we choose not to bring up past wrongs, but rather let things lie, even cover them with a blanket of grace?

Solomon isn’t talking about sweeping guilt under a rug or denying wrongdoing or sin (such as abuse); he’s talking about forgiveness.

Sometimes the better part of forgiveness is to keep some things packed away and forgotten. Real love seeks healing; false love (hatred, selfishness, pride) demands a never-ending string of “I’m sorry’s” and never lets the dust settle on the past.

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8 CSB