Category Archives: Warnings

The King’s Beverage

Proverbs 31:4-7

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:  Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. 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.”

Teetotaler?

As a life-long Baptist, I know that I am treading on thin ice when I tackle this passage. There are many within my denomination who are what we call “teetotalers,” which is a term for those who will never touch a drop of beverage alcohol. And because of this, if I say anything positive about alcohol I am likely to be censured.

On the other hand, there are whole denominations within the Christian faith that have no problem with drinking beer, wine, or whatever suits their fancy, even purchasing wineries with tithes and offerings. For the record, I don’t approve of going that far.

However, I do feel that there is more to the subject of drinking alcohol than totally abstaining or totally imbibing. Wisdom is the key. And that is why, as we look at the verses above, we can see that king Lemuel’s mother was evidently not a proponent of “teetotalism” (total abstinence), but rather a developer of wisdom in a son who was destined to lead.

Not for Kings

There are several things this godly mother warns her son about in the first part of this chapter, but much of her focus is on the use of alcohol. Why is that? Could it be that alcohol is a dangerous, mind altering, inhibition-destroying drug? Could it be that even though it may have its uses, a leader worth his salt is wise enough to avoid it?

Plenty of men and women from all walks of life have been able to drink alcohol with little or no adverse consequences. However, the gutters of history are strewn with the carcasses of leaders who drank away their kingdoms. The broken hearts and ruined lives caused by drunkeness are innumerable.

I can envision a young prince Lemuel, his mother’s hand on his shoulder, as they walked by the equivalent of a modern bar. As they peeked in on the raucous behavior brought about by the effects of wine and strong drink, she may have whispered in his ear the words he later penned: “It’s not for kings, my dear Lemuel, it’s not for kings; nor even when you’re just a prince.”

Proper Place

Even though a king, a man whose decisions carry so much weight, should avoid strong drink, king Lemuel’s mother, and thereby king Lemuel himself, knew that there was a time and place for it. You see, wine has the dangerous ability to make one “forget law” and “pervert judgment,” but it also has the ability to lift a heavy heart, to numb the pain.

Warnings against wine are plenty, but king David declares that God creates the “wine that maketh glad the heart of man” (Psa. 104:15). The key is to not only know its proper place, but the proper place of the one who must choose.

Wisdom should be the king’s beverage of choice.

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Leaders and Alcohol

Proverbs 31:4-5.

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.” (KJV).

Confusion Surrounding Alcohol:

There is a huge debate that is going on within the Christian community surrounding the use of alcohol. On one side are those who say that Christians should never drink alcohol, period. They like to quote Scriptures like Proverbs 20:1: “Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise” and Ephesians 5:18: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” They preach that all alcohol use is evil and sinful.

On the other side are those who say that it’s okay for Christians to drink as long as they do so in moderation. They quote Scriptures like Psalm 104:14-15: “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the service of man, That he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine that makes glad the heart of man” and talk about how Jesus drank wine, and turned water into wine at a wedding (John 2:1-11).

(Then, of course, there are the liberals who say: “We’re under grace, not law, so Christians can eat, drink, be merry, and get drunk if they want to!” But they’re idiots, so we won’t consider their claims here).

What Does the Bible Say?

Although the Bible is abundantly clear that drunkenness is a sin, and that it can ruin your life (see Proverbs 23:29-35 and Isaiah 5:11), there are no Scriptures that explicitly forbid the consumption of alcohol in moderation. However, it does have a lot to say to leaders and their use of alcohol.

  • The Apostle Paul said that those who are called to be leaders in the church must not be given to much wine, or not heavy drinkers (1 Timothy 3:8).
  • In Leviticus, the Bible says that those who are called to the priesthood must not drink wine or intoxicating drink (10:8-10).

In today’s Proverb, there is a warning against kings or princes drinking wine or strong (alcoholic) drinks. The reason given for this warning is that if they drink alcohol, then they will forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Or, as Eugene Peterson says, “they don’t know right from wrong, and the people who depend on them are hurt.” (Message). Simply put, a leader who drinks alcohol will not be able to lead well.

The Leadership Challenge:

The challenge then to leaders is this: Although under the new covenant of grace, all things may be lawful for us, but not all things are beneficial. And if you are called to be a leader, alcohol will impair your ability to lead well. So, to be a good steward of your leadership gifting and calling, make a decision to say no to alcohol, and be the best leader you can be!


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.


Fighting Talk

Proverbs 30:33 

Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.
As the beating of cream yields butter and striking the nose causes bleeding, so stirring up anger causes quarrels. (NLT)

Some things in life are inevitable. This proverb gives two examples of the inevitable that are painfully obvious. Churn milk and you get butter. Hit someone on the nose hard enough and there will be blood. The only reason to churn milk would be to turn it into butter. As far as I know there is no way of turning butter back into milk. But why would anyone hit another person on the nose, or stir up anger in any other way? As with milk and butter, once a punch has been thrown the damage cannot be undone.

The problem is less with the inevitable and more with the consequences. Hit someone on the nose and there is a possibility that you may find that you get hit on the nose in return. Making someone angry could have the same result. It is important to carefully consider the consequences of words and deeds. Neither can be undone, and some create problems that last for a very long time. A good example is a recent parking dispute in the UK between two pensioners. After a heated argument one of these gentlemen punched the other one, who fell to the ground striking his head on a curbstone. The consequence was that one man died and the other is now serving five years in prison having been convicted of manslaughter. All because of a senseless argument.

It isn’t always possible to avoid trouble, but the advice in this proverb is that we should always avoid being the instigator. That means being careful with our words as well as with our fists.

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37 ESV)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-25346826


Bite Your Tongue!

Proverbs 30:32

32 If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth. (KJV)
32 If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. (ESV)

James said it best:

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
James 3:5-18, ESV

Lord, help us to control our tongues, to rein in our pride, and to be children of humility and peace.


Safe In the Rock

Proverbs 30:24, 26

“There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: … The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;”

Conies

The conies are second in the list  “four (little) things” that are exceedingly wise. But what is a coney? Is it a hot dog found on Long Island, New York? Possibly, but only if a legless wiener is capable of wisdom. These conies in this proverb seem to have a defense against being eaten with mustard – they hide in the rocks.

HyraxThe animal described here is the hyrax, or rock badger (no relation to the kind that can chew off your arm). Found in Africa and the Middle East, these cute little critters, weighing an average of 8 lbs., are scavengers which live in groups of 8 to 10 and find refuge in the cracks and crevices of rocky terrain. Though scientists say the hyrax is a close relative to the elephant (it even has tiny little tusks – how cute!), this furry little animal is practically defenseless…at least on its own.

Their Defense System

Even though hyraxes are small, weak, and incapable of fighting off a predator, they are not on the endangered species list. Why is that? The answer lies in where they make their homes – in the rocks – and how they look out for each other.

Being small and rather slow, the hyraxes in Africa are preyed upon by other animals such as wild dogs, leopards, and Egyptian cobras. However, it seems that the conies in Israel, like the ones of which Solomon spoke, have learned how to use the rocks to their advantage, along with a “system of sentries.”

 “In Israel, the rock hyrax is reportedly rarely preyed upon by terrestrial predators, as their system of sentries and their reliable refuges provide considerable protection. Hyrax remains are almost absent from the droppings of wolves in the Judean Desert.” (Wickipedia)

Is it any wonder why Solomon called the conies (hyraxes) “exceeding wise?” Knowing the danger posed by wolves and the like, the defenseless animals band together, watch over each other, and run to the rocks any time there is a threat.

Our Defense

One would have to be blind to miss the parallels here. Why do so many fools fall victim to the ravenous wolves of the world? Their bones are found scattered across the sands of time because they ventured out alone, without the watchful eyes of others, and without the defense available in the true Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ.

Why won’t more people heed the wisdom of Proverbs? Why do so many of us continue to be eaten alive by the enemy when there is a Rock in which to run and hide?

“OH! Rock of Ages, hide thou me!”


The Last Generation

Proverbs 30:14

11 There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.
12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.
13 There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.

14 There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.

The Plain Truth

The previous three verses have looked at what “a generation” or “a people” may do that are considered wicked and unwise. These are people who disrespect or even curse their parents (v. 11). These are people who think they are good people, but they are in fact covered in their own filth (v. 12). These are people who think they know better than anyone else, and they do not need to answer to anyone (v. 13).

In the last “generation” we get this final picture of truly cruel and wicked people. They are people who know how to tear another to shreds with their words and show contempt for others.

The Prophetic Truth

The Bible has more to say about the “last” generation:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.
2 Timothy 3:1-8, ESV

Consider that state of things today:

  • Children disrespect their parents on a regular basis.
  • Everyone is taught they make their own truth and are basically good.
  • In the age of the internet, everyone thinks they are an expert in everything.
  • The shows and movies that are viewed the most are full of violence, coarse language, sex, and innuendo.
  • We care more for saving animals and the planet than saving people.
  • We turn away from the Truth and lead others away from the Truth.

Christ may not return for His Bride the Church today, but the evidence seems to be mounting that He will soon.

Are we ready, or are we helping to devour the poor and the needy?

Lord, come quickly, but give us the grace, patience, wisdom, and time to reach as many as possible with Your truth and grace.