Tag Archives: Counsel

Heeding the Warning

And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”

Proverbs 5:7-14 ESV

I look for the context when trying to understand any message better, so when I hear the warning summed up in verses 12-14 in this part of the proverbs, I look to the verses preceding it to understand why it is given.

The audience of this passage is being urged to listen to a particular bit of wisdom and not forget it: keep far away and do not come near (being unfaithful to God). I see this as a big, bold-lettered sign on the straight and narrow path saying “wrong way” or “danger, keep out”. This is a warning against things of the flesh, the ways of the world, or in other words, that which causes us to sin (to separate ourselves from God).

It can be rather easy to get caught up in our own designs, or so focused on following certain directions (like a figurative GPS) that we miss the warning right in front of us. Honoring others and putting our trust in false teachings or false teachers will lead away from the best path, no matter how good it sounds or in line with current thinking. Yet, if we adhere to the truth and “do not depart” from it, we will be able to see the unfamiliar territory and turn away.

Giving our years to the merciless, those who do not have our best interests at heart will lead to wasted time and possible destruction. For when we follow someone else’s plan, as opposed to Gods, many wrong turns and necessary U-turns will be sure to follow. Yet again, if we adhere to the truth and “do not depart” from it, we will be able to see the wrong turns ahead and continue on the straight and narrow path instead.

As much as any journey is to be enjoyed, wrong turns and wasted time can be exhausting. And when the purpose of the journey is for anyone or anything against God’s glory, it is worthless, for “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) Instead, adhere now to God’s wisdom and see the danger in being unfaithful to Him, lest you find yourself on the path to utter ruin.

 

 

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Worthless Legs

Proverbs 26:7

“The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.”

This verse and verse 9 are very similar; both talk about worthlessness of wisdom given to fools. In this verse we see a parable compared to a crippled person’s legs. In verse 9 we will see a parable compared to a thorn in a drunk’s hand.

Parable

Before we go any further, let’s make sure we understand what a parable is. One dictionary defines a parable as “an extended metaphor or simile which compares a religious truth with a common experience or circumstance in life.” [1] But if that was too confusing, a parable is “a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson.” [2]

Jesus was famous for using parables to illustrate certain truths to His disciples. For example, you may remember the parables of the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31), the seed and the sower (Mk. 4:3), and the ten talents (Matt. 25). Each one was used to illustrate a point in such a way that the hearer could relate truth to a common experience.

Legs of the Lame

The King James version describes the legs of the crippled person as “not equal.” At first glance it may seem like Solomon is talking about one leg that is shorter than another. However, That “not equal” is another way of saying limp, worthless, or shriveled.

Imagine legs that have no strength, unable to bear the weight of the owner. They are deformed, curled under, twisted, and completely useless. Taking into account the original meaning of the Hebrew term (see Strong’s H1802), they may do nothing more than hang like string.

Parable In the Mouth of a Fool

Now, take the image of crippled legs that you have in your head and imagine them being a parable. How good is a parable that is incapable of illustrating truth? How good is a story that bears no resemblance to common experience? A parable like that can’t even stand on it’s own two feet.

How worthless, then, is the advice of a fool? What good is his counsel? Why should we listen to him?

Keep that in mind the next time you are offered emotional, spiritual, relational, and marital advice from someone who doesn’t even believe there is a God.


[1] David H. Wallace, “Interpretation of Parables,” ed. Ralph G. Turnbull, Baker’s Dictionary of Practical Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1967), 107.

[2] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).


Know the Certainty

Proverbs 22:17-21

17 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
18 For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
19 That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
21 That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

The Importance of Scripture

Over the course of the past 22 chapters of Proverbs, we have seen all of the commands to hold to wisdom and take heed of the words that have been shared.

The Psalms speak repeatedly of God’s Law and the words of Scripture being so important, that we should memorize and act on these words.

What is so important about these words of wisdom and instruction?

Pointing to Something

As has been mentioned before, Jesus is the Wisdom of God (Proverbs 8, John 1).

Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17, NIV)

He also said, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24:44, NIV)

And Paul also mentioned Jesus: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, NIV).

Finally, because we know this, we find in Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV):

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Dear Lord, help us to hold fast to Your Truth in our hearts and minds, that we may be changed to impact our world for Your glory!


Innocent As Children?

Proverbs 20:11

11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.

I can remember growing up hearing “Why did you that? You know better!” whenever I would misbehave. It started around the age of four years or so. It was always said in response to something I had previously done or went against common sense, even for a child.

As a culture we seem to have a certain expectation of children, that they are sweet, innocent little angels who become corrupted by age and experience. Even at a young age we expect our children to behave a certain way, and when they do not they need to be corrected and reprimanded.

If our children have the expectation to do what is right, how much more should we expect teens and adults to do what is right?

You know better!

How do we know we have these expectations of people? We all seem to have an innate understanding of what is right and wrong.

It is seen every time we get upset with someone for doing something stupid or that hurts someone else.

It is seen every time someone does something considered morally wrong. All religions and atheists admit to a moral code.

All people fall short at some point, and it always seems as though we can hear someone saying “You know better!”

We have God’s Word to reveal to us how we each have gone astray from what is right. Honestly, it is put in such simple terms that children can understand it.

Yet we fail time and again.

But God helps us and changes us through His Holy Spirit.

Even children know how to do what is right if they are told.

God has shown us. May we, as His children, listen.

Heavenly Father, You are so holy and amazing. May Your Kingdom be lived out through our lives, that the world may glorify You.  Let our actions speak of Your perfect will and grace, that the world may know what is pure and right: You.


Listen To Me Please!

Proverbs 19:20

“Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.”

listen-to-me-pleaseI have one child. She is currently eight years old going on 16 and she already knows everything! I am sure that most parents have been in this situation at one time or another.

I have found myself more and more saying to her, “Just listen to me, please! I have been there before and I am trying to help you, so just listen to me”. (I know my parents have a smile of their face about right now)

Just the other day, we were working on some math homework for school. She was convinced that the answer that she had come up with was the correct answer and that nothing else could be right. As I proceeded to help her, I was met with the look on her face that told me that I was stupid and that I did not know what I was talking about.

I begged her to please listen to me because for one, I had done this type of math before and I knew how to get the right answer and number 2, I knew that I was right!

Long story short, after a long, hard battle of trying to show her that I was right, she finally looked at me and said that I guess you do know what you are talking about. Later that day she told me that the way I showed her how to get the answer was a much easier way.

This is exactly what Solomon was talking about in our verse today. He is telling us that while we are young, we need to listen to people who have been through different experiences and learn from them. Whether someone has gone through a good experience or a bad experience, there is always something that we can learn from them in how they handled the situation.

Solomon is telling us that when we listen to instructions and advice, that when we are older we will be wise in how we handle things.

Lord, give us ears that are open to advice and instructions and give us wisdom and understanding to compare them with Your Word. We pray that when we are young that we would listen to godly advice and instructions and when we are older, that that same godly advice would be passed down to the next generation.


The Art of Studying

Proverbs 18:17

He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him. (KJV)
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. (ESV)

Berean-ness

In the book of Acts, Luke tells us about the Jews in Berea: “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts, 17:11, NIV)

They heard the message, and it was intriguing! Yet, they were careful enough to study what was being sold to them as truth.

Of Cults and Purchases

A big reason Protestant and Evangelical Christians have pushed reading and knowing the Bible so much is because of what may come from an uninformed people.

If someone gives information backed with enough facts and it sounds exciting, people are willing to listen. Especially in a hurting and broken world, news of hope and peace  can be easily and eagerly lapped up by the hurting masses.

This is why heresies and cults are able to arise so easily. Even though there is a blatant lie (such as Jesus being the highest of angels, from Jehovah’s Witnesses, or some people can attain godhood, from the Latter-Day Saints [Mormon]), an uneducated mind  is willing to accept it. It is only by studying the facts that the truth is revealed.

Having been in sales and retail most of my adult life, I can tell you how true this is on the most basic of levels. A crafty salesman can convince a person that they need a particular item, and many people fall for this. Someone else must clean up the mess when the customer comes back complaining and needing to return the product.

They were sold something they thought they needed, what they were told they needed, and not what was best for them.

Studying God

Are we seeking truth or simply what we want to hear?

We cannot simply take what is told to us as truth. There are enough people out there who will twist the gospel for their own purposes. (To be fair, some pastors and speakers misquote and take out of context on accident. Then it is important to study to help keep the message pure!)

When these people “states his case” about God, through Scripture God is the One who examines them.
“He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them.” (Psalm 11:4)

Lord, help us listen to truth and not be deceived. On a daily basis, may our prayer to You be “Test me, Lord, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind” (Psalm 23:2). May we be found honest and find truth through You.


A Timely Word

Proverbs 15:23

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”

In yesterday’s Proverbial Thought – “Purposes Established!”, it was discussed just how important it is to seek counsel. Today’s verse we flip to the other side of the coin and talk about when someone come to us seeking advice what is our response. Today’s verse focuses on not only giving the right advice but giving it at the appropriate time. I love the way the HCSB says our verse, “A man takes joy in giving an answer; and a timely word — how good that is!”

The book of Proverbs contains many words of advice and wisdom regarding our speech. It also gives us several reasons for our words:

It’s All About the Timing

As it was says earlier, a wise person not only knows the correct response to give but also gives it at the correct time. This wise counsel was given to us in Ecclesiastes 8:5-6:

“Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way. For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.”

Proverbs 25:11 also tells us:

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” 

We have all either heard of stories or experienced them ourselves. The story of someone going through a hard time, having a loved one die or receiving some extremely bad news. And then it happens. Someone who is trying to console them with words tells them of their cousin’s best friend’s mother who went through the exact same thing but tells them of the horrific end that took place.

Why do we (yes, I have done this myself) think this is going to make them feel better? The timing was way off and not at all comforting to the receiver.

This reminds me Job. During the time that he was devastated by the news he had just received, three visitors came to him and basically started telling him it was all his fault. How is that for positive reenforcement!

Solomon is telling us in our verse that the proper words spoken at the proper time will be good news to both the giver of those words and the receiver.

So the next time you are going to give advice to someone, not only remember that there are right words to say but that there is also the right time to say them.