Tag Archives: David

Watch Your Mouth

Proverbs 4:24

“Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.”
The Old Days

There used to be a day, when I was young, that foul language was not permitted in polite company. I remember going to see a movie with my parents, and right in the middle of the film we got up and left the theater. My parents were not going to sit through a bunch of “cuss’n.”

Back in the old days, before MTV and Southpark, it was not unheard of to punish a child who used “perverse” language. Now, it is not uncommon to hear small children curse like sailors. It used to be acceptable to wash a child’s mouth out with soap; but not anymore. Today’s children, not to mention the average TV show or movie, are accustomed to vulgarity.

Not Cuss’n

But this verse is not really addressing the use of four, six, or ten-letter words. Solomon is speaking here of something a little different. Oh, I’m sure this proverb could also be applied to the folly of foul language; but there is more to this verse than that.

If we take a look at the word “froward” in this verse, it means to be “distorted, or crooked” (Strong’s H6143). More than just advising his children to watch their language, Solomon was telling them that a wise man will speak straight, and not twist words to his own advantage.

Lies

If we were to dig down below the surface of this verse, I believe at the foundation we would find the command, “Thou shalt not lie.” And what is a distortion of the truth, but a lie?

It is so easy to lie when we get into trouble. It is also tempting to distort the truth (which is lying) for our own benefit. However, a wise man is one who understands there will always be consequences for lying; maybe not in this life, but eternity.

Used Cars

Several years ago there was a movie called Flywheel. In a nutshell it was about a used car salesman who realized God was not pleased with his gimmicks and half-truths. When he got his heart right, he put the “froward mouth” and “perverse lips far from [him].” In contrast he became a man of integrity whom people could trust.

You may not be a crooked used car salesman, but when was the last time you bent the truth? Was it when you tried to get out of that speeding ticket? Was it when you said that lunch was tax-deductible, when it wasn’t? Was it when you were late, but the right excuse would let you get by?

A wise man understands that there will come a day of reckoning. He understands that men will have to give an account for every idle word in the day of judgment (Matt. 12:36).

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. – James 1:26 NIV


The Way to Go

Proverbs 4:11-12

“I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.”

A Way Walked

The first part of this passage is fairly simple to understand. In a moment of recollection, Solomon is reminding his children that he has given them good instruction; that he has led them.The best teachers are those who can say, “I have been down that road.” Sure, it is easy to give directions, but how much more valuable is the instruction when the teacher can relay first-hand experience?

As a bus driver, I drive the same route every day. I could draw a map that would be as accurate as one printed. But the difference between my map and an image from a satellite would be my knowledge of hazards unique to the vehicle. Unlike automobiles, 40 foot buses aren’t able to straighten some curves, or go under some bridges. Maps don’t usually show those things; but experience will.

Solomon is telling his children, as God is telling us, that the way ahead will be much easier if we listen to those who have gone before.

A Parental Challange

One interesting thing to note is where Solomon says “I have taught thee…” A deeper look at the word taught will show that it also means “to throw, to shoot.” Let this be a reminder – children are ours for a purpose.

In Psalm 127:5 David refers to children as “arrows” in a quiver. Arrows are worthless unless they are used. Arrows are worthless unless they are sharp, straight, and designed for a specific target. Children are to be considered tools with a mission, and we are to train them and keep them until we launch them toward their goals.

Straight, or Not?

Another interesting thing to consider is the word “straightened.” At first glance, we might consider the word here to mean the same as implied in the phrases “straight and narrow,” or “straight as an arrow.” Why, then, does Solomon say “thy steps shall not be straightened?” Does he want them to encounter curves along the way?

Actually, the word here is yatsar (Strong’s H3334), which can mean “to bind, be distressed, be in distress, be cramped, be narrow.” In reality, Solomon is saying that if one follows wise instruction, the way ahead will be less stressful, less binding, less depressing.

Thinking about this, I am immediately reminded of a particular place on the path through Rock City (a tourist attraction near Chattanooga, TN). It is called “fat man’s squeeze.” Seriously, if you are over 250 pounds, you might not make it through this narrow passage between two huge walls of rock. Yet, if you follow the signs along the way, you will be led to a different way around this “squeeze.”

If we would just follow wise counsel, the chances are much better that we will reach our goals, instead of stumbling or getting stuck along the way.


Listen Up, Recruit!

Proverbs 4:10

“Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.”

While pondering this verse, an image of older, more experienced men came to mind; men who have “been there and done that.”

The policeman

Street weary, he is wary of a new partner to train. He knows the rookie has been taught self-defense, state laws, patrol procedures, arrest techniques, and how to drive a squad car. But what the old cop also knows is that experience can’t be learned in a classroom.

“Listen, son,” the policeman says, “and pay attention to what I tell you; and you just might see retirement.”

The soldier

Only 22, in 6 months he has seen more than 6 lifetimes of pain. A new recruit, straight out of boot camp, is sent to fill a vacated spot. The young sergeant can tell the recruit is fit, equipped, and ready to defend his country. But the veteran also knows the terrain, the trails, the smells, and the sounds that are unique to his battlefield.

“Listen up, boy!” the vet growls. “If you want to live to read your first letter from Mom, pay attention to what I tell you.”

Solomon

“Listen to me, oh my son; take hold of what I am telling you.” Can you hear the warning in his words? Do you sense he knows something his son does not? Is it possible Solomon has walked down roads his son has not yet traveled? Yes, and more than likely it was he who recorded his experiences in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Wisdom calls out to us. The message is clear: listen, and live.

Self

Yet, self has to have its own way. It chooses what feels good and cries out, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” Self says, “I’ll do it my way.” And with no view toward the future, self concludes life is too short to be burdened by the warnings of old fools.

So, black bands continue to be place on badges; helmets still get placed on the butts of rifles; and parents still find themselves living longer than their children. Oh, that we would listen to the voice of wisdom.

 


A Special Son

Proverbs 4:3-4

“For I was my father’s son, tender and only [beloved] in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.”

“Father’s Son”

The first thing that arrested my attention in these verses was the words “father’s son.”

Why do these words stand out so much? Could it be that Solomon was speaking as if he had been an only child? Could it be that of all the children of King David, the one who turned out well was the one who was treated special?

Solomon was not David’s only son, nor his first. Yet, Solomon grew up differently. Even before he asked for wisdom from God, he was well on the right path, unlike his brothers Absalom and Adonijah. Could it be, because of the mistakes that David had already made, he didn’t want to repeat them with Solomon? Could it be he didn’t want another son hanging from a tree?

“My Mother”

Can you imagine what kind of mother Bathsheba must have become? She evidently was not the kind of queen mother who sent her children away to be cared for by nannies. No, she evidently doted on Solomon. She must have cherished and protected him, for he was “tender” (delicate, weak) in her eyes.

Solomon was not Bathsheba’s only son, either. But if we are to understand Solomon correctly, he was definitely treated in a unique way (“only beloved”).

“And live”

Can you picture Solomon remembering the face of David? His father had already had two sons try to take over his throne, and both had died. Surely he couldn’t foret hearing his father cry, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” – (2 Samuel 18:33).

What kind of pain must have been written in the wrinkles of that broken father’s face? As Solomon remembered, did he try to pass on his wisdom in the same way?

Solomon says, “Let thine heart retain my words; keep my commandments, and live.” Was he thinking of his rebellious brothers? Could he see their bodies in his mind’s eye as he looked upon Rehoboam? Oh, if only Rehoboam had listened (See 1 Kings 3).

A Prayer

Oh, God! Am I passing on the wisdom of my godly parents? Do I take my parenting seriously? If the wisest man in the world could mess up as much as he did, what chance do I have of rearing god-fearing children? Lord, my hope is in You. Your Spirit is my strength. Let my children see You in my actions, and where I fail, blind their eyes. Give me a broken heart for my “tender and beloved.”

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Father Knows Best

Proverbs 4:1-2

“Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.”

Father Knows Best?

Mark Twain may have disagreed with Proverbs 4:1-2. He is widely quoted as having made the following statement:

‘When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.’

Few children willingly listen to a parent. I certainly didn’t, but my generation did not have any choice. Solomon obviously did take note of his father’s instruction and experience. Unlike Solomon, King David did not grow up in the opulent surroundings of a palace. He spent his early years in the fields and on the hills, where the instruction of his own father would have been supplemented by the hands-on experience he describes to Saul prior to his encounter with Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32-51).

The Most Important Thing

The most important thing that David could have taught Solomon from all his experience was to trust God. Trust/faith in God enabled David to fight bears and lions, to defeat Goliath, to manage Saul and his moods, to survive being on the run from the vengeful Saul, and to become a king who generally exhibited wisdom.

Before he died David again demonstrated great wisdom through the instructions he gave to Solomon from his deathbed (1 Kings 2:1-9). It is interesting that David says to Solomon; “Thou art a wise man.”

Wisdom in Action

The fact that Solomon had learned from David is evident in the words of 1 Kings 3:3: ‘And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father.’ It may have been the wisdom passed on by David that led Solomon to answer in the way that he did when God appeared to him in a dream and asked; “What do you want? Ask and I will give it to you!” (1 Kings 3:5 NLT)

Solomon answers God by acknowledging his inadequacy for the task ahead. Instead of putting in an order for fame and wealth, Solomon asks for an understanding heart, i.e. wisdom. It is evident that Solomon had listened intelligently to his father, and that he had already sought to be a man of knowledge and understanding. What an example! I wonder how I would have answered such a question from God when I was Solomon’s age?


Couch Talk

Proverbs 3:31-32

“Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.”

Preface

Let me preface what I am about to write by saying that it is pleasure to study verses of Scripture which would normally be overlooked in casual reading. When I first selected this passage, I only did so based on the calendar. Only when it came time to write did it become clear there was much more to these verses that met the eye.

I can only scratch the surface, today. However, I would challenge each reader, as with the other texts, to study them for yourself. The greatest riches of heaven are not usually handed over, they are wrestled from the Word. Dig, my friends, and you will be amazed at what you find.

The Oppressor

Solomon recognized that there is always the temptation to envy those in power. If honest, few would deny that they, at some point, secretly wished they could be ruler of the world. And in most cases, the wish would not be to become the most benevolent ruler in history, but a dictator.

But we should ask ourselves, what is it about the “oppressor” that we want? Power? Influence? Riches? Fame? The ability to manipulate others in order to have things our way? Why would anyone who seeks God’s will want those things?

Froward

The “froward” man could also be called “wicked” (NLT), “devious” (ESV), or “perverse” (NIV). The word here describes a man who turns away from God to do his own thing. This type of man, the oppressor, or “man of violence” (ESV), the Lord abhors. Again, why would a God-follower want to be like him?

Do you want to be happy? “Blessed (happy) is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful,” says King David (Psalm 1:1). Don’t choose the ways of the oppressor if you want to experience joy and peace.

What is it, then, that Solomon offers as an option? What can the righteous experience that the wicked cannot?

His Secret

The word translated “secret” (verse 32) comes from a word that means a couch cushion, or a triclinium (see Gesenius’s Lexicon). What is that, you ask? A triclinium was a three-sided couch on which the Greeks and Romans reclined when sharing a meal, or conducting casual conversation. It was a place symbolic of friendship, family, and intimacy. God is sickened by the perverse man, but the righteous is accepted at His personal table.

Don’t be like the man who turns from God; but be like the man who runs to Him. The result may not be the aquisition of wealth, power, and fame; but something far, far more valuable: secret, private communion with the Lord. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the almighty” – Psalm 91:1

What on earth could compare to hearing God say, “Come here, son, recline next to me. I want to share some things with you; things meant only for you, and no one else.” The “righteous” have that privilege, not the “oppressor.”

Dear Lord, keep me focused on you, not the things of others. I long to hear you speak in a still, small voice, “Come close, my child, I have a secret for you.” Cover me in the shadow of your wings.


Trust the Guide

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

My Dad

Unlike me, my dad was brought up in a rough and tough home. At the age of 14, for his birthday, he received his first moonshine still. In high school he was one of the “protectors” who protected for a fee. Up until he met my mother in the middle 1960’s he was still running white lightning through the hills of Tennessee and building drag cars.

As a high school senior my dad benched 300 lbs.; ran track; threw shot put; was the state heavyweight wrestling champion; loved to fight; and could drink away a paycheck. But just a few years later, on the living room floor of my mother’s house, he gave his heart to Jesus Christ, and nothing stayed the same.

My Dad’s Guidance

My father was a wise man, but make no mistake about it, he earned his wisdom the hard way. And I did my best to follow his instruction, because I figured he knew what he was talking about. He had seen and done a lot, and he had the scars to prove it.

One day he told me, “Son, sin is fun. Alcohol tastes good. The devil has a lot to offer. But let me tell you, when you have friends bleed to death in your arms you’ll realize sin ain’t worth the price.” Spoken like the humble preacher he was.

When I got old enough to run wild, I didn’t. When I could drive, I drove safely. When I dated, I saved myself for marriage. Was I perfect? Absolutely not! But every time I came close to messing up I would remember my dad, his words, and his example. That remembrance helped direct my path.

Solomon’s Dad

Solomon had a father, also. His name was King David, and he also knew the cost of sin, the feeling of spilled blood.

God gave Solomon wisdom, but some of it came through the words of David, Solomon’s rough and tough dad. I wonder if the above verses were based on the following advice given years earlier?

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. – 1Chronicals 28:9 NKJV

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. – Psalm 37:3-5 KJV

Solomon surely took his father’s words to heart. Our Father asks us to do the same.

A Prayer

Lord God, I am so tempted to do things my way. I am tempted so often to trust my own feelings, to follow my heart. Help me, Lord, to acknowledge that you have traveled this way before. Help me to listen and pay attention as you guide me through the curves of life, making them as good as straight.

Related Link: “First Post” – A tribute to my father, Rev. Terry L. Baker.