Tag Archives: devotionals

I’d Rather Live In a Tent

Proverbs 14:11

“The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.”

House vs. Tent

There is a huge difference between a house and a tent. At one point in our marriage, my wife and I actually contemplated buying a nicer tent (one with rooms) and living in it during the summer. We briefly wondered if doing that could help us save money, as opposed to renting a house. The only problem with that was air-conditioning and running water – a tent has neither.

Another thing or two that a tent does not have are solid walls, doors, outlets for electricity, and appliances for washing clothes and cooking food. A tent is not the kind of dwelling you want to hang pictures inside, either. Tents are not meant for long-term, settled living; they’re only good for temporary stays, like at the lake, or in one’s back yard while on a dinosaur-hunting safari.

Houses are solid buildings meant to last. They are meant to be left for an inheritance  They are meant to be places where roots are dug deep and social identities are made. They are ideally meant to become permanent homes. Tents are for pilgrims.

Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom leads one to believe that the more sturdy a house is, the better the investment. Conventional wisdom says that a tent is not the kind of dwelling in which to raise a family and secure a future. But when we are talking about the wicked and the upright, conventional wisdom is worthless.

Conventional wisdom teaches that in order to have longevity and a solid future, one which will insure one’s name is passed on from generation to generation, one must be tied down to the world. It makes no sense, therefore, to rest at peace in a temporary dwelling, like a tent, which is what the word translated “tabernacle” means. But godly wisdom is anything but conventional.

Godly Wisdom

In this proverb the writer wants us to understand that in order to “flourish” and grow we must be pilgrims in this world, not “house builders.” The “house” of the wicked will never be as secure as the temporary “tabernacle” of the righteous.

The Apostle Paul said, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). Followers of Christ are “strangers and pilgrims” on this earth (Hebrews 11:13). The upright knows this world is not his final home, therefore he is always ready to pull up stakes and move.

Storm Shelters

If you have every been in a severe storm, you understand the value of a storm shelter. Storm shelters are meant to be ultra-strong and immovable. But when it comes to the teaching of this proverb, the opposite is true. When it comes to the storms of life, the one that will be overthrown is the one who is tied down to the world. The pilgrim living in a tabernacle (tent) will not be swept away, but “flourish.”

When the worst weather of life comes, it is better to dwell in the flimsiest, most temporary structure built by God, than in the strongest, most secure castle built by man.


Walk Away from Stupid

Proverbs 14:7

“Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.”

Product Labels

Some proverbs, such as this one, are pretty simple and straightforward. But on the other hand, as some product warning labels make abundantly clear, what should be obvious to most needs to be spelled out to others. Here are some examples:

  • “Don’t drive with shade in place” (warning on inside of cardboard sunscreen).
  • “Not for drying pets” (warning for microwave).
  • “Surface may be hot when turned on” (stove instruction manual).
  • “May cause a fire” (warning on box of matches).

If there were no stupid people in the world, the above warnings would be unnecessary. However, I am sure there have been people amazed when their hands were burned on a stove eye or by a match. I am positive that someone tried to sue a company because the microwave killed her wet cat.

Stupid People

In this proverb God has placed a warning label on stupid people. Yes, I said “stupid” people, for that is what the word translated “foolish” (סִיל kesil) actually implies.[1] The Lord wants us to know that it is not good to just stand and listen to what fools have to say, especially when you realize that what they are saying is void of any knowledge.

So, to put this proverb another way, “When you find yourself in the presence of a stupid idiot, don’t bother listening to what he has to say; walk away.”

Now, it may seem ridiculous to make such a statement, but consider why it is important to not listen to what a fool has to say:

  • A fool does not accept instruction, so arguing with him is pointless.
  • A fool would love to frustrate you and make you angry as you try to argue your point.
  • If you listen to a fool long enough you might begin to believe the stupidity he preaches.

A Prayer

Lord, we need wisdom to be discerning. Help us to recognize those who lack words of knowledge. Help us to know when to contend and when to walk away. Help us to know the difference between a fool and someone who is open to the truth.


[1] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 493.


A Fool and His “Switch”

Proverbs 14:3

“In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.”
“A fool’s talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them.” – NIV

Pick Your Own

If the typical Child Protective Services agent of today had been around when I was a wee heathen, my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents would have been hauled off to jail. My parents, especially my paternal grandmother, would have wound up on the front page of the newspaper. They would have made the evening news on television. The story would have read something like this…

Click on the picture. I’m sure the company won’t mind me doing a little advertising in return for using their t-shirt pic 😉

APNews. Mary Baker, the half-Cherokee grandmother of sweet little Anthony Baker, was arrested for gross child abuse, today. Mrs. Baker, widow of the late William Baker (saw mill owner; moonshine runner), was found to have left marks on cute little Anthony’s backside and buttocks with a “hickory switch.”

Left-wing, pot-smoking, tree-hugging, liberal, hippie neighbors who somehow snuck into the neighborhood heard little Anthony screaming bloody murder and went to investigate. They reported seeing darling little Anthony bent over his grandmother’s knee as she mercilessly assaulted him with the large tree branch previously growing in the front yard.

According to the angelic little Anthony, his grandmother, upon hearing him backtalk her, told him to exit the house in order to retrieve said “switch.” When he didn’t return with the prescribed tool of abuse, Mrs. Baker sought him out, hewed down her own tree, then preceded to “wear him out.

Yes, when I was a child, you did not talk disrespectfully to your grandmother. If your mouth was bad enough you might even be made to pick your own tool of discipline – and it was wise to pick a big enough switch the first time.

A Fool’s Talk

Whenever I was about to get into serious trouble, my dad used to say, “Son, you’re cruising for a bruising.” Whenever I talked back (disrespectfully) to my parents, I was in danger of seeing stars (without a telescope). Therefore, it did not take long for me to learn how to control my tongue.

According to this proverb, though, a fool is pictured as having a rod (switch, branch, vine) growing out of his mouth. Because of his pride, the fool never learns from the consequences of his words. Every thing he says seems to come back and beat him.

The one who knows how to keep his mouth shut, however, is much more likely to be able to sit down without pain. At least that’s the way it used to be.

A Note for the Shocked

Please don’t misunderstand today’s proverb, nor my attempt at humor. No one here, especially myself, would advocate abusing a child. Corporal punishment should be administered in love, not anger, and only as a last resort.

The problem is that much of our society promotes “the mouth of the foolish.” Remember, “God is not mocked,” so the fool that runs off at the mouth today is still in danger of suffering from his words – one way or another.


“Everybody’s Got Problems”

Proverbs 13:8

“The ransom of a man’s life [are] his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.”

A Wise Dad

One of the things I loved about my father was his ability to find the lighter side to any subject. He had the uncanny ability to find the faintest silver lining around the biggest, darkest cloud. That might explain why growing up poor wasn’t so bad.

Here are a few good examples of how my dad would look at things…

  • When he saw a horribly ugly dog, he said, “Well, he’s got white teeth.”
  • When he (and I) got hurt at work, he would say, “You haven’t worked until you shed some blood.
  • When we had to move into a house that had no running water, electricity or telephone, and the sky could be seen between the boards on the walls, he would say something like, “Hey! It’s almost like camping out!”

And when it came to being poor, my dad knew how to keep things in perspective. He would remind us that being rich wasn’t all fun and games, but worry and stress, too. “The more money you have, the more you have to watch your back,” he would say. “But when you ain’t got noth’n, you ain’t got noth’n to steal.

A Wise Proverb

Today’s proverb is trying to tell us that wealth may not be a bad thing, but it does have some inherent risks. The more wealth you have, the more likely someone will want to take it. And, the more money one has, the more he has to spend to stay alive.

On the other hand, as the second part of the verse points out, those who have less are less likely to listen to an extortioner or be kidnapped for ransom. He is more likely to say, “Sorry, but you can’t get blood from a turnip.”

The ESV translates it this way, “The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth, but a poor man hears no threat.”

Be Content

If there is anything else my dad would say, it would be this: “Be content with what you have, cause everybody’s got their own problems.” Don’t be so upset if you’re not wealthy; life for the rich may be a bed of roses, but with roses come a lot of thorns. That’s why the poor can sleep easier.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” – Philippians 4:11 KJV

“If you’ve got it, be thankful. If you ain’t got it, be glad.” 


Proverbial Pretenders

Proverbs 13:7

“There is that maketh himself rich, yet [hath] nothing: [there is] that maketh himself poor, yet [hath] great riches.”

Pretenders

When you read this verse the first time, what did you think it meant? The first time I read it I thought it was talking about people who were rich, but had nothing of real value. I thought it was praising those who gave away everything to have riches in heaven. But that is not what this proverb is about. The word “maketh” has to do with appearances.

“One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” – Proverbs 13:7 ESV

This proverb warns us about pretenders who appear to be something they are not. Some live extravagantly, yet have nothing. Others try to make everyone think they are penniless, yet they are loaded.

The Sad

Several years ago I had a relative who lived in one of the biggest houses in town, always drove a new car, wore the nicest clothes, and was responsible for the best gifts under the Christmas tree. Yet, when this person died, the truth came out: few things, if any, were not mortgaged, and credit card bills totaled in the hundreds of thousands. Nothing was what it seemed.

Not long ago there was a man named Walter Samaszko Jr. who was found in his Carson City, Nevada home a month after he actually died. Known as a recluse, he was the opposite of my relative. He didn’t try to impress; looking rich was the last thing Mr. Samaszko, 69, wanted to do. Yet, even though he left only $200 in the bank, hidden in his home were $7 million worth of gold bars. He could have used the gold to pay for a doctor.

The Sinister

This proverb is a warning to all of us who would make judgments based solely on outward appearances. It is a warning, not only because it is unwise to judge a person by his looks, but because we need to be wary of scammers and con-artists.

Some people are experts at taking advantage of others. This truth is comically portrayed in the 1988 movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, staring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. In this movie two con-artists, acting like men down on their luck, steal fortunes from compassionate, wealthy women. They “maketh” themselves poor (or rich, depending on the circumstance), yet take everything they want.

But real life is not funny. I have seen gypsies worth millions begging on the streets of eastern Europe. I have helped “needy” families with food and funds from our church’s stores, only to find out that the “needy” were only greedy. I have heard healthy men and women who refuse to work brag about “working the system” in order to obtain assistance meant for the poor and disabled.

Be warned, and don’t be like them.


Get a Job! Or 3 or 4!

Proverbs 13:4

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

“I’m Gonna…”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “I’m gonna (do this or that).” I have heard grand schemes, everything from opening a new business, to joining the military, to inventing a never-before-heard-of product that will revolutionize the world. Yet, nothing ever gets done.

The “sluggard” is a man or woman that is flat-out lazy. The word comes from the idea of calling a person a slug, or a snail. But at least a snail is usually on his way somewhere, albeit slowly. The sluggard does nothing but talk of plans in the works, but work is never seen.

Get a Job!

Just today I was talking with a mother of a grown man out of work. He constantly takes from her, then runs off until the money is gone. He abuses her property, never gives her respect, and tries to play “daddy” with a girl who is not his wife. And when it comes to work, he complains that he can’t find a job. Baloney…Hogwash…Cow feces!

I thank God for allowing my wife and I to hit rock bottom years ago. I went from making a large income to making nothing. Just to put food on the table and keep a roof over my family’s heads, I (and my wife) did everything from deliver news papers, to clean toilets in factories. I delivered pizza, worked on a dangerous assembly line, and even sold insurance. At one point I was working 3-4 jobs at one time!

You see, the lazy sluggard has big desires, but won’t take responsibility and work for it. The diligent will do whatever it takes.

Little Patience

Today’s proverb reminds me of how little patience I have for “sluggards.” In my opinion there is no excuse for someone to sit on his duff and whine about what he doesn’t have. A real man will work, even if it is not the type of work he prefers. It is his responsibility, especially if he has a family.

Some want to use the “system” as an excuse for laziness. Others want to blame the government or the “bourgeoisie.” But in reality, the only one to blame is the one who desires something, but does nothing honest to obtain it. Honest, hard work is the answer to a great deal of society’s woes.

“But, there are no good jobs!” you may say. Sorry, washing dishes is a job. Cleaning floors is a job. And, if you do both at the same time, along with getting tips from waiting tables, you can live without mooching off your mother.

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” – 1 Timothy 5:8

The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.” – Ecclesiastes 5:12

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” – Ephesians 4:28

Thus sayeth the Lord: “Get a job.”


Guard Your Mouth

Proverbs 13:3

“He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: [but] he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”

Big Mouth

What can be said about this proverb that is not painfully obvious? Would it help if we read it in another translation?

The Holman (HCSB) puts it, “The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.” The ESV says, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” I’d say the message is the same, wouldn’t you?

A big mouth will get you into serious trouble. It may even cost your life.

Loose Lips

There used to be a saying back in the 1940’s: “Loose lips sink ships.” During World War II enemy spies were known to make friends with the families of soldiers and sailors. Knowing the tendency for proud parents, spouses, and children to talk about letters from the front, the enemy would listen and take note.

Many times, without even knowing it, something was said that gave details of secret missions. Lives were lost when people said more than they should.

Sometimes people get into serious trouble because they can’t keep secrets. Some people say things they don’t mean to say. Some people open their big mouths without thinking, then destruction comes.

Post a Guard

If you have a tendency to say things you shouldn’t, you may need to erect some barriers, or even post a security guard in front of your mouth. You can never be too safe when you know you possess something so dangerous.

Look back at the proverb; it says, “he that keepeth..” That means “to put a guard around.” A wise man will have in place a guard – a mental guard – that checks his words before they cross his lips.

Guard:  Good evening, Mr. Word. Going out for a stroll, tonight?

Mr. Word:  Actually, Mr. Security Guard, it’s none of your business where I am going.

Guard:  Oh, most certainly it is! If you don’t provide a good reason for leaving the premises, I must ask you to return.

Mr. Word:  All right, then. I was about to tell my wife that dress looks better on the hanger than her.

Guard:  (Speaking into a radio microphone) I need backup, immediately  Get back sir! Get away from the gate! You are a danger to all of us!

A Real Danger

If you don’t think your words are worth guarding, consider what James said about the tongue…

“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” – James 1:26 NLT

Now, consider the words of the Apostle Peter…

“For the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.'” – 1 Peter 3:10-11 NLT

Be careful what you say.