Tag Archives: Gospel of Matthew

The Father In the Window

Proverbs 7:6-9 

“[6] For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, [7] And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, [8] Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, [9] In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:”

The Science of Sin    

In the New Testament epistle of James, chapter 1, verses 14 & 15, the author outlines the process of someone falling into sin.  In that passage James the Just tells how it begins with an “evil desire” by which the individual is “dragged away and enticed”.  Once that desire is conceived, says James, “it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death”.

In a similar way, the Father (7:1) assumes the viewpoint of an intelligent observer of sin in today’s verses.  The Father watches from his window, not with voyeuristic delight, but as one who wants to see what lessons can be deduced from the sad spectacle in front of him.  Sin can be observed, studied, and understood.  There are definable, universal patterns at work in the fallen human nature leading to sin, and the wise son can and should learn from the costly mistakes of others.  If you skim on through the rest of the chapter, you see that ultimately the foolish youth being observed is “dragged away and enticed” by the adulteress (v. 21).  How did this tragic moral failure occur?  Proverbs 7:6-9 provides a case study in a young man taking three downward steps into the sin of adultery.

Step 1:  “I Know What’s Best for Me.”

            The young man is described as a “simple one” and “void of understanding”.  Here is a youth who feels no need for the blessings of moral instruction.   Were you to ask him if he thinks of himself as “void of understanding,” he would flatly deny it.  “No,” he would say, “I know how life works; I know what’s best for me; and I know how to achieve my goals.”  Were you to offer him counsel, he would scoff at the seriousness of your concerns.

Step 2:  “After All, I Can Come Close to the Sin Without Sinning.” 

Notice how the young man just happens to be walking in the neighborhood of the adulteress.  As he is “passing through the street near her corner” (v. 8).  He tells himself that he’s not walking anywhere in particular; no, he’s just out for an evening stroll.  Oh, how deceptive is the human heart!  Readers, how many times have we wandered into sin’s neighborhood, with one side of our mind rationalizing that we are fully under control and will not fall this time; all the while knowing deep inside exactly where we’re headed, and what we intend to do when we get there.

Step 3:  “I Can Manage This Sin and its Consequences.” 

            By the second half of verse 8, the foolish youth is no longer kidding himself.  Tonight, he’s going to the adulteress’s house.  He’s crossed the line of no return.  Does he recognize sin for what it is?  Of course he does.  He’s bears the Creator’s image, and his conscience screams for him to turn around.  But now, he is no longer merely entertaining the notion of sin; rather, he’s determined that he’s going into the situation full steam ahead, because, he believes, he can manage the sin and its consequences.  The lady’s husband?  He’s out of town (v. 19).  Witnesses to the immorality?  There’s no one watching, thinks the youth.

Ah, but here he’s wrong.  There is one watching – the Father in the window!

The Watcher in the Window

Is there a sense in which the narrator of the passage (the Father in the window) is a type of Jesus Christ?  If we take the narrator to be Solomon (and we have every reason to do so), and Solomon is a son of David, could Solomon here in a particular way be pointing us to David’s Greater Son, Jesus Christ?

I tend to think so.  King Jesus allows us to make our own choices.  It’s difficult for us to get our puny minds around, but the Bible teaches both that Jesus is our Sovereign King with all authority at his disposal (Matthew 28:18), and yet we make our choices and we act freely, without coercion from God.  Dear reader, perhaps you are an adulterer or adulteress; then again, perhaps your sin of choice is of a different variety—gossip, slander, hatred, greed, and the like.  Whatever your sin is, Jesus knows exactly what’s going on.  He doesn’t coerce you into sin (James 1:13); no, you have chosen to walk those downward steps all on your own.  But neither does he typically leap in and interfere with the situation.  For many years Proverbs 7 troubled me:  Why doesn’t the observer in the window stop the foolish youth from rushing to destruction?  It has only been as I’ve come to recognize how many thousands of times Christ has watched me taking those downward steps – 1, 2, 3 – all the while gazing at me with love and sadness, that I’ve begun to understand.

The Good News

The good news is that the Watcher in the Window DID come down, not heroically to stop a foolish youth from his own stupidity, but to bear the guilt and shame of that youth for his sin and stupidity.  On Calvary’s Cross, Jesus died for all of our sin, guilt, and shame.  Yes, even for that sin that has just come to your mind, the one that you think nobody knows about, the one that makes you blush or break out in a cold sweat.  He did not come down to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved (John 3:17).  When you place faith in Jesus Christ, trusting in Him alone for salvation and turning away from sin, the most curious thing then begins to happen.  You begin to change from the inside out.  You find that you are still free to do what you want, but your “wants” begin to change.  You no longer “want” to sneak down the dark alley and knock on sin’s door.  You no longer “want” to eat another bite of the forbidden fruit.  What you want, is to be in fellowship with Jesus, the one who came down from heaven, and lived and died for you.

In tomorrow’s posting, we return to the sad saga of the foolish young man and the adulteress.  Hope to see you then!

Father God, forgive this writer the many times he has walked those familiar steps outlined above.  Be merciful and gracious to us, Father, for the sake of your dear Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Transform us deep within, that we might truly hate sin and love righteousness.  And may we never forget that it is not our righteousness, but the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, by which we have this relationship with you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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A Lying Tongue

Proverbs 6:16-17b

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue…”

The Culture

Stop for a moment and think of all the lies we hear everyday. Will that pill really make you thinner? Is that automobile really the best buy? Will that sugary, sodium-filled soft drink really quench your thirst? Will that politician really do anything he promises?

We live in a culture of lies, and we mirror it more than we would like to admit. Lying is deemed acceptable in the right context and when the results are worth it. We tell ourselves, “a little white lie never hurt anybody.” We pad resumés. We tell our wives the dress looks fine. We tell our husbands we’re proud of them. Christians even say, “I’ll pray about it.”

The Truth

The truth is that we hold on to lying as a tool, or a weapon. It’s there when we need it, even if we don’t use it very often. We hold on to it in case of an emergency, like when our pride is at risk, or when our needs are not met. Our flesh is utterly selfish and will do anything to survive.

The truth is that Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). Lying was literally part of his nature, and there was “no truth in him.” So, when we lie, we not only mirror the culture, but the “prince” of the culture…

“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” – Ephesians 2:2

Three Good Reasons

Why does God abhor a lying tongue? Well, I can think of three good reasons. For starters, it is the opposite of His nature. Lying has nothing in common with God, but everything in common with His enemies. It was Jesus who said, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Secondly, the Father loves his Son. Jesus gave his life as a ransom for us (Matt. 20:28), bearing our sin on the cross (Isa. 53:5; 2 Cor. 5:21). The “wounds” He suffered were due in part to our lies. Wouldn’t you be disgusted by the thing that brought your son pain?

Then too, God loves us! It must break His heart to see the consequences we bring upon ourselves, the tangled webs we weave, when we lie. And the more we lie, the less like Christ we are.

A Prayer

Dear God, forgive me for my selfishness. Forgive me for my lack of faith. Forgive me for the times I have not trusted you, but lied to make things go my way. Forgive me, reign in my tongue, and cleanse me, “because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5).


Run Away! Run Away!

Proverbs 5:7-9

7 Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. 8 Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: 9 Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel.”

Mean Cat

My grandmother used to have a mean cat. This cat was an absolutely anti-social, psychotic, frenetic feline. One couldn’t get near her without getting hissed at, and that just made us want to aggravate it more.

I know it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do when we were young, but we would love to try to tease the cat without getting bit. Fortunately, the monster had been declawed; however, her piercing fangs remained. If we got too close she could leave a couple of bloody reminders that she still had a mouth. Playing with her was playing with danger. That’s why it was fun.

Temptation

It’s really all about temptation, isn’t it? Solomon knew that if you play with sin, or get too close, you will get bit, and it will hurt.

Jesus knew something about temptation, also. He said, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Maybe that’s why the Apostle Paul warned Timothy to “flee” from “youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22). Lust tends to make us buy things we can’t afford.

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” – James 1:14-15

Flirting

Many times we like to get just close enough to the forbidden fruit that we can smell it. No, we know we shouldn’t take a bite, but the aroma gives us a little thrill. Flirting with the wrong woman is nothing more than trying to sin a little. But a little sin is still a sin.

In reality, if we know where temptation lives, why would we want to drive by? Do we secretly long for what we know will harm us? If we have lust in our hearts, then the answer is “yes.” As James said, we are only tempted when we are drawn away by our own lusts. Flirting is dangerous.

Giving it Away

The consequences of sin are never worth the temporary fun. In this case, Solomon warns that the price is one’s honor and freedom. When a young man enters the “strange” woman’s door, the result is usually shame that rarely goes away.

On top of that, there’s the wasted time – time that could have been spent building a loving relationship. Instead, all your energy, your emotions, your wealth, and your health is squandered on a user of men.

“Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.” – Rom. 6:12-13 NLT

Final Thought

My son, the next time you feel drawn to a “strange” woman, remember the words of King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail….

“RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!”


Unpredictable Women

Proverbs 5:6

“Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.”

Practical Advice

If there was ever a chapter that should be read to every son, and even daughter, it is this one. The advice that Solomon shares in these verses is what every young man should hear. Unfortunately, many young men never have a father come along side and say, “Listen, son, there are some things you need to know.”

And when it comes to today’s verse, the advice given is timeless and priceless. Women are no different today than they were in Solomon’s time, and men are just as gullible.

Unknowable

If there is one thing I have learned after 20 years with the same woman, it is that you can never figure them out – don’t even try. Once a man thinks he understands women, that’s the time to get out of his way. Disaster is about to strike.

How much more difficult is it to understand the ways of a “strange” woman? She is different, unlike what you have experienced; and that’s exciting. But the problem comes when you begin to desire stability, or faithfulness. She’s not ready for that. All she wants is to have fun.

Solomon is saying, then, “Before you get to the point of trying to understand her, it’s better that you never even go there. She’s too unpredictable.”

Unpredictable

“Her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.” In other words, she is as unpredictable as the wind. She is like a shaky foundation. You never know what path she will take, or when she will fall. Predicting her next move is useless.

Of course, the danger of an unpredictable woman is that her next move could mean destruction. She is like an untamed predator that can seem soft and cuddly one moment, but destroy you the next.

Dangerous

When I read the fifth chapter of Proverbs I am reminded of a song. Back in the early 90’s Julie Miller recorded “Angelina,” and every time I hear it I still get chills. Below are some of the lyrics. Do they not describe the “strange woman?” Do you think Solomon could have had someone like this in mind?

Should she come walking down your street, you might think: “She’s the kind of girl I’d like to meet,”
But don’t be taken in, she’ll rob you in the end,
She’s got to get control, she’s so afraid within,
Her daddy sure must have broken her heart, but she’ll get him back while you play out his part.

She’s just a lost little girl, she seems so harmless to touch,
She’s just been taught by the world, and now she’s dangerous.

– Buddy & Julie Miller

Contrast

How different is the “strange woman” from a godly woman? Consider the way the Bible describes Wisdom: “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.” – Pro. 3:17-18

Heavenly Father, help us to be parents who teach our children not only right from wrong, but godly wisdom, also. May we teach our sons to be men of God, and our daughters to be women worthy of praise. 

NOTE: I found this article about a godly grandmother. What a contrast with the “strange woman” of chapter five! “A Woman They Would Write About.”


True Value

Proverbs 3:15

“She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.”

More Precious Than Rubies

On 7 November 2000 a gang of criminals used a JCB excavator to ram their way into the vault area of the Millennium Dome in London. Their target was the De Beers diamond exhibition where the Millennium Star diamond valued at more than £200 million ($320 million) was one of several precious stones on view. Unfortunately for the gang they had been under police surveillance for some considerable time. The diamonds were substituted with worthless fakes prior to the robbery. On the day that the gang struck, the Millennium Dome was awash with undercover police officers. All the gang members were arrested, including one manning a powerboat on the River Thames, which was to have been the getaway vehicle.

The Value of Wisdom

The Millennium Dome gang were distinctly lacking in wisdom. Instead, folly driven by greed led them in an attempt to steal a diamond that would have been impossible to trade for cash.

What price wisdom? Solomon knew, and attempted to portray the priceless nature of wisdom in Proverbs 3:15. All the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. The message is that wisdom is to be valued above anything and everything this world can offer. But wisdom is not found on display behind armored glass. It cannot be bought, but is a treasure that has to be sought over time.

The word used by Solomon for rubies also translates as pearls. Jesus used a priceless pearl to illustrate a parable in Matthew 13:45-46:

 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

What do you value more than anything?


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).


Kissing the Truth

Proverbs 24:23-26

These things also [belong] to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment. He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them. Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.

Ultimate Turnoff

There are a lot of things which we could cover in today’s proverb, but I will focus on only one: attraction.

What attracts you to other people? Their good looks? Their personality? Their sense of humor? You could probably create a long list of attractive qualities, but the last on your list, I would bet, is prejudice. And more than that, I bet people who lie on the witness stand or render prejudiced verdicts from the bench disgust you, don’t they?

According to this proverb, those who call the wicked “righteous” and let criminals walk free are the scum of the earth. Nobody likes them (except the wicked). People from all walks of life “abhor” prejudicial judgment; it’s the ultimate turnoff.

Ultimate Attraction

According to verse 26 the most attractive thing is truth. Now, I am not one who goes around kissing everyone who gives me a correct answer. For instance, I’ve never kissed anyone who gave me truthful directions. I’ve never kissed my daughters every time they answered a spelling question correctly.

When I asked my dog, “Did you do this!?” I did not kiss his wet nose the moment he bowed his head in guilt. But, I did kiss my wife when she said, “I will.” I assumed that was the right answer.

What Solomon is trying to express is the refreshing joy we feel when someone tells the truth, especially when the wicked are being judged. Truth makes the system work. Truth gives us hope. Truth brings justice. Truth is not prejudicial. That is why the wise are drawn to it.

Note: Isn’t it interesting that Judas, the most abhorred man in history, betrayed Truth with a kiss? (Matthew 25:48-49)