Tag Archives: New International Version

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.

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Starting Fights?

Proverbs 3:30

“Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.”

My dad and I have some similar stories from our youths. He was a lot rougher than I, but we both had our ways of treating other people which were not as wholesome as they could have been.

My dad was the kind of boy who would disrupt class because he could. He would start fights and usually finish them, too. He would even punch a guy for looking at him the wrong way.

I would occasionally physically respond/retaliate/initiate with people (especially my younger siblings), but my weapon of choice was words. I would stretch the truth to see what I could get away with saying. I would tell someone a mis-truth (using elements of truth) to get a reaction. I would start rumors to watch the impending chaos.

Usually, the other person/people had done nothing to us, at least not meriting our actions.

The rest of Proverbs paints a picture that people such as the younger me and my dad are wicked and destined for destruction.

The NIV states the verse this way:

Do not accuse a man for no reason—    when he has done you no harm.

There may not be anyone on this planet truly innocent, but we can be innocent of certain things. When we prey on the innocence of others through deceit, violence, malice, or just because they were the ones in our way at that moment, our victims are innocent.

Keep in mind, the person who said “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood,” the blood of Jesus, was an Apostle. Judas Iscariot, a man who walked and talked with Jesus for about three years and knew Him intimately, accused the Son of God and had Him dragged away to death.

We need to remember that though we spend time going to church services and even reading our Bible, if we do not put our faith into action we can easily slip into sin.

We need to remember that we all, like Judas Iscariot, have accused Jesus and put Him on that cross.

We need to remember that only the Holy Spirit can truly guide us in all righteousness.

Precious Lord, thank You for your forgiveness of our lies and abuses, for putting You on the cross. Thank You that You have redeemed our lives. Guide us by Your Holy Spirit every moment to not bring harm to the innocent but to lift them up and lead them to You.


The Good Life

Proverbs 3:1-2

“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.”

The Lord’s Prosperity

The last entry I wrote on 2:16-19 mentioned people preaching a message other than Christ. One of those mentioned was “wealth and health,” which some have called a “Prosperity Gospel”. Something quite interesting about this passage is that some translations of the Bible mention long life and “prosperity.”  The Message puts it this way:

They’ll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well.

Honestly, I like the way the KJV and others put it “For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.” Let us look at what remembering the Lord’s commands means:

Peace:

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

Long life (which I think the NIV does a spectacular job of explaining clearly):

We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
1 John 5:20, NIV

Keeping wisdom in our hearts – keeping the Lord Jesus in our hearts is the only way to peace and a good life. Jesus is the only good life.

Lord Jesus, dwell in our hearts. Remind us always of Your love and grace, and help us to share You with our world. Bless us, Lord, with all of You.


Wicked Uprooted

Proverbs 2:20-22

“That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous. For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.”

Getting to the Root

Verse 22 offers a picture of trees being pulled out by their roots. Yet roots are notoriously difficult to remove, particularly if a tree is substantial and has been established for a long time. Evil is a tree that has become deeply rooted in society, and in the world in general.

While it is easy to get frustrated about the abundance of evil in our world, it is even more frustrating when we look back because it seems as if nothing has changed with time. Three thousand years ago the writers of the Psalms struggled with the prosperity of the wicked.

In Psalm 73 verse 3 Asaph declares, “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” But David in Psalm 37 teaches us not to envy the wicked stating in verse 2: “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb.”

What Kind of Tree are You?

Make no mistake. Not just the evil, but also all who choose not to surrender their lives to God will be uprooted, extracted, removed. There will be no place for them in the New Heaven and Earth described in the Book of Revelation. But how do we walk in the way of good men and keep the paths of the righteous, so that we will not meet the fate of the wicked? Psalm 37 gives some pointers:

  • Trust in the Lord and do good (verse 3).
  • Delight thyself also in the Lord (verse 4).
  • Commit thy way unto the Lord (verse 5).
  • Rest in the Lord (verse 7).
  • Wait patiently for Him (verse 7).
  • Cease from anger, and forsake wrath (verse 8).

And you will be like a different type of tree, as described in the first three verses of the very first Psalm:

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV).

Do your roots reach into the Living Water (John 4:10-14)?


Listen to the Warning

Proverbs 1:24-27

Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; (25) But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: (26) I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; (27) When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.

Working Backwards

Let’s look at the above passage, starting from the end, then working back to the beginning. Fear, destruction, distress and anguish: all of these are the result of something. They are all consequences of unwise, foolish choices.

I deal with children, young people, and plenty of adults who complain about their circumstances. Many times they come to me weeping and asking, “Why? Why? Why?” With tears flowing, their faces red, they look for answers, but not before blaming every one and every thing besides self.

But let’s work backwards. Why are they in such distress? Why are they afraid of the future? Why has everything fallen apart? Could it be that they refused wise counsel? Could it be that they are suffering the consequences of foolishness? Could it be they would have “none of [His] reproof?”

Wisdom Calls

Wisdom is not silent. Wisdom calls from the mouths of parents, teachers, and ministers; especially the Word of God. Wisdom says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Pro 16:25 NIV). Wisdom says, “Don’t stay out too late…don’t have sex before marriage…work hard and don’t complain…be faithful, even when you’re tempted.”

The one who finds himself in distress and anguish should look back in time. Was there not a hand outstretched? Was there not a voice of warning? Calamity has come, and now Wisdom can’t help but laugh and say, “I told you so!”

“Trust Me”

It didn’t mean as much until I became a parent. My dad would warn me with words like, “Trust me son, you don’t want to go through what I went through.” Now I say the same thing to my children. “If you’ll listen to me, you won’t have to make the same mistakes I made, nor live with the pain.” Will they do what I say, or set at naught my counsel?

“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” (Pro 3:5-6).

Oh Lord, soften our hearts and help us to yield to your wisdom.

 


He Says “Come”

Proverbs 19:7

“All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.”
“The poor are shunned by all their relatives– how much more do their friends avoid them! Though the poor pursue them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found.” – NIV

Poor and Lonely

How sad is it that when a person has nothing, even his own family will avoid him? This happens a lot, especially to people who are in need. Nobody seems to want to hang out around people who are poor. Being poor and needy can make one awfully lonely.

I know some people who need family and friends. They need support and encouragement, but none can be found. Why? The family and “friends” say, “The only time they call is when they want something.”

In reality, many of the poor in this world are poor as a result of their own unwise choices. But there are also many more who are needy out of no real fault of their own. They are the ones that could truly benefit from a caring family member or friend.

Closer than a Brother

In reality, a real friend or brother would not run from one in need. “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17 KJV

All I know is that I am thankful that the richest one in the universe never ran from me. Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and understands what it means to be rejected.

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” – Isaiah 53:2-3 KJV

I am so thankful that I serve a loving and generous God who not only knows my needs and doesn’t run away, but calls all men unto Himself…

“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink– even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk– it’s all free!” – Isaiah 55:1 NLT

 


He Sees Good In Evil

Proverbs 15:3

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”

There is a big fancy word that means “God sees everything” which can also be said “God knows everything”: omniscience.

God is omniscient. He can see everything going on in the world, all that we do or do not do.

Firstly, this is a reminder God knows every time evil is taking place in this world. To avoid a big theological controversy here, we will stick with He is always within reach for those undergoing the effects of evil in this world.

Secondly, God sees how each of us truly is:

“This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.”
(Ecclesiastes 9:3, NIV)

Yes, we are all evil, especially when compared to God. It does not mean there is nothing good in us, as we were created by God.

Even though God is fully aware of how evil every single one of us is, he still loves us. He wants to see all the good in us there can be.

Therefore, He came to us, as a baby. That baby grew to become a man, and after a few decades of a perfect life He died on a cross to erase our guilt and rebuild the relationship lost due to our sin.

All we must do is believe this and let Him change our hearts through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit to the glory of the Father.

Then, one glorious day, we will stand before God. All He will see when He looks at us is the perfection of Jesus Christ! He will see good where once there was evil.

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us in our rebellion, of which You are fully aware. You know every evil deed and thought we have, yet You came to get us anyway. Thank You, Lord.