Tag Archives: Proverbs and Sayings

Just Joking

Proverbs 26:18-19

“As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, so is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?”
“Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” – NIV
Crazy Arrows

OK, so let’s stop and think about this one for a moment. Try to get a mental picture of what is being described in verse eighteen. Picture a crazy man, a lunatic, a maniac, shooting flaming arrows into the the air. Can you picture a man shooting arrows into the sky? Well, I’m sad to say, “I can.”

It might not be good for me to share this, but back in the day when I was young and stupid (and most certainly unwise), a friend of mine got hold of a bow and arrow. Standing in the middle of my friends yard, we got the bright idea that it would be fun to shoot the arrow straight up into the sky, out of sight, then go after it when it came back down. If you can’t picture a crazy mad man with flaming arrows of death, imagine two 14 year-old’s staring into the sky waiting for an aluminum arrow of death to fall.

Oh, it was such fun waiting for the arrow to fall from the sky…until punched a hole in my friend’s roof!

“How am I going to explain that hole to my dad?” he asked in panic. “Things fall from the sky every day, like from airplanes, over-laden sparrows (OK, I didn’t say that), and stuff,” I replied. “Just don’t say anything, and maybe he’ll never notice.” Too bad he did.

Hurtful Neighbors

In a way, I was a hurtful neighbor. I was the one who was responsible for a falling arrow, deceit, and a lousy excuse. However, it could have been much worse; somebody could have been seriously hurt, or killed. But there are worse things to fire off into the air than arrows of death: words.

As arrows are hurtful, so are deceitful words, for they pierce deeply. Only a crazy man thinks he can make jokes, criticize, and even talk about someone behind his back for so long without a projectile falling back to earth and piercing one’s heart.

There is nothing funny about deceit. Saying, “I’m sorry,” and “I was only joking” will rarely heal broken trust and damaged friendships. But there is also something else to consider: as with falling arrows, sometimes the hurtful things we do to others can come screaming down on our own heads.

Arrows of death don’t care where they land.


The Sluggard Life

Proverbs 26:16 

“The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.”
“The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.” – NKJV
Self Perception

The idea here is that the sluggard….wait just a moment…what kind of mental image do you have this very second?

slugSluggard. Think about that word, sluggard. Not just lazy or slothful, but slimy, covered with mucous, moving slowly about the ground leaving shiny trails behind. Sluggard. A slug. A snail-like critter, but too poor for a shell.

The idea, here, is that the sluggard has a self perception problem. He is wiser in his own eyes than seven men, simply because he is the sluggard, not the ones working. The great Matthew Henry comments:

“His slothfulness is the cause of his good opinion of himself. If he would but take pains to examine himself, and compare himself with the laws of wisdom, he would have other thoughts of himself… So wretchedly besotted is he that he takes his slothfulness to be his wisdom; he thinks it is his wisdom to make much of himself, and take all the ease he can get… Of such sluggards, who are proud of that which is their shame, their is little hope.”*

Beyond Reason

So, is there hope for someone who sees laziness and living off of others as a virtue? Verse 12 says that there is more hope for a fool than one that is wise in his own eyes. How much worse, then, one wise in his own eyes that is also a bum? A sluggard?

The Fox News Channel did a story on how some people are scamming the American food stamp system (EBT). They attempted to show how assistance originally meant to aid those in real need was being taken advantage of by people refusing work. Fox News found a perfect example in a young surfer named Jason.

Jason, an unemployed surfer who mooched off of relatives and friends, determined that work was something he did not want to do. He admitted to being perfectly happy taking tax payers’ dollars each month to buy food. All he cared about was playing in a band, meeting cute girls, drinking, and most of all, surfing every day.

There was no reasoning with him. He had everything figured out.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY AND WATCH THE VIDEO

Beyond Argument

But what does the Bible have to say?

“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.” – Proverbs 21:25

“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”” – 2 Thessalonians 3:10 NIV

*Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1014.


Cancer of Conceit

Proverbs 26:12

“Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.”

Snobs

One of the problems with the modern atheist movement is attitude. Arrogance, snobbery, and conceit may have been present all along, but having a condescending attitude is now the new trademark of Darwinists, or should I say, “Dawkins-ists”? They love to belittle creationists; berating them, making fun of them, even to the point of tears. Richard Dawkins even said of Christians: “Mock them…ridicule them in public…with contempt.”

There are always those who believe they know everything (like teenagers). They will look down their noses at others with different opinions, never giving any credence to their proposals. Solomon would say there is little hope for a person like that.

But are atheists the only ones with attitude problems? What about the Calvinist who believes any disbelief in his theory is due to a lack of education and willful ignorance? What about the denomination that insists to be a member of any other is a sin? What about the man who takes what a woman says with a grain of salt?

Arrogance is a cancer covered by many different skins.

Dangerous Doctoring

Most of us have no idea where cancer comes from; it can appear without any warning. The healthiest people can get lung cancer, even when they don’t smoke. Skin cancer can appear overnight, even on a person who never gets a sunburn. But the key to survival is early detection, not denial.

Some people experience the symptoms of disease, but refuse to go to the hospital. The worst offenders are people with some medical education, because for some reason they think they know as much as the doctors do. They refuse to seek medical attention and say, “I can handle this myself.”

Some people believe that aliens gave them cancer, but at least they have enough humility to seek help. Of the humble crazy person and the proud medical student, which has more hope of survival?

Humility

Have you ever met people who know just enough to be dangerous? Their self-confidence becomes a substitute for true wisdom, thereby making them “wise in their own conceit.” But at least a fool, if he admits he doesn’t know everything, can find help before his world falls apart.

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” – Isaiah 57:15

Lord, help us to recognize our faults and weaknesses. Help us to “seek you first,” rather than relying on our own wisdom, for You are our only Hope.


Slings and Stones

Proverbs 26:8

“As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.”

Sling Shots

I used to own a pretty sweet sling shot. It had a handle shaped like a pistol grip, along with a metal brace that would go over my forearm. Attached to the forks was rubber tubing and a leather pouch. I could put a lead or steal ball in that sling shot and kill an elephant (at least in my imagination). However, the sling shot that I had as a child could not compare to the ones that were used during biblical times.

Home-made sling.

Home-made sling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The one that David used against Goliath was a serious weapon which required considerable skill to use. Sure, my sling shot could kill small vermin and knock down targets at close range, but the type of slings Solomon was referring to could, and did, kill people. In Judges 20:16 we read how the Benjamites had 700 left-handed slingers who could aim at a hair and not miss. In 2 Kings 2:35 we read how that the Israelites used slings in warfare. As a matter of fact, lead shot used by the Greeks and Romans in warfare could have an effective range of over 200 yards.

Amazingly, even though the sling was in use over 3,000 years ago, it is still being used today as a weapon by survivalists and fighters alike.  It would seem that its simple construction, ease of use, low cost, unlimited availability of projectiles, and deadly potential could keep the sling in use forever. In the hands of a trained slinger, it is practically foolproof…unless you bind the stone.

Bound Stones

As good of a weapon that the sling shot is, it is worthless if the stone or shot never leaves the pouch. Sometimes a stone can fall out of the pouch by accident, but putting another one in only takes a second. But the idea of securing the stone to the sling so that it never leaves is like plugging the end of a rifle.

But this is what Solomon is trying to explain. Honor, prestige, wealth, giftedness, glory: all of these things are wonderful tools which can be used to great effect by the wise man. However, when in the possession of the fool, all of these things, especially honor, are worthless.

Implications

Solomon is speaking to the one who actually gives honor to a fool. The fool doesn’t posses honor on his own, but has it given to him. The warning in this verse is really aimed at the one who needs the stone thrown.

Some people will honor people who don’t deserve it with promotions and bonuses, thinking that those blessings will make the fool more of an asset. The problem is that the fool will not share in the honor given, nor will he use it appropriately. Therefore, instead of being useful, the fool has now become a liability, much like a soldier who refuses to fight.

Beware of political correctness. Beware of honoring for the sake of honoring. The one who truly makes honor worthless is the one who gives it to the fool in the first place.

 


Ditches and Pits

Proverbs 23:26-28

“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit. She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men.”
“O my son, give me your heart. May your eyes take delight in following my ways. A prostitute is a dangerous trap; a promiscuous woman is as dangerous as falling into a narrow well. She hides and waits like a robber, eager to make more men unfaithful.” – NLT

Blunt Truth

Some people have a habit of over-spiritualizing verses in the Bible. Sure, all scripture is profitable (2 Tim. 3:16), but it is not always necessary to look deeper than the surface for meaning and application. The meaning of these verses is pretty simple and simply blunt.

Newer versions of verse 27 have changed the words a little. Instead of the word “whore,” newer versions are likely to substitute “prostitute” and “harlot.” But the truth is still the same, even if people wan’t to change their labels: a whore is a deep ditch and a strange woman is a narrow pit.

Warnings

Almost every time one turns on the television there is a commercial for some kind of medication. Ten seconds of the commercial tells about its benefits, while the rest of the 60 seconds is warning after warning, like, “Don’t take this medication with food, water, or oxygen, or you might grow gills and start yelling ‘Who’s your daddy?‘ in the middle of church.”

Warnings are everywhere, but how often are our young men warned of the dangers women pose? Hmmm? Not all women are sugar and spice and everything nice; many resemble arsenic, cyanide, and everything evil. Sadly, we live in a culture that promotes promiscuity and infidelity. Boys are not warned as much as they are praised for their lack of control.

Solomon knew better. Solomon wanted his son to understand that sometimes all is not what it seems behind those pretty eyes and blinking lashes.

Dangerous and Deadly

Men are usually made out to be the sexual predator. Indeed, men are responsible for most sex crimes. But there are countless men, marriages, and families that are destroyed by promiscuous, flattering women. They are described as deep ditches, narrow pits, and narrow wells – things men fall into, but can’t escape.

Sexual sin is mentioned so much in Proverbs because it is addictive and deadly, both to the body and soul. Many young men fall in head-over-heels only to find out there’s no climbing out.

Before one drinks from the sweet water of another’s well (Prov. 5:15), he should be warned of the trap that is set. For the huntress, faithful men are choice prey and always in season.


Don’t Move the Stones

Proverbs 23:10-11

Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: For their redeemer [is] mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.

Landmarks

stone pillarUnlike what we have today, people in Bible days didn’t have GPS systems to determine property lines. In ancient days about the only way to mark off one’s property was with stones. Sometimes, instead of just an engraved stone or two, stone pillars might be erected to designate the boundary to one’s property.

The problem with stone landmarks is that they can be moved. All one had to do in order to expand one’s territory would be to move his neighbor’s landmark, but that was a dangerous thing to do. A person could be put to death for moving stones.

The Fatherless

When orphans and widows inherited property, especially if there were no other men in the family, it was common for neighbors to move the landmarks. Many times the only way to keep one’s property was to daily walk the borders, and for many widows, especially orphaned children, that was impossible.

Many people today treat the fatherless in the same way. Greedy crooks find ways to take advantage of the helpless in order to have access to their inheritances. Unless someone can come alongside to guide and protect, many orphans lose what is left to them. Fortunately, their is a legal system in place, but the fatherless still needs a good lawyer to plead their case.

Warning

The message of this proverb should be taken seriously. It is a warning to stay away from the boundaries of the fatherless; don’t even enter into their fields.

Many laugh at how easy it is to skirt the law. It is not uncommon, even, for lawmakers to change boundaries in order to get what they want. They claim “immanent domain” and take away widows’ and orphans’ homes and farms. They enter into the fields and remove the landmarks.

But God is not pleased. As a matter of fact, He is not only an attorney that has never lost a case, but He is the Judge who will decide the guilty’s fate. Those who take advantage of the helpless won’t laugh forever.


Avoid the Thorny Way

Note: a post for Proverbs 22:4 was never published the first time around. It’s a great verse, so would anyone else like to give it a shot? – Anthony

Proverbs 22:5

Thorns [and] snares [are] in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it. – NLT

Whose Fault?

People who drink and drive should expect problems down the road. People who use illegal drugs should expect problems, also. Why is it, then, when these people get caught, harassed, or arrested by law enforcement, they blame the whole thing on the police?

Recently a man’s dog was shot and killed. After seeing his owner arrested for mouthing off to machine gun-toting policemen who had surrounded the house of a criminal, the 80 pound Rottweiler decided to attack. What was the arresting officer supposed to do but defend himself? Yet, the community where this happened is calling for the policeman to be punished. Why? Because a fool who couldn’t keep his foolish mouth shut forgot to restrain his killer dog?

Taking a Different Path

The simple fact that Solomon is teaching is that if one wants to avoid the pain and suffering of thorns and snares, take a different path.

The above story reminds me of something that happened to me years ago. One night our German Shepherd was acting like a stranger was close by. There had been some suspicious activity down the street already, so I took my shotgun (we lived out in the county) and walked with my dog through the shadows around our house over toward the street. Just before we came out of the shadows, I saw six policemen with M-16 assault rifles walking in my direction. Little did I know they were looking for a criminal who had just shot at another policeman.

My heart nearly stopped. “Oh God…please don’t let them see me…for the love of all that’s holy, dog, pleeeeezzzzz don’t bark…”

The dog stayed silent – I took a different path – and we both survived.