Tag Archives: Proverbs and Sayings

A Fool Is a Fool

Proverbs 9:9

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”

A Different Angle

There are various commentaries that center on what is obvious about this proverb. However, what if we looked at it from a different angle? Let’s try to imagine it being written a little differently.

“Give betrayal, deceit, deception, falsehood, lie, misinformation, and misrepresentation (all antonyms of instruction) to a fool, and he will be yet more foolish: don’t teach a man, and he will increase in ignorance.”

When you look at it this way, do you see a contrast between the wise and foolish man? Do you sense any difference, other than what’s on the surface?

A Different Reaction

Given betrayal, deceit, deception, falsehood, lies, misinformation, and misrepresentation, what would the wise man do? Would he become foolish? “Give instruction to a wise man,” we are told, and he will become even wiser; but will his character be changed if given the opposite?

The real truth of Proverbs 9:9 is that no matter what instruction you give a fool, unless he has been transformed, he will always be a fool. Give instruction of any kind, true or false, to a wise man and he will be able to discern between good and evil. The key is whether or not the student loves Wisdom.

A Different Response

As a parent, I know that I will not always be able to manage what my children learn. One day they will go out into the world and receive instruction written by fools, for fools. But even in the midst of all that deception and falsehood, truth can be found. The key to success will be determined by instilled character and training in “the way [they] should go” (Prov. 22:6).

As believers, we should pray that God give us His Wisdom in ever-increasing portions. Because truth is so hard to find, we need Wisdom to give us discernment, allowing us to grow in wisdom, despite the misinformation of the world.

They say “the rich get richer, but the poor get poorer.” Profound observation, isn’t it?

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The Fool’s Antidote

Proverbs 8:6-7

“Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.”

Fool’s Wisdom

Reading Proverbs 7 it would be easy to think that Solomon was obsessed with seduction and adultery. If there was an element of obsession it existed because Solomon knew that the unfaithfulness of men and women towards each other always had/has devastating results. While it would be wise to avoid such temptation, human beings have an incredible capacity for justifying acts of folly, even persuading themselves that they have made wise choices when they have not.

Wisdom SHOUTS

Solomon follows his warnings about such fool’s wisdom with a reminder at the start of Proverbs 8 that wisdom shouts out to humanity. If it is true that wisdom cries out from high places, from alongside the paths, and at the gates of the city (Proverbs 8:1-2) then it would be sensible to stop and listen (Proverbs 8:3-5). Too many of us live out our lives with no time to seek out the high places. The speed of life leaves no time for us to pause and discover that wisdom has a voice. Unfortunately this means that we are as foolish as the adulterer. Any justification for living life recklessly at speed is foolishness. We need to slow down and listen.

Excellent Things

If you want to learn about excellent rather than foolish things there is no need to sign up for a seminar. All you need is a Bible and a little time. The Bible is full of excellent things, especially wisdom for life. The Bible offers wisdom as an antidote to folly. Wisdom is not a hidden or a costly antidote. God speaks only truth. He cannot lie. God hates wicked things and foolishness so much that He took time to provide the Perfect Antidote. An Antidote rooted in love. God also paid the price meaning that the Antidote is free. What could be more excellent than that?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3: 16-17 NIV)


Never Underestimate Jealousy

Proverbs 6:34-35

“For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.”

These two verses are stocked full of practical insight which is lost on the man who fools around with a married woman. The wisdom of Solomon should be heeded, for nothing good comes from making a married man jealous. But there is also wisdom to be had for the woman.

Foolish Games

I recently read an article on a website called Selfgrowth.com entitled “How to Make a Guy Jealous – 5 Teasing Ways to Make Him Want You More.” In that article, written for girls, the writer suggests that “jealousy can also be good – just as long as it’s not destructive.” Really, what kind of wisdom is that? Well, I guess one should consider the source. Just read the author’s bio:

“Steffi Hall is a seduction and attraction expert who teaches men how to attract and pick up beautiful women. As a former model who has been sought after by many men, Steffi has the experience in passing on the skill of attraction, since she was a target of many men herself. There is no better teacher then the target itself, learn from the source.”

Do verses 25 and 26 of this chapter ring a bell? Why would anyone want to learn about relationships from a self-proclaimed seducer? How wise is it to tell your current man “about your other guy friends and what you usually do when you hangout,” or how your ex “was such a great kisser?”

Jealousy is a foolish game to play, for jealousy often leads to rage.

Rage Against Fools

Proverbs 6:27 and 28 talk about getting “burned.” Verse 33 talks about getting “wounds.” No wonder Solomon says in verse 32 that a man who commits adultery with a woman “lacketh understanding.” Aside from having no “heart,” the man is a fool. Does he ever stop to consider that the husband may want revenge?

I have personally known of several men who had their wives betray them.  In one of those cases the husband killed the adulterer and the adulteress with a shotgun. In another, the husband killed his wife, then himself. The rage that results from being betrayed by a spouse in very dangerous, and in these two cases what Solomon warned came to pass – the husbands did not “spare in the day of vengeance.”

Fool’s Gold

Even if adultery doesn’t end in murder, it usually ends in divorce. What kind of fool thinks he can lay with another man’s wife and then smooth everything over with money and gifts? Evidently, some do. Some think they can bribe themselves out of any situation.

Solomon warns that a jealous man is one who cannot be bought off or placated with money or things. If money can’t buy love, it can’t replace love betrayed.


No Shortcuts

Proverbs 3:7-8

“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”

An advertisement on the side of my web browser promises that if I “click here” I can learn a “weird old trick” to eliminate stubborn belly fat. Each weekday afternoon, Dr. Oz hosts a show advocating the addition of blueberries, seaweed and other “super foods” to fight off cancer and heart disease. A billboard overlooking I-24 in my city displays a lean and tightly-muscled torso, suggesting that a few quick visits to the fitness center are all it takes to achieve such enviable results.

THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS!

The achievement of health: Everybody’s looking for a shortcut! And yet, we know that it is the slow, plodding discipline of a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and the elimination of detrimental bad habits (smoking comes to mind) which yield the healthiest bodies over the long haul.

The achievement of wise living is no different! There are no shortcuts (“Be not wise in your own eyes”). Rather, wise living is the fruit of good old basic faith (“fear the LORD”) and repentance (“turn away from evil”). This, says the wise father to the son (3:1) is the only sure path to spiritual health (3:8).

NEED HEALING?

By the way, these verses suggest that by following the way of wisdom, it is in fact possible to extricate yourself from a situation of moral and spiritual “disease”, and gain spiritual health in Christ. Those who are spiritually sick can find healing and refreshment, or as some translations put it, nourishment. One thinks of Subway’s marketing front man “Jarrod”, who lost a couple of hundred pounds simply by “eating fresh”. Praise the Lord, it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17).


The Rejoicing Woman

Proverbs 31:10,25.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies… Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.” (KJV).
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future.” (NLT).

The Strong Woman:

The first thing we learn about our virtuous woman in this verse is that she is strong. Daniel 11:32b declares: “but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” When we take the time to get to know God, and cultivate our personal relationship with Him, we become strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 gets her strength from the Lord.

Do you want to have the strength to serve the Lord, and do everything you need to do today? The key is found in the Bible: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31). Amen!

The Honored Woman:

Not only is a virtuous woman strong, but she is also one who will be honored. Other translations of the Bible render that word honor as dignity, self-respect, beauty and nobility. A little later in King Lemuel’s poem, he writes: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Women who respect God will be honored by others.

And notice that King Lemuel says that she wears her strength and honor like clothing. She doesn’t need fancy clothes or jewelry to look beautiful – her beauty shines from the inside out.

The Rejoicing Woman:

Finally, we see that a virtuous woman shall rejoice in time to come. There is a joy that comes from living a godly, virtuous life that can’t be found anywhere else! It’s unfortunate that many people have bought the lie that anything that’s fun is sinful, and Christians can’t have fun. The Bible says that Jesus came to bring us life, and that more abundantly (John 10:10). One of my favourite Scriptures is Psalm 16:11: “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Do you need more joy in your life? Joy unspeakable and full of glory? The joy of the Lord that is your strength? Then walk in the pathway of life. Live in God’s presence, where there is fullness of joy, and eternal pleasures! As you walk in holiness, happiness is not far behind. You can rejoice in the Lord always. Taste and see that the Lord is good!

p.s. Happy Valentine’s Day!


The ABC’s of a Virtuous Woman

Proverbs 31:10.
“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”

Background to the Poem:

This final passage of Scripture in the Book of Proverbs is actually a 22 verse poem, with each verse beginning with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order from Alpha to Omega. So in a way, you could call this section the “ABC’s of a Virtuous Woman.” Here you will find a description of a valuable, virtuous woman – the kind of wife every woman should strive to be, and every man should strive to find. Here we are going to examine the first verse in this passage:

A Virtuous Woman:

If you compare this translation of Proverbs 31:10 with others, you will find the word virtuous translated as worthy, competent, capable, valiant, excellent, good, noble and with strong character. Here King Lemuel says, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” The question is rhetorical of course, and what he is saying is that it is very difficult to find such a woman.

It is easy to find a charming woman. It is easy to find a beautiful woman. But to find a woman of virtue, with a noble, strong character? Good luck! Later in this passage, King Lemuel writes: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (v.30). Who then is a virtuous woman? A woman who fears the Lord, and obeys His commands.

I Found One!

Before I became a Christian and started following Jesus at the age of 18, I dated many different girls, and I’m ashamed to admit that virtue wasn’t always the first thing I looked for in a girl. But after I gave my life to Jesus Christ, I started looking for a woman who loved the Lord, and had a desire to please Him with her life. I’m happy to say that I found such a woman – Liza Woods. One of the things that attracted me to her was her virtue. She was a beautiful woman on the outside, yes, but on the inside, she had an excellent character that drew me to her.

Liza was 25 years old when we got married on March 25, 1995, and because she had devoted her life to Jesus Christ, she had never been with another man sexually before me. Because she was a virgin when we got married, and she had saved herself for me, I have never had fears or doubts about her faithfulness to me after we got married. For almost 20 years now, my life has been blessed and enriched by having a faithful, righteous, God-fearing woman as my wife. As verse 11 says, “The heart of her husband safely trusts her.” She is a virtuous woman indeed!

Chris & Liza

Chris & Liza

A Valuable Woman:

The second part of this verse tells us that a virtuous woman is worth far more than rubies. Translation? She is valuable! A virtuous woman is a gift and a treasure. And so here is the application to this Proverb: If you are a woman, then strive to be this Proverbs 31 woman. Be a virtuous woman who fears the Lord! And if you are a single man looking for a woman to marry, then seek out a virtuous woman. You’ll never regret a decision like that.


Beware the Birds

Proverbs 30:17.

“The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” (KJV).

Family Devotions:

My wife and I have been married for almost 19 years, and we have four children that are now between the ages of 12 and 17. From the time they were young, we have always made our family devotion time a priority. No matter how busy our lives get, we always endeavour to gather together around the table at dinner time to share a meal together, connect, pray and read the Bible together. Sometimes we have read through a family devotional booklet, and other times we have simply read through a passage right out of the Bible and discussed it together.

When our children were much younger, we were reading through a little devotional booklet with wisdom Scriptures from the book of Proverbs. During that time, we came across the above Scripture from Proverbs 30:17. We told our kids, “You better make sure you don’t give your parents a dirty look, or the birds will come and pluck out your eyes!” Raised eyebrows and pensive glances soon followed, and I’m sure at least one of them was wondering if that would really happen. For some reason, this became one of their favourite Bible verses – or, at least one that they talked about the most!

Understanding Wisdom Literature:

From the time I graduated from Pacific Life Bible College in Surrey, BC in 1999, I taught there as an adjunct professor of Bible Research and Hermeneutics until I moved to Manitoba in 2007. One of the textbooks I used for my Hermeneutics class was Fee and Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. This excellent little volume explains how to accurately interpret the different genres of Bible literature – history, poetry, epistle, apocalyptic literature and the like.

In this book, they wrote: “The Book of Proverbs is the primary locus of prudential wisdom – that is, rules and regulations people can use to help themselves make responsible, successful choices in life… Proverbs teaches what might be called old fashioned basic values.” They also go on to explain that the Proverbs are generalizations, that is, that they express the normal course of events, and therefore, they are not to be viewed as absolute divine promises or guarantees. In other words, if you mock your parents or disobey them, this doesn’t literally mean that a bird will come and pluck your eye out. So what is this Scripture saying then?

In simplest terms, Proverbs is saying that it is wrong, bad and sinful to disrespect or dishonour your parents. Although there may not be an immediate consequence, sooner or later, you are going to reap a negative result in your life for sowing the seeds of rebellion. The wages of sin, the Bible warns us, is death. So don’t mock your parents! Honour, obey and respect them, and God will bless you for it.