Tag Archives: Proverbs and Sayings

Bittersweet Testimony

Proverbs 14:10

“Each heart knows its own bitterness,
    and no one else can share its joy.”

Know Thy Self

The only person who knows your heart better than God is you. You know how it feels to be you. You know what what it feels like to hurt like you hurt. You and God are the only ones who know the depth of the bitterness contained in your own heart. Other people might have been through similar things, they might have some level of understanding but the only other person to know the full picture is God.

All by Myself

So is this proverb suggesting we should shut up shop, keeping our bitterness and joy to ourselves? I would like to suggest not. This proverb isn’t saying no one should share it’s joy, it is just making the observation that the natural state of play is that no one knows what is truly going on in someone’s heart (except God) unless we learn to share our hearts with others.

Grieving and Rejoicing Together

Romans 12:15 tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” This is only possible if we open our hearts to others. Now I am not saying we should share our intimate secrets with all and sundry but it is healthy to have a few trusted confidants to open our hearts to.

Extended Family

When we first found out that I had a low sperm count we had to decide whether to keep this news to ourselves or share it with our church family. When I got up and told our church I said something like this: “I tell you this now not for your pity, but so that as you grieve with us presently you will rejoice with us when we have our children.”

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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.


Honored On a Box

Proverbs 13:18

“Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.”

Cracker Jack Boxes

Years ago I had a great sales manager, Dennis Vauvrunek.  He was great because he was a servant leader; because he was an encourager; and because he tried to bring out the best in his people.

Dennis knew that sales people are competitive by nature. So, in order to showcase the person with the highest numbers each week, he gave away an award – a box of Cracker Jacks.

Now, this was not just any box of Cracker Jacks, but one that had printed on the front the name of the winner and the dollar amount sold. It was amazing how much harder some of us would work when we though someone else might get the box. Sometimes getting that box was more important than a paycheck.

Honor and Reproof

The key to the success of the Cracker Jack box was the natural desire to be honored. The one who received it was considered the “best of the best”…a “go-getter,”…a winner.

But success in any field does not come by accident. Hours and hours of instruction, hands-on training, and learning from one’s mistakes were a prerequisite to being successful. The winners of Cracker Jack boxes were men and women who had been humble enough to accept reproof.

Poverty and Shame

Those who never accept instruction, much less reproof, are usually destined for poverty. Poverty and shame are the wages of pride.

When the industry I was in was active, I made really good money. But making a good living came as the result of dedicated, systematic, hard work. When I trained others to do what I did, I would show them exactly what was needed to be successful. All they had to do was follow my instructions. Those who didn’t went broke. Those who wouldn’t take advice never met their quotas. It didn’t take long before they were gone.

Your Name on a Box

Do you want to succeed in a particular area of life? Do you want to provide for yourself and your family? There is a price to pay. You must be humble.

1 Peter 5:5-6 – “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

What kind of box do you want?


Sometimes Unity Isn’t Enough

Proverbs 11:21

“Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.”
Not Enough Space

Honestly, there is not enough space allowed in this entry to adequately cover all the things that could be gleaned from this proverb. Because we desire that these posts be published one day, if every “thought” was a thousand words, the final book would look like the Encyclopedia Britannica.

At the time of this writing, it is a Sunday evening, and I just preached a forty-five minute sermon on this very text. It was such a blessing, and the result was that a young lady came forward tonight and asked if I could show her how to be saved.  If I were to go into all that I preached, I don’t know how long this post would be.

So, what I am going to do is share some highlights. I would encourage you to take the time, as with all these verses in Proverbs, to study them for yourself.

“We are the World”

Do you remember that Michael Jackson classic, We are the World? Have you seen all the different organizations and activist groups that use pictures of people holding hands to send a message of unity? Have you ever played the game where kids stood in a line with their arms locked together and said, “Red rover, red rover, send some idiot right over?”

Well, the wicked of this world have the idea that if they stand together in a united front against the True God of the universe, all will go their way. You can see it plastered across all the news networks. Flames are rising around the planet as followers of a false god rise up against the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – and against Christianity.

They are united. They are hand in hand. They are the world.

Won’t Make a Difference

But even though the wicked stand hand in hand, it won’t make the outcome any different. The whole world joined together in one voice before the Deluge, yet they still drowned. Their unity couldn’t hold back the judgment of God.

Even now, militants are rising up, seeking the destruction of the righteous, but, “The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming” (Psa. 37:13).

The Promise

Many look at history and ask, “If God’s word is true, then why do the righteous die as martyrs? Why are Christians persecuted and killed? Why does it look like the ‘wicked’ are getting their way?”

Here’s the answer: it ain’t over, yet.

Isa 27:13 ESV – “And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.”

Deliverance may not come in the way we think it should, but it will come. It may not even be in this life, but it will come. And one day, when that “great trumpet will be blown,” the righteous will all worship on His holy mountain in Jerusalem.


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?


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.