Tag Archives: proverbs

Fiery Strife

Proverbs 26:20-21.

 “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”(KJV).

The Most Important Things: Love and Unity

In John 13:35, Jesus made it abundantly clear what one of the most important aspects of discipleship is love: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” In other words, walking in love is one of the surest signs that we are true Christians. A few chapters later in this same book of the Bible, John records for us the high priestly prayer of Jesus that He prayed right before going to the Cross:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21). Wow! That’s one of the most sobering thoughts in the entire Bible. Here Jesus essentially says, “If Christians could become one in love and unity towards one another, the whole world would be saved.” That tells me that love and unity are the most important things we can learn as believers!

The Most Dangerous Things: Strife and Gossip

If the two most important things for us to learn to do as followers of Jesus is to walk in love and unity, then guess what the enemy is going to try to get us to do? To keep us from walking in love and unity! We shouldn’t be surprised then when we find the enemy coming and sowing seeds of strife and gossip… even (nay, especially) in the church.

In today’s Proverb, Solomon says, “Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops. A quarrelsome person starts fights as easily as hot embers light charcoal or fire lights wood.” (NLT). In other words, people who gossip and stir up strife are firestarters. In the same way that a fire can destroy anything from a house to an entire forest, so too a little gossip and strife can destroy relationships and unity.

So how do we guard against stripe and gossip? Fire needs fuel to burn, and so too strife needs the fuel of gossip to keep raging. Therefore, if we want to stop strife, we need to stop gossip. If we want to see the church of Jesus Christ prevail in the world, then we must contend for love and unity. We must refuse to gossip or talk negatively about another believer, and we must also refuse to listen to gossip about another Christian. And remember this truth: If someone will gossip to you, then they will likely gossip about you as well.

T.H.I.N.K.

T.H.I.N.K. before you speak: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If not, then remember the wisdom from Thumper’s mother from the Bambi movie: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Church – let’s let love, acceptance and forgiveness become our banner! As we do this, we will show the world that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ. Amen…

think


The Lazy Boy

Proverbs 26:14

“As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.” (KJV).
“As a door turns back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed.” (NLT). 

lazy 2

The Natural Lazy Boy:

It’s amazing today how so many in today’s culture celebrate the idea of being lazy. Today’s generation of young people with their “oh well, whatever, never-mind” dysfunction is everywhere you look. They say that there is nothing new under the sun, and it’s true. Laziness was a problem with human beings when King Solomon wrote these Proverbs nearly three thousand years ago.

In today’s Proverb, Solomon says that a lazy person turns over in his bed the same was a door turns on its hinges. There is a lesson in this! It doesn’t matter how many times the door opens or closes, it never goes anywhere. Ten years from now, it will still be in the same doorway. In the same way, a lazy person will never get anywhere in life.

It shocks me the number of young people today who have no work ethic, and no motivation or desire to do anything with their lives. I know of young people who get a job but it doesn’t last because a few days or weeks into the job they don’t feel like working, so they just don’t show up to work so they get fired, or they eventually quit. I know of a man who goes from job to job, quitting one and being fired from another, and the saddest part of this story is that his son is following in his footsteps as well.

The Spiritual Lazy Boy:

Not only are people naturally lazy – averse or disinclined to work, activity, or exertion – but they are also spiritually lazy as well. There is no hunger or thirst for more of God in their lives, no passion or desire to seek the Lord in prayer or Bible reading, and no motivation to excel in living lives of purity and holiness. People come to church content to sing songs and hear stories about what God did in the past, with no expectation of encountering that same God today. What will become of us as a people if we don’t change?

The Challenge: Wake Up and Work Hard!

The Bible gives us this challenge: “And where your light shines, it will expose their evil deeds. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days.” (Eph. 5:14-16, NLT).

God has called every one of us to make a difference in the world for good. Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for evil to prosper is that enough good men do nothing.” Let us be done with laziness in all of its forms – be it physical or spiritual laziness – and let us arise and let our lights shine in our world, that men may see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven!


Sloths and Lions

Proverbs 26:13

“The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.”

This verse is one of several in a row that deal with the “slothful man.” Each one gives us a different description of him and his ways.

Slothful

When I hear the word “slothful” all I can think about is that poor, slow, moss-covered critter. The sloth is an animal that barely moves, sleeps most of the time, and quite frankly, stinks. I mean, how nasty would you have to be for moss to grow on you?

three_toed_sloth_11What a disgrace, then, to be called slothful? One could be called slow, a little behind, or weak, but that might mean he was a turtle, a baby elephant, or a butterfly. Even the word “lazy” doesn’t carry the same, stinky punch as “slothful.” Yet, there are people in this world who could make a sloth look peppy by comparison.

Lions

What I find ironic is that there are lions in the streets. It’s not that lions are not dangerous, but they are go-getters, hunters, fighters, and fast; everything the sloth is not, nor wants to be. Yet, in life it’s the “lions” and “tigers” who are successful precisely because they are in the streets, not inside watching The Price is Right.

The lazy, slothful man will never be any more that what his as long as he never hits the streets. However, if he would only seek employment with tenacity, creativity, and the driving hunger of a lion, there would be nothing left to fear.

I pity those who make excuses for everything and depend on others to do all the work. The pleasure that comes from the satisfaction of a job well done is far more gratifying than having the best moss garden on my back.


A Difficult Thought

Proverbs 26:10

“The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.”
“Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.” – ESV

This proverb is a challenging one because of how many different ways it could be translated. As a matter of fact, practically every scholarly commentary admits the Hebrew in this proverb is difficult to interpret. That is why I am going to quote several of them before I leave my final thought for you.

Spence-Jones (The Pulpit Commentary)

Few passages have given greater difficulty than this verse; almost every word has been differently explained. The Authorized Version is, The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors; Revised Version, As an archer (Job 16:13) that woundeth all, so is he that hireth the fool and he that hireth them that pass by. At first sight one would hardly suppose that these could be versions of the same passage. [1]

Garrett (The New American Commentary)

The Hebrew of v. 10 is almost unintelligible and thus subject to numerous interpretations, all of which are hypothetical. As the NIV has it, the verse reaffirms that one should not commit important tasks to fools (as in v. 6). Notwithstanding all the difficulties of the text, that does seem to be the main point.[2]

Friedrich and Delitzsch (Commentary on the Old Testament)

All that we have hitherto read is surpassed in obscurity by this proverb, which is here connected because of the resemblance of ושכר to שכור. We translate it thus, vocalizing differently only one word:

            Much bringeth forth from itself all; But the reward and the hirer of the fool pass away.[3]

Matthew Henry

Matthew Henry

Our translation [KJV] gives this verse a different reading in the text and in the margin; and accordingly it expresses either, 1. The equity of a good God. The Master, or Lord (so Rab signifies), or, as we read it, The great God that formed all things at first, and still governs them in infinite wisdom, renders to every man according to his work. … Or, 2. The iniquity of a bad prince (so the margin reads it): A great man grieves all, and he hires the fool; he hires also the transgressors. When a wicked man gets power in his hand, by himself, and by the fools and knaves whom he employs under him, whom he hires and chooses to make use of, he grieves all who are under him and is vexatious to them. We should therefore pray for kings and all in authority, that, under them, our lives may be quiet and peaceable.[4]

Anthony Baker (Proverbial Thought)

So, here is what I think. Feel free to quote me 200 years from now.

A man is a fool when he employs a fool to complete a task. However, the biggest fool is one who thinks God, the Almighty Archer, will miss the target when He holds the wicked accountable.

We are always under His watchful eye, but the fool is never out of His “sights.”


[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Proverbs, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 500.

[2] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 213.

[3] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 6 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 387.

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


A Fool’s Errand

Proverbs 26:6.

“He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.” (KJV).

Teaching about Fools:

For the past several days on Proverbial Thought, we have been reflecting on Solomon’s wisdom concerning fools:

Click on the links to review, or read them for the first time if you haven’t done so yet! Anyway, Solomon continues his teaching on fools here when he says: “Trusting a fool to convey a message is as foolish as cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison!” (NLT).

Don’t Trust a Fool:

The Bible gives us this sage advice: Don’t trust a fool! I think it’s interesting that we have a figure of speech in the English language called a ‘fool’s errand.’ This simply means a fruitless undertaking, something that is completely absurd, useless or hopeless. In other words, to ask a fool to do something for you is, well, foolish. It’s a stupid as cutting off your own feet – you’re only hurting yourself. When the foolish person doesn’t do what you asked them to do, you will have to either waste time now having to find someone else to do it for you, or you may even end up having to do it yourself.

Trust a Wise or Faithful Person:

If it is foolish to trust a fool to do a job for you, then the flip-side is also true: You are smart if you choose someone who is wise, faithful or trustworthy to do something for you. Jesus Himself said, “Who is a faithful, sensible servant, to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his household and feeding his family?” (Matthew 24:45, NLT).

Let us be Faithful:

Now some of you may never find yourself in a leadership position, having to hire or choose someone to get a job done. But as Christians, all of us are called to serve the Lord and serve His church. So let us be found faithful even with the smallest tasks the Lord asks of us, and He will reward us. If you have a job to do, do it heartily as unto the Lord, and do it with a spirit of excellence! As we do this, God will be glorified. Amen!


No More the Fool

Proverbs 26:5

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation. (NLT)

Back in 1978 when I was second mate on a 100,000 ton bulk carrier we had a first-trip engineering cadet who quickly gained the nickname ‘village idiot’. The problem was that while everyone on the ship recognized that this lad wasn’t blessed with significant brainpower, he thought he that was. The other problem is that idiots are not easily tolerated on ships.

To be fair, most first trippers begin their careers as idiots. I did. There is so much to learn. The key is being willing to learn. A superiority complex never goes down well on a ship, but a first trip cadet with a superiority complex is quite intolerable. Inevitably life becomes intolerable for the intolerable one as he or she is brought down to size. It would be foolish to allow a foolish seafarer to become wise in his own eyes, but also potentially dangerous given the working environment on board ship.

Solomon was spot on with his advice. It is important to let a fool know that he is a fool. Fail to do so and the fool will believe that he knows better than everyone else. Lack of experience combined with lack of wisdom might then have disastrous effects.

Challenging as it may seem this proverb speaks to everyone. It is important to know and understand our limitations and focus our energies on what we do best. This is particularly important in church where sometimes we place or find the wrong people in ministries where they simply do not belong. The out-of-tune choir member might make an excellent Sunday School teacher, but someone needs to identify this and gently guide the croaky crooner to the place where God can really use him. And that does call for wisdom.


Cursed Curses!

Proverbs 26:2

“As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.”

Curses!

I recently watched a funny scene from the movie Despicable Me. Vector, the really bad guy, had stolen a stolen shrink ray and was playing with it in his bathroom (lavatory), and that’s when he purposely shrunk his toilet. He then proceeded to mock the toilet like it was a defeated enemy. When the shrunken toilet popped off the water line, Vector yelled, “Curse you, tiny toilet!”

Curses are as old as mankind, I suppose. They have been around long before Vector, Scooby Doo, Endora (Samantha’s mother), or the literal witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7). The first curses recorded in the Bible can be found all the way back in the book of Genesis. There God cursed the serpent (Gen. 3:14), the ground (Gen. 3:17), Cain (Gen. 4:11), and even the anger of Simeon and Levi (Gen. 49:7). So, it would seem that the earliest curses came not from witches, but from God.

However, when God pronounces a curse, it is usually a denunciation of sin (Nu. 5:21, 23; Dt. 29:19–20), His judgment on sin (Nu. 5:22, 24, 27; Is. 24:6), and the person who is suffering the consequences of sin by the judgment of God is called a curse (Nu. 5:21, 27; Je. 29:18).[1]  On the other hand, men use curses as tools to bring something about. However, the difference between a curse from God and a curse from man is capacity: man’s is limited, but God is omnipotent.

Capacity

Those who spew out curses typically have no ability to see them come to fruition. In Eccl. 8:4 we read: “Where the word of the king is, there is power.” In other words, a king can pronounce a curse on his subject’s land or life and have the ability to make it happen. But for most people, “damning” someone is pretty useless.

Click the picture to watch the video.

I once made a video depicting a monkey puppet making fun of evolution. The video asked the question: “What do you get when cross a monkey with time?” The answer was, “A man? No, just a monkey.” Immediately I received hate mail and curses from atheists around the globe.

On other occasions I have written about my views on marriage, which have brought even more hateful language, and even threats. The curses came by the boat load and generally read like this: “I hope you get sick and die!…go to hell!…damn you!” But therein lies the point of today’s proverb – cursed curses are useless.

Causeless

Solomon said, “the curse causeless shall not come.” Therefore, we should not fear the curses of fools, for they do not have the capacity bring about the end result. They presume upon a Power beyond their own to bring about the judgment they declare, but “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Let the witch doctor cast spells; let the voodoo doll be stuck with pins; let the curses come from Hell itself; they will fly by me like sparrows on the wind, for they are as powerless as the cursed fools who send them.


[1] J. A. Motyer, “Curse,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 248.