Tag Archives: Solomon

Mercy and Fear

Proverbs 16:6

“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”
“In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.” (NKJV)

“He Could Break Me”

When I was young I had a healthy fear of my father. Even when I was a teenager, he was half again my size and could break me in two. The last thing I would have ever wanted was for my dad to strike me in anger, or worse, as an enemy. Thankfully, he loved me, especially when he “spared not the rod.”

Yes, my dad knew how to discipline in the old-fashioned way. He did not believe in “time outs.” Never once did he remind me to “make right choices.” If I made a wrong choice I found out about it real quick.

daddyBut the thing that I was most afraid of was not being punished by my dad for doing something stupid, it was breaking his heart. The worst punishment I could ever receive was to see a disappointed look in his eyes. I wanted him to be proud of me. I was more afraid of seeing a tear than getting whacked in the rear.

You see, my dad was a godly man…a simple man…a humble man…a very hard-working man. He worked multiple jobs, once even giving me his pay so that I could have work. He never raised his voice, but he could preach with authority. He was a true pastor, a faithful husband, and a friend to all. He did a lot for me that I will never know.

Proper Motivation

In today’s proverb Solomon speaks of mercy and forgiveness, but then he ends with “fear” being the motivation for correct behavior. What should be noted is that “fear” isn’t the kind of emotion that causes one to run and hide, but it is a profound sense of respect.

When we think of God, we should remember how merciful he has been to us. We should contemplate his goodness and grace. We should remember that He did not have to forgive us, but would have been completely justified to cast us into a burning hell forever, had it not been for Christ. When we remember these things we should fear and “depart from evil.”

But why should we depart from evil? Is it because of a fear that He will destroy us? No, for we are forgiven, if we have been covered in the righteousness of Jesus. We should have a profound respect for what God has done for us, not to us, and that fear should cause us to depart from evil.


The Hot Head

Proverbs 15:18

“A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.”

A Hot-Tempered Person

I love how our verse is stated in the ESV – “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”

We all know someone who is a hot-head. Someone who is easily provoked or short-fused. They become angry at the drop of a hat. The old saying, “Some people get angry at the drop of a hat and some throw the hat down themselves” is so true of our verse.

Solomon is telling us that those wrathful, hot-headed people are only going to cause more problems and strife.

The Calming Solution

Our verse today is not the first verse we have seen in Proverbs 15 that talks about how to deal with wrathful people. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”.

Solomon is basically telling us that the best way to “keep the peace” is to be calm or slow to anger.

It’s Our Choice

I can sit here and write this post about being calm the next time I am faced with someone who is trying to stir things up or that is angry with me, but when it actually happens, I have two choices: 1. I can become angry at the person and “stir the pot” even more,  or 2. I can stay calm and carefully choose my words. It is up to me!

How will you deal with a hot-tempered person? If you are normally a hot-headed person, how will you respond the next time you have a tendency to “throw down the hat”?


Feeding Habits

Proverbs 15:14

“The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.”

Food Choices

I am not the best example of physical fitness. My body may be the temple of the Holy Ghost, but it needs a little renovation and a serious yard sale. Too much “stuff” has accumulated along the outer areas of the temple grounds. Can you say XXL?

me with potatoOne of the reasons I am not in the best shape is my desire for certain kinds of foods – the kinds with flavor. It’s not that I eat a whole lot, but the types of food I do eat might be considered unhealthy.

However, now that I’ve witnessed my little girls turn into young ladies, healthier foods are becoming more important to me. I want to be around for their weddings; to see my grandchildren; and to play all those games only a grandfather can play. Only a fool would continue to eat bad things, never considering the future.

Contrasting Appetites

In this proverb Solomon contrasts a man that has a desire for knowledge with a man who wants to keep shoveling in foolishness. It reminds me of the difference between someone who understands the need for healthy foods and the one who devours pizza, cup cakes, and sugary drinks every day. One understands what is needful, the other only cares about pleasure.

A man of understanding knows what he needs – knowledge and wisdom. A foolish man feeds on what continues to make him a fool.

A wise man will seek those things which will make him wiser. A fool will satisfy his appetite with worthless information and stimulation.

A wise man will read and study. A fool will watch movies and play video games.

What are you feeding on? 


Sacri-nice

Proverbs 15:8

“The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.”

What God Wants…

God hates the sacrifice of the wicked, but he isn’t to keen on the sacrifice of the righteous either, especially when it becomes the be all and end all. Countless times in the Bible God makes the point that He isn’t interested in sacrifices, the idea of coming and making a payment for your transgressions. No, what He is interested in is your behavior, how you will respond to His grace and forgiveness in your own life, and how that will inspire you to treat others.

Inspired by?

In Matthew 18 we see the story of a servant who owes his master a huge amount of money. He’s panicking, how will he pay this back? What will happen to his family? He goes before the master and begs for more time, and incredibly the master let’s him off. Scot free. Let’s not miss the huge significance of this – this is truly incredible and as counter cultural now as it was then.

I sometimes watch Undercover Boss, now I am not naive I know it’s probably scripted, but I can’t help but be moved when some big CEO enters the life of a low level employee, sees their struggles and their debt, and does something about it. What we never see is how this affects the person in question. They seem very grateful in the moment, but we never see the lasting change.

Not so with this servant. The Bible tells us that straight away he went looking for another servant who owed him a considerably smaller amount. We’d be entitled to think that he had in mind to set this servant free from his debt, to share the grace he had experienced. But in fact all he wants is the money owed to him. How sad that this servant was even more enslaved to money than he originally thought.

Washing feet

At the opposite end of the spectrum we find Jesus. Jesus the entirety of God squeezed into man form, denying His deity to inspire humanity, relying fully on the Father to further the future of the broken. We all know Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, we all know this should blow our tiny minds, but I’ll be honest it was just one of those things I accepted, until I reread the account and came to these verses in John 13:3-5 ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.’ 

Why did Jesus do this? BECAUSE He knew who he was. Because He wanted to show the world a powerful image of what happens when we take the lowest place.

Prayer

All very good and well you may say but how’s this connected to the proverb? Prayer changes everything. If you want to be a person who shares grace rather than shrugs grace then you need to start on your knees.


Planning Evil? You’re Messing Up.

Proverbs 14:22

“Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.”

 A Silly Question

Sometimes a question is so simple it shouldn’t have to be asked. A good example is when one person loses an arm in a freak juicing accident and another asks, “Are you hurt?”

Many, many years ago I was pretty good at martial arts, so I participated in tournaments from time to time. In one tournament I had made it all the way to the final round in a point-fighting competition and received a spinning heal kick to the side of my head. Down to the floor I went.

Lying there on the floor, I experienced the strangest sensation: I saw blue. When the referee came over to me and knelt down she asked, “Are you OK?” I said, “Uh…no…I see blue.” I thought to myself, “What a funny question to ask someone who just got kicked in the head!” However, I did recover in the allotted time and actually won the fight (yay me!).

Aren’t They Messing Up?

This proverb asks a question about foolish people that “devise” or plan evil: “Do they not err?” In other words, is it not so that those who devise evil plans are always messing up? Of course! What a silly question!

Well, it’s not too silly, or more people would learn from their mistakes. It sorta reminds me of villains on crime dramas; don’t they know the hero always wins?

Have you ever watched the Road Runner and Coyote cartoons? Correct me if I am wrong, but you could have asked the question of this proverb every time Wile E. Coyote placed an order in to ACME. His evil plans NEVER worked.

The Hero Will Win

Do they not err? Aren’t they messing up win they plan their evil, rascally schemes? Yes, because the Hero will win. It may not be in this life, but all those who devise evil will suffer. They will lose.

Those who devise good are going to be the ones that are OK. Mercy and truth will be theirs. And what’s more, when the Hero wins, they will be on the winning side, too.


The Thinker

Proverbs 14:16

“A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.”

Warnings

As has been said many times on Proverbial Thought, the book of Proverbs is a book of warnings. Solomon, the wisest man to have ever lived, has penned warning after warning to help guide and direct us in the our lives.

The ThinkerThe Thinker

One of Auguste Rodin’s most famous sculptures is The Thinker, a piece originally conceived to be part of another work. The Thinker was part of a commission by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris to sculpt a monumental door based on The Divine Comedy of Dante. Each of the statues in the piece represented one of the main characters in the epic poem.

Wikipedia describes the statue of The Thinker as the following:

“It depicts a man in sober meditation battling with a powerful internal struggle.”

Today’s verse reminds me of this statue. Here is why, and please stay with me. The name God is never mentioned in this verse. I thought of this statue because I believe that this verse is saying that a wise man is one who thinks before he encounters evil and is afraid of the consequences of his actions and therefore departs, or gets away from evil.

On the other hand, a person who does not think at all of the consequences just plows ahead no matter what it may cost him. He exemplifies the old saying: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” The ESV says our verse this way, “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.”

Count the Cost

When faced with evil, do you jump in with both feet before even thinking about what it may cost you? Or are you like the wise man, and ponder what would happen if you gave into the evil.

Solomon is telling us that we would be very wise to “think before we act”!

Next time you are faced with evil, stop and think about that it may cost you! Sin breaks our fellowship with God and when we really stop and think about what the results from that would cost us, I think you would agree with me that we would gladly depart from evil.

Lord, I pray that we would stop and think! In times of temptation and trials, help us to be cautious and turn from evil and back to you. I thank you for your grace and forgiveness for those times when I don’t think and plunder recklessly into evil. Thank you for your loving mercy toward me!


Don’t Be Gullible

Proverbs 14:15

“The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.”
Ah, the Stories…

There are so many stories I could tell about the stories I can tell. To paraphrase a saying, “So many stories, so little time.” Therefore, when I read this proverb, I immediately began to think of a couple of good examples.

Example One:

Back in the 1990’s I worked in the sporting goods section of a major retailer. One day a couple asked for my advice about a football. They wanted to know which would be better to buy, the one made of leather, or the one made of “Durahyde,” a synthetic, man-made material.

For some reason I started with this nonsense about how the Dura was going extinct and how only the young duras were used because of their fur-less pelts. The more I talked, the more they seemed to believe me, so a vicious circle of humor-gone-bad and gullibility took over.

“So what do you recommend?” they asked. “Buy the leather,” I suggested. “It might be a little more expensive, but I just can’t approve of the way they kill those young, little duras for their pelts.”

The more I talked the more it became evident that some people will believe anything, no matter how outrageous. In retrospect, I am ashamed that I forgot to tell them I was only kidding.

I was just so stunned that they actually believed me! (Note: the leather ball was the better choice, and that was what they wanted.)

Example Two:

It was a Christmas dinner, and my mother-in-law (we could stop right there, I suppose) was complaining that someone had made meatloaf. “Why did [she] make meatloaf? Since when was meatloaf a traditional Christmas dish?”

“Well,” I said, “meatloaf is a very traditional Christmas dish, as a matter of fact.” “Really?” she asked. “Yes, it goes way back to around the year 1260 in England.” I went on to tell her that long ago there was a good king who prepared a great feast for all the peasants in his kingdom. Each Christmas he would invite all of them to come in and take part in a Christmas meal, the centerpiece being a large animal cooked over a fire.

As the story went, one year things got really bad. There was great poverty throughout the land, and when it came time for the annual Christmas feast, the king had no cattle, dear, or any such animal to offer. Saddened, the people of the local villages rallied together and decided to save the good king from embarrassment. They killed and cooked chicken, rabbit, and pheasant, combined them all together in to a large “loaf,” and offered it as a gift to the king who had been so good to them.

I told my mother-in-law, “That is why meatloaf is probably the MOST traditional of all dishes served at Christmastime.” “Is that so? I never knew that! Wow!” was her reply. “I guess I shouldn’t have gotten so upset,” she said (Then my wife had to spoil everything by telling her I was only joking).

Be Prudent

I believe Solomon was the first to say, “Don’t believe everything you read, hear, or see on television.” He did say that, didn’t he?

Don’t get me wrong, I love to joke around with people, but I hate lying. My stories are meant to eventually be understood as told in fun – like a grandfather who insists he has pulled a quarter from your ear. Nevertheless, it’s better to follow the words of Paul and “prove all things” (1 Th 5:21).

The gullible believe everything without question, and there are those who will take advantage of them. The prudent (wise), therefore, learn to check sources.

Let God be true, and every man a liar (Romans 3:4).