Tag Archives: theology

Am I spending too much time with fools?

Image result for fool no god

Atheist

Scripture portrays fools as those who have rejected God and his ways and are unable or unwilling to appreciate the wisdom of knowing and obeying him. A great example is “A fool has said in his heart, there is no God.”

So what to do? Argue with atheists? Have wonderful debates over theology and dogma?

Not hardly. They are a waste of my time. They are a waste of my words. Jesus warned me to not cast my pearls before swine. Continue reading

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Foaming Angry

Proverbs 25:23

“The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.”

Which Is It?

This is one of those verses in the Bible that cause interpreters and writers of commentaries to scratch their heads. One puts it this way: “This little proverb is extraordinarily beset with problems.”* According to the scholars and biblical language experts, it is hard to determine what Solomon means, exactly.

You see, there are issues with the “north wind”: does the verb “driveth” really mean to “drive away” or to “bring?” The verb actually means to “bring forth, as with labor pains.” Either way makes the second part hard to interpret: does an angry look come because of a “backbiting tongue,” or does the indignant tongue make the “angry countenance” go away?

If the north wind drives a cold rain away, then the parallel is that an angry look should hush up a slandering tongue. However, if the north wind brings the rain, then a slandering, backbiting tongue causes angry looks. Which one is it?

My Interpretation

One day, a long time ago, I tried to help someone. With a humble, servant-like attitude I bent over backwards to accommodate this individual, even though I knew it was going to be difficult for me. Then, that very evening, I was informed of slander being spread about me – stories that I had done the complete opposite and actually refused to help the person in need.

The word in this verse translated “angry” means “to foam at the mouth, speaking of a camel…”** Dear reader, I am not super spiritual – I am still human – so when I heard of what was being said of me, well…let’s just say I’m glad the walls of my house are made of brick. You could say I was foaming-at-the-mouth angry.

However you choose to interpret Proverbs 25:23, backbiting and slander can cause serious problems. Talking about people behind their backs simultaneously drives away showers of blessing and brings in cold rains of sorrow.

Watch your tongue and the weather will be fine.

“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” – Psalms 34:13-14 ESV

Sources:

*Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 209.

**Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 250.


Fe Fi Fo Fum

Proverbs 21:16

The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.

It wouldn’t take much to imagine a fairy tale attached to this proverb. If we ponder the meaning of the last word, a tragic version of Jack and the Beanstalk might unfold.

The Giant Dead

Go ahead and think of the “congregation of the dead” as an assembly of gruesome zombies. No one would want to have supper with them, not unless they wanted to be the main course. Think also of a cemetery, a place where the dead have surely congregated and remain to this day. Either one would be a mental picture worthy of us staying on the right path.

giant

From “Jack the Giant Slayer”

But one could also think of the “congregation of the dead” as something else. One commentary points out that the early church Fathers regarded the Rephaim [the Hebrew word translated as “dead”] as “the giants,” in accordance with their interpretation of Gen. 6:1–4.* So, picture with me, if you please, a spiritual version of bone-crushing, fe-fi-fo-yelling, monsters.

What could be scarier than foolishly wandering off the path of understanding, only to run into a congregation of 50ft-tall man-eaters? Not much one can do.

The Wanderer

Sadly, there are many who wander away in their own wisdom. They think the way of understanding is too boring, too uneventful, and too safe. They believe they know a better way, so they take off on their own into the dark.

Unfortunately, Solomon uses language that implies a sense of permanence. He says that the one who wanders away “shall remain” with the dead, or giants, or whatever. By that he means a “rest as at a journey’s end; death will be his unchanging home.”**

The Wayward

Too often parents and grandparents say that children need to “sow their wild oats,” meaning that they should be allowed to act with indiscretion and abandon while they are still young. Tragically, many of those young people wind up trapped by the congregation of giants, never to be seen again.

Would Solomon have suggested sowing oats in a giant’s field?

Sources:

*Proverbs, ed. H. D. M. Spence-Jones, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 407.

**Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), Pr 21:16.


Watch Your Mouth or Get Your Lights Turned Out

Proverbs 20:20

“Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.”

My Daddy Used to Say

My father has been mentioned before, but I am going to talk about him again. You see, my dad had a very simple way with words – he said what he meant and he meant what he said. I rarely heard him raise his voice, and I didn’t want to.

One of the things my father used to say was based on the stand-up comedy of Bill Cosby (before he became infamous). He would tell me, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.” But unlike modern children who never hear talk like that, I believed him.  And believe me, he was very capable.

Respect

Once I said something disrespectful to my mother and quickly regretted it. Another time, when doing some martial arts sparring, I struck my dad a little too hard in the jaw (doing the “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” routine). That was a big mistake.

I loved my daddy. He was my best friend and my hero. But my dad was quick to remind me that he was my father. He expected and demanded respect for both my mother and himself, and I gave it. I would have never considered “cursing” either one of them.

Cursing

When we look closer at the word “curseth,” we see that the meaning has more to do with making little of, or showing contempt for one’s parents, which is more than simply hurling bad words. Cursing one’s parents is showing utter disrespect.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where children think they have the right to fire off obscenities and make demands of their parents, like parents were meant to be their slaves. And what makes it worse, many laws encourage this type of “cursing” by punishing parents who exercise any discipline.

Consequences

Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The “cursing” that Solomon mentions, then, is seed which will one day reap a harvest of darkness.

Irony can be a wonderful tool, and Solomon uses it beautifully in this proverb. Just take a moment and think about it: the cursing children wouldn’t even exist without the parents they deem so invaluable, so who needs a progeny with no predecessors?

Our Father in heaven brought us into this world, and He can surely take us out.


Honking Escalade

Proverbs 16:19

“Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”

Rich and Poor

Not all poor people are humble. Not all rich people are proud. We should never jump to conclusions and assume that just because a man is poor he is humble, or prideful if he is rich.

That being said, today’s proverb addresses the heart of man, and that heart is usually more proud when he is rich, humble when he is poor. For instance, the people who blew their horn at my wife and I, as we sat at a stop sign and couldn’t go anywhere, were in a big Cadillac Escalade. They honked at us, but we didn’t honk at the little old lady in front of us who couldn’t decide where to go. (That actually happened just a few moments before writing this)

Riches and Poverty

This proverb also addresses the misconception that wealth is better than poverty. Sure, to have more money and possessions can be a great blessing, but it can also be a curse far worse than being destitute.

This verse also addresses the misguided belief that “the one with the most” wins. Many only have “the most” because they have taken advantage of those who have little.

The NIV translates this verse, “Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” It might not always be the poor and rich we’re talking about, but the oppressed and the oppressors. Either way, the one who is worse off in God’s eyes is the one who sits with those who have become wealthy by taking from others, and is proud of it.

Be Content

Let us consider Proverbs 16:19 as we observe the words of the Apostle Paul…

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

Ultimately, it’s better to have nothing and a humble heart, than have everything and be at odds with our God.

(I hope the horn on that Escalade breaks and starts blowing when they’re behind a State Trooper)

 

 


He Reads Minds

Proverbs 15:26

“The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.”

Reading Minds

I am not a mind reader, but I can usually tell you what my children are thinking. When they get angry with each other, they want revenge. When one gets hurt, the other is sad, but only on the outside…they laugh on the inside.

I have even become better at reading my wife’s mind. When she says that she is not feeling well, what she really wants is for me to make dinner, pay the bills, clean the house, and help the children with their homework. When she says, “Honey, let’s put the kids to bed early tonight,” what she really wants is to go to bed early…after watching the news. Pretty simple.

However, when it really comes down to knowing every little thought in a person’s mind, only God can do that (Hebrews 4:13-13). He even knows more than Santa Claus.

Hidden Thoughts

The wicked think they can fool God. They parade around doing good, like feeding the homeless, adopting orphans, or hammering a nail in a habitat. They go to church; have pews named after them; and occupy seats on the most influential boards; yet, inside they are “full of dead men’s bones.” Who are they kidding?

The wicked don’t have to do anything outwardly bad; Yahweh knows their thoughts. He knows their motivations. He can read their minds, even when their actions are an attempt to disguise.

Nothing Hidden

The pure of heart have nothing to hide. Their actions betray their thoughts in a good way. Their words are windows into hearts with proper intentions, and the Lord loves to hear them speak.

God doesn’t even have to hear the wicked speak to know what’s on their minds (Matt. 15:19). He says, “I know what you’re thinking, so don’t even say it.” But the pure, the righteous, are a different story altogether. He says, “Come, let us reason together…I’d love to hear what you have to say.


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.