Tag Archives: Wisdom literature

Wicked Uprooted

Proverbs 2:20-22

“That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous. For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.”

Getting to the Root

Verse 22 offers a picture of trees being pulled out by their roots. Yet roots are notoriously difficult to remove, particularly if a tree is substantial and has been established for a long time. Evil is a tree that has become deeply rooted in society, and in the world in general.

While it is easy to get frustrated about the abundance of evil in our world, it is even more frustrating when we look back because it seems as if nothing has changed with time. Three thousand years ago the writers of the Psalms struggled with the prosperity of the wicked.

In Psalm 73 verse 3 Asaph declares, “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” But David in Psalm 37 teaches us not to envy the wicked stating in verse 2: “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb.”

What Kind of Tree are You?

Make no mistake. Not just the evil, but also all who choose not to surrender their lives to God will be uprooted, extracted, removed. There will be no place for them in the New Heaven and Earth described in the Book of Revelation. But how do we walk in the way of good men and keep the paths of the righteous, so that we will not meet the fate of the wicked? Psalm 37 gives some pointers:

  • Trust in the Lord and do good (verse 3).
  • Delight thyself also in the Lord (verse 4).
  • Commit thy way unto the Lord (verse 5).
  • Rest in the Lord (verse 7).
  • Wait patiently for Him (verse 7).
  • Cease from anger, and forsake wrath (verse 8).

And you will be like a different type of tree, as described in the first three verses of the very first Psalm:

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV).

Do your roots reach into the Living Water (John 4:10-14)?

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Can You Hear?

Proverbs 1:20-23 

Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: (21) She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, [saying], (22) How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? (23) Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

Wisdom’s Call

Do you hear wisdom’s call?

God reaches out to all people in all circumstances.

Most times it is our conscience reminding us we are doing something we probably should not be doing. Sometimes it is through others offering advice. Sometimes it is through a dream or a thought. Occasionally God (or one of the angels) speaks directly.

As I said, it is usually through our conscience, which I argue definitely can mean “in the streets” and “the chief place of concourse”. These were places people were most likely to hear a proclamation. God can easily strike our conscience:

12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (Rom 2:12-16)

The “Simple”

In the Creation versus Evolution debate, the pro-abortion versus pro-life/anti-abortion debate, or even the carpet color versus sign font debate within churches, both sides argue for the wisdom they have and the strength of their moral (or lack-thereof) superiority.

Many Bibles have a note listed for the word “simple”: The Hebrew word rendered simple in Proverbs generally denotes one without moral direction and inclined to evil.

No matter who is right in these debates, the verbal attacks denote someone who is “simple” in mind and/or spirit. People such as this love their way and choices more than what may be true. They “delight in their scorning” and “hate knowledge” while claiming to be tolerant and knowledgable.

When our conscience speaks up (or someone gives advice, or we have a dream, or God directly speaks), may we not only listen but turn from our own limited knowledge (repentance!). Not only can it save us from trouble, but we can receive full wisdom (not necessarily full understanding) through the Holy Spirit.

Heed the Call

Holy Spirit, guide our hearts and our minds. Help us to clearly hear and respond to Your leading. Give us Your wisdom and the strength to obey, in Jesus’ name.


Muddied Water

Proverbs 25:26

“A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.”
“A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.” – NLT

Well Water

Years ago, when I was young (many years ago), we got all of our water from a well. Instead of “purified” city water, we had an electric pump that drew water from deep down inside the ground. The water was cold and sweet – and free.

However, the only problem with our well was that when it rained really hard, especially after the weather had been dry for a while, the water from the well would turn a muddy red. Runoff from the mountains would somehow find its way into the underground stream from which our water was drawn.

Red Rice

Once, when I was single, poor, and living on my own, all I had to eat one evening was some Uncle Ben’s white rice. That day it had come a hard rain, and as usual, the water was as red as Georgia clay. Since I had no fancy bottled water, the only option I had was to boil my rice in muddy water, which, as you can imagine, also turned my rice red.

I have had red beans and rice, but red rice, especially muddy-tasting red rice, is not particularly appetizing. It’s not something I would recommend.

Dirty Water

There is nothing more naturally refreshing to one who is thirsty than cold, clean, fresh spring water. And when it comes to those who are thirsty for clean, pure truth; for hope that sustains; for counsel that refreshes; there’s nothing more helpful than a word of wisdom offered by a righteous man of God.

However, a righteous man who has given in to the influence and pressures of the world “is as useless to society and as harmful to the good cause as a spring that has been defiled by mud stirred up or extraneous matter introduced is unserviceable for drinking and prejudicial to those who use it.”[1]

Be Careful

The saddest thing is that unless one knows the source of a spring, or unless one is able to determine the water’s purity, polluted water can go undetected until it is too late. Water doesn’t have to be visibly muddy to be unhealthy, or even deadly. Therefore, unless the source of wisdom is Wisdom himself, then the well must be suspect.

How many thirsty men and women, boys and girls, have been sickened by “polluted springs?” Even worse, how many of us have allowed ourselves to be polluted by sin, only to poison others?

The only water guaranteed to “spring up into everlasting life” comes from Jesus (John 4:14), and He said: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37).

Don’t muddy the Water.


[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Proverbs, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 485.


Tasty Gossip

Proverbs 18:8

“The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (NIV)

Choice Morsels

I love good food, and considering I couldn’t fit into my new suit coat, maybe a little too much. As a matter of fact, Thanksgiving was months ago, but I’m still suffering the effects of that meal. It was just sooooo good!

pinto beans with cornbread

Pinto beans with cornbread.

However, the best tasting kind of food is what many call “comfort food.” It’s the kind of food that makes one feel good. It’s the kind of food for which a person longs. Comfort food is choice food, and every morsel is an experience worth savoring.

For many people, gossip is like comfort food; it satisfies a hunger and desire to feel better, if only about one’s self. Gossip is tasty.

Hidden Dangers

The problem with comfort food, however, is that it goes down easy, but it never wants to leave; it sticks around in the belly, the liver, the arteries, and the heart. A constant desire for it can lead to irreversible health problems.

A few years ago I saw a documentary about a man who weighed nearly 1,000 pounds. He ate all the food he wanted, but the weight he gained left him immobile. Unbelievably, when help finally came to take him to a hospital, caretakers actually found a discarded chicken bone embedded in his his leg. His choice morsels left him wounded.

Gossip Chef

Today’s proverb addresses the words of a talebearer, or gossip. Interestingly, the Authorized Version describes the words of a gossip as wounds, while other translations render the word wounds as choice morsels. Either way, the words of a talebearer have a way of sinking down deep, eventually affecting the hearer in a negative way.

One commentary says,

The juicy tidbits of gossip are eagerly devoured by persons disposed to listen to them, as a glutton helps himself freely to tempting food. The slanderous words do not make a superficial impression, but penetrate into the innermost recesses of the listener where they are thoroughly digested.*

But unlike the great chefs of the world who prepare choice delicacies for many people at a time, the gossip partakes in every meal served. Not only is the belly of the customer fattened, but also the gossip chef. Eventually both will die of heart disease.

*James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), Pr 18:1–8.


The Cost of Bribes

Proverbs 15:27

“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.” 

“A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.” – NIV

Same Script

Have you ever noticed how most crime dramas on television are the same, at least in the writing department? When we read in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is “no new thing under the sun,” it especially applies to television and movie plots.

One reason that it is hard to come up with anything new is because men keep doing the same things over and over again. The stories are all so similar in pattern because the template is ingrained in man’s fallen nature. He keeps falling for the same old tricks every time, like fish that never question a swimming worm.

One common story line involves a man who needs money, takes a bribe, gets caught, then brings his family to ruin. It varies, of course, but whether it’s a politician who takes a bribe in order to keep his career afloat, or a discouraged policeman who deals confiscated drugs in order to take care of his sick children, the end is always the same – trouble.

Doing What’s Right

It is not always easy to turn down easy money. Sometimes the offer can seem pretty tempting. Several years ago my wife and I were asked to hire undocumented workers in order to keep down the costs of a cleaning contract. We were told over and over, “They work hard for little money…everyone does it…no one will find out.” We could have saved thousands of dollars in labor costs.

Doing what is right, however, is more important than money. Greed is the downfall of many. What would have happened my wife’s company had been visited by federal agents? How many lies would she have been responsible for when she filed payroll taxes? What would have happened to our family of one of us had been sent to jail?

Even when times are at their worst, doing wrong, taking a bribe, doing it for the money, is never good for one’s home. Somebody down the line will pay for poor choices made.


Wicked Uprooted

Proverbs 2:20-22

“That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous. For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.”

Getting to the Root

Verse 22 offers a picture of trees being pulled out by their roots. Yet roots are notoriously difficult to remove, particularly if a tree is substantial and has been established for a long time. Evil is a tree that has become deeply rooted in society, and in the world in general.

While it is easy to get frustrated about the abundance of evil in our world, it is even more frustrating when we look back because it seems as if nothing has changed with time. Three thousand years ago the writers of the Psalms struggled with the prosperity of the wicked.

In Psalm 73 verse 3 Asaph declares, “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” But David in Psalm 37 teaches us not to envy the wicked stating in verse 2: “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb.”

What Kind of Tree are You?

Make no mistake. Not just the evil, but also all who choose not to surrender their lives to God will be uprooted, extracted, removed. There will be no place for them in the New Heaven and Earth described in the Book of Revelation. But how do we walk in the way of good men and keep the paths of the righteous, so that we will not meet the fate of the wicked? Psalm 37 gives some pointers:

  • Trust in the Lord and do good (verse 3).
  • Delight thyself also in the Lord (verse 4).
  • Commit thy way unto the Lord (verse 5).
  • Rest in the Lord (verse 7).
  • Wait patiently for Him (verse 7).
  • Cease from anger, and forsake wrath (verse 8).

And you will be like a different type of tree, as described in the first three verses of the very first Psalm:

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV).

Do your roots reach into the Living Water (John 4:10-14)?


Can You Hear?

Proverbs 1:20-23 

Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: (21) She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, [saying], (22) How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? (23) Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

Wisdom’s Call

Do you hear wisdom’s call?

God reaches out to all people in all circumstances.

Most times it is our conscience reminding us we are doing something we probably should not be doing. Sometimes it is through others offering advice. Sometimes it is through a dream or a thought. Occasionally God (or one of the angels) speaks directly.

As I said, it is usually through our conscience, which I argue definitely can mean “in the streets” and “the chief place of concourse”. These were places people were most likely to hear a proclamation. God can easily strike our conscience:

12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (Rom 2:12-16)

The “Simple”

In the Creation versus Evolution debate, the pro-abortion versus pro-life/anti-abortion debate, or even the carpet color versus sign font debate within churches, both sides argue for the wisdom they have and the strength of their moral (or lack-thereof) superiority.

Many Bibles have a note listed for the word “simple”: The Hebrew word rendered simple in Proverbs generally denotes one without moral direction and inclined to evil.

No matter who is right in these debates, the verbal attacks denote someone who is “simple” in mind and/or spirit. People such as this love their way and choices more than what may be true. They “delight in their scorning” and “hate knowledge” while claiming to be tolerant and knowledgable.

When our conscience speaks up (or someone gives advice, or we have a dream, or God directly speaks), may we not only listen but turn from our own limited knowledge (repentance!). Not only can it save us from trouble, but we can receive full wisdom (not necessarily full understanding) through the Holy Spirit.

Heed the Call

Holy Spirit, guide our hearts and our minds. Help us to clearly hear and respond to Your leading. Give us Your wisdom and the strength to obey, in Jesus’ name.

(originally published 4/04/14)