Tag Archives: Wisdom

Money for Nothing

Proverbs 26:15 

The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.
A sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth. (NIV)

This is the third verse in a row in which Solomon focuses on the lazy, with one more to follow. For some reason Solomon is really hammering home the point about laziness. I simply can’t imagine a person so lazy that he is unable to lift food from a dish to his mouth, but the point being made here about laziness is that it is completely unacceptable.

Right now in the UK we have a government that is trying to deal with a culture of living on benefits that appears to have become the norm for a proportion of society. If you believe the politicians and the press we have families where more than one generation has never worked in this country. While there are obviously other reasons for unemployment than laziness, the fact remains that there are folk who are quite happy to sit back and live on handouts. Some even call these handouts their wages! That is quite an insult to those who have worked and paid taxes all their lives.

My third son James graduated from University in 2009. He decided to spend a year working to save money to add to what he had already saved so that he could take a masters degree. He got an invite to live with his eldest brother and his wife, and set about looking for work. Having worked two jobs while studying for his BA he thought that this would be a simple matter. It wasn’t. Recession had kicked in and there wasn’t much work around. He refused to claim benefits and carried on searching, doing jobs around the house to compensate his brother and sister-in-law for feeding him. It took a few weeks, but James found two part-time jobs. He had to leave those jobs to return to University but managed to start another job before he completed his masters. Now that impresses the pants off me, not just because James is my son, but because he has shown what is possible despite the dire condition of the economy. I am proud of my son for not choosing the path of laziness.


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!


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.


The Fool

Proverbs 26:1.

“As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.” (KJV).

The Fool

The Oxymoron:

This past Sunday morning at church, I shared the story of the Good Samaritan. I told our church family how that expression – though very common in our world today – would have been seen as an oxymoron to the Jews in the first century. An oxymoron is a group of words that don’t go together, like jumbo shrimp, pretty ugly and deafening silence. The Jews hated the Samaritans because they were half-breeds, and they would have never seen a Samaritan as being good.

In today’s Proverb, Solomon talks about two things that don’t go together: Snow in summer and rain during harvest time. He uses these two examples to make a point: Honour is not seemly, or fitting, for a fool. In other words, you don’t give honour to a fool! But – to properly understand this Scripture, we must discover what it meant by a fool, and what is meant by honour.

The Fool:

Who is a fool? The Bible gives the most basic definition of a fool here: “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.” (Psalm 14:1). In other words, a fool is a sinful, rebellious atheist – some who denies the existence of God. Proverbs also describes fools by saying they are people who spread slander (Prov. 10:18), do evil for fun (10:23), are quick tempered (12:16), are not teachable (17:10), have big mouths (18:7), are trapped in habitual sin (26:11), and give full vent to their anger (29:11).

Bible Honour:

The Hebrew word that is translated honour here is kabod. This word has a much fuller meaning than just respect or esteem. Kabod means glory, honour, glorious, abundance, riches, splendour, dignity, reputation, reverence.1

When Solomon says that honour is not fitting for a fool, he is saying that sinful, rebellious atheists should not be given glory, honour, riches, reputation or reverence. Why is that? Because when an ungodly person comes to power, they will most likely encourage wickedness and discourage righteousness, and abuse their power. Like rain during harvest time, they will hinder and hamper the growth and progress of godliness and righteousness in their sphere of influence.

Our Application:

How then should we put this Scripture into practice? First of all, if we are in a position of choosing leaders – whether it be through voting in an election for political leaders, or being involved more directly in the choosing of a leader for a company or business, we would do well to choose someone who is wise – a Christian believer who lives by the Bible. And secondly, we should pray that the Lord would grace our country, our schools, our churches, and our communities, with wise, godly Christian leaders. Amen!

  1. Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon, biblestudytools.com

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.


Sticks and Stones

Proverbs 25:18.

“A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.” (KJV).

Playground Lies:

Calvin & Hobbes - sticks and stones

Do you remember that old adage you used to repeat on the playground when someone called you names? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Or there was the oh-so-smart, “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” As clever as those phrases may be, unfortunately, neither of them is true. Words hurt!

In today’s Proverb, Solomon teaches us about the power of words. In the New Living Translation of this Scripture, he says, “Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.” Words hurt!

Deep Wounds:

I’ll be honest. I would rather have someone punch me in the face than lie about me, gossip about me, or slander my name. If you punch me or kick me, I’ll get a bruise that will go away quickly. But words are wounds that go deep and have lasting repercussions.

I had a situation once where a person started telling all sorts of lies about me. He began gossiping about me to anyone who would listen. One of the first responses was that several people believed his lies, and they left the church. That was one of the external effects of his words. But internally, the words began to affect my heart as well.

I have always been a very positive and optimistic person. The glass is always half full, and I always believe the best about people. But as this person’s lies about me began to spread, I found myself getting overwhelmed emotionally by what he said. He was trashing my reputation, and ruining friendships that I had with people.

I started losing my joy, and his words started taking a physical toll on my body as well. I started having restless, sleepless nights. I started experiencing many migraine headaches, stomach problems, nausea, dizziness, fatigue and more. I started losing weight; I had little appetite, and had a hard time keeping anything down. I even had to take some stress leave from work – something I have never had to do before or since.

The point of today’s Scripture is simply this: Words are powerful! Think very carefully before you speak a negative word about someone else – whether it is true or false. Words hurt!

Check out this great 30 second ad that shows the power of words…