To love instruction: Proverbs 12

It’s a good thing this chapter begins as it does, as the first verse sets the tone for the whole chapter. Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish (verse 1).

Do you like to be told what to do?

I don’t.

During this whole pandemic, the powers that be tell us not to leave our houses and not to do this or that. If we go this place, we must wear a mask. We must social distance. In order to open our church, we needed to check all the boxes—which we did, by the way.

Did I enjoy not being able to leave home for more than eight weeks? No.

But, this Proverb tells us we can choose between liking instruction and knowledge—which is wise—and hating reproof (correction) and being a brute.

What is this instruction we’re supposed to enjoy? Godly instruction.

Do we bristle when God tells us what to do? If so, we might want to discontinue reading this chapter, because, trust me, it is full of instruction.

Do we hate being told we’re wrong? Yes. But, this is God’s discipline, not just anybody’s criticism.

Should we care what God thinks? Of course.

Verses 2 and 3 present a good man. He has God’s favor and is rooted in righteousness. Sounds like Psalm 1 to me: And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Psalm 1:3).

For the Christian, rooting and grounding looks like this: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19). See how this instruction and knowledge bear themselves out in manifestations of God’s love?

Verses 2 and 3 also address the bad man—wicked—who suffers from his own devices.

Verse 4 turns to women. A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband. What an image! You can just see the guy, his head held high. He has a wife who loves him, believes in him, helps him, and makes sure he succeeds. She’s his crown. Gold, perhaps? For sure, she’s precious and valuable. She makes him proud.

The bad wifeshe that maketh ashamedis as rottenness in his bones. The Greek word for “rottenness” means riddled with termite holes. This guy is literally weakened and ruined by his wife. Sad, indeed!

Wives, would you rather be a gleaming crown or a termite? You choose.

In verses 5 through 9, we see the contrasts between the thoughts and actions of righteous people—those who care what God thinks—and wicked persons.

Righteous people have: good thoughts, safe words, secure homes, wise thoughts, and commendation.

The wicked deceive, murder, and are defeated and despised.

Verse 10 reveals a person’s heart. In general, a cruel person is cruel to animals. A good person is kind to animals. My husband and I felt it was important to teach our children to be kind—to animals, even insects—and not to tease and torture them. A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast.    

From verse 11 to the end of the chapter, we have the principle of sowing and reaping in two ways: speech and work ethic.

He who speaks truth, uplifts, puts in a good word, etc. will be known as a good person. Truth will ultimately prevail. This goes for women, as well. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26).

The person who works honestly will have his needs met. Verse 11 says, He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread.

On the flipside, the foolish, wicked, evil person thinks up mischief, is covered with shame, has nasty and untruthful words to say, and is snared by his own plans. He doesn’t do honest work, and therefore he either has ill-gotten gain or suffers great need.

The lesson for women, of course, is the same as for men, and it’s echoed in Proverbs 31, about the Virtuous Woman. After extolling the things she does with her hands, the way she provides for her household, etc., the passage concludes with this verse, Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates (verse 31).

Let’s sow kindness, truth, and good, hard work.

May the Lord bless you.

A ring in a hog’s nose, pluckers, and much more: Proverbs 11

Proverbs 11 provides a comparison-contrast in every verse.

According to this chapter, what pleases God?

  • honesty in business
  • humility
  • integrity
  • righteousness
  • knowledge
  • understanding
  • someone who refuses to gossip
  • using a multitude of counsellors
  • hating co-signing to strangers
  • showing mercy
  • being upright
  • desiring good
  • liberality
  • winning souls

What things absolutely don’t please the Lord and might be labeled abomination, shame, etc.?

  • cheating in business
  • pride
  • perversity, perverse heart
  • wickedness
  • hypocrite
  • he that destroys his neighbor with words
  • unwise
  • someone who tells secrets
  • someone who doesn’t seek counsel
  • co-signing for a stranger
  • cruelty
  • deceit
  • evil
  • an unjust tax collector
  • those that won’t sell/distribute what they have for the poor
  • seeker of mischief
  • those that trust in riches

Besides these, I’d like to share some thoughts from several individual verses not covered above.

Proverbs 11:7When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth. This is an extremely sad Bible verse. Contrast it with Titus 2:13-14, Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. In the Bible, hope is used to express “hope of glory.” It is “the confident expectation of what God has promised.” It isn’t just wishing or maybe-so, but it’s confidence in the Lord and heaven. In our verse in Proverbs, wicked people don’t have anything to look forward to. That is truly sad.

Proverbs 11:10-11When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting. By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. I am not sure what city this refers to, but look how a whole community is affected—with joy when good people prosper, and shouting when wicked people die. Even a city with upright people in it gets a special blessing from the Lord.

Proverbs 11:16A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches. Here we have the first part of the verse about women, and the second is about men. There are several like this in the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 11:22—As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion. Is a jewel of gold in a pig’s snout appropriate? Of course not. No one spends that kind of money to put a ring in a pig’s snout. A woman without discretion is just as silly.

Proverbs 11:29He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart. This verse goes with another from Proverbs 14:1, Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. The person (man or woman) that messes up his own home is foolish and “inherits the wind.” How would we like air for an inheritance? Not at all. Messing up our homes is one of the worst things we can do as Christians. It isn’t wise. Back up to Verse 29, the fool shall be servant to the wise. This has been true all throughout history. My friend Charity has written a series on social media about “pluckers”—and how they destroy their homes.

Proverbs 11:30The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. At first, this verse seems to be talking about two totally different concepts. A tree of life and a soul-winner? Look again. It is talking about fruit. The fruit is a tree of life—the symbol of everlasting life. A wise person wins souls—points them to Jesus, the Giver of eternal life. The fruit of the righteous are souls led to Christ.

Proverbs 11:31Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner. Both good and wicked people will pay for their bad deeds. The habitual sinner, of course, will pay more for his.

There are so many teachings in this Proverb. If I were to comment about all of them, it would take many pages. Look back at the first list. This is how a Christian should act. Remember, we are rewarded according to our actions.

For women, let’s not be inappropriate. Instead, we can be gracious. Let’s build up our houses instead of being “pluckers.” Let’s bring blessing and not trouble into our homes.

God bless and keep you.

Proverbs 10: wise and foolish

Proverbs 10 seems at first glance to be a mish-mash of teachings and disjointed. The recurring theme, however, is the contrast between wise, righteous, blessed and a foolish, unwise person. It also divides itself into three themes: speech, business practices, and general behavior.

The first verse is about parenting. It begins with the author’s name: Solomon, the king whose name is synonymous with wisdom. And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt (1 Kings 4:29-30).

This parenting statement is a curious one. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother (verse 1). Why does it say the father is glad and the mother has heaviness? Because it’s true. Have you ever seen a proud father of a wise son or daughter? My! He sticks out his chest and almost pops buttons with pride. He loves that his child is wise. In contrast, when a son or daughter is foolish, who sorrows the most? Who blames herself? Who takes it to heart? The mother.

I’m going to divide the rest of the verses into the three categories we mentioned above:

1. Speech

What does this Proverb have to say about one’s speech? We have wise persons’ speech and fools’ speech. Let’s start with the fools and end with the wise.

  • Violence covereth the mouth of the wicked (9).
  • A prating fool shall fall (10).
  • Violence covereth the mouth of the wicked (11).
  • The mouth of the foolish is near destruction (14).
  • He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool (18).
  • In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin (19).
  • The froward (perverse) tongue shall be cut out (31).
  • The mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness (32).

Wise speech:

  • The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life (11).
  • In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found (13).
  • He that refraineth his lips is wise (19).
  • The tongue of the just is as choice silver (20).
  • The lips of the righteous feed many (21).
  • The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom (31).
  • The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable (32).

2. Business practices. In this section, we have the contrasts between good and bad, wise and foolish. I will leave the sentences intact, as I think they are easy to understand this way. You will read what God thinks about laziness, taking advantage of the poor, and how He provides for His own.

  • Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death (2).
  • The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked (3). God is always the Perfect Judge.
  • He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich (4). Several of the verses in this chapter are about laziness.
  • He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame (5).
  • The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty (15). This verse is sad. The rich person has wealth, and that’s all he has. The poor are brought down by their poverty. I know you’ve seen this in society.
  • The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin (16). I like that a righteous person’s labor is for life. I think of 1 Corinthians 15:58, Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
  • As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him (26). Vinegar on the teeth and smoke in the eyes—two powerful uncomfortable feelings that everyone can relate to. One thing about the Bible that is so cool is how God uses illustrations that anyone in any culture worldwide can understand. Who likes a lazy messenger or worker? No one. The meaning is clear.

3. General behavior

  • The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot (7). This is a strong statement, but it’s true. What do we think of when we hear the names David Livingstone, Charles Spurgeon, and Isobel Kuhn? We smile, remembering their faithfulness and example. How about Charles Branson, Billy the Kid, and John Dillinger? We remember them for their crimes, their evil, and their lust for killing. Their names actually rot.
  • He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known (9).
  • Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins (12). This last phrase doesn’t mean that we ignore sin. It means we don’t keep drudging up old faults. Once sin is dealt with, we forget it in love.*
  • He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth (17).
  • The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich,* and he addeth no sorrow with it (22). This is talking about an enriched life, not material riches.
  • It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom (23).
  • The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted (24).
  • As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation (25).
  • The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened (27).
  • The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish (28).
  • The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity (29).
  • The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth (30).

Isn’t it fascinating to read God’s practical Word? I know I want to be on the wise, righteous, and blessed side of things. Don’t you?

God bless you today!

*William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary.

A tale of two women, Proverbs 9

For many years, I used the One Year Bible for my devotions. It has portions from Old and New Testaments, a Psalm (or part of one), and a few verses from the Proverbs for each day. I love my One Year Bible, and I’ll surely go back to it in the future, but a few years ago, I felt a need to change things up.

For about two years, I did quite a few guided Bible studies and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Some time ago, I began this study in Proverbs. (It’s always good to study wisdom.) As I did, I began to see the Proverbs in groups of verses, and it has provided me with a fresh appreciation of this book.

This ninth chapter is a fine example. It’s divided into two parts. The first part (verses 1-12) is the personification of Wisdom as a woman. Wisdom is described and then “she” has a divine message for all mankind. The second part (verses 13-18) describes the foolish woman.

Let’s study these two polar opposite women.

Wisdom prepares her house for guests (1-2). Then she sends out an invitation: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding (4-6).

The theme shifts a little bit. Now she’s talking about a scorner—someone who mocks truth and will not seek wisdom. He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee (7-8). To me, this is good advice for a counselor. Don’t waste your time on someone with a contrary attitude. Give good advice to someone who will listen and heed—the wise person. There’s more about teaching and students in this next verse. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning (9).

This is the theme verse of this chapter: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding (10). It’s helpful to think of the fear of the LORD as respect for God. It isn’t exactly trembling and being afraid, but it’s the great recognition of God’s perfection and authority—and wanting to please Him.

Do you remember when you were a child and you had a fear of your parents? If they were decent parents, your respect was borne out of your position as a child. You wanted to please. You knew you needed to obey, or there might be some adverse consequences. This illustration isn’t perfect, since we are so much lower than God, but maybe it will help with an understanding of the kind of respect we are talking about when we see the phrase, the fear of the LORD.

This respect for God is the beginning—starting point—for wisdom. It’s the foundation. We build understanding upon our respect for God.

The next clause, the knowledge of the holy is understanding, is truly profound. What’s the only holy thing in the world? God. As we get to know Him, we will obtain understanding.

How can we know God? Through Jesus. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life (1 John 5:20).

Wisdom resumes speaking. For by me (Wisdom) thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it (11-12).

Now, we encounter the second woman, the foolish one. If you’ve been following our study of Proverbs, you’ll know that we have already met a strange woman. This one will sound familiar.

She is: clamorous, simple, and knoweth nothing (13).

We find her sitting at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,

To call passengers who go right on their ways (14-15). At the beginning of this chapter, Wisdom was in the high place calling people to her home. But, the foolish woman says, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant (16-17).

At the end, as we’ve seen before in Proverbs, there’s a warning of the sad consequences of sin: But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell (18).

So, here we have two women and two outcomes. Heeding Wisdom: thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. The person who goes in to the foolish woman knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.

What I saw outside my window: Proverbs 7

Proverbs, Chapter 7 surprises because of its detailed description, as well as a few hidden extras. Let’s study!

Again, this Proverb begins with “My son”—a father instructing his son in wisdom. This is actually God teaching us, as well. He says, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee (verse 1). Not only keep my words but store them up as well. Remember them.

You’ve heard the saying, “apple of my eye,” which means something precious. Verse 2 says that the Father’s law is the vital apple of the eye. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Many times we think about God’s love, mercy, kindness, etc. as precious, but here, it says His law is special. Value God’s law.

Verse 3 continues this theme, saying the son should bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.

Verse 4 is a little bit different. It personifies wisdom—as his sister or kinswoman. Verse 5 says this kinswoman will keep the son from the strange woman—whom we already know is an adulteress or prostitute. It’s an interesting metaphor: a sister. Sisters care. They want the best for us. They stick with us through thick and thin. Wisdom is like this.

The Father looks out his window, and lo and behold, he sees young men, among them one who isn’t wise at all. He’s on his way to her house (7-8). I think it’s worth pointing out that the young man in this passage has already made a bad decision and is on his way. What should we teach our sons? Avoid making bad decisions in the first place. When you’re already on the path towards wrong, it will be hard to resist.

It’s night and very dark (9). Should we be surprised? Remember, Proverbs often makes the comparison between light (God, righteousness) and darkness (evil).

How’s the woman dressed? In the attire of an harlot (10). Unfortunately, many Christian young women come very close to dressing this way. Think of what a harlot wears. Modesty never looks anything like that.

She’s also subtle—tricky (10). There’s more. She’s loud, stubborn, doesn’t stay at home, and goes out to lie in wait for some poor guy—to trap him (11-12). Contrast this woman with a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Peter 3:4b).

She catches him and kisses him (13)—physical first, talk later. This is always the wrong order. If your date comes on physically and refuses to truly communicate and doesn’t wait for marriage for all intimacy, you need to run. This is the wrong order of things.

With an impudent face, she pours on the seduction, “I’m free; I searched for you; I came to find you. My bed is ready, and it’s beautiful and comfortable and smells wonderful. Come, make love with me all night.” (14-18) It’s embarrassing even to read this. How can any woman be this forward? But, this same scene happens over and over in every city in the world. “I thought I might find you here” is the oldest come-on line in the book.

Years ago, we were part of a tour with a group of young people. A few of us parents went along. In a major European city, we were going out to get into our bus after breakfast. Would you believe that there were prostitutes on every single street corner—four at every crossroads? Strange women, trying to entrap men of little understanding.

Verses 19-20 give the detail that this harlot is actually married, but her husband’s away, and she knows he’ll be gone for a while. Do women do this today? Oh, yes. (And, so do men.)

With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him (21). By the way, she didn’t have to do much forcing. He was already on his way to her house when we first saw this man. He wanted to be seduced. The fault for his sin was all his. The adulteress was personally responsible for her adultery, as well.

The next part of this Proverb shows the consequences of adultery and fornication: He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life (22-23). Look at this carefully: slaughter, stocks, a dart through him, he doesn’t know he’ll die. The consequences of sexual sin are extremely serious.

The end of this Proverb broadens its warning to children, not only the son. The warning is clear: Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death (25-27).

“Oh, but Mrs. Keiser, I would never go with a prostitute” Or, “I would never sleep with someone else’s husband.”

Did you know that many Christian women watch dirty movies, read risqué novels, and view porn on a regular basis? They have gone down the path towards that house.

Many strong men (and women) have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death (26-27).

If you view anything that distracts you from having a pure mind, quit and get help. If you have a porn addiction (viewing or script), get biblical counseling. If you enjoy reading descriptions of immorality, quit and get help—and substitute squeaky clean Christian reading for it. These activities are addictive, just like gambling and drugs, and you may need counseling. Find your nearest Reformers Unanimous meeting place.* Get the help you need.

Wisdom is your sister. She wants the best for you.

God wants you to enjoy a clean, happy life.

Jesus said, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10b).

*Reformers Unanimous, also called RU Recovery Ministries, is a faith-based organization for people battling any kind of addictive behavior. Its program includes group Bible studies, accountability, and support. For more information and finding a group near you, access their website here.

** For a post about Christian girls and modesty, you might enjoy “Why do some girls who truly love the Lord dress immodestly?”