Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Ecclesiastes- Chapter 8

Ecclesiastes 8

-Obedience to ruling authorities takes up the majority of this chapter as to its thematic excellence. Interpreting a matter is best left to the wise man who has illumination brightening his countenance. When I think of illumination, I always thing to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives (John 16:13). Solomon’s advice is to keep the command of the king since we are under oath before God. He says we should not be in a hurry to leave him in joining an evil matter, for the king has power and does whatever he pleases. No one but God can say to him, “What are you doing?” Keeping royal commands from authority causes one to experience no trouble, and a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure to address issues and every delight, even in heavily troubled times (Ecclesiastes 8:1-6).

-“If no one knows what will happen, who can tell when it will happen?” No one of mankind can have the power to restrain the wind with the wind, nor can they claim authority over the day of death. There is no discharge in the time of war, and evil absolutely will NOT deliver those who practice its demonic functions. Solomon now discusses all he had seen and applied to his mind concerning deeds done under the sun wherein a man had exercised authority over another to his hurt. He had seen the wicked buried, presumably there in Jerusalem on the other side of the Kidron Valley on the Mount of Olives, those who he had seen go in and out of the holy place (the Temple he had built under his Father and father’s command, 1 Kings 5-8, 1 Chronicles 22, 2 Chronicles 2-7). He may have even had his half-brother, Absalom, in mind here who had incited a rebellion against David, his father (2 Samuel 15-18). Absalom is buried in this graveyard at the base of the Kidron. But, these were quickly forgotten without people taking enough notice to learn from their treacherous mistakes, which the Preacher saw as futility. He accurately comments, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.” Then he supports the fear of God theme saying, “Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly.” In contrast, it will NOT be well for the evil man and he typically will NOT lengthen his days like a shadow. Why? Because he does not have a healthy fear of the LORD (Ecclesiastes 8:7-13).

-More futility that Solomon sees revolves around this reoccurring theme of injustice that he has seen under the sun. He has observed righteous men getting the penalty of the wicked and evil men getting away with having the rewards of righteous somehow. These are temporary blessings from a loving Creator in the grand scheme of things, but it bothers the king as we see here in this passage. When judging just on temporal arrangements, things often appear futile. Eating, drinking, and being merry seem to be the only things that stand beside a person in their toils on earth during God’s gift of life. As Solomon continued to express the giving of his heart to know wisdom and observe the task of this earth, which was tireless and all-consuming, he saw every work of God undiscovered by man under the sun. Even though man may seek it out laboriously, he cannot discover such mysteries even though in his pride he may think that somehow he knows (Ecclesiastes 8:14-17).

-*Application* Apart from the LORD’s revelation, we as humans are doomed to disaster and hopelessly applying momentary solutions to an eternal problem. The labor we feel in trying to get things right is obviously draining and too demanding. We must come under God’s authority and the authorities He’s set up in our lives for our well-being (Jeremiah 29:4-7). There is no authority in government, or elsewhere, that has not been established by the God of the universe for His transcendent plan and purpose (Romans 13:1-4). Obedience is key along with a healthy fear. Unfortunately, we see in these last days much lawlessness and anarchy, which destabilizes everything (Matthew 24:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 2 Timothy 2:7, 1 John 3:4). Fortunately, King Jesus will return and straighten everything out (Matthew 7:23; 13:41, Revelation 19:11-16).

Verses to Memorize: Ecclesiastes 8:5, 12

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Ecclesiastes- Chapter 7

Ecclesiastes 7

-The practical counsel of a wise man looking back on the things he’s learned in life by observation of a marred world continues in chapter seven. He contrasts the wise and the foolish as he weaves his way through some diverse and common themes. Solomon begins with the fact that a good name is better than good ointment. In other words, it does a person well to keep a good reputation in society. The day of one’s death is considered better than the day of one’s birth for one of two reasons. He may be looking forward to the afterlife of the faithful in the LORD as their reward, or he could be alluding to the fact that life is hard in this broken and cursed world where we exist with pain and trauma. Wisdom is found in the following words, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart.” Contemplation concerning the eternal things happen in the house of mourning, when death is making us aware of our temporal state on this earth. It goes squarely against some of his worldly wisdom that has been previously considered (Ecclesiastes 2:24; 5:18; 8:15). Sorrow, the Preacher says, can be better than laughter, because a sad face may indicate a more healthy and happy heart since grief has been dealt with properly rather than ignored or suppressed. The mind of the wise resides in the house of the mourning, while the mind of the fool is in the house of pleasure (Ecclesiastes 7:1-4).

-Rebukes now get some run as a theme. It is better to listen carefully and responsively to the reprimands of a wise person than to listen to “the song of fools.” The laughter of a fool is short-sighted like the “crackling of thorn bushes under a pot.” It is futile (Ecclesiastes 7:5-6).

-Oppression makes even the wise mad, and a bride corrupts the heart. The end of a matter is better than the beginning of it. Patience in one’s spirit is far better than haughtiness of spirit. Solomon tells his audience in wisdom to not be eager in our heart to be angry. Why? Because worldly anger resides only in the bosom of fools (James 1:20). Looking back to the “good old days” is not of wisdom. Current conditions are probably as good, if not better, and human memory tends to think back only to the positive in nostalgia. An inheritance is fine as long as it has wisdom with it, plus it is an advantage to those who see the sun. Solomon must have been an outdoorsman, not to mention the health benefits we now know come from Vitamin D. Wisdom is protection, so is money, and “the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors.” Solomon goes on to announce that we should consider the work of God, asking, “For who is able to straighten what He has bent?” God is in utter control, and no one can even attempt to thwart His transcendent plans and purposes. In the day of prosperity, we should be happy. But, in the day of adversity, we need to consider that God has made one as well as the other. Another way of saying this is to say that the LORD has great purposes in suffering as He draws us to Himself and redeems all that’s wrong. Man has a hard time discovering this concept though, because of our temporal and hardened mindset (Ecclesiastes 7:7-14).

-The Preacher goes on to tells us that he’s seen everything during his lifetime of futility. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and also a wicked man who prolongs his days in his wickedness. There seems, for a time at least, to be no real justice in the world. Because of this carnal attitude, Solomon concludes that humans need not be excessively righteous nor overly wise. That would ruin some worldly pleasures just as much as being excessively wicked and foolish, which kill people before their time. God will send His rain on the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45). This is biblical, but mysterious. It is His righteousness that saves us, not our own. Therefore, the wise man concludes that it is good to grasp one thing and also not let go of the other, “for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them (meaning good times and bad times in life I believe).” It is wisdom that affords a person to have more strength than ten rulers of a city. “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins (Ecclesiastes 7:15-20, Romans 3:23).”

-Also, it is important for the wise person not to take seriously all words which are spoken. Otherwise, we may find even those far beneath us cursing us, which is absurd and should not be received when it is unfounded. We have cursed others many times ourselves, and we need to realize the uselessness of such accusations and demeaning words. We need to speak life is what I believe the Preacher is getting at here. All in all, Solomon begins to realize himself that even in the testing of all this wisdom that he is coming short of perfection and that total righteousness was far from him. The past is remote and exceedingly mysterious, and he wonders who can discover it? He directed his mind to know, investigate, seek wisdom, and find explanation for all the folly of evil and the foolishness of madness. What he discovered was that the woman whose heart is snares and nets and hands are chains is more bitter than death. “One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her.” Through all his life he sought out good people, using hyperbole to say maybe “one man among a thousand,” but he had not found a woman who was good at all among all these. All he had found was that mankind has sought out many wicked devices even though God originally created them to be upright (Ecclesiastes 7:21-29).

-*Application* Our sin nature keeps us from proper relationship with God until that point and time when the Son shines His loving Light on us by seeking us lost people out (1 John 4:19). Otherwise, we have no chance. He calls out for us to come home by His grace, mercy, and compassion. God never desires for us to perish, or be disillusioned (Ezekiel 18:23, 1 Timothy 2:3-5, 2 Peter 3:9). He instead wants to bring clarity to the mysteries of this fallen world through His redemptive acts. Sometimes it is even the house of mourning that brings us to that place. Trust Him today!

Verses to Memorize: Ecclesiastes 7:2, 9, 14, 21

Monday, May 29, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Ecclesiastes- Chapter 6

Ecclesiastes 6

-Solomon’s practical counsel now begins with some thoughts on the futile life spent apart from the saving and sustaining power of a holy, righteous, and loving God. The Preacher has seen the evil of man gaining, as a gift from God, riches, wealth, and honor to the point that his soul lacks nothing only to find that a foreigner has enjoyment of his material blessings. This is vanity and a severe affliction by decree. Even if a man fathers a hundred children (hyperbole, but in his time with the many wives that he had it was certainly possible) and lives many years but has an unsatisfied soul with the good things and an improper burial at the time of his death, Solomon says (not God notice), “Better the miscarriage than he.” Miscarriages never see the sun and never know anything, but they are better off than the futile man even if he lives 2,000 years without enjoying good things. Everyone will die, this is the one place that he speaks of. This is NOT a declaration of universalism or nihilism in any form. It is simply an acknowledgement that mankind all has the same destiny because of the curse of sin, that being physical death. All a man’s labor is for his taste buds in his mouth, but the appetite is never satisfied. In this depressed state, Solomon wonders what advantage a wise man, as well as the poor man who is industrious, has over a fool. The futile and striving after the wind mind believes that what is seen by the eye (the physical-material world) is better than what the soul desires. Existence has already been named, by the Almighty, and it knows what man is. Man cannot dispute with Him (I take this pronoun as a reference to God here), because He is stronger than mankind. There are many words that increase futility, and they are of no advantage. The questions remain for the unsaved person, “For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun (Ecclesiastes 6:1-12)?”

-*Application* Only God knows the future, and man can never really predict it with total accuracy. Each day must be lived with its own value, and this is what Jesus taught as well (Matthew 6:34). This is why we must seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and then all these enjoyable, life-giving, things will be added unto us (Matthew 6:33). Therefore, like Jesus has clearly told us, do not worry about tomorrow. We must resolve NOT to live a futile life.

Verse to Memorize: Ecclesiastes 6:12

Friday, May 26, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Ecclesiastes- Chapter 4

Ecclesiastes 4

-Solomon turns his attention back at all the acts of oppression which are being done under the sun. He noted the tears of the oppressed, and that they had no one to comfort them in this sad and unloving world. On the side of their oppressors was worldly power. It was grievous to contemplate this greedy situation leading the king to congratulate the dead whose suffering had ended. In fact, he considers those who have never existed to be better off than the living and the dead because of all the evil in this world. This is an impossibility indeed, but the hyperbole accentuates the problem of a marred creation with great effect. Solomon next makes an astute observation as to why these awful conditions exist in human society. He states, “I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry (qin'ah- ardor, zeal, jealousy) between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after the wind (Ecclesiastes 4:1-4).”

-*Application* Paul will later state in Philippians that we as Christians should do NOTHING from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but instead do EVERYTHING with humility of mind regarding others as more important than ourselves like Christ did (Philippians 2:3-8). We should not merely look out for our own personal interests, but truly care about the interests of others, especially those who are suffering and oppressed. Rivalry is still a huge problem in our world, and unfortunately, I’ve seen it exceptionally strong even in the American church. Satan is excellent at dividing the brethren, and all humanity, by means of jealousy, greed, and lust for power. God’s true Kingdom is a whole lot different than that. God’s law revolves around loving Him and our neighbor as much as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14).

-Solomon goes on from his lamenting over the problem of evil in the world to a statement on a foolish person who folds his hands and consumes his own flesh with the wanton practices of a sluggard. But, he concludes that one hand full of rest is better off than two fists of anger and full of labor, which amounts to striving after the wind. He looked again at the vanity under the sun to see certain men without dependents, having neither son nor a brother to share their inheritance. These types of people had no end to their labor because of their dissatisfaction and ambition for fading riches. They just kept laboring and depriving themselves of pleasure, or enjoyment, in life, which was vanity and a grievous task (Ecclesiastes 4:5-8).

*Application* The answer for us to consider is to work hard, but use moderation and enjoy life at appropriate times. As they say, we must, “Stop and smell the roses.” Life is too short to be overly ambitious for temporal things.

-Unity becomes the next theme as Solomon rightly concludes that two are better than one as to having a good return for their labor. If one falls, the other can lift up his companion. He pronounces woe to the one who falls alone with no one to help him up. Furthermore, when two lie down together they can keep warm, but it is much more difficult alone. Any survival tactic will agree with this scientific fact. A person can be overpowered if he/she is alone, but two can resist much more effectively. “A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).”

*Application* We all need each other, and close friends are often hard to find. When we can get connected to righteous people that we can trust, we have found a treasure. Let’s take time to appreciate our real companions today and tell them how much we love them. They strengthen and encourage us more than we often give them credit for.

-Receiving instruction is so important as the Preacher continues. It is better to be a poor yet wise lad than to be an old, cynical, foolish king that thinks he knows it all. There is definitely some ambiguity to the next verse in fourteen as the pronoun he could refer to one of the previous individuals in verse thirteen, or it could be a rival to the throne of some other sort. Whoever the “he” is, he comes from out of prison to ascend to the throne as king, even though he was poor beforehand in his kingdom. Solomon sees the masses throng to the side of this second lad who replaces him, whoever that may be. Whatever the case, there is no end to the people, to all who were before them, and even the ones who will come later that are not happy with him. This ambiguous situation is vanity and chasing after the wind too (Ecclesiastes 4:13-16).

*Application* Advancement to the top in whatever situation is meaningless without the understanding of why the LORD has advanced us. Position, popularity, and prestige are all poor goals in and of themselves for a person’s life work. People are fickle and change their minds on a whim. To get true direction we are to place our identity in Christ. His love never changes, and He declares us worthy of sacrifice.

Verses to Memorize: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12-13

Bible Study Notes in Ecclesiastes- Chapter 5

Ecclesiastes 5

-Chapter five begins a section on our attitudes toward God in some more of Solomon’s general observations. His first wisdom is that we should guard our steps as we go to the House of God drawing near to listen rather than offering a sacrifice of fools. This is evil without knowing it, and can bring upon ourselves all sorts of disaster in regards to the LORD’s blessing. Solomon states that we should never be “hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God.” Because God is above us in Heaven and we are on the earth in subjection, we should obviously let our words be few (check out Translations differ on the words of verse three. The New American Standard Bible renders it, “For the dream comes through much (rob- multitude, abundant, greatness) effort (`inyan- occupation, job, task),” while others render it, “For a dream cometh through the multitude of business.” The word for “dream” can be interpreted as being the ordinary subconscious thoughts during sleep due to an overactive lifestyle, or it can be interpreted possibly as prophetic in a biblical sense. Getting a word directly from God, in this later interpretation, includes hard work. Otherwise, we could say that what Solomon is getting at is the fact that putting our own human effort into things tends to unsettle our sleep with weird dreams and mixed thoughts while trying to rest. Interpreting the article as “the (definite)” or “a (generic)” plays a part in developing our understanding here as well. The second part of verse three is much easier to decipher. Foolish people expose themselves with their many words (Ecclesiastes 5:1-3).

-When making a vow before the LORD, we should never be late in paying it. In other words, what we promise before God, we should quickly and accurately fulfill. God takes no delight in fools. We should do what we tell God we are going to do and not compromise. It is better that we don’t make vows to Him rather than telling Him we will do something and then not come through. What Solomon is discussing here has to do with degrees of sin when making promises. Our voice can get us into much trouble when we make careless vows before God. This can destroy the work of our hands as God rescinds possible blessings. “For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7).”

-Some monetary thoughts now consume the king’s mind as he goes on. If we see the oppression of the poor and the denial of justice and righteous in the province, we should not be shocked. The king is in total and absolute control and one official is watching over another official with lines of authority. The land will find advantage if there is justice and righteousness at the top, eventually and providentially. The person who loves money will never be satisfied with money in and of itself. The love of abundance with its income too is vanity. When there is prosperity, there is greater consumption by the population, and Solomon economically doesn’t see the advantage for the owners except to look on (Ecclesiastes 5:8-11). American-capitalist economists might disagree here, don’t ya think?

-The sleep of the working man is pleasant because of their hard labor, whether they eat little or much. But, the worries, drama, and stresses of the luxurious often times negatively affect the sleep of the rich. Solomon sees a grievous evil under the sun, that being riches which are hoarded by their owner to his own hurt. Riches lost in bad investing has disastrous effects on the younger generation when there is nothing to support them. They will return to the dust as they came from their mother’s womb, naked and taking nothing from the fruit of his labor carried in his hand. This state of dying exactly as a person is born is also a grievous evil in the Preacher’s sight. He sees no advantage to him who toils for the wind. He sees people eating throughout their lives in darkness with great vexation, sickness, and anger. What he has seen to be “good and fitting” is to eat, drink, and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor during the few years of life God apportions. This is mankind’s only reward. But, this is flawed thinking, a temporal worldview perspective once again as we have seen in past chapters. Furthermore, if one is blessed enough to have great wealth and riches, they should realize that this is a gift of the Almighty. Why? Because most of the time they have a tendency to not consider the years of their lives due to the fact that God keeps them occupied with the gladness of their heart (Ecclesiastes 5:12-20).

-*Application* The current American culture reflects much of what Solomon is talking about as a human condition 3,000 years ago. Not much has changed. The rich tend to hoard for themselves, bad investments take place which drain the family’s accountants leaving no inheritance for the future generations, and stress levels are through the roof. Often, people are so distracted by money matters that they either worry themselves sick about the situation or make their wealth their god consuming themselves with materialism. It is important in this climate, to consider our attitudes towards God. Don’t make empty promises to Him. It’s better to not make any guarantees at all if we are lying to Him. Come before His presence with few words. Our pride too often gets in the way of enjoying God’s true direction, plans, and purposes. We need to watch being hasty in our words and impulsive in our thoughts. He is God in Heaven and we are here on earth. It reminds us to pray the prayer Christ taught us, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10).” In many dreams and in many words there will be emptiness; rather, we should fear, reference, adore, and be in awe of the LORD.

Verses to Memorize: Ecclesiastes 5:2, 7

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Ecclesiastes- Chapter 3

Ecclesiastes 3

-Pessimism mixed with some valuable truths of Scripture make up the bulk of this well-known and often quoted chapter. Solomon begins with the fact that there is “an appointed time for everything…and there is a time for every event under heaven.” There is a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time tear down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to be sad and a time to dance; a time to cast stones and a time to gather them; a time to embrace in unity and a time to shun embracing; a time to search and a time to ceasing searching and give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear apart and a time to bring together; a time to be silent and a time to speak up; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace. And, as the Byrds say, “I swear it’s not too late (see” By the end though, the king is lamenting again the lack of perceived profit for the worker in all this toil. He had observed the task which the LORD had given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves during their sojourn on earth, and he acted disgruntled (Ecclesiastes 3:1-10).

-Verse eleven is extraordinarily insightful though, “He (God) has made everything appropriate (yapheh- beautiful, well, pleasant) in its time. He has also set eternity in their (mankind’s) heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end (Ecclesiastes 3:11).”

-*Application* We would do well to contemplate this verse for a while. God does all things well and they work together for His good purposes to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). All things unknown and mysterious will be cleared up in TIME and by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection. We will know all things even as we have been known (1 Corinthians 13:12). God has set the idea of forever within us, His creation, to long and grope and seek out this relationship with Him for eternity (Acts 17:22-31, Romans 8:18-27). Faith is what it takes to appropriate this assurance (Hebrews 11:1, 6). While we struggle and muddle through this current existence lacking all knowledge, like Solomon sees 3,000 years ago, there is a future hope and we will be redeemed in our true and intended form if we trust in the LORD Jesus Christ (Jeremiah 29:11-13, Titus 2:11-14).

-But alas, Solomon is living with a worldly perspective at this point thinking that there is nothing better for man than to rejoice and simply do good in one’s lifetime. Again, as we’ve seen in previous chapters, he is not seeing the eternal picture in this worldview. He does however note that everything God gives is a gift, including the eating, drinking, and labor. He knows that everything God does will last forever with nothing to do to it or take away from it, for “God has so worked that men should fear Him.” The timelessness of the Almighty is exonerated (Ecclesiastes 3:12-15).

-Going further, Solomon has seen that within this world in the place justice and righteousness there is prevailing wickedness. While he notes that God will test and judge both the righteous and wicked man in His perfect way as to every matter and deed, he correlates man and beast as having the same fate in physical death. This too, he concluded was vanity in this temporal world. Man and beast come from the dust and return to it when they die. The breath (ruwach- wind, breath, spirit) of man ascends upward as eternal beings, but the breath of the animals descend downward to the earth, and who knows this mystery? For Solomon, he had seen that nothing was better than that men and women should be happy in their activities, for this is their lot and they will not be able to see what will occur after them (Ecclesiastes 3:16-22).

-*Application* There is a time for everything, and God knows in His wisdom just how to work out the details. His coordination blows our finite minds, and this is something that even the wise Solomon was unable to comprehend. As we often say, “Life is a mystery.” Thankfully, Christ has cleared much up since the time of this ancient king. Jesus’ full revelation in the fullness of time made sense where we needed answers (Galatians 4:3-7, Ephesians 3:16-21).

Verses to Memorize: Ecclesiastes 3:11, 14

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Ecclesiastes- Chapter 2

Ecclesiastes 2

-Solomon continues with his personal experience, which far surpassed in its accomplishments just about everyone else in human history as to having resources and applying knowledge to situations. Solomon had the brains, the faith, the sex appeal, and the riches that any mortal would crave. Yet, he was finding himself lacking. He selfishly seeks out pleasure as this chapter gets under way. His pursuit was to enjoy himself, but it too was futility and accomplished nothing from his perspective. Laughter couldn’t help either. To him it became “madness.” He even explored with his mind how to stimulate his body with “wine” while his mind was otherwise stable and wise. He discovered how to take hold of “folly” to the point of trying to understand what good there was for the sons of men to do on earth for the few years of their short lives. For himself, he: enlarged his works, built houses, planted vineyards, made gardens, made parks, planted fruit trees, made ponds of water to irrigate a forest of growing trees, bought both genders of slaves and had homeborn slaves, and possessed flocks and herds larger than all those who preceded him in Jerusalem. In addition, he collected vast amounts of silver and gold, and the treasures of kings and provinces (military prowess). He provided for himself male and female singers for entertainment and the pleasures of men—many concubines. He was great and increased more than all before him in Jerusalem. Not only that, his wisdom stood by him. All that his eyes desired, he did not refuse. Hedonism become an idol in his life. He did not withhold his heart from any pleasure of man whatsoever. His heart was pleased, to an extent, because of all his hard work, and he rewarded himself handsomely for his labor. But, in the end, Solomon observed that all this wanton luxury and ceaseless activity, which he had done, was considered “vanity (futility)” and “striving after the wind.” To him, at this time, there was no profit under the sun (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11). Things, built on the kingdom of man rather than the Kingdom of God, were ultimately fruitless.

-So, Solomon turned his attention to consider wisdom, madness, and folly in respect to what would happen to his estate once he had departed earth. To him, everything that had been done would simply repeat itself. He saw that wisdom did exceed folly, as he had so often stated in earlier manuscripts of the Proverbs, just like light exceeds darkness. Darkness cannot stop light. Light penetrates the darkness and eradicates it. Meditate on this correlation with wisdom conquering folly. Good stuff. Fools continue to walk in darkness, while the wise examine themselves constantly. Yet, the Preacher saw that they both suffered the same fate in this natural world, death. With this simplistic view of the temporal order only, it seemed that wisdom led to the same results as foolery. The wise man would be forgotten in time, just like the foolish man. This led to exasperation on the part of Solomon as he reasoned this from a carnal perspective, and he ended up hating life with the toiling work that was grievous, futile, and striving after the wind (Ecclesiastes 2:12-17).

-He laments further the futility of his labor, since he doesn’t know whether his posterity will be left to a wise man or a fool. They, not he, would control the fruit of his labor, and he believed this to be vanity. What was at stake was his legacy, and he was uncertain, perhaps because he had become derelict in his fatherly responsibilities, that the baton he passed on would be carried well. Therefore, he “completely despaired” of all the intense work of his hands in building, again, his own kingdom. He saw the temporary nature of mankind as a great evil under the sun. This was a consequence of sin and the depravity of mankind, which leads to frustration. The task of labor is painful and grievous, and the stress of it leaves one with no rest, even in the night. It is vanity and a result of the curse (Genesis 3:17-19). This led to a hedonistic (shall we say epicurean?) response from a worn-out king, “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that is labor is good.” However, he did note that he saw, this satisfaction and turmoil all wrapped into one tight package, was from the Hand of God and that none could have enjoyment without Him. To the people that are good in His sight, He has given “wisdom and knowledge and joy,” but to the sinner He has given the task of “gathering and collecting” in order to give to the good people. In Solomon’s natural state of mind, this too was “vanity and striving after the wind (Ecclesiastes 2:18-26).”

-*Application* We are to serve the LORD in our generation and do our best to raise up another generation that will carry the mantle of spreading the Kingdom of God in a powerful way. Biblical examples of doing well in that regard are Moses, David, and Paul (Deuteronomy 6:4-7, Acts 13:36, 1 Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4). Joshua, Solomon, and others neglected some of these responsibilities in properly training up their posterity and passing the baton on to the next generation. It is an important truth to consider today. Otherwise, left to our own devices because of the nature of this world, all will be vanity and striving after the wind. Build the enduring Kingdom of God, not the temporal kingdom of man.

Verses to Memorize: Ecclesiastes 2:13, 24-25

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Ecclesiastes- Introduction and Chapter 1

Ecclesiastes 1

-Introduction: Late in King Solomon’s reign over Israel, around 3,000 years ago, a wise man looked back at a life filled with so much material opulence, yet there were some profound things missing. The son of David and ancestor to the Messiah writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God to spare future generations from living a life of futility and despair when lived apart from the fear of the Almighty LORD. Nihilism is the only recourse when one does not abide in the truths of the Heavenly Father. In other words, everything becomes empty and meaningless separated from the one-true living God. People cannot find true and lasting joy in anything this corrupted-sinful world has to offer. This is wisdom literature on the meaning of life with antidotes designed to bring one to the end of themselves and trust in the Savior. Therefore, the key verses in this book are the last two, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).” The structure of this work can be outlined as follows: 1. Solomon’s personal experience (Ecclesiastes 1:1-2:26), 2. Solomon’s general observations (Ecclesiastes 3:1-5:20), 3. Solomon’s practical counsel (Ecclesiastes 6:1-8:17), and 4. Solomon’s final conclusion (Ecclesiastes 9:1-12:14). Themes include, but are not limited to: 1. Human seeking and searching, 2. The emptiness of life without God in pursuit of pleasure, intellect, power, and wealth, 3. Work with the wrong motives, 4. The certainty of death and the brevity of life on earth, and 5. Human wisdom verses God’s wisdom. As we read this book from the “Preacher” in a negative and pessimistic tone, let us resolve to abandon the “vanity” of so many things in this life and seek Christ Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Though Solomon had rightly asked for God’s wisdom in his early years (2 Chronicles 1:7-12) and had become the wisest man in the world (1 Kings 4:29-34), we can relate to the frailty, imperfection, and downward spiral of mankind as we study these important and lasting truths. With humility and repentance, let us examine our own lives, like I believe Solomon did, and grow in our spiritual walk. We need to seek our happiness and fulfillment in God alone, putting every other temporal thing in its proper place. Let’s remember our Creator.

(Ideas extracted from “New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible.” Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, pgs. 1108-1109)

-Chapter 1: The words of the “Preacher” (qoheleth- the collector, public speaker, speaker in the assembly, from which the Septuagint translates ekklesiastes [from which we get ekklesia, or church- the called out for assembly] as the name of this book, translated into English as ecclesiastes), the “son of David,” and “king in Jerusalem” identifies the author as Solomon even though some scholars of higher criticism have asserted that another, or others, wrote this book in a much later period due to the linguistic differences in this book compared to the period of the king some 1,000 years before Christ. I believe findings in Qumran, the overall themes of the book, and textual verification are among the many proofs that Solomon did actually write this inspired Scripture (see “A Popular Survey of the Old Testament” by Norman L. Geisler, Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, MI, 1977, pgs. 213-214 and “The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty, Old Testament” by editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books: Wheaton, IL, 1985, pgs. 975-976). The often-given mantra of the book, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” begins the contemplation of what is important in life by the Preacher. He jumps right in to a serious question regarding what advantage there is for a man to do all his work under the sun (Deuteronomy 24:19, Proverbs 14:23, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:23). He observes what can be viewed as the meaningless repetitions of life from generation to generation as the sun rises and sets each day, the wind blows in its different directions, and the waters flow back and forth, making all things seem wearisome, unsatisfying, and hard to understand for mankind. From this pessimistic perspective, “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun.” Things exist as they have for ages with no remembrance of earlier things or later things. Future generations don’t even seem to have any hope from this nihilistic vantage point (Ecclesiastes 1:1-10).

-Solomon goes on to tell how he, as the Preacher and king over Israel in Jerusalem, has set his mind to “seek and explore by wisdom” all the things that have been done under heaven by mankind. He concludes that it is a “grievous task” that God has given to the sons of men with much affliction involved. He sees all the works that have been done under the sun by man as “vanity and striving” after the wind. He proclaims cynically, “What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.” He had said to himself, “I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me (a textual proof of Solomon’s authorship here, any imposter to the writing of this text would be an intentional deceiver),” and his mind had observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge. Yet, as he set his mind to understand wisdom and to know madness and folly, he realized that this also was a “striving after the wind.” Why? “Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain (Ecclesiastes 1:11-16).”

-*Application* Life lived without Jesus Christ at the center of it will lead us to improper perspectives and major disappointments. This section of Scripture reminds us of the utter depravity of man in this corrupted-sinful world that is hopeless apart from the redemption of the Savior. Without Christ, even the hardest working plans, most keen observations, and most intellectual pursuits come up empty with affliction, grief, and increasing pain. Thankfully, there is another way (1 Corinthians 15:57-58, 1 John 5:4-5).

Verse to Memorize: Ecclesiastes 1:13

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 31

Proverbs 31

-The words of King Lemuel (Name means “devoted to God,” little is known of this king, some believe he was from the kingdom of Massa in northern Arabia, from notes in “New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible.” Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, pg. 1104), which are an oracle (massa'- load, burden, a bearing, a carrying) that his mother taught him and vowed upon him. She instructed him not to give his strength to women, or to give his ways to that which destroys kings. It is not for kings, or those in authority, to drink much wine or even desire strong drink. This has a way of polluting judgment and is inexcusable in national leaders. Sober thinking is important for those ruling. They will forget what they decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted in their domain if they are drunkards. Strong drink and wine is rather for those who are perishing and have bitterness in their lives. They drink to forget their poverty and remember their trouble no more. The righteous king will speak for those with no voice, defend the rights of all the unfortunate, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy (Proverbs 31:1-9).

-Now, in the final section of this magnificent book of wisdom Scripture, King Lemuel describes, from his mother’s teachings, the worthy woman. This section gives us the most vivid picture in the entire Bible of the righteous, strong, productive, caring woman that every man needs at his side. The age-old question is begged at the beginning of the pericope, “An excellent wife, who can find?” Her worth is beyond that of jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her. In other words, she is faithful and steadfast. Her man will have no lack of gain because of her. She does him good and not evil every day of her life. She is industrious, looking for great business deals, and works with her strong hands in delight. She is compared to merchant ships that bring desired goods and food from afar to the luxury of her household. She rises in the night to prepare food for her household selflessly. Her maidens even get portions from her. She considers a field and with discernment and acumen buys it for the family. From her own earnings, she plants a vineyard. She is savvy with the money. She girds herself with strength making her arms strong and in great shape. She has a sense that her gain is good, and she is diligent well into the night. She weaves clothes by herself, and extends her hand graciously to the poor and needy with sincere help. She has no fear. Her family is clothed for cold weather, or any harshness of the environment. They are also clothed with the finest of clothes due to the nature of her stylish sense and dedication to labor. She even makes clothing for herself of fine quality (in that time it consisted of linen and purple). She is dignified and classy. Her husband is well known in the gates as he sits among the elders of the land. She is also entrepreneurial as she trades her fine garments and belts, while selling them too. “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.” She has wisdom when she opens her mouth to speak, and the teaching of kindness is ever present on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and is never idle. She stays busy with production. Her children rise and bless her along with her husband, for she has done well. Her husband notes, “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” Now the climatic verse in honor of the Godly woman, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” She is to be given the product of her hands and her works will praise her in the gates (Proverbs 31:10-31).

-*Application* I give glory to God that He has blessed me with such a woman. Rachel Sue, I love you with all my heart. I diligently instruct others to seek these qualities in a woman, for it continues to go well for those who do.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 31:10, 30

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 30

Proverbs 30

-Now we get to the words of Agur, of whom we know virtually nothing in the annuls of history. Further, the men that Agur declared to are unknown as to their identity as well. Ithiel was perhaps a Benjamite (Nehemiah 11:7), but there is no other mention of Ucal in the Scriptures. Agur is possibly writing in irony, or maybe humility, as he calls himself “more stupid than any man,” and says that he does “not have the understanding of a man.” This is a matter of interpretation, but is not seminal to the work here. He goes on to state that he has not learned wisdom, even though he points out the same basic themes that Solomon so wisely postulated. Nor does he acknowledge having the knowledge of the Holy One, but he gives Him prominence and preeminence in his writings that have been added to the cannon of the Bible. He next gives a series of five rhetorical questions that can only be answered by the Almighty God. This verse four reflects Agur’s desire to delve into the nature of God and has profound prophetic implications as it discusses His Son’s Name (Proverbs 30:1-4).

-The next couple of verses reflect the sufficiency of God’s Word. Every word is tested. God is a shield to those who take their refuge in Him no matter the cultural climate. We should never add to His words. Else, He will reprove us, and we will be proven liars (Proverbs 30:5-6). This is a beautiful way of putting things.

-Agur now asks the LORD, in conversational style and in the form of a plea, to not refuse him two things before he dies. First, he petitions the LORD to keep deception and lies far from him. Second, he wants neither riches nor poverty. This is wisdom as he concludes that if he only gets his fair portion he would be content with that. Being too full, or rich, would lead him to deny God by wondering, “Who is the LORD?” This is a self-sufficient position with no need for a Sovereign, which is a deception in itself really. Being poor would lead to want and lead him to steal. Both would profane the Name of his God, and he wisely wanted nothing to do with that (Proverbs 30:7-9).

-He gives some brilliant observations now on life, which will finish out his sayings. Slandering by one about a slave to their master will inherit a curse and guilt. The warning is not to meddle in another’s domestic affairs. Curses continue as a theme with a kind of man who curses his father and does not bless his mother. This is direct violation to the commands of God (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Ephesians 6:1). There is another kind of man who is pridefully pure in his own eyes, yet is not washed from his sinful filth. Agur laments, “Oh how lofty are his eyes! And his eyelids are raised in arrogance.” There is yet one more kind of man who devours the afflicted, or needy, from the earth with what Agur describes metaphorically as teeth like swords and jaw teeth like knives (Proverbs 30:10-14).

-Moving on with more metaphors, Agur tells us how the leech has two daughters, “Give” and “Give.” He lists four things that will never be satisfied, those being Sheol (death, the underworld post life), the barren womb, the thirsty earth needing water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.” There is an eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, but that eye will be picked out by the scavenger ravens of the valley and young eagles will eat that eye (Proverbs 30:15-17). Pretty gruesome picture he paints here to further teach obedience and honor toward our parents.

-Next, Agur lists three things that are too wonderful for him, and even four he doesn’t quite understand. The first is the way of the eagle in the sky. The second is the way of the serpent on a rock as it smoothly moves its body. The third is the way of a ship as it navigates in the middle of the open sea. The fourth is the way of a man with a maid in affectionate pursuit. Strangely and seemingly out of place in this section of wonderful things to the wise man, Agur, by means of contrast, notes the way of an adulterous woman who eats the food of sinfulness, wipes her mouth without shame, and states, “I have done no wrong (Proverbs 30:18-20).”

-Going along, Agur points out through hyperbole four things that make the earth quake using his rhetorical style of beginning with three things and then listing a fourth. The earth cannot stand a slave when he becomes king. It disturbs the natural order I suppose. The earth cannot stand a fool when he is satisfied with food. The earth spits upon an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and the earth detests a maidservant when she supplants her mistress (Proverbs 30:21-23). This perhaps speaks to the conditions of chaos when society is rendered unharmonious due to changing proper roles and the incapability of handling new responsibilities.

-In addition, Agur lists four small things on the earth that don’t let size disrupt their wisdom. Ants are not strong, but they work together and prepare their food in the summer for the coming days of want in the winter. They aggressively prepare with tenacity. The shephanim (shaphan- rock badger, coney, hyrax) are not strong, but they are able to make their houses in the rocks by their God-given design. The locusts have no king, but they consistently go out in ranks. The lizard can be grasped with the hands, but they are slithery enough to be found even in king’s palaces (Proverbs 30:24-28).

-Next, Agur lists four things which are stately in their march and walk. One is the lion, which is mighty among the beasts without retreating. Two is the strutting rooster. Three is the male goat. Four is the king when his army is with him (Proverbs 30:29-31). Confidence is the key theme here.

-Finally, Agur wraps up his biblical wisdom with words on not being so foolish as to exalt yourself. Or, if you have plotted evil, refrain and don’t speak of it any more. Churning of the milk produces butter, and pressing the nose brings forth blood. In the same way, the churning of anger produces strife, or trouble (Proverbs 30:32-33). Agur is saying that we should be people of peace and resist senseless conflicts whenever possible.

-*Application* Humility seems to be the overriding and dominant thought as we read and mediation on today’s words of wisdom. The Word of God is sure and tested. We can put our full trust in it and rest under its authority. Anyone who strays outside the Scriptures will be proven a liar in the end. Stay faithful and hungry for the wisdom that comes from the Word of God. This requires humility, fear of God, and a teachable spirit.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 30:5-6, 8-9, 24-28, 33

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 29

Proverbs 29

-Hardening the neck after much reproof will suddenly make one broken beyond remedy. When the righteous increase, there is much rejoicing, but when the wicked rule, people groan. A lover of wisdom makes a glad father, but the man who keeps company with harlots wastes his wealth. The advice for leaders continues by stating how the king gives stability to the land by justice. But, a man who takes bribes overthrows a nation. “A man who flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his steps (Proverbs 29:1-5).”

-Transgression ensnares an evil one, but the righteous sing and rejoice. I think this speaks of a heart of worship unto the Almighty. The righteous are concerned with the rights of the poor, but the wicked do not understand such concern. This speaks to having a generous-compassionate heart. Scorners set a city aflame with their disdaining words, but the wise turn away anger. When there is controversy between the wise and foolish, the foolish generally either get angry in rage or mock in laughter, both of which give no rest to the situation. People of bloodshed hate the blameless, but the upright are concerned for life. This reminds me of the horrible abortion issue that still stains the United States. Be pro-life. Only a fool always loses his temper, but a wise person holds it back having self-control as a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). “If a ruler pays attention to falsehood, all his ministers become wicked (Proverbs 29:6-12).”

-The LORD gives light to the eyes of both the poor man and the oppressor. If a king gives judgment to the poor with truth, his throne will be established forever as a proverbial-general truth. The rod and reproof give wisdom to a child, but children getting their own way eventually bring shame to their mother. When the wicked increase, transgression increases along with them, but the righteous will live to see their fall. Evil is only temporary. Correct your son, and he will give your soul comfort and delight. “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law (Proverbs 29:13-18).”

-Slaves are not instructed by words alone; often they will understand, but still give no response. Have you ever seen a person hasty in their words? There is more hope for a fool than for these types of people. The person pampering their slave from childhood will in the end find him to be a son, or daughter. Angry people stir up strife, and a hot-tempered person abounds in much transgression. Pride will bring one low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor (Proverbs 29:19-23).

-If one partners with a thief, they hate their own life in reality. I can think of several modern movies that play out this theme. They hear oaths, but tell nothing. “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.” Many seek the favor of rulers, but ultimate justice comes from the LORD of Heaven and earth. “An unjust man is abominable to the righteous, and he who is upright in the way is abominable to the wicked (Proverbs 29:24-27).”

-*Application* Righteous conduct in the LORD’s sight obtains His favor. This is a long-run strategy that we would be wise to consider. Don’t bank on temporary fixes in this world that have no hope of fulfilling their lying promises. Trust in the LORD, and follow His ways. This is where true success abides.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 29:5, 8-9, 11, 15, 18, 23, 25

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 28

Proverbs 28

-Leadership principles to abide by continue in this chapter. The wicked flee even when no one is pursuing them, but the righteous are courageous, as bold as a lion. Transgression in a land leads to chaos and large turnover in leadership, but by understanding and knowledge a land endures with stability. Poor people who oppress the lowly are like a driving, terrible rain that leaves no food (Proverbs 28:1-3).

-Now, some words on keeping the law. Those who forsake the law end up praising the wicked, but those who abide by the law strive (garah- contend with, wage war, fight against) with evil. Evil men, and women, do NOT understand justice, but those who seek after the LORD understand ALL things. It is better to be poor and walk in integrity than to be crooked and rich. Those who keep the law are discerning sons, but those who hang out with gluttons are a humiliation to their fathers. The person who increases their wealth by interest and usury, gathers it for those who are gracious to the poor. “He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination. He who leads the upright astray in an evil way will himself fall into his own pit, but the blameless will inherit good (Proverbs 28:4-10).”

-Rich people are wise in their own eyes, but the poor who have understanding, or discernment, see right through them. When the righteous are triumphant, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves in fear and trembling. Confessing and forsaking transgression will lead to attaining compassion. Concealing, or hiding, transgression (sin) will lead to NOT prospering. Blessed is the man, or woman, who fears (the LORD) always, but the one who hardens their heart will fall headlong into calamity. A wicked ruler over poor people is like a roaring lion and a rushing bear. They are relentless in their vain pursuits. Any leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding, but the one who hates unjust gain will prolong days (Proverbs 28:11-16).

-A man laden with the guilt of human blood will be a fugitive till death; let no one support him. The one who walks blamelessly will be delivered, but the one who is crooked will fall all at once. The farmer who tills his/her land will have plenty of food, but those who follow empty pursuits (like gambling, get-rich-quick schemes, etc.) will have plenty of poverty. A faithful man, or woman, will abound with blessings, but hasty, get-rich-quick pursuits will NOT go unpunished by God. Showing partiality is NOT good and leads people to transgress. A person with an evil eye hastens after wealth, but does not know what will come upon them (Proverbs 28:17-22).

-A person who rebukes another will afterward find more favor than the person who flatters with their tongue. One robbing his/her father, or mother, and maintaining that it is not a transgression, is the companion of a person who destroys. Arrogant people stir up strife, but those who trust the LORD will prosper. Anyone trusting in their own heart is a fool the Bible says here, but those walking wisely in His ways will be delivered. Those giving to the poor will never want as a general truth, but those who shut their eyes to the needy will find many curses upon them. “When the wicked rise, men hide themselves; but when they perish, the righteous increase (Proverbs 28:23-28).”

-*Application* Successful leadership, whether it’s in the home, work, community, or church, is contingent on following God’s good and perfect law with obedience and consistency. The LORD has outlined in His Scriptures everything we need for a fully functioning and healthy society based on loving Him and each other as much as ourselves. If we look closely, we will see how everything listed here in this chapter falls into these two categories. Even when we fail in these pursuits, His grace is sufficient through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to overcome all our mistakes when we trust in Him (review Proverbs 28:25-26).

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 28:1, 9, 13, 23, 25-27

Friday, May 12, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 27

Proverbs 27

-Warnings and instructions fill up the 27 verses in this magnificent 27th chapter of the Proverbs. Never boast about what will happen tomorrow. We just don’t know what a day may bring forth. Jesus said something akin to this (Matthew 6:34). Let another praise us and let not our own mouth do the bragging in egotistical pride. May a stranger praise us, and not ourselves. The provocation of a fool is heavier than stones and weighty sand. No one can stand before a jealous person. They are like fierce wrath and flooding anger. It is better to get or give an open rebuke than to conceal love. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy (Proverbs 27:1-6).”

-A person fed beyond capacity or desire loathes honey or anything else, but a person who is famished will take anything they can get, even if it’s bitter. Like a bird who wanders away from her nest, so is the man who wanders from his home. Oil and perfume have a way of making the heart glad, and so does a man’s sweet counsel to his friend. Don’t forsake our friends or our father’s friends. We need not go to our brother’s house in the day of calamity when there is a neighbor who can help within closer proximity. A wise son makes the father’s heart glad and gives him a reply to any who try to reproach him. “A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naïve proceed and pay the penalty (Proverbs 27:7-12).”

-Verse 13 is basically a repeat of Proverbs 20:16 to warn of cosigning for debts. The person who blesses their friend with a loud voice early in the morning will find that they are bringing about a curse on themselves because people don’t like this sort of abrupt action at this time of day 😉. The constant dripping from a steady rain is like a contentious woman. The man trying to restrain her finds himself in a spot like trying to restrain the wind or grasping oil with the right hand. It is impossible, in other words. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:13-17).” We need to help people and they should be able to help us too. Christians should do this naturally.

-The person tending the fig tree will eat its fruit, just like a person who cares for their master will be honored. The heart of a person reflects who they are, just like the water reflects the face. Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, nor are the eyes of man (1 John 2:16). “The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and each is tested by the praise accorded him.” Foolishness will not depart from a foolish person even if he is pounded “in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain (Proverbs 27:18-22).”

-A short treatise on the ancient agricultural society now. An owner, or overseer, should pay close attention to his/her flocks and herds and know their condition. This has ramifications for pastoral work in a spiritual sense. Riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations (unless we are talking about the Messiah coming through David and Solomon’s earthly line). When the grass disappears, new types of growth are seen. This is when the herbs of the mountains are gathered in. The lambs will shed their coats for clothing, and the goats will be sold for $ as high as that of a field. Hard work will sustain in the form of goat’s milk enough for food for the whole household, including the maidens (Proverbs 27:23-27).

-*Application* Wouldn’t the world be such a nicer place to live if we just followed these brilliant principles and precepts. The one to focus on today is how to be a good friend. True friends don’t annoy one another, nor do they brag in arrogant fashion. We should sharpen one another in all dimensions and cultivate spiritual growth through accountability. Let’s let our hearts reflect all the goodness of Christ as we continue to live out His Word.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 27:2, 18

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 26

Proverbs 26

-As the section on wisdom for leaders continues, the men of Hezekiah transcribe additional proverbs. Honor is not fitting for a fool, like snow in the hot summer or rain in the dry season of harvest. Like a sparrow in its flitting (nuwd- wandering, moving to and fro) or a swallow in its flying, so is a curse that is given to a person without cause or reason. The curse will not alight (bow'- to go in, enter, go, or take hold). Whips are for horses, bridles are for donkeys, and a rod for the backs of fools. In other words, one can only beat the foolishness out of them. They will not listen and obey good sense and reason. Do not answer a fool according to his foolery, or you will be like that person. Answer a fool as his folly deserves so that he/she doesn’t become wise in their own eyes in such ridiculousness. To send a message by the hand of a fool is like cutting off your own feet and drinking violence. A proverb in the mouth of fools is like useless legs to the lame. Giving honor to a fool is like one who binds a stone in a sling. It won’t go anywhere and will probably swing back and hit to hurt you. Avoidance of manipulation is the theme in this wise saying. A proverb in the mouth of fools is also like handing a thorn to a drunkard. They will not perceive the pain they are inflicting. A person who hires foolish people or just those passing by without discernment is like an archer who cannot shoot straight and wounds everyone around. A fool repeating his folly is just like a dog returning to its vomit (2 Peter 2:22). Their nature is corrupt and disgusting. But, there is more hope for a fool than for one who is wise in his own eyes (Proverbs 26:1-12). A denunciation of pride is given here.

-Next, some more words for the lazy. The lion in the road comment is about using excuses to avoid any and all situations that may require some strenuous effort. Just like a door swings on its hinges, so is the sluggard on his bed turning one way and then the other in an attempt to gain more comfort and sleep. Sluggards bury their hand in the dish and don’t even have the will to bring it to their mouth. Sluggards are wiser in their own minds than seven men who can offer a discreet answer (Proverbs 26:13-16).

-Messing with strife that doesn’t belong to you is like taking a dog by the ears. That usually does not go well. A man deceiving his neighbor and saying, “Was I not joking?” is like a madman who throws firebrands (ziyqoth- flaming arrows, chains), arrows (chets- figuratively a wound), and death. That would not be a good neighbor and ultimately defies Christ’s commands (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8). Where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down just like when there is a lack of wood, the fire goes out. But, like charcoal to hot embers and like wood to fire, when there is a contentious person, they will kindle strife. Speaking of a whisperer, their words are like dainty morsels going deep down into the innermost parts of the body (Proverbs 26:17-22). Whispering will gain people’s attention.

-The last verses in this chapter describe one who is hypocritical and flattering:

Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross are burning lips and a wicked heart. He who hates disguises it with his lips, but he lays up deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven (the biblical number for completion) abominations in his heart. Though his hatred covers itself with guile, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. He who digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin (Proverbs 26:23-28).

-*Application* Among the plethora of wisdom in this passage we can think about today the fact that curses against us without substance have no power. Don’t receive hurtful words and things wicked people try to pronounce over us. Don’t worry about witches, sorcerers, voodoo practitioners, or any of that nonsense. This is biblical evidence that this kind of stuff has no kind of power over the redeemed. We should never act foolishly, or be fools. Live in the new nature that Christ Jesus wants to give us. Watch out for gossip and those who want to spread strife. Avoid these kinds of individuals and cultures. Watch out and be careful about those who are hypocritical and flattering with their speech. Look deeper, into the heart of the matter with discernment, and don’t try to actively get revenge. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves digging a pit and falling into it ourselves, or find that the stone we rolled towards someone is coming right back at us. Let’s be honest in our self-examination and quit working ruin with a flattering tongue.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 26:2, 23-28

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 25

Proverbs 25

-Chapter 25 begins the last section of the book, which is designed to equip leaders for their roles. These are proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah some 250 or so years

post Solomon, transcribed for our education and wisdom under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. The first order of business was to make sure that people knew it was the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings (rulers, those in authority) to search out a matter for understanding and application. The king’s heart is unsearchable, just like the height of the heavens and the depths of the earth. Take away the dross from the silver and guess what? There comes out a vessel for the smith. In the same manner, if the wicked are taken away from before the king, his throne will be established in righteousness. One should never claim honor in the presence of a king, nor should they take their stand in the place of great men. It is better if one is asked to, “Come up here” in the presence of great men than to be put lower in the presence of the prince, whom can be seen (Proverbs 25:1-7).

-Don’t be in a rush to argue your case. You could absolutely be in danger, in the end, of being put to shame by your neighbor. Carefully consider your actions in other words when you have a dispute. Further, as leaders, one should argue directly with your neighbor, not gossiping or revealing secrets to those whom the matter doesn’t concern. The hearers of these revelations will eventually reproach you, and the evil report about you will not pass away. Another way of putting it, be careful to guard your reputation as a leader. It is important, and people tend to take a negative view of you once they hear something painted in a dark way (Proverbs 25:8-10).

-Now, some more positive stuff. A word spoken in the right way at the right time is like “apples of gold in settings of silver.” A wise reprover to a listening ear is compared to “an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold.” A faithful messenger to those who send him refreshes the souls of  his masters like “the cold of snow in the time of harvest (Proverbs 25:11-13).”

-But, a man who boasts of his gifts falsely, or shall we say pretense, is like “clouds and wind without rain.” Great expectations, no delivering (2 Peter 2:17-19). “By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue breaks the bone.” In our language, stick with those over you and be loyal as you try to get your way. Keep your cool and stay self-controlled. In addition, eat only what you need. The writer uses the example of honey. Excess makes one sick. Another admonition warns not to be in your neighbor’s house too much, lest they become weary of you and hate you. A man who lies about his neighbor is compared to a club, a sword, and a sharp arrow. Having confidence in a faithless man in the time of trouble is like having a bad tooth (we who’ve had this experience know the torment in that) or an unsteady foot that can’t support the weight. Like one who takes a coat off on a very cold day (senseless idea, a glutton for punishment) or vinegar on soda (an explosive reaction), is the person who makes light of a troubled heart of his/her neighbor by singing, or making merriment. A better idea is to give food to the hungry and water to the thirsty. Bless people and know how they want to be treated, even if they are your enemy. In so doing, the proverb says “you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you (Proverbs 25:14-22).

-Just like the north wind brings rain, a backbiting tongue brings an angry countenance. It is better to live in a small area in a corner of the roof, for example, than a huge house with a contentious woman. On a better note, good news from a distant land is like getting a drink of cold water for a weary soul. A righteous man who gives way before the wicked is basically trampling a spring of fresh water and polluting the well. In other words, be courageous against evil of all sorts. Honey returns as an example of contentment, this time relating to tooting your own horn, or searching out your own glory. Self-control issues conclude the chapter with this excellent statement, “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit (Proverbs 25:23-28).”

-*Application* Self-controlled responses demonstrate boundaries and protection. Every ancient city needed walls to defense themselves from invaders that would come to kill, plunder, and pillage. It was a safety to have great walls in a city. When we lose control of our spirit and react in our flesh instead of being controlled by the Holy Spirit with good temperament, our defenses break down in the spiritual realm and literally all hell breaks loose. Self-control is an important fruit of the Holy Spirit, especially for leaders (Galatians 5:22-25). There are many great leadership principles for us to reflect on here in this chapter. Let’s meditate on as many as we can today.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 25:6-7, 21-22, 28

Monday, May 8, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 24

Proverbs 24

-The proverbial precepts of God written through the hand of Solomon continue in this chapter with still more warnings and admonitions in living a life of wisdom. First, he tells the reader not to be envious of evil men, nor should we desire to be with them. Their minds devise violence and their lips continually speak of trouble. Only by wisdom is a house accurately built, and by understanding it is established. By knowledge, the king purports, rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A man of wisdom is strong, and the knowledgeable increase in power. By wise guidance alone should we wage war, and in an abundance of counselors led by the Holy Spirit there is victory. “Wisdom is too exalted for a fool, he does not open his mouth in the gate (Proverbs 24:1-7).”

-Schemers are those who plan to do evil by name. The devising of folly is sinful, and scoffers are an abomination to men. If we are slack in the day of distress, our strength is limited for sure. The ones being taken away to death need deliverance, and we should hold back those who are staggering to slaughter. This is an evangelistic call, I believe, to rescue the perishing. We can’t afford to stand aside aloof and unconcerned. God will consider our actions, or inactions, on this matter. The LORD is the Keeper of the soul, and He wants all to come in faith to Him for salvation (1 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9). God will render to a man according to his work (Proverbs 24:8-12).

-Solomon now tells his son to eat honey from the comb, “for it is good” and sweet to the taste. In the same manner, wisdom is sweet to the soul and will not allow for hope to be cut off. The king returns to advise keeping wicked men from lying in wait against the dwelling of the righteous. Destroying the resting place of a good person, or people, will not be successful. Why? “Because a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again:” meanwhile, the wicked stumble in times of calamity. Therefore, we should never rejoice when our enemy falls, nor let ourselves be glad when they stumble. This amounts to rivalry, selfishness, and contention, which the LORD despises (Philippians 2:3). God will see our jealous and envious hearts and be displeased when we rejoice over the failures of our enemies, and will turn His wrath and anger away from them, and perhaps on us (Proverbs 24:13-18).

-Because of these things, Solomon, through inspiration of God, tells us, like his father (Psalm 37:1), to NOT FRET (emphasis mine) because of evildoers. We should never be envious of them, because they have no future and their lamp will be put out. We shouldn’t fear them either, but Solomon tells his son, and us as well, whom to fear. Actually, there are two entities to fear. One is the LORD, and the other is the king. These are conservative and stable authorities who will provide for a solid future. On the other spectrum, those given to change are not to be associated with, “for their calamity will rise suddenly, and who knows the ruin that comes from both of them?” The king goes on to more sayings of the wise by stating that it is not good to show partiality in judgment (see 1 Kings 3:16-28). The man who calls the wicked “righteous,” will find the people cursing him eventually and nations will even abhor him. However, those who rebuke the wicked, out of a loving heart and devotion to God, will be a delight and good blessing will come upon them. A right answer is likely to get a kiss of satisfaction (Proverbs 24:19-26).

-Next, Solomon recommends preparing our work outside and make it ready in the field; afterwards, build our house. This is a principle about moving on most important things first before housing down with investments and such. Truth again appears now as a theme as the king warns against being a witness against a neighbor without cause. Deception of the lips is at issue here. We should never say, “Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.” Finally, Solomon ends the chapter with some more bemoaning of lazy people. He relates a time when he passed by a field of a sluggard and the vineyard of a man lacking sense. He observed that these places were completely overgrown with thistles and the surface covered with nettles. The stone wall was broken down, and it made him think and reflect. Solomon looked and received instruction from this neglectful situation. “A little sleep, a little slumber, and little folding of the hands to rest, then your poverty will come as a robber and your want like an armed man (Proverbs 24:27-34).”

-*Application* Hard work and a continuing concern is a great testimony to our wisdom. It is easy to let things slip and not pay enough attention to matters, but the results are disgusting. Whether it’s our health, our yard, our garden, our ranch, our business, our spiritual condition, our church, or our nation, things always digress when we don’t apply ourselves with full effort (2 Peter 1:5-13). Be strong, get up, and back up, and back up to make preparations and cultivate the field, then build the house. Let’s not be slack in our work and have poverty come upon us in any sense. Improvements don’t come easy, but they are always worth it.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 24:10, 21, 27, 33-34

Friday, May 5, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 23

Proverbs 23

-More advice occurs as Solomon warns of eating deceptive food laid out by a ruler. His counsel, guided by the Holy Spirit, cautions to consider carefully what is before us and kill any thought of giving in to a greedy appetite. “Do not desire his delicacies,” is the admonition. Further, Solomon teaches not to weary ourselves in the pursuit of gaining wealth. We should not even make it a consideration, for when we set our eyes on that fleeting and temporary option, it is gone, like an eagle that flies towards the heavens. There are more important things to consider (Matthew 6:33). Going on, Solomon advises not to eat the bread of a selfish man or desire his delicacies, for his heart is never with us. We will vomit up the morsels we have eaten and waste our compliments on the self-interested. Fools will despise the wisdom of our words, so it’s better not to even speak in their presence. Once again, Solomon advocates NOT moving the ancient boundary (Proverbs 22:28), and he tells us NOT to go into the fields of the fatherless so as to take what is rightfully theirs. Their Redeemer is strong, and He will plead His case against us if we do. We must apply our hearts to discipline and incline our ears to words of knowledge (Proverbs 23:1-12).

-Continuing with the discipline theme, the king presages not to ever hold back from correcting a child. Even corporal punishment is extolled to rescue their souls from Sheol (place of separation from the LORD in the afterlife). Solomon, talking to his son and us as well, says that if the heart is wise, it will also be glad. Rejoicing will be with the father in his innermost being if his son speaks what is right. He goes on to purport NOT letting our heart envy sinners in their folly, but we should always live in the fear of the LORD, which protects us from harm. If we fear the LORD, we will surely have a bright future and our hope will not be cut off. Solomon pleads with his son to listen to this sage advice and be wise, directing his heart in the right way. He reiterates NOT being a heavy drinker of wine (Proverbs 20:1; 21:17), or being a gluttonous eater of meat. Heavy drinkers come to poverty as a rule of thumb and they tend to dress, in their drowsiness, as one clothed with rags. In other words, they’ll look like a bum. Solomon keeps on telling his son to listen to him, as his father, so that his parents will be glad in him and rejoice over him. Following his father’s advice would bring delight, and staying away from the harlot’s deep pit and the adulterous woman’s narrow well would bring joy. Why? Because these types of women lurk as robbers increasing the faithlessness among men (Proverbs 23:13-28). He desires to see his son be faithful to the LORD of his fathers: David, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

-The final seven verses of this chapter deal with the effects of getting drunk in a memorable fashion for the reader:

“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things and your mind will utter perverse things. And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. ‘They struck me, but I did not become ill; they beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink (Proverbs 23:29-35).’”

-*Application* Alcohol has been a blight on many generations as we can see in this chapter written around 3000 years ago. We as humans have still not learned our lessons when we observe Spring Break festivities, night club scenes, and the relentless cases of domestic abuse and wasted lives from the effects of alcohol. As my father has often advised, the best way to never become an addict, is to never start in the first place. We must listen to the wisdom of our parents and pass what we’ve learned on to the next generation. Hopefully, we will be faithful, and they will be too.

Verse to Memorize: Proverbs 23:13-14, 17, 29-35

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 22

Proverbs 22

-Solomon moves on in his wise sayings to make our lives better under God’s authority by explaining how a good name is to be more desired than great wealth. Favor is better than gold and silver. The LORD is the Maker of both the rich and the poor giving them a common bond. The prudent hide themselves from seeing evil, but the naïve go on full steam ahead incurring the punishing consequences of their actions. There is a reward for humility and fearing the LORD. Those prizes typically are riches, honor, and life (long on the earth and eternally in Heaven). There will be obstacles, like thorns and snares, in the way of the perverse, but the person who guards against these obstinate ways will be far from these difficulties. For parents, we should train our children up in the way in the way they should go, and as a general truth they will not depart from the faith when they become older. Rich people generally rule over the poor, and the lender can make a slave of the borrower. In other words, it is better to be a creditor than a debtor. The one sowing iniquity will reap vanity ('aven- trouble, wickedness, sorrow, idolatry). The rod of those sowing iniquity in fury will perish. They will be has beens. On the other hand, generous people will be blessed, for they give some of their food to the poor. “Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out, even strife and dishonor will cease (Proverbs 22:1-10).

-The king (or one in authority) is friends with those who love purity of heart and have gracious speech. The eyes of the LORD make sure knowledge is preserved, but He overthrows every word of the treacherous. The sluggard is pessimistic when a lion is on the prowl outside and thinks he will be killed in the streets. The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit, and the cursed of the LORD will fall into it. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of every child because we have a sin nature, but the rod of discipline (corrective action) will remove this foolishness from them. The one who is greedy and oppresses the poor to make more for themselves, or gives strictly to the rich to get a return on investment, will only come to poverty (Proverbs 22:11-16).

-We need to incline our ears and hear the words of the wise, and apply our minds to this wise man’s knowledge. It will be pleasant if they are kept inside our being, and they will make our lips ready to respond appropriately in every situation and circumstance. The point being, we need to trust totally in the LORD, as Solomon has been teaching. He has been inspired by the Holy Spirit to write out excellent things of “counsels and knowledge,” so that we may know the certainty of the words of truth and correctly answer the one sending us (could be a teacher or possibly an employer, Proverbs 22:17-21).

-Solomon goes on to tells us not to rob the poor because of their poverty. We should never take advantage of anyone, nor should we crush the afflicted at the gate. The LORD will plead their case and take the life of anyone robbing them (Proverbs 22:22-23). Vengeance is His (Hebrews 10:30).

-Don’t associate with people given to the angry ways of mankind. Don’t mingle with those who are hot-tempered, or we will learn from their ways, which will become a snare for us (Proverbs 22:24-25).

-We also should NOT be among those who give pledges among those who become guarantors for debts. If we have nothing with which to pay, we shouldn’t allow people to take our bed from under us (Proverbs 22:26-27). Nice illustration in colloquial language here.

-The ancient boundaries should NOT be moved, which our fathers have set. Conservative respect is admired and reverenced here. If we see a man skilled in his work, know that he will stand before kings and not just ordinary-obscure men (Proverbs 22:28-29).

-*Application* I believe Solomon is laying for us some things to consider today about cultivating a good name and His favor for ourselves. Great wealth is only temporary, but our legacy is what truly counts in the Kingdom of God. In other words, we must do things the right way according to the righteous law of the LORD. Treat people as we would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31), keep our cool, and make positive-courageous decisions that reveal a genuine faith. This is what it’s all about.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 22:6, 10, 24-25, 28-29

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 21

Proverbs 21

-Sovereign wishes of God in turning the king’s heart like channels of water begins the hodge-podge of wisdom laid out in this chapter on life and conduct. Every man’s path seems right in his own eyes, but only the LORD weighs the hearts. God desires justice and doing righteousness over sacrifice any day. Haughty eyes and a proud heart is the lamp of the wicked, which is sin. A diligent person plans and leads to advantage, but everyone who is hasty certainly comes to poverty. If one acquires treasures by a lying tongue, it is a fleeting vapor and a pursuit of death. Violence drags the wicked away because they refuse to act with justice. The guilty man’s ways are crooked, but the pure in heart have upright conduct. “It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman (Proverbs 21:1-9).”

-The soul of the wicked has a desire only for evil, which reduces and even eliminates any favor from their neighbor. When a scoffer is punished, the naïve observe and become wiser in their ways. When the wise are instructed, they receive knowledge abundantly. The righteous consider (sakal- understand, circumspect) the house (bayith- domain, home, family) of the wicked and turn it to ruin. The person who shuts the ear to the cry of the poor, will find that their own cry will also be unanswered. A secret gift or bribe subdues anger and wrath, though its morality may be in question. “The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, but is terror to the workers of iniquity (Proverbs 21:10-15).”

-Wandering from the way of understanding will lead to one resting in the assembly of the dead. The lovers of pleasure will end up generally becoming poor, and the lovers of wine and oil will not become rich by any means. They tend to squander the work ethic in other words. Listen to wisdom. The wicked and treacherous are a ransom for the righteous and upright, meaning that the Godly will not suffer long at the hands of the evil ones. Living in a desert land is better than living with a contentious (madown- strife filled, discord, variant) and vexing (ka`ac- angry, provocation, causing grief, wrathful) woman (Proverbs 21:16-19).

-In the dwelling of the wise is precious treasure and oil, but a foolish person swallows everything up not saving and preparing for the future. Pursuing righteousness and loyalty helps one find life, right standing with the LORD, and honor. A wise person can scale the city of the mighty and bring down strongholds in which evil men trust. Physical barriers are no match for sound spiritual blessing. The person who guards the mouth and tongue, guards the soul from troubles. The one acting with insolent pride will be called “Proud,” “Haughty,” and “Scoffer.” The lazy desires of the sluggard will put them to death, for their hands refuse to work. This kind of person has cravings all day long, while the righteous gives generously without holding back. The sacrifice of the wicked is abominable to the LORD, and is even more perverse when they bring it with evil intent. False witnesses will perish, but the one who listens to the truth in discernment will be allowed to speak forever. The wicked man can only display a bold face (implication that there is hidden fear behind the exterior), but the upright are confident inside and out, making their way much more sure. “There is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel against the LORD. The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the LORD (Proverbs 21:20-31).”

-*Application* When people say that they have wisdom apart from anything biblical and of God, don’t believe them. If the Bible is true, and it is, then we can confidently assert Proverbs 21:30 as the deciding factor in any debate, contention, or question. The LORD is sovereign, as we see again multiple times in this passage, and nothing will stand against Him in the end. The more we realize this, the better off we are.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 21:13, 23, 28, 31

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs: Chapter 20

Proverbs 20

-Solomon derides drinking alcohol by stating how it is a “mocker” and a “brawler.” The person intoxicated with it is NOT wise. Then, he moves to another proverb by stating that the terror of a king can be compared to the growling of a ferocious lion. Anyone provoking him to anger “forfeits his own life.” In fact, keeping away (shebeth- ceasing) from strife is an honor for anyone, but any fool will make a quarrel (gala`- to break out in contention, to burst forth in anger). The sluggard won’t plow at the proper time after the autumn to prepare his field, so he ends up begging during the harvest with nothing to eat. A plan deep in the heart of man is like deep water (unnavigable), but the man of understanding can draw it out with precision. Everyone claims to be loyal, but where can a trustworthy person ever be found? Rhetorical question here worth considering. Solomon claims that a righteous man who walks in his integrity blesses his sons after him. It is an ongoing concern to be righteous. Legacy is real. The eyes of a king disperse all evil as he sits on the throne of justice. There are none who can say accurately that they have cleansed their own heart and become pure from all sin. “Differing weights and differing measures, both of them are abominable to the LORD (Proverbs 20:1-10).”

-It is by works (deeds) that a young person can distinguish themselves if their conduct is pure and right. Jesus called it fruit (Matthew 7:16-23). The LORD has made both the hearing ear and the seeing eye. The king goes on to say that we should not love to sleep excessively, lest we will become poor as a general truth. He goes on to say, in essence, that we need to wake up, and then we’ll be satisfied with the work of our hands and minds. We will have plenty as God provides through our hard work. Business acumen is next of this continued mantra of wisdom. A buyer will slyly say, “Bad, bad,” but when he goes away he will boast of his deal. The lips of knowledge are a more precious thing than gold and jewels in abundance. It is wise, Solomon maintains, to take one’s garment when he becomes surety for a stranger, and to hold foreigners in pledge. This is good sense on how to work a co-signing situation with people we don’t really know. Things, Solomon lists bread here, obtained by falsehood are sweet, but the after effects will be filled with trouble. Here is some more wisdom, “Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance (Proverbs 20:11-18).”

-It is prudent not to associate with people who gossip, and slanderers reveal everyone’s secrets. The person who curses their father or mother will have their lamp go out on them in time of darkness. “An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning, will not be blessed in the end.” We should never say that we, ourselves, will repay evil. Instead, we should wait for the LORD, and trust Him to save us. Solomon reiterates a former thought (Proverbs 20:10) now in the next verse as he calls out the injustice of differing weights and false scales in business deals as being “not good” and “an abomination to the LORD.” God’s sovereignty comes back as a theme now as Solomon acknowledges that “man’s steps are ordained by the LORD” with little understanding of his/her way as the process unfolds. It is a snare for a person to say rashly, “It is holy!” Instead, they should make inquiry before making such vows. Kings that are wise will disperse and scatter the wicked under their rule, and drive (shuwb- turn back) the threshing wheel over them. A good man in authority will detect and punish evil to maintain law, order, and justice. “The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the innermost parts of his being.” There are three things now listed that will preserve and uphold the king: loyalty, truth, and righteousness. The glory of the younger generation is their strength, and the honor of the older generation is their gray hair. The final verse endorses corporal punishment, not to inflict pain, but to scour away evil and turn hearts in the right direction (Proverbs 20:19-30).

-*Application* Once again we could draw much application out of every one of these previous 30 verses of Scripture, but I’ll detail just a tiny bit impressing on my spirit today. We should be filled with the Holy Spirit rather than alcohol. This is the true and lasting joy and influence we should be under (Ephesians 5:18). Don’t get intoxicated and fight. This is when wine can mock us. Bad decisions occur when people drink alcoholic substances and succumb to the influences of drugs. Further, let’s simply be just and fair with people in our business dealings. There are so many scams and scandals in our world today. God hates that. Be upright and do deals with integrity and class. Finally, on my mind today is this notion of letting God’s wrath take care of situations. Wait on the LORD and trust Him to save in every bad experience we are encountering (Psalm 37). Else, we become the angry ones and lash out to tear down our world.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 20:1, 3, 9, 11, 13, 22