Reid Ferguson

Proverbs 16:21-33

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 16 ESV”]

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
3 Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
7 When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
8 Better is a little with righteousness
than great revenues with injustice.
9 The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
10 An oracle is on the lips of a king;
his mouth does not sin in judgment.
11 A just balance and scales are the Lord’s;
all the weights in the bag are his work.
12 It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
for the throne is established by righteousness.
13 Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves him who speaks what is right.
14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
and a wise man will appease it.
15 In the light of a king’s face there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
17 The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
21 The wise of heart is called discerning,
and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
22 Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
but the instruction of fools is folly.
23 The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
26 A worker’s appetite works for him;
his mouth urges him on.
27 A worthless man plots evil,
and his speech is like a scorching fire.
28 A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.
29 A man of violence entices his neighbor
and leads him in a way that is not good.
30 Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things;
he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.
31 Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.
32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.
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Solomon: More Wisdom for the Young & Old

 

Proverbs 16:21 The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

Sweetness of speech is not flattery, lying or failing to deal in complete truthfulness. It is rather the attitude in which our communication is carried out. Would we persuade, or simply hammer our view home? Would we win or keep a friend, or are we simply after stating the case? Jesus never shrunk back from delivering the whole truth – but He was no man’s enemy, even though they were His.

In one of Jesus’ most protracted rebukes (Matt. 23) Jesus’ utters 7 “woes” to the Pharisees and “hypocrites” followed immediately by His weeping and lamenting over Jerusalem.

“Woes” are warning, not last-word judgments. He shows them their sin, but weeps over it at the same time. This is not raw denouncement, but urgent pleading without soft-selling the realities.

What a glorious demonstration of genuine discipline coupled with compassion and loving constraint.

Father, teach me this holy skill. How I would rather thunder out my way, than persuade by a heart set on blessing the other. How I want to be right, more than righteous. Deliver me.

 

Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

If your Gospel has no grace, no sweetness, do not be surprised if it gains no souls. If the Gospel contains no “good news” and only exposure of sin – it isn’t Gospel, it is law. And we are called to preach Christ and Him crucified, not Moses – and him thundering. Mount Calvary, not Mount Sinai.

 

Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.

Experience is valuable. This is why church leadership is supposed to be comprised of “elders”, and not “youngsters.” Those who have walked with the Lord through trials, temptations and the ups and downs of life’s varied circumstances are of great value to us. Never forsake them for trends, fashions, and the newest thing to come along. For there is no other way to Heaven, than to walk the road that all who love Christ have travelled before us. Read of their lives and their struggles AND their triumphs. And walk too.

 

Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

There is a form of randomness on our level, but not on His.

2 Chronicles 18 contains the account of Ahab’s death in battle. Ahab had asked Jehoshaphat, king of Judah to join him in fighting the Aramaeans at Ramoth-Gilead. When all Ahab’s false prophets had finished telling the 2 kings they would have a victorious battle, the lone prophet of the Lord in Israel, Micaiah, told them they would not prevail, and that Ahab would not return from the battle.

Vs. 33 records: “But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate.” “At random” for the archer, but not so from the Lord’s perspective. It was just as He had foretold through Micaiah.

Nor is their randomness in your life or mine from our Heavenly Father’s vantage point. And so we rest in His providences, though from the human point of view – they remain inscrutable.

What a glorious God we serve!

~ Reid

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Reid Ferguson

Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.