Proverbs 17:1

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 17 ESV”]
Better is a dry morsel with quiet
than a house full of feasting with strife.
2 A servant who deals wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully
and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.
3 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
and the Lord tests hearts.
4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips,
and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
5 Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker;
he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
6 Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers.
7 Fine speech is not becoming to a fool;
still less is false speech to a prince.
8 A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it;
wherever he turns he prospers.
9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love,
but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
10 A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding
than a hundred blows into a fool.
11 An evil man seeks only rebellion,
and a cruel messenger will be sent against him.
12 Let a man meet a she- bear robbed of her cubs
rather than a fool in his folly.
13 If anyone returns evil for good,
evil will not depart from his house.
14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
15 He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous
are both alike an abomination to the Lord.
16 Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom
when he has no sense?
17 A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
18 One who lacks sense gives a pledge
and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.
19 Whoever loves transgression loves strife;
he who makes his door high seeks destruction.
20 A man of crooked heart does not discover good,
and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity.
21 He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow,
and the father of a fool has no joy.
22 A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
23 The wicked accepts a bribe in secret
to pervert the ways of justice.
24 The discerning sets his face toward wisdom,
but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.
25 A foolish son is a grief to his father
and bitterness to her who bore him.
26 To impose a fine on a righteous man is not good,
nor to strike the noble for their uprightness.
27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
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Solomon: Don’t lament the days of small things

 

Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.

As we saw Sunday, there is a word here for all of us in not “despising” – in terms of either hating, or treating as of no importance – the beginning and struggling days of anything. This is especially true of our spiritual lives. It is so easy to get caught up in the world’s mindset of more is better, bigger is better, and nothing ought to take time to grow and mature. Not our careers, not our families, not the home we live in, the car we drive, the entertainments we indulge in, and certainly not our souls. But this is not God’s way.
Having little is not shameful to Him. Nor ought to be to those who are His. This was part of the scandal of Jesus’ opening words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit” – or in Luke’s account – simply “the poor”. How can anyone who is “poor” by any human standard, also be “blessed”? To the world, even (or perhaps especially) to the Judaistic world of Jesus’ contemporaries, this was an unthinkable contradiction. But it surely is not a contradiction, to the one sets their eyes on inheriting the Kingdom – and sees this life but the bare budding stage of what is to come in Christ.
Think for a moment Christian – where do you locate your own poverty? What makes you think of yourself as poor because you lack it? What is that gnawing ache in your soul? And to what lengths has it driven you to try and either obtain it, or erase the pain? It can be virtually anything. We are so individual in the specifics, even as the reality of the experience is universal. Relationship? Spouse? Children? Career? Position? Recognition? Some physical attribute? Raw mental acuity? A possession? An achievement? The love of someone who never seems to requite your own, romantically or in the familial sense? Approbation or respect from a parent or someone else? Money? What?
It is to this, these opening 7 verses especially speak. And it is this that the whole of God’s Word addresses in pointing us to Christ and Christ alone. As Romans 11:36 reminds us, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” We came from Him – as do all things. We were created BY Him, thought the personal agency of the second member of the Trinity. And we were made FOR Him. For His pleasure. For His purposes. Thus it is apart from finding our wholeness and our purpose and fulfillment in Him, we always be driven and tormented by the “lack” we place such importance upon, and in the end, become slaves to. Only in Christ is there freedom from this bondage. Only in finding our contentment in that “morsel” the World considers so “dry” – but who is in truth the very Bread of Life – can the soul be truly quiet and at peace. No matter how much “feasting” we imagine would satisfy us, it will only come with the strife that resides in the creature at war with the Creator.
Now there is also a pointed application in all of this for those who venture upon ministry of any kind.
Ministers, don’t lament the days of small things, hoping for your “big break” and throngs of crowds hanging upon your every word. It is a lie. Enjoy the hour. Break your bread in peace in a quiet household. Yes, a full house is more exciting. Yes, it has its pleasures and advantages. But so does this present place. Each in their season. Remember that the time of growth will also bring with it strife. It will bring another set of challenges and difficulties. Enjoy God’s grace in every season and in every place. And never, NEVER see any place of service as some mere stepping stone to something greater. The greatness of our service resides in the greatness of the One we represent, not in ourselves nor our ministries. Seeking “success” in ministry beyond being a faithful herald of God’s Word, and a loving shepherd of the portion of His flock He has providentially place you among, is the way of the World. But it is not the way of Christ.
How are we ministers to be regarded? Paul summed it up in the Spirit most perfectly in 1 Corinthians 4:1 “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” Nothing more. Nothing less. Christ as all.

~ Reid

Leave comments at Responsive Reiding
_______________
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.

Proverbs 16:21-33

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

..

[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

Leave comments at Responsive Reiding
_______________
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.

Proverbs 16:2-4

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

..

[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.
[/learn_more]

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Solomon: God’s Sovereignty

 

Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.

Such is our sinful self-deception, that our own motives are often hidden from us. Especially when we contemplate sin. Our capacity to justify it seems endlessly creative.
But we must not imagine our ignorance is God’s – He DOES know our motivations. And our ignorance will not excuse us in the end – for our true motivations are known – and they are, our own.
This is both jarring – in that our wickedness cannot be hidden, and comforting, in that even the slightest hint of righteous desires are known and noted by a gracious God.
 

Proverbs 16:4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

Bad eyes? Constant struggle with weight? Abandoned? Hurt? Poor? Wealthy? Too short? Bald? Too attractive to be taken seriously? No pedigree? Wrong ethnicity? Birth defect? Challenged? Poor hearing? Diabetic? Lack ambition? Lonely? Only liked for your money or influence? Dumped at the altar? Bullied? Abused? Betrayed? Uneducated? Handicapped?
God has graciously & wisely given us each and every circumstance – from our physical strengths and weaknesses, to our positive and negative circumstantial environments – that we might be brought face to face with the conditions best suited to maximize the exposure of the sin within us that needs dealt with, as it hinders Christ’s likeness within us.
Does this mean we simply look at everything and declare it good? No! May it never be! Some of these things considered in and of themselves are in fact bad. Very bad. But their being bad is no hindrance to God’s gracious purposes toward His own through them. Evil exists. But God’s goodness redeems even the most heinous of all things that touch us on behalf of His loved ones – so that we need not live as perpetual victims, but rather as prized trophies of grace.
On one side, it takes very penetrating hurts to go deep enough to uncover and expose the most buried and protected sins. On the other side, it takes very great privileges and pleasures to expose other of the deepest sins buried in our hearts. These are means He uses in sanctification – no matter how the Enemy may have designed it, or the evil in any other perpetrator’s heart may have meant it.
How then, will we respond? Will we use His “gifts” to grow? Or will they serve as our chief excuses to remain as we are? Praise God for His great redeeming grace!
His redemptive glory transcends anything we’ve begun to uncover yet. Oh how eternity alone will be able to declare it to us! Though we cannot see it now, the day will come when we will. His righteousness will be fully vindicated; evil and sin will be fully revealed and judged – and we will stand in awe of how He blessed us through the worst machinations the Enemy of our souls was able to concoct and execute through the agency of his fallen minions and fallen men. What a great God we serve.

~ Reid

Leave comments at Responsive Reiding
_______________
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.