Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 41, Wisdom Makes The Lord Pleased With Our Prayers

Solomon first provides us with several short proverbs, then he explains to us who the Lord is pleased with and who He is not pleased with, and why.

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1) It doesn't help to answer anger with anger. That just keeps the argument going.

"The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly." (Proverbs 15:2) We've noticed before that it's Solomon's opinion that the foolish person never shuts up.

"The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good." (Proverbs 15:3) Sometimes we feel like God isn't doing anything about the cruelty of the wicked, or that He isn't rewarding our faithfulness. Solomon promises us that God sees everything. In due time He will give each person what he or she deserves. As the Apostle Paul said to the Christians of Israel, "God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them." (Hebrews 6:10)

"The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit." (Proverbs 15:4) It doesn't take us long to recognize who to go to for encouragement and who to avoid. Have you ever known anyone who never seems to say anything positive? Isn't that the last person you would go to for help? But the person who always makes you feel better and reminds you of the promises of the Lord....that's the person you seek out when you feel down.

"A fool spurns a parent's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence." (Proverbs 14:5) If we don't have a spirit that respects and responds to correction, we're going to just keep on going down the wrong path.

"The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings ruin." (Proverbs 15:6) The treasure in the house of the righteous is likely not material goods in this verse, although the righteous may have those as well. But it's the treasure of knowing the Lord, of rejoicing in His fellowship, of having Him as the firm foundation of the home. The homes of the wicked are filled with strife and even abuse. If the wicked become wealthy, the money tends to make them even more wicked.

"The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not upright." (Proverbs 15:7) A person lacking in godly wisdom won't be able to lead anyone else into godly wisdom. But the wise person tells the gospel. The wise person gives his or her testimony.

"The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases Him. The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but He loves those who pursue righteousness." (Proverbs 15:8-9) In Luke 18 the Lord told the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee came to the temple to brag on himself. He stood there and stared up to heaven, loudly telling the Lord of his good deeds so that all could hear him. He never confessed any sin or asked for forgiveness. In contrast, the tax collector came to the temple and dared not even look up from the floor. He beat his breast and whispered, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." He didn't brag about any good deeds or fail to repent of his sins, therefore Jesus said, "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God." Solomon says that the Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked because it isn't brought in a sincere spirit. It's brought for the wrong reasons, the same way the Pharisee went to the temple for the wrong reasons. Maybe it's because a man's neighbors will talk about him if he doesn't observe the law. Maybe it's so he can make a big deal about himself at the temple. Maybe it's so he can rub elbows with other influential men in the community. But the Lord detests his sacrifice; it means nothing to the one who brought it, so it means nothing to the Lord.

But the Lord is pleased with the prayer of the upright. David said, "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry." (Psalm 34:15) The Apostle Peter thought this statement was worth repeating, so he quoted the words of David in 1 Peter 3, reminding the faithful that the eyes of the Lord are upon them and that His ears are open to their cries. James, the Lord's brother, had this to say about the prayers of the righteous, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (James 5:16b)

Sometimes we make the mistake of believing the Lord hasn't heard our prayer when He doesn't answer as quickly as we want or in the way we want. But God never shuts His ears to the cries of those who trust in Him. We can be certain He hears us, just as certain as Jesus was when He said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent Me." (John 11:41b-42) God the Father has to hear us for the sake of Christ our Savior. He hears us because we are clothed in the righteousness of His Son. If He heard David who was saved by the faith of Old Testament times, how much more must He hear us who are saved by faith in Christ? David lived long before Christ, but because of his faith he was able to say, "Know that the Lord has set apart His faithful servant for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him." (Psalm 4:3) Sometimes God answers our prayers while we are still praying. He even answers our prayers exactly the way we want. Other times God may not turn our circumstances around as quickly as we'd like. He may not handle our problems in the specific way we ask Him to. But this is never an indication He hasn't heard the prayers of the righteous. This never means His eyes aren't on us and that He isn't with us in our struggles, giving us comfort and hope.

No comments:

Post a Comment