Friday, July 7, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 44, Wisdom Brings Us Honor

Solomon asks today whether we want to be honored by the Lord. If so, we have to first have the godly wisdom that tells us to fear Him and honor Him.

"The Lord tears down the house of the proud, but He sets the widow's boundary stones in place." (Proverbs 15:25) The Lord humbles the one who takes pride in himself, but He establishes the house of the poor widow who trusts in Him. When we're proud we believe we've done it all by ourselves and that we can hold everything together by ourselves. The Lord is within His rights to allow it all to fall apart so we will understand we must trust in Him and not in ourselves. The poor widow in Solomon's proverb has learned to trust in the Lord for all things. She depends on Him for her daily bread and for everything else. The Lord will honor her for her faith.

"The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked, but gracious words are pure in His sight." (Proverbs 15:26) Even the secret thoughts of the wicked are detestable. The Lord knows their minds and is displeased with them. But He is pleased with the one who thinks and speaks according to godly wisdom. The one who loves the Lord will have the same attitude as David, who said, "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)

"The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live." (Proverbs 15:27) It might seem like the way to get more for ourselves and for our families is to be greedy. Opportunities may come along for us to be dishonest and gain more income. But Solomon says this will only bring ruin on our households. God looks with disfavor on dishonesty, but He blesses the house of the honest person. The honest person may never be wealthy or climb to the top of the ladder at work, but God will put food on the table.

"The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil." (Proverbs 15:28) We've noticed several times in the book of Proverbs that Solomon believes we can spot a foolish person by how much he talks. That's because the one lacking in good godly sense won't think before he speaks. He will have an opinion on every subject. He will give advice for every situation. No matter what the occasion, he knows it all and has been there and has done that. In contrast Solomon says the righteous person thinks before he speaks. The righteous person is careful to make certain his words don't violate any of God's commandments. He wants to say things that will build others up, not tear them down. He's also careful about not agreeing to things he will regret later.

"The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous." (Proverbs 15:29) Why is He so far from the wicked? Because they have pushed Him away from them. As the prophet Isaiah once said, "Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2) The only prayer God wants to hear from the wicked is a prayer of repentance. The reason they are not getting other prayers answered is because they are stubbornly persisting in a life of unrepentant sin. God wants to take care of the main problem first, which is their sin and their separation from Him. The righteous, however, are seeking God. They know they mess up from time to time and are quick to sincerely ask for forgiveness and for help to do better. He is pleased with the faith and the prayer of the righteous. As the Apostle Paul said, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)

"Light in a messenger's eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." (Proverbs 15:30) We can usually tell if someone is bringing us good news by the look in their eyes. Before they even speak we know we're going to be happy with what they say. Good news makes us feel better in every way: mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It's no wonder the word we translate as "gospel" actually means "good news". There is no better news than hearing that Jesus loves us so much He gave Himself for us, dying in our place and rising again to secure the eternal salvation of all who will trust in Him.

"Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise." (Proverbs 15:31) It's foolish to ignore correction when we go wrong, but the one who learns from his mistakes will be on a course of continuous improvement.

"Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding." (Proverbs 15:32) There is a form of self-love that has nothing to do with pride. It's an inbuilt instinct for self-preservation. It's a natural desire to protect ourselves and to do good for ourselves. Solomon says, "Despising wisdom and discipline is the same as despising yourself. You'll end up in all kinds of trouble. You will bring harm on yourself. The person who loves himself will want to learn the right way to live. The person who loves himself will seek the Lord and His favor."

"Wisdom's instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor." (Proverbs 15:33) The first thing godly wisdom teaches us is that we must reverence the Lord. Until we humble ourselves and honor Him, He cannot honor us. David spoke these words on the day the Lord gave him victory over King Saul, "You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty...You armed me with strength for battle; You humbled my adversaries before me." (Psalm 18:27,39) After the prophet Samuel anointed the young David as the future king of Israel, David spent fifteen stressful years in fear for his life. King Saul wanted him dead. Every hour of every day David had to be on the alert. David was not a prideful young man but even he had to learn to depend on God before God could place him on the throne. He learned to be humble before the Lord, so the Lord honored him. James, the brother of Jesus, said, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up." (James 4:10) We can brag on ourselves all we want to. We can think we're a pretty big deal. We can trust in our own strength. But this is nothing but a house of cards and someday it will come tumbling down. If we brag on anyone, it should be the Lord. If we think anyone is a pretty big deal, it should be the Lord. If we trust in anyone's strength, it should be the Lord's. Then He is able to reach down and lift us up. We will be in the right spirit for Him to honor us.

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