Thursday, August 10, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 73, Our Strength And Shield

Solomon contrasts some of the behaviors of the wicked with the behaviors of the godly. He points out that our hope and our help are to be found in the Lord. We must do what is right and trust in Him to take care of us.

"Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity." (Proverbs 21:23) How many times have we gotten ourselves into trouble by letting our mouths get ahead of our minds?

"The proud and arrogant person---'Mocker' is his name---behaves with insolent fury." (Proverbs 21:24) The mocker sneers at the word of God. He ridicules the godly. He feels furious against all things religious.

"The craving of the sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing." (Proverbs 21:25) The sluggard wants the necessities of life and he desires the comfortable things, but he isn't willing to do what's necessary to obtain them. On the other hand we find the righteous man going about his honest labor. He has enough food for his family plus food to spare for the poor.

"The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable---how much more so when brought with evil intent." (Proverbs 21:26) When Israel kept going through the motions of worship without putting their hearts into it, the Lord said, "Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me." (Isaiah 1:12a) The Lord cannot abide hypocrisy. He would rather the people of Israel had stayed home and admitted to the coldness of their hearts than to have them come to the temple with sacrifices and offerings that meant nothing to them.

"A false witness will perish, but a careful listener will testify successfully." (Proverbs 21:27) The Old Testament penalty for bearing false witness was harsh. "If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you. The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." (Deuteronomy 19:16-21)

"The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways." (Proverbs 21:28) The wicked are able to put on a veneer of goodness and godliness, but below the surface we find many evil desires and schemes. The upright are the same on the inside as they appear on the outside.

"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord." (Proverbs 21:30) As the prophet Isaiah said, "The word of our God endures forever." (Isaiah 40:8b) The plans of God cannot be changed. He will keep every promise He has ever made.

"The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord." (Proverbs 21:31) If the Lord is not with the army, the soldiers assemble in vain. David knew that all his victories were due to the Lord's help, so he said, "I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but You give us victory over our enemies, You put our adversaries to shame. In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise Your name forever." (Psalm 44:6-8) The battle is the Lord's. It's sensible to make preparations and to take precautions, but we must recognize God is our helper and our security. Then we can say along with David, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him." (Psalm 28:7) Amen! We praise You, Lord. You are our helper. You are our strength and shield. You are mighty in battle and mighty to save. We place all our trust in You!

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