Sunday, August 13, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 76, The One The Lord Holds In High Esteem

Solomon begins our lesson today by telling us what kind of person the King of kings holds in high esteem. It is the same type of person King Solomon wants for a friend.

"One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend." (Proverbs 22:11) Solomon says, "This is the kind of person I hold in high esteem! I have had many false friends who wanted to get close to me because I'm wealthy and influential, but what I want is a friend with a pure heart and honorable motives. I want a friend who can sit down and talk with me about the Lord with gracious and godly words." The King of kings is also looking for true friends with pure hearts and words of grace, as David pointed out, "Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god." (Psalm 24:3-4) The Lord Jesus has shown friendship to us by loving us and giving His life for us; the least we can do is repay His friendship by obeying Him from a pure heart. "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are My friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you." (John 15:13-15)

"The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but He frustrates the words of the unfaithful." (Proverbs 22:12) The Lord is able to uphold the godly plans of the righteous, but all wickedness will someday be blotted out. He is also able to preserve His holy word throughout all generations. Other religions have come and gone. Religious leaders have died and been buried. But the tomb of the Lord Jesus Christ is empty. He is alive and well and at the right hand of God making intercession for us at every minute of every day. He will keep all His promises to His bride, the church. He is coming for her soon.

Solomon now makes an observation on one of his favorite subjects: the shamefulness of being lazy. "The sluggard says, 'There's a lion outside! I'll be killed in the public square!'" (Proverbs 22:13) The king says, "The lazy man always makes excuses. He can't go out to work for this reason or that reason. It gets to the point that his mind becomes carried away with imagining dangers that don't exist!"

Earlier in the book of Proverbs we found Solomon giving his son and some other young men a great deal of advice about how to avoid immoral women. He brings the subject up again today to remind us what a trap sexual immorality is. "The mouth of an adulterous woman is a deep pit; a man who is under the Lord's wrath falls into it." (Proverbs 22:14)

Solomon probably feels so strongly about the sin of adultery because his own family was stained by his father's sin. David took another man's wife and committed adultery with her, which led him to have her husband killed so he could pass off her illegitimate baby as his own. The Lord was displeased with what David had done. (2 Samuel 11:27) The Lord's wrath fell on the house of David. And the Lord's wrath will fall on the house of the man or woman who commits adultery with someone else's spouse. There is no way the Lord can bless such a sin. Trouble will come. Marriages will fall apart. Children will be hurt and confused. Financial woes will ensue. Friends and family members will take sides. The community will frown and shake their heads. Nothing good can come from such a thing, as Solomon knows from his own family's experience, and he wants to help us avoid these terrible troubles.

Next he speaks on the subject of discipline in the home. "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away." (Proverbs 22:15) Solomon isn't saying we have to spank our children or hit them with a paddle. The rod of discipline can be any type of consequences a parent might impose for disobedience. For small children these consequences might include a short timeout or the removal of a privilege for the day. For a teen it could mean taking away the phone or the internet access for a period of time or temporarily taking away the car keys because they didn't return home by their curfew. The point Solomon is making is that if we never impose any consequences for disobedience, our children will never learn to respect authority. They will never learn the importance of righteous living. They will have difficulty respecting God and honoring His word if they never learn to respect their parents and honor their rules.

The king concludes today's passage with a warning about oppressing others. "One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich---both come to poverty." (Proverbs 22:16) The Lord cares for the poor and He will judge anyone who cheats them and steals from them. Even Job, in his season of depression, praised the Lord for this, "He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; He saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth." (Job 5:15-16) The Lord promises to act on behalf of the poor who are being oppressed, "'Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,' says the Lord. 'I will protect them from those who malign them.'" (Psalm 12:5) David praised the name of the Lord because he knew the Lord would do this, "I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy." (Psalm 140:12) The Lord defends the poor and needy. He avenges the one who is cheated. He comes to the rescue of the one who is treated with injustice. As the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed in Jeremiah 50:34, "Their Redeemer is strong; the Lord Almighty is His name."

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