Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 71, Justice Is Ours

Solomon first discusses a couple of miscellaneous items and then moves on into the subject of wickedness and its eventual judgment. Justice is already ours. A day is coming in which God will make all things right.

"Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife." (Proverbs 21:9) Houses in ancient Israel often had flat roofs that could be used as sleeping porches in warm weather. Solomon says, "Better you should be relegated to sleeping on the rooftop (year round even!) than to have to share a large house with someone who argues all the time." Solomon is speaking from a man's perspective, so in his proverb it's the woman who does the quarreling, but it could apply to men too. Nobody wants to share a house with someone who always finds fault and who always wants to keep a quarrel going.

"The wicked crave evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them." (Proverbs 21:10) Have you ever known anyone who seemed to do nothing but continually think of more evil deeds to commit? Solomon is saying something like, "Woe to the neighbors of such a man! They are never safe from him. His mind is always churning with wicked schemes." Solomon isn't speaking of someone we might consider an "ordinary sinner", but he's talking about the one who craves evil like he craves food and water. This is not a person who makes mistakes from time to time, as we all do, but a person who remains actively on the lookout for ways to become even more unrighteous. This person rejoices in being ungodly.

"When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge." (Proverbs 21:11) You may have heard the expression, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse". There are people in Solomon's kingdom who may be ignorant of many of the king's laws. This could be because they live far out in the country, or because they are unable to read and write, or because the laws have never been explained to them. So Solomon says, "I have subjects who are uneducated and who live far from town and who rarely interact with anyone from the city where my court is held. They may not know of a particular law, but if they witness punishment being carried out on an offender for breaking that law, they will know not to break it themselves. A wise person will take heed."

"The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin." (Proverbs 21:12) Time and again Solomon has stated his faith that God will work all things out and will punish evildoers. There are people in this world who have literally gotten away with murder, but they can't hide their crimes from God.

"Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered." (Proverbs 21:13) The king wants us to think about this: Why should we expect mercy if we have extended no mercy? The Lord said through the prophet Hosea, "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6) We spoke earlier in the week about the sacrifices God detests, which are the sacrifices of hypocrisy. What use is it to bring offerings to God while breaking His laws? How can we honor Him with our sacrifices if we aren't showing mercy to our fellow man?

"A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath." (Proverbs 21:14) Solomon is not advocating bribery. He has spoken out against it earlier in the book of Proverbs. He's merely stating a fact. This is how the world works. He knows justice is perverted every day by bribes and backroom deals. He hates it, but even a powerful king like Solomon is unable to eradicate this practice because he is unable to change the carnal nature of man. Only the King of kings is able to change the nature of man, to make a new and beautiful creature out of the old corrupt creature. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

"When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers." (Proverbs 21:15) Evildoers think they can keep on getting away with their wickedness forever, so it's quite a shock to them when judgment falls. The righteous rejoice at such times. Their faith is strengthened. They praise the name of the God who sees all deeds and who judges accordingly. Our God is a righteous Judge who cannot be bribed or fooled into rendering a wrong verdict. A day is coming in which He will judge the deeds of every man and woman. The righteous will rejoice on that day. Those who have trusted in Christ will shout for joy, saying, "Our God is faithful! He keeps His promises! He avenges His children! Blessed be His name!"

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