Proverbs 26 – August 26

CC Image courtesy of zoetnet on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of zoetnet on Flickr.

Proverbs 26
Author: Randy Sheets

“Wise in their own eyes.”

A couple of years ago we were out with my son and daughter and their families at a local Italian restaurant. My daughter-in-law was giving the waiter her order and asked for a side order of Italian bread-bruschetta. The waiter, in the haughty way some waiters have, looked rather condescendingly at her and said “It’s pronounced brushetta.”

Every adult at the table immediately looked up from their menus to look at the waiter and then at Elena to see what would happen next. Here’s what we hoped she would say:

“Look buddy, I’m half Italian, I grew up in Italy, and Italian is my first language. I was ordering bruschetta before you could read a menu. When I pronounce it brusketta you can bet that’s the correct pronunciation!”

But instead she just looked at him and said “Okay…whatever, that’s what I’ll have.”

Much of the Proverbs 26 deals with fools and the folly of trying to work, reason or in any other way deal with them. Further, the person worse than a fool is the one who thinks he knows it all-as in verse 12:

“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”

Some people will not be open to instruction because they feel they have nothing further to learn-they know it all! (How many political or religious “discussions” have you ever seen where someone actually changes their mind?)

Others, it they show a willingness to learn, will find there are any number of people who will gently instruct and guide them correctly.

How would it have been different if the waiter had said “I thought it was always pronounced brushetta, but I’m not sure.”? Elena would probably have patiently told him the proper pronunciation and the reason she could be trusted to know. And he would have gotten a bigger tip!

Proverbs 29 – July 29

CC Image courtesy of Dustin McClure on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Dustin McClure on Flickr.

Proverbs 29
Author: Randy Sheets

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”- Lord Acton

Over two dozen of the proverbs address the conduct of the king (or rulers in general). This makes sense-Solomon was the author of most of the proverbs, Hezekiah copied many of them and some king named Lemuel came along and contributed some of the latter proverbs and we don’t even know who he is! Add to that the number of proverbs addressed to the conduct of sons and we see a picture of kings trying to impart wisdom to their offspring.

This is especially true in the 29th chapter of Proverbs. Five of the verses refer to a king or ruler and others suggest the same. With our recent study of the Old Testament we can see numerous examples of kings and rulers-from Pharaoh to Cyrus-who believed themselves to be essentially a god and therefore their decisions were not questioned. In the New Testament we have Herod and even Felix who wanted a bribe from Paul (Acts 24:26). Example after example of rulers who felt themselves to be accountable to no one-ruling unchecked in their power-until their thrones were taken away.

Israel also had more bad kings than good kings and even the good kings were prone to do sinful things. Even though they should have known they were ultimately accountable to God and in most instances God advised them through prophets, they still stiffened their necks and rebelled. Because they did not listen to the wise counsel of the prophets and the proverbs their thrones were also taken away from them by God.

Being the subjects of these kings proved to be difficult at best. But we now serve a Holy King whose throne is established by justice, equity, and righteousness (Psalms 99:4,5). That’s why His throne will endure forever. How truly blessed we are to be citizens of His kingdom-now and forever. He’s a king who doesn’t just think He is a god-He is God!

Isaiah 9:6-7

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (ESV)

Proverbs 21 – June 21

CC Image courtesy of Leland Francisco on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Leland Francisco on Flickr.

Proverbs 21
Author: Randy Sheets

Proverbs 21 has a number of interesting thoughts to reflect on. Of course there are the usual proverbs stating that the righteous will prosper and the wicked will not. Those that practice justice and work hard will be rewarded while the lazy, corrupt and evil will suffer in the end. We know these are not always absolute, at least in this lifetime, but God has always ultimately rewarded those that do good and punish those who do evil. He will again.

There are even a couple of “better to be…” verses (9 and 19) pointing out that living with a quarrelsome and complaining wife is a miserable experience. Having no personal experience with that situation and having nothing to gain by discussing these verses I will defer any comment!

The last two verses in the chapter discuss the concept that man’s best wisdom or strategy cannot prevail against the Lord and that any victory obtained belongs to Him. This illustrates the power of God that may be unseen but nevertheless prevails. Man’s wisdom is foolishness compared to God’s (I Corinthians 1:18-20). It leads us back to the first verse that tells us that even though a king may feel he is the most powerful man in his kingdom his heart is turned by God to do His will like a stream may be diverted in its course. If we learned anything from our study of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther it is that God can manipulate an earthly king’s heart to do His will!

But the verses I need to focus on are the second and third verses. We too often try to justify our actions in our own sight but need to remember that God is the ultimate judge and His standard will be used to judge us. This is never more evident than in our worship. Saul found out when he disobeyed God that even if his intent was to use the spoils of war to worship God that obedience was a higher priority than sacrifice (I Samuel 15:22). Likewise David, after his sin with Bathsheba, stated in Psalms 51:16 and 17 that “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” True worship is grounded in the right attitude towards God and our service to others. As Jesus said:

And to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:33, ESV)