Proverbs 22:5

Make Level Paths for Your Feet

In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them.

Proverbs 1:17-18 speaks of how the net a wicked person spreads for others only traps himself. But there are other “thorns and snares” that lie in the weeds along the path of the wicked. The following is a short and incomplete list.

There is the trap of disease and sudden death caused by sin. I think of the horrors of AIDS and the terrible effects of crack cocaine. There is the snare of unfulfilled lust from being addicted to pornography. There is the disappointment that comes when sin doesn’t deliver what it promises. There are relational problems like divorce and child abuse. Finally, there is unrelenting guilt and the bondage of the fear of death (Hebrews 2:15).

“Well, I’m a Christian,” someone says, “and my life hasn’t exactly been a bed of roses!” I understand. I, too, have had many troubles as a Christian. But the trials the Christian suffers are purposeful. He is given the sure hope that God’s sovereign purposes are being worked out in his life. In guarding our souls we avoid the consequences of sinful habits and life-styles. We have the forgiveness of a loving Father who removes our fear of death. We need to cling to Him by faith and walk on paths made level for our feet (Proverbs 4:26; Hebrews 12:13).

Scriptural Examples

Job. Job suffered greatly, but his trials give us a behind-the-scenes look into God’s providence. Perhaps Job never understood what God’s purpose was, but he guarded his soul and was rewarded with doubled prosperity (the book of Job).

The wicked prophets of Samaria. Jeremiah told of these godless men who followed evil and used their power unjustly. The Lord said that He would make their paths slippery. They would be banished to darkness and disaster (Jeremiah 23:10-13).

Prayer of Application

Father, keep my feet on level paths that avoid the traps and snares of the unbeliever. Thank You for Your wonderful and loving providence that assures me of a safe journey home.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 22:4

Walk Humbly and Fear the Lord

Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.

Sit back for a second with me, close your eyes, and try to imagine what the perfect life would be like. What follows is an imaginary interview with someone who has done that.

“OK, let’s see. First, there would be lots of money. I could use it to help my church build that new sanctuary and to help missionaries and others in ministry. There’s also that new home I’ve always hankered after.” What else? “Well, I’d like to have some recognition. I was never a star athlete or student, and have never received much in the way of earthly honors.” OK, what else? “Well, I’d like a fulfilling life, an enriching and meaningful occupation, a life with a big family and lots of friends, that is filled with excitement and good health, with love and contentment.”

Now open your eyes and let me tell you about a life that’s more than all that. It is the Christian life, a life of humility and the fear of the Lord. Humility is coming to grips with who we really are: totally depraved and lost without Christ. We are not as bad as we could be, but only because of God’s restraining power. Next, it is understanding God is holy, righteous, just, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, etc., yet loving, kind, and merciful. Then, to realize what He has done for us through the Lord Jesus is to fall trembling at His feet in thanksgiving, adoration, and awe: the fear of the Lord.

Christians have riches beyond understanding. Your heavenly Father knows your needs and has promised to provide all things richly to you for your benefit (Romans 8:28-32; Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:19). They are riches which will endure (Romans 8:17), never to spoil or be taken away (Matthew 6:20). They are treasures of glory and honor and life. The Christian life is a life that will surpass any of your wildest dreams.

Prayer of Application

Dear Lord, thank You for eternal life. Help me to see this life began the moment I trusted You. Give me the strength to live it to the fullest now. Help me live above my circumstances.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
Visit www.readbobbeasley.com

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Proverbs 22:3

Walk Prudently and Take Refuge

A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

The prudent person will foresee difficulty in the road ahead and plan for it. The simple person, on the other hand, just keeps on truckin’ down the road fearing nothing. The older we get the more clearly we ought to see danger ahead, but how often we are “cockeyed optimists.” Some of life’s troubles may blindside us, as when a quarterback gets sacked by the linebacker he doesn’t see. But most problems are foreseeable if we just take the time to hear wise counsel and plan ahead.

There is danger in spades for many on this planet who are walking down the road of life, whistling a happy tune. It is the sure judgment and wrath of God (Hebrews 9:27; Acts 17:31). There is only one refuge from His wrath: Jesus Christ. He offers His covering and protection from the coming judgment free-of-charge to anyone who comes to Him in faith (Revelation 22:17; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8; Isaiah 55:7), trusting in His blood shed on the cross as a sacrifice for sin. If you have never trusted Christ for His refuge, do so today.

Scriptural Examples

The Israelites. God warned them He would send one final plague upon the Egyptians. The households which had not prepared by placing the blood of a lamb on the lintel of their doorway would lose their firstborn son. The Israelites believed God and escaped the danger ahead (Exodus 12).

Noah. Noah was warned about the Flood and built a huge ship. Meanwhile, for more than 100 years he preached to lost souls of the coming doom. No one came forward to set foot on the ark. The Flood came, as God said it would, and swept them all away except Noah and his family. Noah’s faith condemned the world and made him an heir of righteousness (Hebrews 11:7).

Prayer of Application

Lord, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Help me to see its warnings of trouble ahead, and trusting fully in Your ability and desire to deliver me, move out in faith.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 22:2

Enter into God’s Rest

Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.

The Lord is not only the Maker of all people as their Creator, but He makes them rich and He makes them poor (Proverbs 10:22). He saves some people while some he allows to continue on down their self-willed promenade to the grave and hell (1 Corinthians 1:18). Christians have trusted our eternity to God. Why is it so difficult to trust Him with today?

The nation Israel was brought out of Egypt by God’s mighty power, but almost as soon as the Israelites were out of danger, they began to grumble about God’s provision. “We’d be better off if we had stayed slaves in Egypt!” they cried. God brought forth water for their thirst. He sent manna and quail for their hunger, but still they didn’t trust Him. He promised them victory over their enemies and entrance into the Promised Land, but they trembled in fear and refused to go in. Therefore God swore they would never enter His rest (Numbers 14:21-23; Deuteronomy 1:35). He let them wander aimlessly in the desert for 40 years until every adult except Caleb and Joshua had died.

The writer to the Hebrews picks up this theme saying the person “who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work.” We are to “make every effort to enter that rest,” and to avoid a “sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God(Hebrews 3:7-4:11). What is “rest” but a simple childlike faith in God to keep His promises? Is God a liar? By no means! Is God unjust? Absolutely not! Is God unable to keep His promises because He lacks the power? No!

Brothers and sisters, commit today and all of your tomorrows to God’s tender loving care. Our worry over the future and our complaining against Him is very displeasing to Him. Do we really believe God? Then let’s live like it. Otherwise, our “faith” is just lip-service and our trust in other things is idolatry.

Prayer of Application

Father, thank You for the great and precious promises in Your Word. Give me the faith to trust You fully in every circumstance and to rely on Your power, not on any idol.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 22:1

Desire a Good Name from God and Others

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver and gold.

Riches are nothing to sneeze at, particularly when they are used for God’s kingdom. But even great riches are surpassed by a good name. To have great riches and a bad name may mean that one acquired his wealth by devious or selfish means. Such wealth is worthless (Proverbs 11:4). Likewise, to have a good name before others but not before God is a hollow sham, because a good name in God’s sight is infinitely more valuable. To think you can obtain a good name before God, without one before others is to be self-righteous like the Pharisees, who put heavy burdens upon people for their own aggrandizement (Luke 11:46).

To be esteemed by both God and others is true riches. But the greatest wealth imaginable is to have your “good name” written in God’s Book of Life (Revelation 20:15; Psalm 69:28). It is a good name only by the grace of God, and for those whose names are listed there it is a reason for great joy, much greater joy than mere earthly power or wealth could ever bring (Luke 10:20) .

Scriptural Examples

The Babel builders. You’ll never acquire a good name their way. They wanted nothing to do with God. They built a city with a high tower to make a name for themselves (Genesis 11:4).

Absalom. This wicked son of David erected a monument to himself. This is another way people try to get a good name for themselves, by using their wealth to buy it (2 Samuel 18:18).

Job. This wealthy man was blessed with a good name before God. God said His servant Job was a blameless and upright man who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:8).

Cornelius. This Gentile centurion had a good name before the Jews who knew him. He loved the Hebrew nation and had even built a synagogue for them (Luke 7:4-5).

Prayer of Application

Father, help me to live my life seeking a good name from You alone. The fallout of a life that is pleasing to You should produce a good name in the sight of others.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 22: Introduction

Proverbs and the Business of Life

In 1981 I started a business that grew rapidly throughout the 1980’s. Before long I had over 100 employees and precious little training or experience in managing them. But I figured that if I just went by the Golden Rule and treated my employees and customers the way I like to be treated, it would be OK. It turned out that I was right, but I also found out along the way that the Bible has a lot to say about managing a business, as well as a home or any endeavor. Proverbs takes a leadership role in solid advice for managers.

Much good counsel is to be found in the 22nd chapter. For instance, in 22:13 we find the sluggard saying, “‘There is a lion outside!’ or ‘I will be murdered in the streets!’ ” We are taught that diligence requires that we stick our necks out and not become trapped in irrational fears. Verses 26 and 27 speak to borrowing practices: Don’t sign personally on a note. Verses 24 and 25 advise on whom to avoid as potential friends or employees. Verses 22 and 23 caution the businessperson against exploiting his customers and employees. Verse 10 speaks about terminating the employee with the bad attitude who is creating problems. Verse 4 teaches that humility is foundational to success in business and in life. Finally, verse 1 reveals what the real goal of any enterprise should be.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 21:30-31

Don’t Fight With, or Without, the Lord

30) There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. 31) The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.

My dad loved to watch prizefighting. When I was in high school we used to watch the “Friday Night Fights” on TV together almost every week. Many of the fights were well-matched and featured premium boxers of the day, but some fights were clear mismatches. One fighter would pummel the other until a merciful knockout punch was delivered.

The proverbs above teach us if we were to put Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and all of the world’s philosophers into one corner together with all the other secular “movers and shakers” who have ever lived, and the living God in the other corner, it would be the most lopsided mismatch conceivable. Former fight promoter Don King wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole! Joe Louis vs. Woody Allen would be a better fight. Hear this: There is no wisdom, no philosophy, no insight, no religion, no plan, that can have success against the purposes of God.

All too often we Christians want to trust in “horses” rather than in the God who has saved us. We trust Him for eternity, how about for our daily battles? Worry is an insult to God. It says, “I alone can do something about my problems, Lord. I don’t trust You.” When we worry we fight the Lord, when the only way to real victory is to rest in Him by faith (Hebrews 4:11).

Scriptural Examples

Solomon and his horses. God commanded that a king was not to acquire great numbers of horses for himself. Solomon collected 12,000. Did he sin? If he acquired the horses to trust in them rather than in the deliverance of God, it was sin. While we need to be prepared for war, to trust ultimately in weapons rather than God is idolatry (Deuteronomy 17:16; 1 Kings 4:26).

Prayer of Application

Father, the wisdom of this world is foolishness to You. People make their plans but nothing can prevail against You. Help me to live daily in this blessed assurance and hope.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 21:29

Make All Your Ways Pleasing to God

A wicked man puts up a bold front [KJV: “hardeneth his face”], but an upright man gives thought to his ways.

I once saw a photograph of a man who was running for mayor of a small town. He was in shorts and a T-shirt, and punching a body bag. There was a scowl on his face and his T-shirt pictured a skeleton’s face with a cigarette dangling out of its mouth. On it were the words, “Who wants to live forever anyway?” It reminded me of the first phrase of this proverb.

The natural person has every reason to suspect God will one day call him into account (Romans 1:18-23). But because of the hardness of his heart, the unregenerate person puts up a bold front, casting aside the revelation of his Creator in Jesus Christ. He hardens his face in a fearless scowl and chooses to live his life any way he pleases. But as Derek Kidner writes, “A bold front is no substitute for sound principles” (p. 146).

The upright person seeks to live a life of obedience to God. He gives thought to his ways and his entire lifestyle, and seeks to please God in all he thinks, says, and does. The upright person takes God’s Word seriously and applies its truth to all areas of his life, asking the Holy Spirit to assist him in carrying out its demands. Mostly, the upright person lives a life of faith, submitting his body as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1).

Scriptural Examples

Abraham. What a contrast we see in this upright man. God told him to take Isaac to a mountain and offer him as a burnt sacrifice. Believing God would either stop him or raise Isaac from the dead, Abraham obeyed (Genesis 22:2-14; Hebrews 11:17-19).

The adulteress. This woman was loud and defiant as she looked for a simpleton to lure into her bed. With a brazen or hardened face she even talked of making offerings to the God she so flagrantly disobeyed (Proverbs 7:10-14; Luke 12:5).

Prayer of Application

Dear Lord, thank You for rescuing me from my rebellion when I, too, set my stony face against Your Word and Your Son. Help me, Lord, to live a life pleasing to You in every way.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
Visit www.readbobbeasley.com

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Proverbs 21:28

Beware of False Witnesses

A false witness will perish, and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever [KJV:“but the man who heareth speaketh constantly”].

As you can see by the differences between the KJV and the NIV in the second line of this verse, there has been some difficulty in translation. Noting the verse’s obscurity, Derek Kidner sides with the KJV and sees the one who listens as being the one worth listening to (p. 146). Either way, false witnesses are to be shamed and faithful witnesses are to be heard.

Jesus calls us to be His witnesses (Isaiah 43:10,12; Acts 1:8). What does it mean to be a witness? When a lawyer adroitly questions witnesses (i.e., the old TV show’s Perry Mason) he hopes to establish his case in the minds of the jury. A faithful witness will tell the truth. A false witness alters or obscures the truth. Jesus calls each of His followers to tell the truth about Him.

Our Lord said many false witnesses would go out into the world (Matthew 24:5) claiming to be Christ. They would deceive many. Not only will they perish (1 Peter 2:1-3), but those who follow them will also perish. Another type of false witness claims Jesus is worthy of our respect but that He is certainly not God. John says these are antichrists (1 John 4:2-3). Paul would say, “To hell with them!” (Galatians 1:9).

Scriptural Examples

Jesus and the false witnesses. These men lied at the “trial” of the Lord. Can you imagine that on your record? They will be destroyed while the Faithful Witness they tried to murder will reign eternally with His own (Matthew 26:59-61).

Stephen and the false witnesses. False witnesses were also called in to accuse the faithful Stephen. The Pharisees again twisted God’s law that calls for true witnesses (Exodus 20:16). They then stoned Stephen to death (Acts 6:12).

Prayer of Application

Precious Savior, help me to be a faithful and trustworthy witness for You. Give me strength to testify of what I know to be true, that You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 21:27

Beware of Worship Without Repentance

The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable—how much more so when brought with evil intent!

I am reminded of a scene in one of the Godfather movies where the Mob goes to church so that the Robert DeNiro character could get baptized. Here he was, a man who earned his living breaking every commandment of God, being given the sign of God’s covenant people. The very thought of such a thing is detestable to God, and particularly when it is done with such evil intent to deceive others in order to rob them. The Mob and their leader went out of the church and back to business as usual, raping and pillaging the community, selling drugs, and extorting money. They made a mockery of the sacrament.

James says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world(James 1:27). David’s prayer of confession states, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart(Psalm 51:17). These are the sacrifices that are acceptable to God. Sacrifices, and hence worship, given without a corresponding change of heart in genuine repentance and turning from sin are detestable to God.

Scriptural Examples

Balaam. This wicked false prophet offered sacrifices to God. At the same time he conspired with Israel’s enemy Balak to curse God’s chosen people. What idiocy, to offer sacrifices with an evil intent. He didn’t get away with it (Numbers 23:1-3, 13).

Absalom. This son of David offered animal sacrifices in Hebron after deceiving his father as to his evil intent. He really went to Hebron to establish himself as king over Israel. He sought to overthrow the kingdom that was instituted by God (2 Samuel 15:7-13).

Prayer of Application

Sovereign Lord, forgive me for the times I have tried to worship You with a heart hardened to You and Your Word. Create in me a heart devoted to You in repentance and faith.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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