Proverbs 12: Introduction

Chapter 12: The Temporal and the Eternal

One of the most interesting aspects of the book of Proverbs is that it often gives us truth on two levels, the temporal and the eternal. For instance, Proverbs 12:17 tells us that “A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.” On the surface the proverb seems to be a common truism. On the temporal level we can simply say we know a truthful witness by his honest testimony. But on the eternal level we know by other Scriptures more is at stake here.

In John 8:44-45 Jesus confronted a group of Jewish leaders with some strong words: “You belong to your father, the devil…there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me!” On the eternal level of Proverbs 12:17, Jesus is the truthful witness and Satan is the false witness. Our Lord speaks only the truth and Satan speaks only lies. We humans sin because we are sinners, not the other way around. The non-Christian may often tell the truth, but he has based his entire life and worldview on a lie. The Christian may sometimes lie, but he has based his life on the truth of God’s Word. Look for both the temporal and eternal meanings as you study Proverbs.

Copyright 2015 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 11:31

Don’t Think You Can Get Away with Sin

If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!

There is a great misconception in some Christian circles that because we are no longer “under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14), we can sin without any fear of discipline or recompense. Don’t be deceived by those who would foster this nonsense. It presumes upon the riches of God’s grace.

The truth might be stated like this: Those under the law found that they had no power to obey the law, and so the law for them was a harsh taskmaster which begged to be broken. The sinner couldn’t do anything but sin (Romans 7:8-9) The Christian is not given the freedom to sin, but the freedom not to sin. In fact, he is given a desire not to sin, and it should pain him greatly when he does violate God’s commandments.

Scriptural Examples

Moses and Aaron. The Lord told them to stand before the grumbling Israelites and speak to the rock, out of which would flow drinking water. But in his anger at the people’s folly, Moses struck the rock, not once, but twice. Water did gush forth, but God disciplined these two by not allowing them to enter the promised land (Numbers 20:8-12).

Eli. The Lord let the Levite have it with both barrels because of his lax fatherly discipline. Becuse of his sons’ sins, God took Eli’s priesthood away and gave it to Samuel (1 Samuel 2:27-36).

Solomon. As Solomon got older, he followed after other gods. God’s punishment was to take the kingdom from him and give it to a subordinate. For the sake of David, God waited until Solomon’s death to do it (1 Kings 11:9-13).

Ananias and Sapphira. This couple lied to the Apostles—and to the Holy Spirit—in the matter of some real estate. God’s discipline was immediate and extremely harsh (Acts 5:1-11).

Prayer of Application

Father God, thank You that I am no longer a slave to sin, but a slave to Jesus. Help me to walk in the way of His commands, being obedient to Him in every thought, word, and deed.

Copyright 2015 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 11:30

Be a Soul Winner

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.

The Tree of Life is seen in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24) and in the book of Revelation (2:7; 22:2, 14, 19). It holds out the promise of eternal life to whoever eats of its fruit. (Besides Revelation, the phrase “Tree of Life” is seen only here, and in Proverbs 3:18; 13:12; and 15:4.) Following their eviction from the Garden, Adam and Eve looked back and saw cherubim with flaming swords guarding the gates to the Garden and the Tree.

In Revelation quite a different picture is given. Those whose robes are washed are allowed to eat of the fruit of the tree. Oh the marvelous grace of our God, who turns our sin, rebellion, and consequent death into the joy of eternal life with Him!

As bondslaves of Christ, He calls us to bear the fruit of righteousness that only comes through Him (Philippians 1:11; Galatians 5:22-25). As it were, we are trees of life planted in this world, and as Christ’s ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18), we are to show forth the fruit of eternal life to all people everywhere.

Scriptural Examples

Jonah. Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh and be a tree of life. Instead, he rebelled and ran away. I’m afraid we are often like Jonah, refusing to hold out the Tree of Life (Jonah 1:1-3:10).

The apostles. When told not to preach the gospel, Peter exclaimed they “must obey God rather than men.” With joy they held forth the Tree of Life (Acts 5:16-29, 40-42).

Paul. Paul won many souls for the Lord. He hoped his ministry to the Gentiles might cause his own countrymen to respond in repentance and faith (Romans 11:13-14).

The righteous wife. Peter advised wives how to win their husbands to the Lord: through the purity and reverence of their lives, as they exhibited the fruits of the Spirit (1 Peter 3:1-2).

Prayer of Application

Father, thank You for Your gospel of grace. Not through any works of mine am I saved, but only through the life and death of Christ my Savior. He is truly a Tree of Life for me.

Copyright 2015 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 11:29

Seek Harmony in Your Family

He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.

To cause division in the home is to inherit the wind of the fool and not the blessings of the wise. The common denominator of unity is love, while the common denominator of division is sin. Sin always causes division as surely as the love that Jesus teaches us brings peace and harmony.

A short time ago in San Diego, a young police officer was shot to death while responding to a domestic violence situation. Violence in families is now a common occurrence throughout America and can be directly attributed to sin. Drugs and alcohol abuse, adultery, and slothfulness are just a few of the sins that torment the American home.

The Christian family, both in the home and in the church body, is to be a place of peace, rest, and sanctity. Harmony is to be protected and encouraged. Selfishness, pride, gossip, envy, covetousness, and the like are great dividing principles. Love, joy, longsuffering, gentleness, kindness, and the fruits of the Spirit like them are the principles of peace (Galatians 5:19-6:2).

Scriptural Examples

Korah. His foolish murmuring against the Lord and his com- plaining of the leadership of Moses and Aaron brought death to Korah and his entire family as God opened the ground under their tents and swallowed them up (Numbers 16:1-33).

Achan. Like Korah, this man also foolishly destroyed his own family. God had directed that all of the spoils of Jericho be reserved for Himself, but Achan covetously hid some of the plunder in his tent (Joshua 7:11-25).

Cornelius. This Roman centurion feared God and gave gen- erously to those in need. His entire family was blessed with the ultimate gift of God’s salvation (Acts 10:1).

Prayer of Application

Merciful heavenly Father, may I manifest the fruit of Your Spirit as I seek to live out my new life in Christ, to the end that there would be unity in my home and in the body of believers.

Copyright 2015 – Robert C. Beasley
Visit www.readbobbeasley.com

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Proverbs 11:28

Be Secure in Christ’s Riches

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

As I began to study the Bible, I marveled at the foolishness of pagans who worshipped gods of wood, stone, and metal. What advances we have made, I thought, to rid ourselves of these idols of superstition and impotence. I was the foolish one.

As I grew in the Word, I began to see that idolatry has taken many forms in history. Today, it is still practiced throughout America and the world, even among professing Christians. In one way, the pagans were more enlightened than we moderns. At least they worshipped gods of gold. Today, we worship a paper god: the Federal Reserve currency, the almighty dollar.

But God demands unswerving allegiance. To put any object, commodity, or person in His place is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Paul says in Philippians 4:19 that God will supply all of our needs through His riches in Christ Jesus. Do you believe that? Or do you just play the game of lip service, trusting instead in your bank account, stocks, real estate, or Social Security check? Trust Christ alone. Be attached as a branch to the Vine. His riches satisfy like no other and endure to eternal life.

Scriptural Examples

Abraham. Abraham was one of the wealthiest men in the ancient world, rich in sheep, cattle, camels, donkeys, servants, gold, and silver. But all of his wealth he attributed to the gift of God (Genesis 24:34-36).

Job. Job was also rich beyond measure and knew God as the source of those riches. In the midst of his affliction, he said that he would trust God even if God took his life (Job 13:15).

The rich young man. This young man asked Jesus how to get eternal life. Jesus struck to the heart of his problem when He told the man to give up his trust in riches (Matthew 19:16-23).

Prayer of Application

O Lord, teach me to trust You for all my needs. I have trusted You for eternal life, why is it so hard to trust You for my day-to-day sustenance? Give me the faith of Abraham and Job.

Copyright 2015 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 11:27

You’ll Get What You Seek for Others

He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.

This proverb puts teeth in the Golden Rule. Jesus tells us, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). This is no pious platitude. It is the law (Matthew 7:12). Don’t be deceived, God is not mocked. Whatever a person sows, that shall he reap (Galatians 6:7). The person who seeks good for his neighbor finds goodwill in return. He that seeks evil will find evil.

If you’ve been alive for more than 10 years, you know that what I’ve just said isn’t always the case. Volumes could be written about wives and mothers who have devotedly served their families for years only to receive scorn and beatings in return. Husbands who have diligently worked to bring good things to their families, and who have tried to lead their families in the ways of God, have been mocked by overbearing and ill-tempered wives.

It is important therefore to recognize that God does not settle all of His accounts in this life. Our motive in serving others should always be to serve the Lord and expect His good will, not that of the person we’re serving. To do otherwise is shortsighted and may end in disillusionment and cynicism. As Paul says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Scriptural Examples

Ruth. She clung to Naomi in love and devotion and was repaid for her kindness by Boaz, and by God as well. Her offspring was the grandfather of David the king, and ancestor of our Lord Jesus (the book of Ruth).

Haman and Mordecai. Haman sought evil against Mordecai and the Jews living in Babylon. Ironically, Haman was hung on the same gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai, while Mordecai was honored by the king (Esther 7:10; 8:2).

Prayer of Application

Lord, give me the perspective that sees Your sovereign hand over all circumstances in this life. You will not be mocked. Every person will be repaid for the way he has treated others.

Copyright 2015 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 11:24-26

Be Generous

24) One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25) A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. 26) People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.

In agricultural communities, a greedy person might buy a poor farmer’s crops for a low price, then withhold that supply of food from the market. As demand increases in relation to the shortened supply, the price per bushel would be driven higher. The greedy person would then wait for the perfect time and sell for an exorbitant price.

But the Christian is called to use God’s system of economics. First, he is to recognize that God is the source of all things. Second, God honors the one who shares generously of the goods, talents, and money that God has entrusted to him. In feeding the 5,000 and again the 4,000, Jesus showed His ability to provide all the food the people needed. In God’s economy, there is no lack of supply. Someone has said, “You can’t out-give God.” I believe that is true – either in this life or the next. God will richly reward the person who steps out in faith and generosity, trusting in the One who freely gives him all things (Philippians 4:19).

Scriptural Examples

The money changers. Jesus entered the temple area and drove these men out. Apparently, they were taking advantage of the worshippers by setting unfair rates of exchange for the temple currency. Jesus’ zeal for His Father’s house matched His distaste for those who made it a den of thieves (John 2:15-16).

The early church. The early Christians practiced great generosity so there were no needy brothers and sisters among them. As needs arose, some sold lands and houses to provide funds for distribution (Acts 4:34).

Prayer of Application

Lord God, help me to understand that all things are provided by Your mighty hand. Teach me to be generous to those who are in need and to use my resources for Your kingdom.

Copyright 2015 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 11:23

Expect War Between Your Spirit and Flesh

The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

Once again the righteous and the wicked are contrasted. Here it is the “desire” of the righteous versus the “hope” of the wicked. The righteous person is that way only because God made him righteous. Therefore, the desire of his heart is God. In Genesis 15:1, God says to Abraham that He is Abraham’s reward. He is our reward also as we are Abraham’s seed. To be like Him, to please Him, to live with Him eternally—these are our heart’s desires.

Our flesh has not yet been redeemed as have our hearts. We still have a sin nature—which I refer to as “the flesh.” So while our hearts desire only good, our flesh desires only evil. Although I believe that the second part of this proverb deals primarily with those who reject God’s salvation, there is a sense in which the only expectation of our flesh is wrath as well. Its end is corruption and death, while our souls will live on and will receive an imperishable body at peace with the good desires of our hearts (1 Corinthians 15:42).

Scriptural Examples

The desert wanderers. Following God’s divine deliverance, the Israelites still murmured against Him. They wished they were back in Egypt where they had meat to eat. So the Lord gave them their desires, but He sent a plague among them because of their wickedness (Psalms 106:15-23). Time and again they sinned against God, and time and again His wrath was revealed. Surely the wrath of God became the firm expectation of these wicked men (Numbers 11:7-33).

Paul. In Romans 7:22, Paul stated that in his inner being he delighted in God’s law. But then he said that there was another law at work in his body that warred against his mind. How was he to be delivered from conflict? Only Christ Jesus and His salvation gave Paul—and gives us—the victory (Romans 7:22-25).

Prayer of Application

Father, how I sense this warfare within me. While I want to follow You and do good, I feel an opposition pulling me another way. I pray for Your strength to follow Christ in all I do.

Copyright 2015 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 11:22

Seek the Inner Beauty of Wisdom

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

When I was a child, my family used to visit the farm of my great aunt and uncle in Tennessee. One of the most fearsome sights was that of pigs in their sty. I kept a safe distance as they rooted around in the mud and the slop. It’s hard to imagine one of those porkers with an expensive gold ring in its nose. Why would God use such a hideous example to describe a beautiful woman who is devoid of wisdom? Perhaps it’s because that’s exactly how He sees her.

The swine is doubly horrible as an example because it was held in scorn by the Israelites. Its flesh was restricted to them by the Law of Moses (Leviticus 11:7). The gold ring in her flat snout only mocks the reality of who this woman really is. Charles Bridges put it this way: “Many a lovely form enshrines a revolting mind” (p. 123). To have external beauty without its corresponding inner quality is a mockery.

Scriptural Examples

Michal. Saul’s beautiful daughter was in love with David (1 Samuel 18:20), but they must have had a stormy relationship. One day David danced openly before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:16). Michal despised him for what she thought was an outrageous display of worship and zeal. God made Michal barren (2 Samuel 16:23).

Abigail. The wife of the foolish Nabal was blessed by David for her discretion and wisdom. Her quick thinking in bringing food to David and his men following her husband’s scorn of them kept David from vengeance (1 Samuel 25:32-33).

Ruth. I believe Ruth was a knockout. She would have been a shoo-in for the title of Miss Moab, and Miss Bethlehem since it was her adoptive home. But Ruth’s true beauty resided in her heart as a woman of loyalty and character (Ruth 2:11-12).

Prayer of Application

Heavenly Father, keep me from putting too much emphasis upon physical appearance. Rather, may I value the true inner beauty only Your Spirit gives to both women and men.

Copyright 2015 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 11:20-21

Praise God for His Righteous Deliverance

20) The Lord detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless. 21) Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.

In these verses we again see the contrast between the righteous and the wicked. Sometimes I am tempted to look upon a wicked person scornfully. But then the truth of God comes to me, and I realize “there but for the grace of God go I.” The only thing that stands between the saved and the sinner—the blameless and the perverse—is the grace of God.

Look back to your own conversion. Did not God reach down and deliver you from your perverse heart of stone and put in you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19)? Did not Jesus say to Nicodemus that unless a man is born again he cannot even see the kingdom of God (John 3:3)? In the final analysis, there is only One who is blameless. He is the Lord Jesus. By Him alone are we freed from the punishment to come (Romans 5:6-8).

Scriptural Examples

The pre-Flood people. In the days before the Flood, people were going about their daily lives following their perverse hearts (Genesis 6:5). The Flood came and swept them away (Matthew 24:38-39). Unfortunately, people haven’t changed. Then, only eight escaped the flood waters. But today many more are escaping. God still invites them into His ark, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Job. God said of Job that there was no one else on earth like him who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:8). God put a hedge around Job and his household (v. 10). That hedge was the same hedge God now puts around the Christian. Job had a heart that loved God, and in fact made his suffering so much more painful, for he could not see the justice in it. In the end, God delivered Job from his afflictions (Job 42:12).

Prayer of Application

Father, I cannot imagine how You could love me when I was Your enemy. Even now I have a propensity to drift back into my old ways, but Your love and grace bring me back on track.

Copyright 2015 – Robert C. Beasley
Visit www.readbobbeasley.com

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