Proverbs 21:14

Let Your Anger Be Soothed by God’s Gifts

A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.

As a husband approaches his home he hides a bouquet of flowers behind his back. He and his wife had an argument before he left for work and he is bringing a peace offering. As she opens the door, out come the flowers. Quickly, the morning’s argument is forgotten in the beauty and aroma of a dozen red roses. It works, guys!

This proverb employs both the word “gift” and the word “bribe.” Sometimes the line between the two is fuzzy. We need to be careful in our gift-giving, because to cross the line into bribery or to use a secret gift to pervert justice is sin (Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; 27:25). But to use a gift to melt the anger of a loved one may be a courteous and effective way to say, “I’m sorry, let’s make up,” and restore the relationship.

Most people are prone to anger, particularly when our “rights” have been trampled on, or when we don’t get our way. Such unrighteous anger is not honoring to God. At the times when anger lures us we need to consider God’s gifts to us, His Word and His only Son, who when He was mistreated responded in love. Therefore, we are called to follow Him in humility and love of others. We are not to seek revenge.

Scriptural Examples

Jacob. He brought a gift to his brother Esau to appease the split he had caused many years earlier. Jacob didn’t hide the herds he brought but they were secret inasmuch as they were a surprise (Genesis 32:1-23; 33:1-17).

Samuel’s sons. Joel and Abijah didn’t walk in their father’s ways. They accepted bribes, perverting justice (1 Samuel 8:1-4).

Abigail. Nabal’s wife showed great wisdom in bringing gifts to David and his men, thereby assuaging their anger following the rebuff of her wicked husband (1 Samuel 25:14-34).

Prayer of Application

Father God, thank You for the gifts of Your Word and Your Son. Your Word says He is Lord of all. Take my anger, Lord, and replace it with Your patient love and forgiveness.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 21:13

Beware of Shutting Your Ears to the Poor

If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

In my city, as in other communities across the nation, the problem of feeding the poor and homeless has become widespread. Our government’s welfare system has historically locked the poor into a system of handouts and provided little incentive or ability to find meaningful employment. Such welfare is a sinful system that has recently experienced many major overhauls on federal, state, and local levels.

I believe the cry of the poor is not so much “give me something to eat,” as it is “give me a job to do.” Educational systems and standards should be established that will prepare those not currently employable for meaningful jobs in the future. This is the proper way to permanently hear the cry of the poor: give them work to do that is honorable and fulfilling.

My former church is active in a rescue mission that gives food, clothing, and a gospel message to all who come. Other Christian works help the needy in our society. They should be supported with our money and our time. Beware of the proverb’s warning. To shut one’s ears to the cry of the poor will bring God’s judgment. We will cry out to Him, but we will not be heard.

Scriptural Examples

Job and Eliphaz. Job’s friend Eliphaz accused him of shutting his ears to the poor (Job 22:7) and ascribed part of the reason for the calamity that had come upon Job to that sin. Job was confident he was innocent of the charges (Job 31:7).

The rich man and Lazarus. For years, the beggar Lazarus had lain at the gate of the rich man, who wouldn’t give the poor homeless man the time of day. Both died. The rich man cried out from hell for Lazarus to put only a drop of water on his tongue. His cries for mercy went unanswered (Luke 16:19-31).

Prayer of Application

Dear Lord, make me more sensitive to the needs of the poor in our society. Help me to serve them to the end that Your Kingdom will be advanced and Your Name honored.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 21:12

Look at Justice as an Eternal Concept

The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin.

The wicked do sometimes get their comeuppance in this life, but volumes could be written about those who don’t.

For centuries, philosophers have sought to give rational (extra-biblical) evidence for the existence of God, one of which has to do with our principle. There are basically five such arguments. The ontological argument, principally of St. Anselm, holds that people can have the idea of a perfect and supreme being, the greatest being imaginable. Since, according to Plato, existence or reality is an essential quality of being, that absolutely perfect and supreme being must logically exist.

The cosmological argument states what exists as an effect must have had a primary cause, and that cause had to have the power of being in itself. The teleological argument sees the intelligence and order of the universe as proof of a great architect. The historical argument looks at people’s religiosity, and posits a being who created people with that innate calling.

Ironically, a central proponent of the moral argument was Immanuel Kant — himself an agnostic — who thought people should live as if there was a God. Kant argued since there is a disparity between what most people deserve and what they get in this life, justice must be eternal in nature. In order for justice to be applied there would have to be a judge who was omniscient and who was also powerful enough to carry out the sentence. This is exactly what the Bible and this proverb teach.

Scriptural Examples

Job and his friends. Their basic argument was Job must have done some evil to bring about his disaster. Job contended he was innocent and scorned the very counsel of the wicked. Behind the scenes we see God in control. His justice ultimately prevailed (the book of Job).

Prayer of Application

Heavenly Father, thank You for your eternal government over human affairs. Most of all, Lord, thank You for sending Your Son to die for me and to cancel the debt of sin in my life.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 21:11

Learn from the Lord’s Instruction

When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; when a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge.

Here again are the three students: the mocker, the simpleton, and the wise man (Proverbs 19:25). The person who mocks wisdom gets a rod on his back, but as we’re told in Proverbs 17:10, even 100 lashes won’t teach him much. But the blow that strikes the mocker should teach the simple.

In earlier years punishment of criminals in many societies was carried out in public places. The idea behind this sort of demonstration was to teach a lesson to the simple. After witnessing an execution the simple should have said, “Wow, I don’t want that to happen to me!” God instituted stoning in Israel as a public capital punishment. It both punished the sin and served as an example to others. Unlike the mocker, the simple may become wise through example.

The wise man learns by instruction. He never stops learning and acquiring knowledge. Let’s keep on learning until the end of our days and use the knowledge God gives us to glorify Him in all we think, say, and do.

Scriptural Examples

The blasphemer. The son of an Israeli and an Egyptian got into a fight and blasphemed God’s name. The Lord instructed Moses to have the entire assembly stone the mocker to death. Today, God’s name is mocked around the world. More than a stoning awaits those mockers (Leviticus 24:10-16).

The people of Laish. These simple people apparently did not have a leader to teach them the elementary principles of defense. Some Danites robbed Micah of his idols and family priest, then went to Laish and torched it. How much better to have gained wisdom through instruction rather than through actual experience (Judges 18:27-28).

Prayer of Application

Dear Lord, thank You for Your Word, which when applied to our hearts through Your Holy Spirit, guides us into all truth. By it, help me to avoid the pitfalls in life that trap others.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 21:10

Seek Only Good for Your Neighbor

The wicked man craves evil; his neighbor gets no mercy from him.

This proverb reminds me of a short story that was written in the form of a diary. A man moved into a new neighborhood and proceeded to destroy the relationships there in any way he could. Through innuendo, deceit, gossip, slander, and vandalism, longtime friends were at each other’s throats. Marriages were destroyed and children were disregarded. After the wreckage was complete, the man placed one final entry into his diary: “Time to move.”

The wicked person “craves evil” in that he lives for himself. He doesn’t necessarily act in the manner of my short story example, but even when he does something seemingly out of a genuine love and concern for his neighbor, an underlying principle of selfishness is at work.

Some self-esteem advocates would teach us to first love ourselves, then we will be able to love our neighbor. But the Golden Rule actually teaches that we are to give the same priority to our neighbor’s well-being that we would naturally give to our own. We don’t need to be taught to provide for our own needs. That just comes naturally. Only through the Spirit of God working through us will we learn to put the law of love to practice in our neighborhoods.

Scriptural Examples

Nabal. This descendant of the righteous Caleb should have been more like his ancestor. But when David asked Nabal for food, the wicked man repaid David’s earlier kindness with evil (1 Samuel 25).

Paul. Paul cried out regarding his own wickedness. He said, “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” He concluded only the Lord Jesus could rescue him from his body of death, his sin nature (Romans 7:15-25).

Prayer of Application

Heavenly Father, help me to practice Your principle of agape love in all I do, seeking the highest and best for my neighbor and expecting nothing in return.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 21:9

Married Couples, Love One Another

Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

A young man was asked about his recent marriage. He said, “I didn’t know what happiness was until I got married. And then it was too late.”

The homes of the desert region of Palestine had flat roofs with a parapet wall. They were often used for sleeping, particularly when the weather was hot. But the idea in the verse above is of a permanent situation. Lacking a small guest room, a man’s stay there would have been subjected to wind, rain, and snow. Even that most uncomfortable predicament would be preferable to being warm and toasty with a quarrelsome spouse.

Men are not innocent of a quarrelsome spirit. The root of such contentiousness is sin, expressed in pride and selfishness that seeks its own way. The love that seeks to exalt one’s partner at the expense of self is missing. That is the agape love of Christ which every believer should portray in marriage.

A bigger problem may exist when a Christian is “unequally yoked(2 Corinthians 6:14) with an unsaved spouse. While the Christian seeks to honor and serve the Lord, his spouse is embarrassed by his enthusiasm for Christ. It can be an awful situation, because as one grows closer to God, the other, unless saved, grows more distant. Single man or woman, don’t even date non-believers. You might wind up on the corner of a rooftop.

Scriptural Examples

Mr. and Mrs. Job. Job received battering after battering at the hands of Satan. Sitting in despair on a pile of ashes, scraping at his boils, Job didn’t need to hear his wife’s nagging. She said, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job rebuked her. He asked, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” I’m sure her words added greatly to Job’s suffering (Job 2:7-10).

Prayer of Application

Dear God, we have in our marriages a wonderful opportunity to show forth Your love. Help me to exemplify Christ in my marriage, in the good times and bad, through thick and thin.

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

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Proverbs 21:8

Praise God for His Marvelous Grace

The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright.

The first line of this proverb speaks of every person on earth, unless by a miracle of God’s grace he or she becomes innocent. The former’s lifestyle is characterized by deviousness, while the latter practices uprightness.

The word “guilty” in line one of the NIV version may be more appropriately rendered “guilt-laden.” This describes all those whose sins have not been forgiven and the eternal consequences of those sins not lifted by the blood of the Savior. Most, if not all, natural people would take umbrage at that statement and argue that their behavior is mostly moral and upright. But they use the world’s standard, not the Word of God. Ethics today are determined by majority vote. If 80 percent of unmarried college students are sexually active, then it must be all right. After all, the humanist manifesto calls man the measure.

But by God’s marvellous grace He saves some people. Those saved are then innocent in God’s eyes and their subsequent walk will be characterized by purity and uprightness. No longer will the Christian walk according to his old boss, Satan (Ephesians 2:1-3), but in step with his newfound friend, Jesus (Ephesians 4:22-24). What you do demonstrates who you are. Praise God for the new you (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

Scriptural Examples

The false prophets. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned us of these men and their devious walk. Outwardly they look moral and upright, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. We would recognize them by their fruit. An apple tree doesn’t bear oranges. Watch and see what characterizes a person’s life. There are many of these deceivers out there today. Don’t be drawn away from the truth of the Word of God because of them (See Matthew 7:15-20.)

Prayer of Application

Father, thank You for saving me. When I was dead and guilty in trespasses and sins You made me alive and innocent in Christ Jesus. I have no reason to boast. You deserve all the credit.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 21:6-7

Beware of the Snare of Hasty Wealth

6) A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare. 7) The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right.

We see in these verses a man who in his haste to be rich used a “forked tongue.” The fortune that he made with his misrepresentations vaporized as quickly as it was gotten and became in the end a death trap (Romans 6:23). P.T. Barnum, the founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, is supposed to have said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” What P.T. probably didn’t understand is that the real “sucker” is the guy who tries to make one of others.

Examples of this type of behavior abound. A segment on my local TV news focuses on consumer issues. The reporters point out the most recent scams that prey upon the elderly and unsuspecting. We only need to go back a few years to remember the savings and loan scandal that rocked the nation. What has become of the fortune of those who lied? It has vanished in a fleeting vapor while they spend years in the slammer.

Scriptural Examples

Zacchaeus. He was a wealthy tax collector who extorted his riches. That is, he used his office to collect more from the taxpayer than was owed and he kept the difference for himself. The Lord Jesus walked through Zacchaeus’s hometown one day and spotted the little man perched up in a tree. Jesus proceeded to call him by name, telling him to come down, that He would be spending that day in his house. Zacchaeus, who was probably used to being shunned by the people, was overjoyed by the Lord’s greeting and offered to pay back by four-fold anyone he had ever cheated. Jesus remarked that salvation had come to Zacchaeus’s house that day. He had been saved from the deadly snare he had been laying up for himself (Luke 19:2-9).

Prayer of Application

Lord God, help me to commit to You that I will never use my tongue for illicit gain. Rather, may I focus on the riches of Christ and not do anything that would violate Your Word.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 21:5

Beware of Hasty Shortcuts

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.

Early on in my real estate career I tried to score hasty “touchdowns” by going after big deals that were risky although they appeared to be “slam dunks.” Most turned out to be “strikeouts” (to complete my all-season mixed metaphor). The only things slammed were my wallet and my foolish pride.

Life should be viewed as a long distance race (Hebrews 12:1). Such a race is run aerobically. That is, a runner’s lungs process the air he breathes and don’t build up an oxygen debt. In the 100-yard dash, run anaerobically, the runners catch their breath after the tape. Running sprints in a marathon is stupid.

Just as we need to avoid get-rich-quick schemes, we also need to avoid the other side of the coin. We can study an opportunity so long that it vanishes. In so doing we may just be afraid, excusing our fear by calling it diligence. Jesus tells us that we are to weigh the cost of what we do, including the act of becoming His disciples (Luke 14:28-33). Then, after deciding to move ahead, we should work our plans with energy, discipline, and patience, dedicating the results to the glory of God.

Scriptural Examples

Saul. Because he wanted a quick victory over the Philistines, Saul gave a foolish order that his men were not to eat on the day of battle. This hasty command caused all kinds of problems in the conduct of his troops and, most importantly, in his relationship with his son Jonathan (1 Samuel 14:23-45).

The shallow soil. In this parable, our Lord described one of four soils as rocky and shallow. The seed that was sown there sprang up quickly but died when the sun scorched the plants. So it is with some who receive the news of the Kingdom with joy but fall away when persecution comes (Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21).

Prayer of Application

Oh, Sovereign Lord, help me always to count the cost before undertaking a major decision. And Lord, keep me from hasty shortcuts and help me to take the long view of life.

Copyright 2016 – Robert C. Beasley
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Proverbs 21:4

Beware of the Pride that Blinds

Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.

The KJV translates “lamp” here as “plowing” or “tillage.” The confusion lies in a vowel. The Hebrew nir means “plowing,” and ner means “lamp.” I’d like to use both words to illustrate what I believe to be the full meaning of the proverb.

Plowing seems to indicate an industrious person whom the proverbs would normally seek to elevate. But we must remember that anything the unsaved person does is sin (Romans 8:5-13; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Ephesians 4:17-22). While the unsaved person’s gifts to and activities on behalf of charity seem to be good, the Bible tells us that if the action does not seek God’s glory through Christ, it is all sin (Romans 14:23). Whatever we do we are to do in humility to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

The word “lamp” seems to best tie in the first phrase of the proverb. A wicked person’s eyes and heart are his “lamp.” Jesus uses this motif in Luke 11:34 when He says, “The eye is the lamp of the body.” He goes on to say that good eyes let light in so that your body is full of light. Bad eyes or lamps see only darkness. Here we see those “bad eyes” of which our Lord spoke. They are haughty eyes, lifted up in pride. They look only upon darkness and eternal judgment. Beware of the pride that blinds.

Scriptural Examples

Hezekiah. He became ill and prayed to God for healing. When God healed him, proud Hezekiah did not give thanks. God’s wrath was on him until he repented (2 Chronicles 32:24-33).

The King of Assyria. God said that He would punish him for his proud heart and haughty eyes. The king bragged of his accomplishments and wisdom, his conquering armies, and his power and might. He denied the One who establishes all rulers by the power of His might (Isaiah 10:12-14).

Prayer of Application

Father, take away any desire to be raised up in honor without giving You all the glory due Your name. Without Your uplifting hand I couldn’t do anything, even take a breath.

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

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