Proverbs 24:13-14

Taste the Sweetness of God’s Hope

13) Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. 14) Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope [KJV: “reward”] for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

From the instant that Adam and Eve sinned, people have been hiding from God (Genesis 3:8-10). We don’t hide literally in the bushes anymore, but in things like religion, our own good works, the denial of God’s self revelation (Romans 1:18-21), and in other devious ways. Sweetness to the natural person is having autonomy — to call his own shots. He wants nothing at all to do with God and creates his own gods that he can control.

Autonomy is freedom without accountability. We see it throughout America today. People want the freedom to have sex without the responsibility of raising a child. Some hide in “victimhood” because victims are not accountable for their actions. The drunkard becomes an alcoholic, the victim of a disease and not morally accountable. Such is the “sweetness” of the world’s wisdom, but it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).

But the wisdom that comes from above begins with the “fear of the Lord” (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). Our hearts are quickened by God and made alive from their deadness in sin. We begin to run toward Him, not away from Him. His words become sweet to our souls (Proverbs 16:24) as we discover His grace that covers our many sins and gives us hope.

God promised the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:17). In the New Testament, milk is sometimes used as a synonym for the Word of God (1 Peter 2:2). Here, I believe honey is used in the same sense. Its sweetness lies in our humble dependence upon the One who wrote it and the hope of resurrection that it teaches. It is a hope that will not be cut off, a sure hope, a hope that is but a sweet taste of the real thing. What joy and sweetness there will be when we enter God’s Promised Land, the new heavens and the new earth!

Prayer of Application

Lord, the hope of resurrection is sweet, removing my fear of death and judgment. But still lurking within is the desire to have my own way. Keep me in utter dependence upon You.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 24:10-12

Prepare for the Judgment Seat of Christ

10) If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! 11) Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. 12) If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

Incredibly, many Christians think that they will not be held accountable for what they do. But Paul says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:10-11; Romans 14:10-12). There will be a judgment day for believers: not unto condemnation (Romans 8:1), but unto rewards. Believers who have by their faithfulness laid up “treasures in heaven(Matthew 6:19-20) will be rewarded, while others will suffer loss (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

The verses above teach about an omniscient Judge who sees through our excuses. When we get out of our “comfort zone” (Proverbs 24:10, above), we may shrink back. We say, “That’s not my responsibility,” or “I’m not gifted in that direction.” We may follow only those commandments we find enjoyable. We may plead ignorance (v. 12), but that’s a flimsy excuse which God sees through.

Paul says, “Wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in the darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts(1 Corinthians 4:5). Trust in God. He gives us the strength to overcome our fears and weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Scriptural Examples

Faith’s hall of fame. Hebrews 11 gives a glowing record of men and women of faith. Note particularly Moses who looked forward to his reward, and also those saints who refused to be released from torture to obtain a better resurrection. Surely they were all prepared for Christ’s judgment seat.

Prayer of Application

Heavenly Father, Your grace is overwhelming. We not only are given heaven but treasures beyond imagining. Help me to desire a better reward and not to shrink back in faithlessness.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 24:8-9

Detest the Schemes of the Mocker

8) He who plots evil will be known as a schemer. 9) The schemes of folly are sin, and men detest a mocker.

Ever seen a movie or read a book where the “perfect crime” is planned? You know, a squad of schemers meet in a smoky room and plan to steal some fabulous treasure. They devise intricate strategies to get into the museum by lowering a guy dressed in black on a rope. In great suspense, he snatches the jewel out of its case and then make his escape.

Funny, isn’t it? If these schemers spent half the time and energy planning a legitimate business they would avoid 20 years in prison and sleep much better to boot. But you see, they like to do it. And they never think they’ll be caught. Little do they suspect that an all-seeing God knows their every move, their every thought. Of course, they mock at the notion of a personal God who holds them accountable. But with God, they don’t just face a 20-year prison term. They face eternal fire.

The wicked schemes of mockers are legion. A wife conjures up a way to have an affair with another man. An employee seeks to be fired so he can sue his employer. An employer looks for devious ways he can cheat his customers. The list could go on and on. Detest such schemes. They are on the way to death.

Scriptural Examples

The great multitude. The Bible is full of schemers, people who lie on their beds plotting evil: women like Jezebel, Delilah, and the prostitute of Proverbs 5, and men like Cain and Balaam and Judas. I could fill this book with this multitude of schemers. But, instead, I list next the granddaddy of them all.

Satan. He is also the prince of mockers. He schemed to elevate himself above the throne of God (Isaiah 14:13-14). He schemed to deceive Eve (Genesis 3:1). But God knows his schemes and has already defeated this king of schemers (Revelation 20:10).

Prayer of Application

Father, though mockers scheme against You, You sit on high and laugh at them. May I only plan for good, to the end that You will be glorified and evil schemers will be mocked.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 24:7

Let Your Wisdom Shut the Mouths of Fools

Wisdom is too high for a fool; in the assembly at the gate he has nothing to say.

In biblical days, the gate to the city was where the elders sat and dispensed justice (Deuteronomy 21:18-20, for instance). The fool in the verse above may have been accused of a crime, and the evidence against him is so weighty that he has no wisdom to draw upon to defend himself. Or, perhaps he aspires to a seat among those who rule the town, but doesn’t have the wisdom required for the job. It is too high for him. It’s not that he lacks intelligence. Rather, he does not have the moral character to seek wisdom. He’s speechless. That, by the way, is an unusual circumstance for a fool.

Peter tells us that we are to live our lives in such a way that although the pagans may accuse us of wrongdoing, they will see our good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits. We are to silence the mouths of fools by good works (1 Peter 2:12, 15).

To paraphrase the words of movie character Forrest Gump, “Wisdom is as wisdom does.” James says that we deceive ourselves when we merely hear words of wisdom but don’t act upon them (James 1:22). But the person who practices wisdom is the person who does the will of God and who will shut the mouths of foolish people. At the last judgment, the fool will have no excuse or defense. In fact, he won’t have a word to say.

Scriptural Examples

Job. He sat at the gate of the city, but he wasn’t speechless. (Note the lengthy discourse between Job and his three friends.) But then God entered the conversation and Job shut up. In the same way the fool will be speechless before God (Job 29; 38–42).

Jesus. He said to the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, “Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does.” Because Jesus did precisely the will of His Father, He shut the mouths of these foolish false teachers (John 10:37-38).

Prayer of Application

Lord, help me to live in such a way as to shut the mouths of those who oppose Your truth. We Christians prove the truth of Your Word by our actions. Help me to live consistently with it.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 24:3-6

Build Your House on the Rock of Christ

3) By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; 4) through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. 5) A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; 6) for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers.

In homebuilding, the wicked person’s short view is like constructing an igloo in Arizona in August. At sunrise, the igloo would start to melt, and by noon there would be nothing left except cracked desert soil. Not a home to be envious of.

The way of wisdom uses a different construction code: the Word of God. It leads to an eternal dwelling place filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

Paul calls the church in Corinth “God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9-16). Paul laid a foundation of the gospel message on which someone else will build. Different kinds of building materials are used: “gold, silver, costly stones” on the one hand, but “wood, hay and stubble” on the other. By the wise use of the better materials, a builder (such as you and I) will fill the rooms of his house with rare and beautiful treasures: heavenly rewards. Otherwise, our work will be burned up when its quality is tested by the fire of Christ’s judgment.

The wise man will build for the long haul, and with the guidance of many counselors. Build on the only secure foundation — the Lord Jesus Christ. And then build with the best materials, using the building code of the ages: the Word of God.

Scriptural Examples

The wise and foolish builders. I once built high-rise condominiums on the coast of Florida. We drove pilings deep into the sand and anchored to them. Nearby, other buildings did not use pilings. Some day a hurricane will move them across the street. These two biblical examples also had different results because of the different codes to which they adhered (Matthew 7:24-27).

Prayer of Application

Father, thank You for the Word of God which gives us the guidance needed for the construction of a permanent dwelling, and for Christ’s foundation that is so firm and secure.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 24:1-2

Follow the “Foolishness” of God

1) Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company: 2) for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.

In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul speaks of two kinds of foolishness: the “foolishness” of God and the foolishness of the world. In verse 18 he says that the message of the Cross is “foolishness to those who are perishing,” but through it (v. 20b) “God [has] made foolish the wisdom of the world.” He goes on to say, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (v. 21).

In the world’s “wisdom,” it is foolish to seek one’s treasure in a future life. In the wisdom of God, it is foolish to seek one’s treasure in the here and now (Matthew 6:19-20). Jim Elliot, a missionary who was martyred in the jungles of Ecuador, loved this proverb: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” The wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world are diametrically opposed to one another.

This is why we are not to envy the wicked when they seem to prosper in this life. They have the short view, which is the foolish view in God’s sight. All that the wicked do is sin (Romans 3:12-18). On the other hand, the Christian takes the long view. He begins to seek after the things that please God, not himself. No longer is the Christian’s primary interest in building his own estate, but the estate of God among others. To the natural person, nothing could be more foolish. To God, nothing could be wiser.

Scriptural Examples

Moses. He was an heir to the kingdom of Egypt. He received the finest education, wore the finest clothes, and held the highest offices and honors. Yet Moses chose to forsake all of that for the disgrace of Christ. Why? Because he had the long view (Hebrews 11:24-26).

Prayer of Application

Father, sometimes I am tempted to envy the wealth and fame of the lost. Then I think of Your gracious promises and am brought back to rest in You. Thank You, Lord, for Your wisdom.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 24: Introduction

Proverbs and the Sluggard

The slothful person or sluggard is a major theme of Proverbs. The sixth commandment says in part, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” Paul said, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat(2 Thessalonians 3:10). Sloth is a very serious sin in God’s eyes.

In verses 30 through 34 we are given a clear picture of the results of sloth. “I went past the field of of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.

Notice first that the sluggard lacked judgment. He failed to tend his vineyard and so allowed it to go to seed. Not a very good environment for producing fine wine! He had permitted the stone wall around his property to fall into ruin, which allowed goats and cattle to come in and eat his plants. The result of all this is clearly seen. His slothfulness will earn only poverty. He will go out to harvest his crop and discover that he can’t find enough fruit to make a little box of raisins. Such is the trap that the sluggard sets for himself.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 23:29-35

Do Not Linger over Wine or Strong Drink

29) Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30) Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. 31) Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! 32) In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. 33) Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. 34) You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. 35) “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”

Here is a man who has gotten drunk and has a major hangover. He wakes up with a headache, a queazy stomach, and a mouth full of cotton. Getting slowly out of bed, he peeks in the mirror and sees a couple of bloodshot eyeballs staring back at him.

Alcohol, consumed to excess, clouds the mind and confuses the thought patterns (v.33). The KJV renders “strange sights” as “strange women.” That makes sense, inasmuch as alcohol lowers the inhibitions and causes one to imagine sexual situations. The drunk’s stomach reels like a ship caught in a storm (v. 34). He feels like he’s been beat up, but doesn’t remember much (v. 35). All he knows is that he’s going to get himself another drink (v. 35). He thinks a “pick-me-up” will make his hangover subside, but it’ll just get him a little deeper in trouble.

Scriptural Examples

Belshazzar. This Babylonian king gave a great banquet in which he used the sacred articles of the temple in Jerusalem to serve wine and to get drunk. Suddenly, the finger of a human hand wrote on the wall of the palace, “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.” Belshazzar’s fright at seeing the hand is reminiscent of these verses (Daniel 5).

Prayer of Application

Father, thank You for the Holy Spirit who controls me. May I find joy and gladness in life only in You and Your Word, and in the fellowship of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 23:26-28

Do Not Give Your Heart to Any But God

26) My son, give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways, 27) for a prostitute is a deep pit and a wayward wife is a narrow well. 28) Like a bandit she lies in wait, and multiplies the unfaithful among men.

Solomon steps directly into the role of Divine Wisdom and speaks as if the words come right from the lips of God. “Give me your heart,” God says. He wants it all, not just a part. “God loves a broken heart, but can’t abide one that is divided” (Bridges p. 439). God’s demand on everyone is, “Give me your heart.”

There are three other suitors for the heart. First and second are the devil and the world. Satan said to Jesus, “If you worship me, [the world] will all be yours.” Jesus replied, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only’(Luke 4:5-8). The third suitor is the flesh. In these verses, we see the fleshly call of sin in the prostitute and wayward wife. Like all idols, these women lie in wait to ensnare their victim. These three suitors promise happiness and fulfillment, but when the chips are down, they deliver frustration and death.

To give one’s heart to God is a moment-by-moment occurrence. It is our proper spiritual worship (Romans 12:1-2). As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

Scriptural Examples

Lot’s wife. Just as Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco, she left hers in Sodom. She looked back longingly at her first love. God turned her body into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26).

The Pharisees. Quoting Isaiah, Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” To pay lip service to God is not a good idea (Matthew 15:1-8; Isaiah 29:13).

David. He was a man after God’s own heart, fully devoted to the Lord. But even so, his heart went out to a beautiful woman. A time of confession and repentance restored the joy of his fellowship with God (Acts 13:22; Psalm 51).

Prayer of Application

Dear Sovereign Lord, You have promised that You would not let me be tempted beyond that which I am able to resist. Thank You, Lord. Keep my heart steadfastly upon Christ.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 23:22-25

Children, Buy the Truth and Do Not Sell It

22) Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. 23) Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding. 24) The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. 25) May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice!.

Of course, no amount of money can buy ultimate truth, that of salvation. Its value surpasses anyone’s ability to pay. And even if one could buy it with money, who would be willing to do so (Romans 3:10-12)? Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life(John 14:6). Salvation is “the gift of God—not by works, so that no man can boast(Ephesians 2:8-9).

But once a person is saved, he begins to “buy” the truth by investing in diligent prayer, Bible study, and meditation. I believe that Jesus’ parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl speak to this principle (Matthew 13:44-46). The treasure and the pearl are God’s wisdom and truth, which are more valuable than any earthly treasure.

The parents of the person who “buys” the wisdom and truth of God will rejoice greatly. It is in practicing the truth that the fifth commandment is most fully obeyed. And who would sell such a rich treasure? The answer goes without saying.

Scriptural Examples

The rich young ruler. This man was asked by Jesus to “buy” the truth. But he esteemed the riches of this present world of greater value than heaven’s treasures (Luke 18:18-23).

Moses. On the contrary, Moses was a wealthy man who “bought” the truth. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt (Hebrews 11:24-26).

Esau. Esau was a man who was willing to “sell the truth.” He sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew (Hebrews 12:16-17).

Prayer of Application

Dear God, thank You for Your great gift of salvation. And thank You for the truth of your Word. Help me to be diligent in its study, and with Your help, practice its truth in all that I do.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley