Proverbs 27:9

Find Joy in a Friend’s Counsel

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.

Looking back on my life, one mistake I have made that is predominant over all the rest is of not always seeking the earnest counsel of godly friends. Of course, this one error can lead to countless other troubles and trials, and that’s another reason why I would place it at the top of the list.

I fancy myself an entrepreneur, an innovator, a person who likes to tread ground on which no other has tread before. If I had been born 100 years earlier, I would probably have been a pioneer in a wagon train. Someone once told me a pioneer is a person with arrows in his backside. Then “pioneer” describes me well, because I’ve taken lots of arrows there. Some of them went pretty deep and were very painful.

A friend is someone who loves you and wants to see you succeed in life. He or she earnestly seeks what is best for you. His counsel will therefore be honest and based upon his own experience and education. She may have blind spots, but chances are her blind spots will not be your blind spots. And so she can help you to see the pitfalls you can’t see for yourself.

Scriptural Examples

Mary, Martha, and Jesus. These sisters threw a dinner party for Jesus. Martha served while Mary anointed the Lord’s feet with expensive perfume. Here is friendship at its finest. The joy Mary had known as she learned at her Master’s feet was now returned by her lavish gift (John 12:1-7).

Peter and Andrew. Peter received joyous counsel from his brother Andrew as the latter ran to find him with the good news that he had found the Messiah. What greater joy can we bring to a friend than to introduce him to the Savior of mankind (John 1:40-41)?

Prayer of Application

O Lord, thank You for the wise counsel of friends and godly people of the church. Help me to humbly submit to their sincere rebuke and advice, earnestly seeking it and acting upon it.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 27:8

Pick a Church Home and Stick with It

Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home.

The bird’s nest is for protection from predators and shelter from the elements. It is for the raising of a family in security. So, too, is the Christian’s church home a protection from the world’s buffeting and the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). We need one another, and we need deep and continuing relationships that will foster mutual accountability and aid spiritual growth. For us to flit from place to place wreaks havoc on God’s Church.

The central reason for the wandering eye of the ecclesiastical tourist is his preoccupation with being served. He’s there on Sunday morning to be spoken to, complimented, entertained, and coddled. He gives no thought to what he can do for others in attendance, or for the real purpose of being there—to worship the God who created and sustains him.

When searching for a church home, find one that has opportunities for service in areas where your spiritual gifts can be utilized effectively. If you want to teach, find a local congregation that needs teachers. Then stick with it.

What encouragement to the pastor who hears the words, “We’re thinking about joining your congregation. Are there any opportunities to serve others here?” Be careful if you switch church homes. Be fully assured that the reason for your move is not selfish, or due to your desire to escape responsibility.

Scriptural Examples

Dinah. This daughter of Jacob wandered from her nest and precipitated a horrible massacre of the citizens of Shechem. The incident maligned the name of her father (Genesis 34:1-31).

Jonah. Instead of going east to Nineveh, Jonah’s wandering eye took him out upon a sea he knew the Lord controlled. It took a large fish to get him back on track (The book of Jonah).

Prayer of Application

Father, thank You for the church home where people continue to uphold me in prayer and fellowship. When I was grieving, You used the same brothers and sisters there to encourage me.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 27:7

Hunger for Righteousness

He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

Think back to that last Thanksgiving dinner when you ate too much turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy. One last piece of pumpkin pie looked good, but you knew that it would only add to your growing discomfort. You wanted to be hungry again, didn’t you?

Most Americans have been gorged with belongings and food. We seek larger homes and fancier cars. We long for more exotic foods, and wilder entertainment to satisfy our jaded tastes. All along the Mexican border, many illegal immigrants cross the border at night, hungrily seeking the jobs that would be beneath most of us. What is bitter to us is sweet to them.

For the man or woman whose spiritual eyes have been opened, a hunger begins for the things of God: His Word and His righteousness. Then, after time, sometimes this hunger has a way of abating. The person may feel full and no longer in need of the pure food of the Word (Hebrews 5:13). He grows spiritually slothful and fat, satisfied with far less than God has for him. Have you been “spiritually stuffed”? I know I have.

But Jesus says, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). We need the Word to convict us of sin and to convince us of our need for its healing and sustaining power. Perhaps we should not pray for more food. Perhaps we should pray for hunger.

Scriptural Examples

The sinful woman. Jesus welcomed the hunger of this woman. While she washed His feet and anointed them with perfume, His hosts complained of her presence (Luke 7:47).

The Laodiceans. These self-satisfied churchgoers thought they had it made. But Jesus rebuked them, saying, “You are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17-18).

Prayer of Application

Father, thank You for the Word which helps me to grow in righteousness, as I am guided by Your Spirit. I confess that sometimes I feel stuffed and unwilling to eat. Make me hungry.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 27:5-6

Be an Honest, Open, and Gentle Friend

5) Better is open rebuke than hidden love. 6) Words from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Have you ever been to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting? I’ve attended several of AA’s open meetings, and although I don’t agree with their “higher power” concept, nor with their “disease” model, I found that the meetings I attended shared a unique and refreshing spirit.

Typically, there are many speakers during an AA meeting. Each gets up in front of the assembled crowd and tells about his weakness for alcohol or drugs and how he has stayed sober. No one is afraid to share weaknesses and failures. No one is judgmental, and all are willing to help a fellow drunk stay sober.

In the church, it seems that many of us go to great lengths to keep our dirty laundry secret. Is it because we want to appear to be “super-saints”? Are we afraid that we won’t be accepted? I’m not sure. But James 5:16 tells us to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” I believe this is telling us that in order to be good rebukers, we first need to be good confessors.

Be open and honest about the sin still stirring within, confessing it to a friend. Then like an honest, open, and gentle friend, encourage him to greater godliness as well.

Scriptural Examples

Judas. These proverbs remind me of that night when he greeted Jesus with that infamous kiss. Are we like Judas? Do we care more about our stature in the Christian community than about the condition of our walk with the Lord (Mark 14:43-45)?

Paul. The great apostle corrected entire churches in a spirit of openness, honesty, and gentleness. On one occasion, he even rebuked his friend and fellow apostle Peter for conduct unbecoming a minister of the gospel (Galatians 2:11-14).

Prayer of Application

Father, rebuke is a very difficult thing for me to do. Help me to develop deep and solid friendships where confession and gentle rebuke are welcomed and refreshing. Thank You, Lord.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 27:3-4

Cast Off the Heavy Burden of Pride

3) Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool is heavier than both. 4) Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?

During the course of my college summers, I pushed a lot of concrete buggies full of cement, stone, and sand, and carried plaster on my shoulders to the waiting trowels of journeymen. Those were heavy loads. But this proverb tells us of something heavier: the provocation—or wrath—of a fool.

Let’s start at the beginning and see how this came to be. What sin got Satan into trouble, and also plunged the human race into enmity with God (Genesis 3:5-6; Ezekiel 28:12-19)? It was the sin of pride. Webster defines the pride God hates like this: “A high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority: conceit; arrogance.” In other words, the sin of pride ascribes to oneself the honor and glory due only to God.

The prideful fool seeks to elevate himself at the expense of others. This breeds hatred and contempt of those who would thwart his ambition, or who he perceives to be higher up the ladder he’s climbing. From hatred and contempt flow gossip and lies (Proverbs 26:20-28), anger and wrath.

The Christian is called to forsake the sin of pride and respond in Christ’s humility. We are to love our neighbor and seek his highest good. The burden of love is light (Matthew 11:30).

Scriptural Examples

Joseph’s brothers. These men hated their brother Joseph because he was loved by Jacob, and because he prophesied of a higher position of honor than they. Ultimately, the fury of their envy was manifested (Genesis 37:3-28).

Cain. The end of the fool’s wrath is murder. Because his deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous, Cain murdered Abel. Cain’s fury could not be contained (1 John 3:12).

Prayer of Application

Father, how can I possibly claim to follow Jesus if I lift up my nose in pride? Lord, keep me from pride and the envy it brings, and rather seek the humility and unselfishness of Christ.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 27:2

Seek Only God’s Praise

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.

In Proverbs 27:21, we’ll see that praise from others is like a hot crucible used to refine metal. In the verse above, praise from others is better than self-praise, which is condemned in Scripture (2 Corinthians 10:18). But if we want praise without potentially disastrous results, we will seek praise only from the Lord.

Is it wrong for Christians to praise one another, to encourage each other in the faith? No, encouragement is very beneficial. We are commanded to do it (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; 10:25). But this proverb is not about giving praise, it’s about seeking praise.

If we seek praise from our own lips, it is self-righteous and cheap. People see right through it. On the other hand, if we seek the praise of others, we may become like the Pharisees who “loved the praise of others more than the praise of God(John 12:42-43). Our motivation is all-important. If we do good works only to be praised by others, their praise is the only reward we’ll ever get (Matthew 6:1-6).

How much better to seek our reward and praise from God. The “another” or “someone else” in Proverbs 27:2 should be Christ. How will He reward you? With a joy and peace that pass all understanding, and with a treasury of eternal riches laid up for you in heaven; it’s the only praise worth having.

Scriptural Examples

Goliath. What a contrast in this boasting Gentile. While the boy David approached, he praised himself and boasted of his ability to carve the lad up and feed him to the birds. A few seconds later, the giant lost his head (1 Samuel 17:41-51).

The centurion. This Gentile was a humble man. He asked Jesus to heal his servant, adding that he was unworthy for Christ to come into his house. He was praised by the elders of the Jews and later by Jesus Himself (Luke 7:3-9).

Prayer of Application

Lord God, keep my eyes focused on Jesus. Let me seek praise from no one else, as I seek to bring glory not to myself or to any other, except to Him who saves me and makes all life possible.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 27:1

Do Not Boast of Something You Don’t Have

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

Three different roads are here. First, we see the “trail of the talker”—the ambitious person who thinks he can control the future. Second, we find the “walkway of worry” and look at those who worry about problems that never arrive. Finally, we may choose the “pathway of procrastination,” where those who can never seem to get a “round tuit” walk. In a sense, these folks are all boasting of something they don’t have.

James rebukes businessmen who boast about the money they will make in a new city (James 4:13-16). He’s not talking about planning, but their unwillingness to understand tomorrow is under God’s control, and to bow to His will and trust in His providence for what will happen in the future.

Jesus denounces worry (Matthew 6:25-34), which shows our lack of trust in God’s provision. Rather, we are boasting in our own ability to control outcomes. God may supply our needs but He may not supply our wants, so we place our will above His.

Finally, we boast when we put today’s work off until tomorrow. Jesus tells of ten virgins. Five are wise and have their lamps filled with oil when the bridegroom shows up. But five have procrastinated, boasting they had plenty of time tomorrow (Matthew 25:1-13). The latter five are left out in the cold.

Scriptural Examples

The rich fool. Jesus spoke of this man who built larger barns to hold the grain for a comfortable retirement, but his treasures were useless when his soul was required of him. His big “tomorrow” never came (Luke 12:16-21).

Felix. Paul witnessed to this ruler about the kingdom of God, but Felix decided to put off his decision. One wonders if another day ever arrived for this procrastinator (Acts 24:24-25).

Prayer of Application

Lord, You control tomorrow. How foolish we are when we don’t confess it is so, then trust You in all things. The future is in Your hands and, praise Your name, so am I!

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 27: Introduction

Proverbs and the Family

Proverbs has much to say about life in the family. Our relationships with others begin there as children and continue throughout our lives. Family ties can be extremely close and life in the family a joy. But sin can intrude and make life miserable. Two particular proverbs regarding family life stand out in Chapter 27.

Verse 8 says, “Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home.” (This proverb is an example of emblematic parallelism.) America is deeply troubled by this situation today: husbands and/or wives straying from their rightful place in the home, leaving behind those who need their nurture and physical support. Enticements of sin and excitement are often the culprit as spouses leave their homes in search of something “better.”

One reason for the straying spouse might be found in verses 15 and 16. “A quarrelsome [spouse] is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.” (Notice another example of emblematic parallelism, this time a double one.) A quarrelsome spouse usually indicates one who wants his own way and will make life miserable for everyone else until he gets it. Quarreling is not patient leadership that builds relationships. Quarreling is the dynamite that destroys relationships.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 26:20-28

Beware the Words of the Gossip and Flatterer

20) Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. 21) As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. 22) The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts. 23) Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. 24) A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. 25) Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart. 26) His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. 27) If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him. 28) A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

The gossip and flatterer are one and the same. He stirs up the pot with his gossip (v. 20), and tries to bring strife between brothers (v. 21). To the naive and unsuspecting, his words are swallowed hook, line, and sinker (v. 22). The gossip’s words are as smooth as glass (v. 23) and always seek to build up his listener, while tearing down his victim (v. 24). Deep in his heart, there is malice toward all except himself (v. 25). Rest assured that he will be discovered eventually for what he really is (v. 26), because he is just setting a trap for himself (v. 27). Finally, the gossip hates all who listen to his words, as well as those who are his victims (v. 28). He is operating in exact antithesis to the law of love, which seeks no harm for its neighbor (Romans 13:10).

Why does the gossip and flatterer do what he does? Why do these “abominations fill his heart” (v. 25)? He is simply attempting to elevate himself in the eyes of others. He is a victim of his own pride and is self-deceived. The wise person will see right through his smooth words to the malicious schemes and treachery in his heart.

Prayer of Application

Dear Lord, help me never to utter words detrimental to another person. And keep me from flattery to gain some kind of advantage. Rather, Lord, help me to expose this kind of evil.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 26:18-19

Beware of Excusing Evil as a Joke

18) Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows 19) is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”

These verses really convict me of some of the stunts I was a party to in college. Some were not only done in jest, but were downright dangerous. I remember someone bringing a crossbow on campus. We tried to penetrate closed doors with its arrows. Suppose another student had walked out of one of those doors and had taken an arrow in the chest. The “deadly arrows” of verse 18 would have ceased to be metaphorical. Can you imagine our trying to explain we were “only joking”?

The words “shooting firebrands” remind me of a “joke” that was played on me. I was taking a shower one morning when a guy took a drawer full of my clean shirts and wedged it between my shower door and the bathroom wall so that I could neither escape nor throw water on him. Then he proceeded to shoot a stream of flaming lighter fluid onto the rear wall of the shower
stall. He laughed the whole time. Though I was not hurt, I failed to see any humor in it.

Perhaps the worst offender is he who deliberately deceives his neighbor, then excuses himself by saying it was a joke. Beware of the “practical lie” and the practical joke which can harm your neighbor. God doesn’t think them funny in the least.

Scriptural Examples

Pharaoh. Although the Bible doesn’t say so, he must have chuckled at his own deceit. He viewed the plagues as magic, so he kept on lying, thinking it was all a joke (Exodus chapters 7-12).

Aaron. When Moses came down from the mountain to find the people worshipping a golden calf, Aaron lied, saying that the calf had just “jumped out of the fire.” Later Aaron might have told his brother, “You know, I was only joking” (Exodus 32:1-24).

Prayer of Application

Dear God, Your Word tells us it is our responsibility to love You and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Help me never to treat my neighbor in an irresponsible way.

Copyright 2014/15 – Robert C. Beasley