Words of Wisdom
[A Study of Proverbs]
[Please read the first paragraph of Part One before proceeding.]
This will be the final part of our studies on words of wisdom from the book of Proverbs. We will take up where we left off from part three and begin with verse 21 of chapter 3 and conclude with verse 35.
My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:
As the chapter is speaking, of course, about wisdom, God is saying to His sons not to let wisdom depart from your eyes. This means that you should focus on and look to God for wisdom from His Word. God is exhorting us to keep sound wisdom and discretion in our hearts. That is a simple verse and should require no more explanation. However, there is a verse in Colossians that should be mentioned.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. – Colossians 3: 2
This Scripture backs up proverbs 3: 21, doesn't it? The word ‘affection’ in Colossians means ‘thinking’ or ‘mind’. We are to think about spiritual matters, not things that are on the earth. It takes a renewed mind to accomplish this. The more of God’s Word you know, the easier it becomes. And what does God’s Word give you? It gives you wisdom and that is not something to brag about. If you are operating God's wisdom and not the wisdom of the world, you will be discreet about it. You don't go around bragging to people about what a spiritual ‘heavy’ you are. There is no need for that and we don't feel a desire to do that. It makes no sense.
So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.
We always have to watch our pronouns such as the word ‘they’ in this verse. It should be obvious that this is referring to the sound wisdom and discretion of the previous verse. So what are their attributes? They are life -- a more than abundant life -- unto thy soul. Your soul is what makes you – you. It is your personality, it is the way you are and the way you act around other people and even with yourself. God says that wisdom and discretion will be life unto your soul. What kind of life do you think that is? It's a positive, pleasant happy, and joyful life. God does not give out any negatives. He cannot because His Word says that He is all light and in Him is no darkness at all. So we have adequately covered the first part of this verse.
Now the second part is a little bit more difficult as God is using a figure of speech and referring to a part of your life as your ’neck’. If you would like to study this word, you will see a very small a before the word ‘neck’. This is referring to a center reference that you can see says chapter 1: 9. If you go to this verse, you will see a phrase that says ‘chains about thy neck’. If you read the context of chapter 1, especially verse eight, you can see that this phrase is referring to something quite positive. I am not going to guess at what this means. But if my father said to me after I listened to his advice, “Son, because you are obeying your father and mother, I am going to put chains about your neck." To me, this obviously means that my father is going to protect me -- he is going to help me -- he is going to watch over me.
Now going back to Proverbs verse 22 and the second part of the verse, we see that wisdom and discretion will not only be life to our soul, but grace, which is divine favor, to our neck. It appears as if God is saying that He is going to protect our whole self by allowing us divine favor. Many times we experience this favor in our lives and we never realize it. We may think something is wrong because we want to go somewhere and we are bound in the spirit. We know in our hearts and by our experience renewing our mind to God's Word, that we simply should not go. Many times God is protecting us from something very serious and this can be referred to as divine favor or grace.
So, in essence, this verse is saying that sound wisdom and discretion will result in life for our soul and possibly a great deal of protection or divine favor which is the definition of grace. Because God's Word says we are never to privately interpret or guess at the meaning of a Scripture, I will let it go at this. But so often, I have wished that there was a lexicon written somewhere in the world for the Old Testament. But there is not. I even heard the man of God who taught me everything I know once say that he did not understand the meaning of a certain Scripture and that settled it. He said when the Word does not tell you, you simply do not know.
Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.
You see that God almost never rests His case. He gives us more and more proof and more and more benefits as to what He says in His Word. He is still telling us the benefits of walking by sound wisdom and discretion. First, He tells us about what a great life we have and possibly how He will offer us great protection via grace.
Now God says that when we combine all of these benefits emulating from sound wisdom and discretion, we also are able to walk safely. God Almighty will see that we walk the straight and narrow path. As time goes by, the enemy's strength increases resulting in less and less people who really believe and stand like a rock on the rightly divided Word of God. It seems like there are millions of roads that we can take in this life. But I believe that God has one road that we are to travel.
Now, not only does God say that He is protecting us so that we can walk safely in the midst of this present evil world, but He also says that your foot will not stumble. If we can walk by the renewed mind and not break fellowship, we will never stumble. But we know, in this world, that at times, we will make mistakes and we will sin. But I am sure of one thing, the more we think and study and act on God's matchless Word, the less and less we will break fellowship. And that means that we will stumble, or make mistakes, less and less. Life will get better and better because God Almighty has given us these promises in His Word. I get excited about the Word when I think of all these promises that God has given us. There are almost 1000. How many do you know? It's been said that the renewed mind is a very difficult process and it is true. However, it should be stressed that the more we renew our mind to God's Word and act upon it, the better things become in our life. So that every day, we get stronger, we get better, and we stumble less because God Almighty has made a safe way for us.
When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.
God here continues with the benefits resulting from the previous Scripture and in combination with all the Scriptures we have studied so far in this teaching. One of the five ways to relax is sleep. [See teaching Five Ways To Relax] God says not to be afraid when you lie down to sleep because He is protecting you if you are keeping Him first. He says again, like a comforting Father would, that yes, you can lay down and also your sleep shall be sweet. These are more promises that are in God's Word.
Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.
God is warning us that at times, the adversary will make every attempt to afflict you in your life. He says not to be afraid of what may suddenly come upon you. God always makes a way out. Many times I would feel very uncomfortable about a situation and in time, God would take care of it as if it never even happened. That is why this saying has come about even in the world, that 98% of what we worry about never happens. The desolation of the wicked is referring to anything that is dreary, dismal, or gloomy. Another definition is something that's unfit for human habitation. This is what the wicked bring to this world. I have experienced more problems in the neighborhood in which I live than I have ever experienced in my whole life when it comes to other people. The people where I live have a habit pattern of life that can be referred to as stately and powerful. So they think. When they met me, they were confronted for the first time in their lives and they did not like that. But I am not compromising on the Word of God, I don't care what anyone says or does. God proved Himself to me time and time again. If people want to go to hell, that's their prerogative. So God is trying to tell us to just cool it and don't worry about anything because He is going to take care of it. This appears to be one of the most difficult parts of the renewed mind. I live with a person who never worries about a thing and never gets in trouble with anyone, and never gotten into an argument with one person in the whole world, and has never got a speeding citation in 40 some years. This person must know something about God's Word in areas where we seem to struggle at times, am I right?! That is why the renewed mind is a continuous process. It never ends and it will not end until Jesus Christ returns.
For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.
My word, talk about benefits -- God has them coming out of the woodwork. He tells us that if we stick with His Word, that our confidence will be the result of a knowledge of His Word. Otherwise we will be full of fear and fear is sand in the machinery of life. Fear is believing in reverse and brings negative consequences to a person’s life.
And besides this, God says He will keep our foot, which is a figure of speech, from being taken. Did you ever get in trouble to the point where you really wondered what was going to happen? If you're walking with the true God, He will always make sure that nothing will harm you. This can refer to so many different situations in life. There are social situations and legal situations. I warn people in one of my teachings to keep away from legal entanglements in this world. There are very few authorities that will stand up for your rights. They only care about how much money they can make per hour. I had an attorney once charge me $90 for a phone call. He said he charged me such a high amount because they kept him on hold! You want to talk about confidence and about how to stay out of trouble, well then you keep God first and foremost in your life in all situations. You set your affections on Him, and continue the work that Jesus Christ did while he walked the face of this earth. That is to destroy the works of the devil. What good is the power of God in Christ in us if we don't have a chance to use it? Have you ever stood up to someone in your lifetime and rebuked them outright and out loud in the name of Jesus Christ? There will come a time when you may have to do this. It happened to me more than one time. You will be amazed at the result. The devil spirit working in that person to agitate you must leave. It has no choice. Sometimes a person must be rebuked twice, but believe me, the results will fascinate you. No, it's not something to rejoice in or to look forward to but you must remember that you have this power. USE IT.
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
This has always been a favorite Scripture of mine. Are you a respecter of persons? If you are, you're in for some grave consequences in your life. I remember sometimes when I would help a poor lowly person on the street. Those people can be so thankful and make your life feel so worthwhile. One time there was a lady who looked like she lived on the street. She was walking and could just about move. I stopped my car as everyone else ignored her and I asked her if she needed some help. This was a long time ago and I asked her if she needed a ride to where she was going. I even offered her some money so that she could get something to eat. You could see her fighting the tears in her eyes. When I left, I felt like Jesus Christ was standing on the right hand of God. And he was saying, “That's my brother”.
When you have what someone else needs and especially if you have it in excess, and you withhold it from a person who is in need, you might as well close the Bible and never open it again. Because you're not going anywhere with God -- the only god you're going to work with is the god of this world and that is the devil.
As you may have known, I worked in a very large mental hospital. I found that job to be so rewarding because very few of the workers took an actual interest in the lives of those people except myself. I was the most popular I could be with the patients and the opposite was true with the staff. Did I give a damn? I couldn't care less. I knew what God had me to do and I did it. I saved a young woman's life by getting her out of that hospital when no one in the world would help her. Am I bragging about it? No way. God gets the glory. He pulled off a miracle – it’s too long a story to tell.
I have a neighbor that lives for material things. He has a small poorly rated company and some people may look up to him out of fear. But not me. I told him about all the noise that he made and I gave him every warning I could give him. At one time God told me to do something and I did it at the risk of my own welfare. This person threatened my life. I put a criminal trespass contract out on him. You see no one stands up to the devil's people except a sold-out believer. Ephesians 6: 12 IT’S ALWAYS A SPIRITUAL BATTLE. YOU DEAL WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE INFLUENCED BY DEVIL SPIRITS. That believer waits and waits and waits for God Almighty to give him a green light as far as what to do. The only thing this person does right now is to shine a spotlight on parts of my property and the side of my home. Isn't it just something that that part of my house has no windows? Ha! I don't know about you, but I love to watch the master work. Anyway just remember, when you have a chance to help someone, don't let that chance pass you by because it may never come again. You will always be sorry and you will always regret the fact that you did not help that person when you had the ability to help them.
Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.
If there is one thing I can't stand, it is someone who is cheap. This Scripture is saying to tell your neighbor to go away for now and come back tomorrow. Then I can help you when I have what you need.
You're really hoping this guy never comes back to you because you are so damn cheap that you won't reach in your pocket to help a person who is in dire need. You have to ask yourself, am I this type of person? You should be thankful to give to help a poor soul. If you understood the law of giving equals receiving, you would know that you will always receive back maybe 10 times more than what you gave. Also, there is another principle that I apply at times. Moving the Word like I do, there are times when I am under extreme pressure. I honestly don't know how I make it through these times, but there is one thing and one solution that I use many times. It's very simple. When the pressure is on, I GIVE. I don't understand it, but it works. A few weeks ago I felt so much pressure when the adversary was hitting me from every possible angle he could, I prayed and prayed. Then do you know what I did? I did something for somebody who least expected it. It took me about an hour of my time, but I took something to somebody and it blessed them. I drove away from that situation and all of this pressure seemed to be lifted from me. Remember, if you feel great pressure - that's when it's time to give. “Abundant living is abundant giving.”
We will cover seven more Scriptures and then we will close out this series of teachings on Words of Wisdom. Then I will tell you about my first encounter with Proverbs and what came about shortly afterwards.
Proverbs: 3: 29 – 32
Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.
As I said a number of times, I live in a neighborhood that is about as bad as it gets. No one is a believer. No one does any physical exercise. On rare occasions, people talk to one another. They are in a state spiritually, of stately and powerful, and ambitious rivalry. God will show you a way so that you will not be tempted to bring evil upon these people. One of the most effective ways I have learned to defeat my personal adversary in this category is to ignore and avoid him. There is another thing he cannot stand and that is silence. This combination will defeat him every time. It takes patience and discipline on your part and an absolute knowledge of Philippians 4: 8. You need to run this Scripture through your mind and you need to memorize it. What makes this principle difficult to apply is that your neighbor, who is an unbeliever, is more than likely devising evil against you. In the Bible, it teaches us to overcome evil with good. The most important question here is what is the meaning of ‘good’. Since the only way I have found that defeats the enemy is silence and ignoring and avoiding him, then to me, this is good. You must remember that self-defense is a Biblical concept, but vengeance is not. Sometimes there is a thin line between the two and you must be careful. It can be difficult to apply correctly. Many times we can lose patience and we take what our neighbor is doing to us and we do the same thing to them. This puts more wood on the fire and eventually makes matters worse.
At this point, I must tell you a story that an attorney once shared with me. You have a bucket of water and you have a hammer. You are the bucket of water and you are nice and calm. Your neighbor is the hammer. The hammer comes down on the bucket of water, but the bucket of water does not retaliate -- it does nothing. Eventually the waves settle down and the water is calm once again. The neighbor sees this and again he brings the hammer down on top of the water, but the water makes no reaction and eventually the waves go away and the water gets calm once again. This goes on and on for a period of time. The point is that the neighbor with the hammer will eventually become fed up and quit when he sees no response and no reaction.
I always say that if there is not a problem, do not CREATE one. This is simple and you may need to think about it. Neighbors have always been a problem for believers. Who else is the adversary going to work through when he is trying to disrupt the movement of God's Word?
Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.
God is once again backing up what He has already said in the previous verse. He is being more specific and detail oriented in this verse. You are never to strive or cause problems for a person who hasn't done anything to you. If you have, this will eat away at you for year after year until you finally do one thing and that is to apologize to that person. This happened to me on many occasions, both ways. It is an amazing principle and one that hopefully you will never have to apply. But if you do have to apply this principle, remember, the only way out is to apologize from your heart to this person in person.
God, in the second part of the verse, again practically repeats what He has already said. He points out specifically that you are not to do such a thing to a person who has done you no harm. I will share something with you that I rarely tell anyone. I hurt an innocent person when I was about 16 years old. I did something very wrong and broke someone's heart for no reason at all -- at least not a justifiable one. I suffered for about 30 years and I never knew why that this one thing deep inside me was bothering me. The enemy covered it up and I didn't even know what it was. One day, God revealed it to me and I did everything in my power to tell this person that I was sorry for what I did. This person would never see me and never speak to me again. But my actions in making such an effort was enough to get the message across and I began to feel better. I knew that this person had realized that I had made a major mistake and that I paid for what I did. One of the last words that she ever said to me when I was very young was “Every dog gets his day”. I never forgot those words and later in life when I realized what I had done, they came back to haunt me. But I did something about it and I was healed of this terrible feeling that I carried around inside me most of my life. Someone also did something like this to me for no reason at all. About five years later, this person went out of their way to find me and to hold onto my arm and to look me in the eyes and say to me that she was sorry. It was a touching moment and I said to her forget about it. I knew she was healed and that burden was lifted from her. So don't ever do this. I feel good inside to make you aware of this type of situation. It’s that important.
Envy thou not the oppressor [a man of violence], and choose none of his ways.
In this situation, the center reference for the word ‘oppressor’ appears correct. Out of fear, many people will actually be envious of violent men because they feel they are strong, when actually they are insane. There is something going around today that is called functional insanity and it oppresses many people. I mentioned already that my life was threatened more than once. Just mention attorney to these people and they run. Or else they try to do something different to you that makes them look like an absolute fool. Don't react. A reaction is what the enemy wants from you, so don't give it to him. Ignore and avoid the enemy's people. God goes on in this verse and He says never to imitate any of this evil person’s ways. You are to keep your head in God's Word no matter what goes on around you. You are always to be clear and concerned on your goals and what you are thinking about. I've said this before but it can be said again. Think about what you are thinking about. You'll find your mind wandering many times into places that it should not be. That's where Philippians 4: 8 is invaluable in your renewed mind. The Word of God has great power and you'll only see it after you act. So often during the day, especially when I'm not feeling very well for some reason, I also remember to pray in the spirit. All of a sudden, everything goes away. There is power in the Word of God.
For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.
Since there is no lexicon for the Old Testament, I am going to use the definition from I Peter 2: 18 since I am sure that it fits the context of this verse. Froward is referring to someone who is crooked, not straightforward and perverse. These people are an abomination to God Almighty. That's why you are not to envy the oppressor and become like him. Remember, every dog gets his day. It's true. But God takes this negative-like introduction and turns it into a great positive in the second part of the verse. He says that His secret is with the righteous. What do you think His secret is? His secret refers to people who keep God first and who keep his Word first in their lives. There is a secret to living and everyone has a separate and an individual relationship with God Almighty. This is referred to as ‘godliness’. I have done a separate teaching on this subject. There are many secrets to living with God Almighty and God will reveal to you a secret or secrets that will work only for you. This is exciting and it is only available to the righteous believer, not the froward perverse and crooked person. Let's move on to our last three Scriptures.
Proverbs: 3: 33 – 35
The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.
It may appear to you as if the wicked are prospering, but God says that His curse is upon that house. Many times your enemy is suffering severely because he chooses the way of the world. He makes his choice by his own free will and God will not overstep that free will. So often, I wonder when God is going to do something to help me and the ironic part is that He already has. This is a trick of Satan that you must be aware of. If you think God is doing nothing to help you, you will become bitter and out of fellowship. You may do something that is absolutely not necessary and that you will regret deeply. The enemy can get you to make mistakes by lying to your mind. I have battled with these thoughts for many years. Finally, I came to the realization that God has already destroyed my enemy in more ways than I can think of.
God seems to be following a pattern in the Scriptures. He first brings up what appears to be a negative-type subject. But again, take a look at the second part of the verse. It is as simple as can be. God blesses the home of the just person who respects and lives by His Word. God says it – that settles it.
Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.
Notice that same pattern in these verses. First God speaks of the unbelievers and secondly, He speaks of the believers.
Scorners are people who deride or laugh at the Word of God. These, of course, are the unbelievers and they are people who belong to and are influenced by the god of this world. The scorners are people who reject God and not only reject Him but try to make fun of the whole subject. Well, we are going to see who is going to get the last laugh. I mentioned the area in which I live, but I should have mentioned that this whole part of the State in which I am in, is very similar to where I live. In other words, I have said to my spouse that even if we decided to move, which we never will, I am quite certain it will be the same no matter where we go. As is mentioned in the book of Peter, the world is getting worse and worse and worse. But yet it covers it up and it makes it appear acceptable, such as the subject of homosexuality. Homosexuality is so low that it's not at the bottom of the barrel -- it's underneath the barrel. It's being accepted more and more each day and that's just what Satan wants. A spirit of homosexuality and lesbianism is the devil's strongest spirit. That's why he's working so hard to get the unbelievers and unbelieving believers to accept it as a normal condition. Romans warns us about the consequences, but many appear to scorn the Word, don't they? Well, not all of us. We are the ones that will be blessed while those who transgress the Word will be cursed.
The second part of the verse is again very simple. It states that God will give grace, which as we remember is His divine favor, unto the humble -- unto the meek. This means that God will bestow His divine favor to people who are teachable and not full of pride and are heady and high-minded. If there is one quality that I wish I could develop even more so, it would be to be more humble. Did you ever notice that when you're really humble -- that's when you feel your best?
The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.
Obviously, God can say it in whatever way He knows is best. In this verse He reverses the pattern of negative/positive. God is first telling us all of the positives that will result in our life when we seek out His wisdom which is in His Word.
Wise believers will attract attention and command recognition. This is surely a good quality, but unbelievers who are envious of you will probably dislike you for having these personality traits. This is what many believers experience today. That's why when it comes to the Word of God, you have no friends. You and God make a majority in every single situation. There are times when you must depend only on God. Just remember, when it comes right down to it, all that you need is God to help you. There are times and burdens that we must bear alone. But actually we are never really alone. God is always with us and we must remember this at all times.
In the second part of this verse, God tells you what a fool can look forward to and that is ‘shame’. You need to watch out and get out of the way when an unbeliever feels shame. His actions are then quite unpredictable and you're better off to get away -- as far as you can. Remember, the enemy is a parasite and if you are not around for him to parasite off of you, then he must go somewhere else to another person. Not to extend this too far, but you may remember the proverb that states how so many people will run to a problem. This is what happens when there is a fire or a bad car accident. People run to see what is happening. You, as a believer, should be running in the opposite direction.
This will conclude our teachings on Words of Wisdom. You can surely see how these teachings can go on for ever and ever. I wanted you to never forget the wisdom that sets like a diamond in the book of Proverbs. By only handling a small handful of chapters, we have put together about 30 pages of teachings. Now I want to take a little bit of time to tell you why Proverbs has a special meaning to me.
Although my parents, who were divorced, lived in new homes, I lived by myself in one room in a boarding house for many years before I got into the Word of God. Every weekend, my landlords who lived below me would go away for most of the weekend. They had a huge living room and I could not help but take a look at it. There was only one thing of interest to me and that was this huge Bible. I mean it was huge. I grabbed that Bible and I took it upstairs to my room and the only book that I could understand was the Book of Proverbs. I would sit there and read Proverbs and for the first time in my life, I would start to feel better. I was battling depression and loneliness and I could find no purpose in life. But when I read these Proverbs, something came to life within me. That's a simple story, isn't it? But it's not over.
After searching diligently for about five years for some truth in this world, I found myself near the end of my search as I read these Proverbs. Within one or two months, my then best friend came over to visit me and of all things, we decided to drive about 30 miles to this big shopping mall to play a certain pinball machine. Can you imagine that? In a music store, was a banjo player. I never saw anyone play this well before. He was a believer and he spoke the Word to me and invited us to a branch meeting near where I lived. During that meeting, I had tears running down my face and I signed up for a class that changed my life for good. My friend never attended the meeting. So that is my small conclusion as to why Proverbs and all of the Word of God
is so precious to me. That was about 40 years ago in the fall of 1974 – the beginning of my life.