The series is titled, “Uncommon, Common Sense,” and is a unique, verse-by-verse study of the Proverbs of Solomon. The study is intentionally personal, and practical in nature.
A time of public prayer (6:15pm) precedes the class (not broadcasted), and the live broadcast of tonight’s lesson will begin sometime after 6:30pm.
Tonight’s lesson concludes the study of Proverbs 15:28-33, and I am plan to begin an introduction of Proverbs 16.
Student notes, along with my personal word study, are available upon request by emailing your request to HeartOfAShepherdInc@gmail.com. Requests for student notes will be honored, if received before 5:30 pm.
Hillsdale’s Bible Institute Classes continue this Wednesday evening with Missionary Melanie Rodgers teaching a Ladies’ class in the Friendship Hall, and Pastor Smith teaching his open attendance class in the auditorium.
Pastor Smith’s study in the Book of Proverbs will focus on Proverbs 8, part 2 of that study.
The class time is divided into three segments:
6:15-6:30pm – A time of Prayer (is not broadcast live)
Though not by design, it so happens that today’s Scripture reading falls on Father’s Day! I encourage you to read and savor these final two chapters of Proverbs as we continue our goal of chronologically reading through the Word of God this year. My focus for today’s devotional commentary is limited to Proverbs 31:1-2.
The “virtuous woman” is the subject of Proverbs 31, perhaps the most beloved of the chapters in Proverbs because it addresses the most central figure in life apart from our Creator—one’s mother. Like chapter 30, the authorship of Proverbs 31 has been debated down through the centuries; however, I feel there is much about this chapter that commends itself to having been authored by King Solomon.
Proverbs 31:1 – “The words [discourse; law] of king Lemuel, the prophecy[burden; tribute] that his mother taught him [instructed; discipline; chasten].”
There is no record of a king named Lemuel in ancient Israel or Judah and many scholars believe Lemuel might have been a nickname Bathsheba gave to her son Solomon. Having lost her firstborn son in infancy, the one conceived in an act of adultery with David, one can understand why Bathsheba would dedicate Solomon to God and, in her heart, name him Lemuel (The literal meaning of Lemuel is “unto God” –lit. dedicated to God). For the sake of our devotional studies in Proverbs, I propose we view this chapter as Solomon’s memorial to his mother.
Verse 2 of Proverbs 31 records the Queen mother’s appeal to her son in a three-fold question:
Proverbs 31:2 – “What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows[dedication to God; binding covenant between mother and God]?”
Allow me to probe the meaning of the three questions proposed by the king’s mother.
1) “What my son?” (31:2a) – i.e. – What more can I say to you my son and king?
2)“What, the son of my womb?” (31:2a) – She reminds the king that she knew him in her womb; before he drew his first breath. She gave him life and loves him as no one else could love him.
3) “What, the son of my vows?” (31:2a) – Like Hannah dedicated her son Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11), Bathsheba had dedicated her son while he was in her womb. She remembers the first stirring of life and how she had prayed for him. She had dedicated her son to serve the Lord!
We are not told what moved Bathsheba to make an impassioned plea to her son. Perhaps her motherly instincts sensed the moral dangers Solomon would face. She knew all too well the temptations that beset a man of power, possessions, and popularity. The plea of the Queen mother resonated in her son’s heart and he memorialized her virtuous qualities as an example for all women.
Someone has said: “The greatest moral power in the world is that exercised by a mother over her child.”
John Quincy Adams, the 6th president of the United States said concerning his mother, “All that I am, or ever have been, in this world, I owe, under God, to my mother.”
It is my prayer that the king’s praise of his mother will move husbands, sons and daughters to encourage wives and mothers with words of affirmation and move mothers to aspire to the qualities of a virtuous woman.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, is one of my heroes. Born in 1809 on the western frontier of the United States in the state of Indiana, Lincoln’s life story is inspiring. The son of a farmer, Lincoln’s childhood home was a log cabin. He was homeschooled and largely self-educated.
This man of the most common stock would challenge a nation to confront its soul and weigh its fundamental declaration that, “all men are created equal.” Honest Abe, The Rail Splitter, The Great Emancipator was mocked by his enemies; however, even they admired his character and reputation for honesty.
Proverbs 22:1calls you to consider the reputation associated with your name.
Proverbs 22:1 – “A good name [honorable reputation] is rather to be chosenthan greatriches [wealth], and loving favour [grace] rather than silver and gold.”
A good name is not something you can purchase with silver and gold. Your reputation is something you earn. Your parents named you when you were born; however, your character and life choices have shaped and colored the hue of your name. What character qualities come to mind when someone hears your name?
Solomon challenged his son that it was better to be an honorable man, than to possess wealth, but be cloaked with dishonor.
Proverbs 22:2 – A man’s worth is not defined by what he owns, but by what or who owns him.
Parable 22:2 – “The rich and poor [destitute] meet together [concur; encounter]: the LORD is the maker [Creator] of them all.”
There is little difference between the rich and the poor; with the exception the rich man has much goods. We are all God’s creatures. The rich man is no better than the poor man, and a poor man is no less than a rich man.
Whether rich or poor, we are sinners in need of a Savior Redeemer—Jesus Christ. Regardless of the designer label in our clothes, we need God’s mercy and grace. In the end, death is the great equalizer of both the rich and poor.
We read in the Book of James:
James 1:9-10 – “Let the brother [believer] of low degree[poor circumstances] rejoice in that he is exalted[rich in Christ]: 10 But the rich, in that he is made low [humbled]: because as the flower of the grass he [rich man] shall pass away.”
Romans 5:8 – “But God commendeth [demonstrated] His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Proverbs 22:3 – “A prudent[cunning; sensible]man foreseeth [perceive; understands] the evil [sin; wickedness; adversity], and hideth [conceal; hide; shelter] himself: but the simple[foolish; silly] pass on, and are punished [condemn; inflict a penalty].”
We are living in dangerous, uncertain times and Proverbs 22:3 challenges believers to be wise and discerning in a world that is no friend of the spiritually-minded. Consider the contrast between two men who are polar opposites when it comes to discernment—the Prudent and the Simple.
The Prudent man is a learner. He is a student of the Scriptures [the Wisdom of God] and human nature. His senses are exercised by the Word of God and a lifetime of experiences. He is wary of the wiles and ways of the world. Prudence dictates that he foresees the ways of the wicked and withdraws himself from the consequences of their sinful ways.
The Simple are not learners. They are stubborn, and ignore the admonitions of their parents and have disdain for godly counsel. They pursue the pleasures of sin, giving no thought to their tragic end. The Simple rush past moral restraints and headlong down the path of self-destruction. This same proverb is repeated in Proverbs 27:12, thus magnifying the need to read and heed its truth.
Proverbs 27:12 – “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.”
Truth – Men who are wise will seek and heed godly counsel.
Today’s Scripture reading challenges me with an impossible task: How to choose one or two proverbs when the chapters assigned are too rich to mine in a year, let alone, in one daily devotional! Today’s commentary will focus on Proverbs 19:3-4 and I pray its application will be a blessing.
Proverbs 19:3-4 offers us insight into the heart and mind a foolish person. Solomon observes two characteristics of a fool [one who is silly and whose path is folly].
Proverbs 19:3 –“The foolishness[silliness; folly]of man perverteth[distorts; overthrow]his way[journey]: and his heart[mind; thoughts; seat of his feelings]fretteth[rage; be troubled]against the LORD.”
The fool has a distorted view of life. His heart, thoughts and emotions rage against the LORD [Jehovah—Eternal God; Self-existent God]. He is double minded (James 1:8; 4:8), denying His Creator in his heart and thoughts (Psalm 14:1), while blaming God and others for his woes.
A second parable offers a lesson in friendship—contrasting the rich and the poor.
Proverbs 19:4–“Wealth[riches; possessions]maketh[adds to; increases]manyfriends[companions]; but the poor[needy; helpless]is separated[scattered; dispersed]from his neighbour[companion; friend].”
“Wealth maketh many friends” and Solomon warns his son that riches and possessions are like magnets. Though wealth buys friends, they often prove to be temperamental, shallow friends. Friends whose aspirations are self-centered and motivated by what they hope to gain.
Poverty is not inviting and economic failure often breeds loneliness. While fair weather “friends” flatter the rich, the poor find themselves the bane of society and “separated from [their] neighbor.” The poor often find they are lonely and rejected by their friends and family.
The parable of the Prodigal son comes to mind when I ponder Proverbs 19:3-4.
The Prodigal was a proud, disobedient, rebellious son (Luke 15:11-32). Setting his heart on the world and its lascivious ways, he despised his father, demanded his inheritance and left home (Luke 15:12-13).
For a season he was the life of the party until he had wasted all his father had given him (Luke 15:13b-14). With no money, friends or hope—the prodigal found himself impoverished and estranged from his father and God (Luke 15:14-16).
Financially destitute and spiritually broken, a longing arose within the heart of the prodigal to return to his father’s house (Luke 15:15-19). Drawing near to home, the prodigal greeted his father with a confession of sin and unworthiness, but his father greeted him with grace, love, and forgiveness (Luke 15:20-24).
Lesson – There are some things money cannot buy, for they are too precious to affix a price.
Money cannot buy GRACE, for it is a gift that is GIVEN. Money cannot buy LOVE, for biblical love calls for an act of self-sacrifice. Money cannot buy FORGIVENESS, for it is imparted as an act of freewill.
If your life is graced by a friend whose love is enduring, matchless and true, you are blessed! For believers, such a friend is Jesus Christ whose love for sinners held Him to the cross as He died for the sins of the world.
Bad News: The gift of forgiveness and salvation exceeds more than all the world can afford.
Good News: Salvation is freely given to any who call upon the LORD to be saved.
Romans 5:8-9– “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
Ephesians 2:8-9– “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Continuing our chronological daily reading of the Scriptures, you are invited to read Proverbs 16-18. Today’s devotional will be based on Proverbs 16:10-13.
Americans live in a republic whose laws should be as binding on her leaders as they are on common citizens. Idealistically, no leader is above the law and the scales of justice are in no man’s favor.
In a monarchy, however, the king is the embodiment of the law and the citizens of his realm can only pray that their king is a righteous man who fears the judgment and wrath of God.
Proverbs 16:10-13 expresses four principles that serve as a guide for every leader and those he serves.
Proverbs 16:10– “A divine sentence[decision reflecting God’s Law]isin[proceeds from; is on]the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not[does not committrespass]in judgment[sentence; verdict].”
Kings, rulers, judges and all who are in authority are to exercise judgment being mindful that God, not man, is the ultimate authority of right and wrong. When godly men sit in places of judgment, their hearts are able to weigh matters with the discernment God alone gives. How is that possible?
Deuteronomy 17:18-20 – “And it shall be, when he[king] sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, thathe[king] shall write him a copy of this law in a bookout of that which is before the priests the Levites:19And it shall be with him, andhe shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:20That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.”
The kings of Israel were to possess a copy of God’s Law written in their own hand (17:18). The Law of God was to be a king’s daily meditation (17:19) and he was to remember he was God’s servant and a minister to his people (17:20).
Proverbs 16:11– “A just weight[right verdict; scale]and balance[scales]are the LORD’S: all the weights[stones; measurements]of the bagareHis work[labor; work of His hands].”
Lady Justice continues to serve as an international symbol of equity. She is often depicted wearing a blindfold, holding in her left hand the scales of justice, and in her right the double-edged sword of judgment. She serves as a modern reminder of what kings were to remember: God is the final judge and arbitrator. Israel’s king was to remember that God’s Law and the immutable principles of His holiness, grace and mercy were the final word when he executed judgment.
Proverbs 16:12– “It isan abomination[abhorrence; loathsome; repulsive]to kings to commit[do; execute]wickedness[moral wrong]: for the throne[seat of authority and judgment]is established[fixed; firmly established; made strong]by righteousness[rightness; moral virtue].”
Proverbs 16:12 addresses the responsibility and influence of kings and all who are in authority. I believe America is in a quagmire of immorality and injustice because our leaders have forsaken the Law of God, and have no moral compass for discerning right and wrong. The decay of our strength and security as a nation has paralleled the erosion of our confidence and respect for those in authority.
Proverbs 16:13– “Righteous[true; just]lipsarethe delight[desire; pleasure]of kings; and they love[desire; like]him that speaketh right[just; upright].”
The integrity of a leader may be measured by the moral character of his counselors. Godless leaders seek counsel from those who serve their immoral ends, but godly leaders have a passion for truth and love those whose words and counsel are honest and just.
Do you desire wisdom and discernment? Study God’s Word and meditate on His Laws and Commandments.
Psalm 119:103-105 – “How sweet are thy words unto my taste!yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.105Thy wordis a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
“Thou shalt not commit adultery,” the Seventh Commandment, states clearly God’s plan for humanity’s sexuality and the posterity of the human race. From the beginning, the companionship of one man and one woman for life has never been in doubt (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:18, 20-25).
Human history, however, reveals not only a rejection of marriage, but also the tragic toll of sexual immorality. Crushed dreams, divided hearts, broken families, physical disease, and despair has been the haunt of all who reject the sanctity of marriage. The lesson is indisputable:
Give rein to lusts that cannot be righteously satisfied and you will be consumed by them.
Proverbs 7 serves as a graphic tale of a young man’s folly. Whether a personal observation of the sorrows that followed in the wake of his father’s adultery or a consequence of his own sinful choices, Solomon gives us a portrait that serves as a warning to all who reject godly wisdom and choose the path of immorality. The king warned his son, the house of an adulterer is “the way to hell” (7:27).
My theme for Proverbs 8 is expressed in a word consisting of seventeen letters and five syllables. What is the definition of anthropomorphized? It means to take on human characteristics. Wisdom does that in Proverbs 8, and is in my interpretation, the embodiment of the pre-incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Solomon introduces us to Wisdom in the first three verses of the chapter (8:1-3), and then she (Wisdom) begins to speak throughout the balance of the chapter (8:4-36). You will notice the personification of Wisdom expressed in personal pronouns throughout Proverbs 8.
Proverbs 8 concludes with wisdom’s invitation and warning:
Proverbs 8:35-36 –For whoso findethme[Wisdom personified in Jesus Christ] findethlife[spiritual and eternal life – 1 John 5:11], and shall obtain[get] favour[acceptance; good pleasure; goodwill] of the LORD.36But he that against me[Christ the Lord] wrongeth[violates] his own soul[life; person; mind; spirit]: all they that hate[to reject; are enemies or foes] me[wisdom] love death[pestilence; ruin; hades].”
Solomon continues his personification of Wisdom in chapter 9 and we find her building a house described as having “seven pillars” (9:1). [In the Scriptures the number seven indicates completeness or wholeness.]
Consider this chapter as an offering of two spiritual scholarships to two opposing schools of thought and philosophy.
As you read Proverbs 9, ponder this question: In what school of thought or philosophy are you enrolled?
Are you enrolled in the University of Godly Wisdom? Are you a student in the School of Folly where gullible, simple men dwell? [The “simple” are those who lack godly wisdom, are slaves to sin, and follow a course of sorrow, destruction, and eventual death.]
It is not too late to become a student in the LORD’S University of Godly Wisdom by humbling yourself and accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior. Christ taught His followers, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst… All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:35, 37).
I invite you, enroll in the University of Godly Wisdom without delay by opening your heart to the Lord.
Our Scripture reading covers three chapters and consists of eighty-five verses. For the sake of brevity, we will consider only one proverbial idiom (Proverbs 4:10-12). You are invited to visit my www.HeartofAShepherd.com blog for thirty-two expositions on today’s Scripture reading.
After exhorting “children” to embrace wisdom (Proverbs 4:7-9), Solomon challenged his son to hold his father’s instructions with humility (4:10-12). Solomon writes:
Proverbs 4:10– “Hear [obey, hearken],O my son, and receive[lay hold of, take, seize] my sayings[words; speeches; answer]; and the years of thy life shall be many[increase].”
Solomon challenged his son with a longing implanted in every human heart—long life! The object of Solomon’s instruction to his son is the fifth commandment:
Exodus 20:12–“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”
The Apostle Paul repeated the same promise in Ephesians 6:1-3.
Ephesians 6:1-3– “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.2Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”
Loving parents look past the difficult task of teaching and correcting their children and see its reward—a child who will enjoy a long fruitful life. A child who obeys and honors his parents will generally enjoy a long life, while a son who rebels, refuses instruction, and rejects his father’s counsel will often die an early death.
In Proverbs 4:11-12, Solomon challenged his son to follow the path he was taught from his youth, promising he would experience God’s blessings and protection.
Proverbs 4:11-12 – “I have taught [instructed; pointed; directed]thee in the way[course; road]of wisdom[skill and knowledge to make right choices]; I have led[guided]thee in right paths [paths of righteousness].
12When thou goest[depart; take a journey from home], thy steps shall not be straitened[distressed; filled with obstacles]; and when thou runnest[hasten], thou shalt not stumble [weak; tottering; feeble in one’s legs].”
What a beautiful promise! How many parents will stand at a fresh grave and weep over a son or daughter that rebelled against godly instruction and died an early death? How many parents live to regret they failed to instruct and correct their children when their hearts were young and tender?
I close with an observation that is becoming all too real—our nation is beginning to reap a whirlwind of trouble because parents have abdicated responsibility to teach, instruct and train their children to follow righteousness. Our youth are filing through our courts in record numbers and the responsibility of this lawlessness belongs to the parents who failed to instruct their children, and a society that is delusional enough to think there is inherent goodness in man! Every child is born a sinner and the bent of a sinner’s heart is to do evil (Romans 3:10, 23).
Rebellion has become symptomatic of youth in our day and the result is a spirit of lawlessness that plagues our homes, communities and nation—from the White House to the County Court House—our society has no respect for the rule of law and order.
Do you want to live a long life and be blessed? Honor your parents and heed the LORD Commandments.
Deuteronomy 4:40– “Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolongthy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.”
Continuing our study of the life and wisdom of King Solomon, our chronological reading of the Scriptures brings us to “The Proverbs of Solomon,” chapters 1-3.
To author a brief devotional commentary on three chapters of Proverbs is not just a daunting task, it is impossible. In fact, you will find six hundred individual devotional commentaries on my HeartofAShepherd.com website that I have written and hope to one day publish in an electronic book format for personal and group Bible studies.
Rather than attempt the impossible, allow me to share a few introductory thoughts that I hope will prove useful as you read and apply the Proverbs of Solomon to your life.
Solomon, the son of David, reigned as King of Israel in the 10th century B.C. According to 1 Kings 4:32, the king authored “three thousand proverbs” and his wisdom was so widely hailed “there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34). Cherished for their godly wisdom and divine inspiration, many of Solomon’s proverbs were collected and included in the canon of Old Testament Scriptures.
The book of Proverbs is King Solomon’s instructions to his son, a prince of Israel, who would one day be that nation’s king. Inherent in its pages are teachings, admonitions, exhortations, and general guidelines for conducting one’s life in a wise, God-fearing manner.
What is a proverb?
Boyd’s Bible Dictionary defines a proverb as a “wise utterance.” Brown-Driver-Biggs Hebrew-English Lexicon describes a proverb as a “brief terse sentence of popular sagacity.” Webster’s 1913 Unabridged English Dictionary states a proverb is “an old common saying; a phrase which is often repeated; especially, a sentence which briefly and forcibly expresses some practical truth.”
Proverbs are, in essence, trite sayings, rules, and common truths. Some make the mistake of selectively choosing and applying individual proverbs as though they are universal promises when they are, in fact, simply stated principles that are general statements of truth (one such proverb oft quoted, but misapplied as an unassailable promise is Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”).
Solomon’s proverbs often draw upon the agrarian culture of his day and are sometimes simple enough a child might grasp its meaning with little or no explanation. Some proverbs are provocative in nature, the musings of a king all too aware of the temptations of the palace and the godless character of miscreants who haunted its courts in pursuit of lusts and carnal pleasures.
Like a loving father, twenty-three times the king arrests the attention of the young prince addressing him as “my son”. With the fervor of a passionate preacher, Solomon’s proverbs “reprove, rebuke, and exhort” (2 Timothy 4:2), sparing no words when describing the way of a fool and admonishing the tragic end of all who follow his path.
With pen in hand, I encourage you to take up your Bible and read Proverbs 1-3, underlining and noting in the margins the practical truths and their application to your life.