Tag Archives: Daily Wisdom from Proverbs

Strong drink beguiles men and only fools deny the obvious!

August 31, 2017

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 20-21

The Book of Proverbs is a gold mine of spiritual truths able to confront the foolish, correct the misguided and enrich the soul of any willing to mine its chapters.   As a teenager, I made it a practice to include in my Bible readings a chapter of Proverbs a day.  Looking back, I regret I did not slowdown, meditate and search out the meaning and application of the proverbs.

The majority of today’s devotional commentary was first written for this blog, January 20, 2014.   The scripture reading assigned today is Proverbs 20 and Proverbs 21; however, my focus will be one verse, Proverbs 20:1.

Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

The proliferation of alcohol use in our society, now accompanied by a demand to legalize the use of marijuana is disconcerting.   The pursuit of pleasure without self-discipline or moral restraint has given rise to a desire to dull the conscience and many are turning to alcohol, wine and drugs to fill their empty souls.

Consider the following statistics from the website of Mothers Against Drunk Driving [MADD].

1) Almost half of drivers killed in crashes who tested positive for drugs also had alcohol in their system.

2) In 2011, 226 children were killed in drunk driving crashes.  Of those, 122 (54% percent) were riding with the drunk driver.

3) Drunk driving costs the United States $132 billion a year.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention gives the following statistic concerning Alcohol use:  In 2010 there were 25,692 alcohol-induced deaths (this number excludes accidents and homicide deaths related to alcohol use).

The statistics I cited may not come as a surprise to many reading this blog.   Given the personal, family and societal ills associated with alcohol, I am shocked there is a growing acceptance of social drinking among Christians.  Adding to the tragedy is not only the silence of the pulpit, but also the affirmation of some preachers for the use of alcohol.

Solomon addressed the nature of wine and alcohol in Proverbs 20:1, writing:

Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine [fermented wine] is a mocker [scorner; holds in derision], strong drink [intoxicating; alcohol] is raging [roar; troubled; clamorous]: and whosoever is deceived [stray; mislead] thereby is not wise [almost always condemned].”

The wine referenced by Solomon was naturally fermented and often diluted with water.  Echoing his mother’s instructions (Proverbs 31:3-7), Solomon warned his son, undiluted wine and “strong drink” expose a king to ridicule and shame (“strong drink” was usually made from fruits and vegetables – 31:6).

There are many professing Christians in the 21st century who cite references in the Bible to support their use of wine and alcohol; however, an honest study of the history of alcohol reveals today’s “strong drink” is a far cry from the wine and “strong drink” of the Scriptures.   Distilling beer and other strong drinks is a relatively modern process not perfected until the 12th and early 13th centuries.   In other words, the alcohol content of today’s beverages is far greater than any mentioned in the Bible.

The first nine verses of Proverbs 31 record what I believe are the words of Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, and her instructions to her son who would one day reign as king of Israel.  Knowing the temptations for excess that would pass before her son as an eastern monarch, Bathsheba admonished Solomon:

Proverbs 31:4-5 – “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine [fermented drink; that which intoxicates]; nor for princes [rulers; judges; those who weigh matters of law] strong drink [intoxicants; alcoholic liquor]:5 Lest they drink, and forget [fail; cease to care] the law, and pervert the judgment [cause; plea] of any of the afflicted [troubled; depressed; poor; lowly; humble].”

The terrible toll imbibing in wine and alcohol has had on humanity is legion.  Slick television advertisements hide, deny and disguise the reality there are multitudes of families scarred by the emotional, physical and spiritual cost of alcohol.   Only a fool would deny the reality of alcohol’s destruction on marriage, home and career.

Consider the following evidences:

Statistics from The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [Focus on the Family – 2002]

– Nearly half of all violent crimes happen under the influence of alcohol

– People under the influence of alcohol commit 86% of all murders

– People under the influence of alcohol commit 60% of sexual offenses

– 30% of deaths in auto accidents, nearly 15,000 deaths annually, are alcohol related

Mother’s Against Drunk Driving  (MADD) study found that 95% of all college campus crimes (including date rape and sexual promiscuity) are alcohol related.

The devastating effects on health [http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/abuse/a/aa000728a.htm]

– 75% of esophageal cancers in the U.S. occur in heavy drinkers

– 50% of cancers in the mouth, pharynx and larynx are alcohol related

Bathsheba was fearful, should her son be given to the use of wine and alcohol, the nation would suffer the consequences of a king with distorted judgment.

21st century Christians would be wise to heed Bathsheba’s admonitions and Solomon’s counsel:  Strong drink beguiles men and only a fool denies the obvious!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Justice Falters When The Ungodly Sit In Judgment”

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 19

Today’s devotional commentary is from Proverbs 19 and focuses on one proverb from the chapter, Proverbs 19:28.

Proverbs 19:28  “An ungodly witness [i.e. false witness given in court] scorneth [mocks] judgment [justice; due process]: and the mouth [speech] of the wicked [ungodly; morally wrong; guilty] devoureth [swallows up; destroys] iniquity [sin; wickedness; trouble].

Once the envy of the world, America’s judicial system is compromised by lawmakers who have no moral compass, law enforcement who sometimes show a lack of restraint, lawyers who distort matters of law, judges who have no interest in justice and a citizenry that encumbered with a seared conscience and openly scorns moral absolutes!

Lies, deceit and distortions have become the modus operandi of American politics and the distinct lines of right and wrong erased by a nation that tolerates injustice and is intolerant of God’s Laws.   The innocent suffer when a judicial system tolerates lies, encourages compromise, exacts injustice and rewards criminal behavior.

Are you wondering what is happening to America?  Why is our nation decaying spiritually, morally and financially?  Why corruption and violence are tearing the fabric of our society?

You need look only at who is in authority:

Proverbs 29:2  “When the righteous [just; lawful] are in authority [lit. grow great; are many; increase], the people [nation] rejoice [joyful; cheers; happy]: but when the wicked [immoral; ungodly; lawbreakers] beareth rule [have dominion; govern; reign], the people mourn [sighs; groans; sorrows].”

 There is little hope for America until “We the people” elect leaders who are good, honest and upright. 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Cherish the Best Things”

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 17-18

Today’s scripture reading is Proverbs 17 and Proverbs 18.  The following devotional commentary, originally written January 17, 2014, is an exposition and application of the “Better…than” principle found in Proverbs 17:1.

Proverbs 17:1 – Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.

Americans have become a money-hungry, pleasure-seeking, self-indulgent people.  I believe the entitlement attitude that divides our nation and is turning us into a socialist-welfare state has its roots in my generation—the baby-boomers.   Our Depression/World War II era parents and grandparents lived through two decades of sacrifice, hardship and war, and determined to give their children “everything they never had”.   That they did, but at the sacrifice of something more important…instilling character, discipline and an appreciation for hard work and sacrifice in their children.

The “baby-boomers” have perpetuated the aspiration of their parents and instilled in their children (Generations X, Y, and the Millenniums) a spirit of indolence, self-gratification and entitlement that has brought our society to the brink of economic collapse.   Our homes are bigger, our possessions are greater; we have more time for recreation and self-indulgence than any generation before us; however, unhappiness, disappointment and family conflict abounds.

Solomon taught his son a “Better…than” principle we would be wise to heed. The king illustrated in a brief proverb the hollowness of riches and possessions when a family is torn by strife:

Proverbs 17:1 – “Better is a dry morsel [parched piece of bread], and quietness [peace; security] therewith, than an house [family] full of sacrifices [feastings] with strife [quarrels; hostilities].”

Application: It is Better to be poor, enjoy a quiet, simple life nourished by nothing more than a piece of dry crusty bread, than dwell in a home of plenty that is filled with hostility.  That proverb echoes a similar sentiment found in Proverbs 15:17.

Proverbs 15:17 – “Better is a dinner of herbs [green leafy vegetables] where love is, than a stalled ox [fat and ready for slaughter] and hatred therewith.”

Putting that verse in a modern context: It is better to enjoy a plate of greens and vegetables at Cracker Barrel with those you love, than dine on Prime Rib at Ruth Chris Steak House with family and friends who are the source of strife in your life!

Friend, money and possessions might buy you temporal joy and satisfaction, but lasting peace and joy cannot be purchased at any price! Be content with the simple life; cherish family and friends who genuinely love you.   Life is too short to chase passions that leave you empty and frustrated.

1 Timothy 6:6-8 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is the Hand that Rules the World”

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 14-15

Today’s scripture reading is Proverbs 14 and Proverbs 15. I encourage you to read both chapters and remind you my devotional commentary for the Book of Proverbs is found on my website, HeartofAShepherd.com. For today’s devotional, I will reprise one written January 14, 2014.

Proverbs 14:1 – “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”

The feminist movement of the 20th century, sometimes referred to as the “Women’s Liberation Movement”, did much to seek equality in areas that were justified [i.e. a woman’s right to vote; equal pay for equal work—are two of the major issues I applaud as right and just].   However, the diminishing of the role of wife and mother by the same movement has hastened the decay of marriage, family and our nation.  In an effort to break what they viewed as the constraints of traditional marriage and home, feminist have attacked and distorted God’s design for man and woman (Genesis 2:18, 21-25).

The Biblical role of a husband to his wife is that of provider, protector, lover and friend; after all, God’s observation was that “It is not good that the man should be alone”  (Genesis 2:18).   The woman’s role is that of “help meet” to her husband (Genesis 2:18) and “nurturing” mother to her sons and daughters (Proverbs 31).  Sadly, it is the very essence of womanhood and the powerful influence that women have in their traditional roles that feminist have distorted and nearly destroyed.

The powerful influence of the women in our lives and homes is the theme of the opening verse in Proverbs 14.  Solomon draws a contrast between the influence of a woman of wisdom and a foolish woman.

Proverbs 14:1 – “Every wise woman buildeth [establish; construct; manufacture] her house: but the foolish [woman who rejects wisdom and instruction] plucketh it down [beat down; break down; destroy] with her hands.”

wise woman builds her family (14:1a). The quality of wisdom implied is more than a “love of knowledge”; the implication is that she loves the Lord and His commandments. She is wise because she is spiritually minded and exercises spiritual discernment.

Prov 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

By contrast, a foolish woman (14:1b) destroys her family; she “plucketh it down with her hands”. She is a rebel…rejecting her God-given role, refusing instruction and bristling at correction. She is not spiritually minded, lacks discernment and destroys those closest to her.

For those who have been so blessed, thank God for godly wives and nurturing mothers. Pray for the women in your life, family and church—the responsibility of being a wise woman has never been greater or more needed.  Encourage them; thank them; and praise them.

 [P.S. On a personal note: Every day there are scores of readers from all over the world who find their way to my devotionals on Proverbs. I aspire to edit and one day publish my practical ponderings in Proverbs in a devotional book and e-book format; unfortunately, unpublished authors have to “self-publish”!]

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Attitudes are an External Indicator of the Bent or Direction of One’s Heart and Thoughts

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 13

Our society defines attitudes from an emotional perspective and deflects personal responsibility.  If someone exhibits a bad attitude, psychologists deem them victims—victims of poverty, neglect, rejection or abuse. Rather than taking responsibility and self-correcting one’s bad attitude, people find it easier to cast dispersion upon a peer or an authority figure they feel has failed them.  In the process of deflecting responsibility for one’s attitudes, they dig a deeper emotional and spiritual rut!

Today’s devotional will challenge you to look into your own heart for the cause of attitudes that beset you.  More than emotions, attitudes are an external indicator of the bent or direction of one’s heart and thoughts.

Proverbs 13:1  “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction [correction]: but a scorner [scoffer] heareth not rebuke [firm reproof].”

Notice the heart attitude of the “wise son”—he hears and heeds his father’s correction, reproof and rebuke.  His attitude toward his father’s discipline is that of a learner, unlike the scorner. The scorner “heareth not rebuke”—he mocks the authorities in his life and holds them in derision. He blames others for his attitudes and justifies his rebellion by focusing on what he perceives as their failures. He is a slave to “stinking thinking”, a pattern rooted within the bent of his heart and thoughts. Allow me to illustrate this truth with a childhood memory.

I remember NASA illustrating the entry of space capsules into earth’s atmosphere in the 1960’s and emphasizing the attitude of the nose of the capsule.  Attitude was the word NASA used to define the direction of the top or nose of the capsule as contrasted with the heat shield at its base. If the attitude of the nose were right, the heat shield at the base of the capsule would deflect the fiery heat of earth’s atmosphere. If the attitude of the capsule were wrong, the capsule and its occupants would burn up upon re-entry. Life and death were directly related to the attitude of the capsule’s nose.

That same principle is true concerning our attitudes. A pattern of bad attitudes will drive one emotionally and spiritually down a path of self-destruction.  However, the answer to a life of bad attitudes [anger, rebellion, resentment, jealousy, etc.] is not to merely confess and correct negative attitudes or emotions…it is to get to the heart of the problem, which is the problem of a sinful heart! In other words, as goes the heart so goes the attitude!

A Right Heart/Mind/Pattern of Thoughts = A Right Attitude

A Wrong Heart/Mind/Pattern of Thoughts = A Wrong Attitude

My friend, if you are waging war with sinful attitudes, the solution is not for others to change, but for you to change. Too many look outside themselves for a solution to enslaving attitudes…a different spouse, different school, different job, different church…foolishly thinking different will make a difference! Not so!

If you are weary of battling with enslaving attitudes, look to the bent and direction of your own heart and “stinking thoughts”.  Take a few minutes and do an honest, spiritual heart check-up and take responsibility for your attitudes! Get control of your thoughts and you will overcome your attitudes (Philippians 4:8; Proverbs 23:7).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“The Wise Man and His Relationships”

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 11-12

Today’s devotional reading is Proverbs 11 and Proverbs 12.  My focus today will be Proverbs 11:1; however, I invite you to refer to my devotional commentaries in the Book of Proverbs on my “Heart of a Shepherd” website to amplify individual verses in today’s scripture reading.

Like many chapters in the Book of Proverbs, chapter 11 reads like a shotgun scatters pellets…a plethora of truths that stand individually on their own without the necessity of being one coherent progression of thought.  Our focus will be one proverb, Proverbs 11:1 which addresses the manner of people God would have us to be.

Proverbs 11:1- A false balance [deceit or crookedness] is abomination [shameful] to the LORD: but a just [right and honest] weight [having and exercising integrity] is his delight.

The subject of verse 1 is Integrity [adhering to a moral code or absolute standard]. In our day, government agencies certify weights and volume in goods and services. One agency certifies when you purchase a gallon of gas you get a gallon of gas.  Another agency certifies when you purchase food items at the grocery store you are getting the weight and volume stated on the packaging.

For the sake of illustration, let’s put the setting of verse 1 in a butcher shop where meat is cut, weighed, wrapped and stamped with a description that certifies the cut and price of the meat based upon weight.

The use of unjust or inaccurate weights by dishonest shop owners has been the pattern of many down through the centuries. In our butcher shop analogy, a butcher, using a “false balance”, misleads a customer by presenting a cut of meat as weighing more than it really does…an act that is “abomination to the Lord”.  Solomon reminds his son that God delights in men of integrity…men who commit to being honest; men whose word is as binding as a signed contract.

The application of verse 1 goes beyond the matter of weights and balances —at issue is the character of the whole man [after all, the literal meaning of “integrity” is completeness or wholeness].

Lesson – Dishonesty in word and action is an abomination to the Lord. He accepts nothing less than truth and sincerity.

Are you honest, sincere and forthright in business? Are you a person of your word?

God is delighted when His people walk with honesty and integrity.  I challenge you—be that man! 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Common Sense is Wisdom in Overalls”

Farmall tractorThursday, July 06, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 8-9

Of all the chapters in the Book of Proverbs, among my favorite is today’s scheduled reading, chapters 8 and 9.  Before presenting today’s devotional commentary, I invite you to remember I have posted a verse-by-verse commentary on Proverbs on this “From the Heart of a Shepherd” blog in 2014-2015.

Knowing it is an impossible task to address two full chapters in Proverbs, I limit this devotional commentary to a brief introduction of Proverbs 8, a chapter that personifies “Wisdom” delivering a soliloquy on godly wisdom.

I am at a loss to know to whom to attribute the insightful quote that is the heading of today’s devotional proverb, but I love the definition: “Common Sense is wisdom in overalls.”   My late maternal grandfather, Roland Whitley of Monroe, NC, wore overalls throughout my childhood.  Hardworking, diligent, self-sacrificing, faithful to the wife he called “Sugar”, loving to his family, a no-nonsense man of the soil [he always had a beautiful garden]…a common, hardworking, industrious man—he personified Common Sense in overalls!

Common Sense is nigh nonexistent today, not because overalls are out of vogue, but because our society scorns godly wisdom!   

What is wisdom?   Solomon taught his son, “The fear [reverential fear] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”(Proverbs 1:7) and is the “principal [highest] thing” (Proverbs 4:7).  According to Proverbs 8:11 and Job 28:18, wisdom is priceless, “above rubies” and the acquisition of wisdom is possible only if we are willing to acknowledge God and seek Him.  By definition, a man may possess a brilliant intellect and acquire a lot of knowledge; however, if he denies the existence of God he is a fool and wholly lacking in wisdom.  After all, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God…” (Psalm 53:1).

Wisdom implies the “skillful use of knowledge” or the right use of knowledge.   A man who knows Christ as Savior and is a student of God’s Word has the potential of becoming a man of wisdom though he has no formal education (James 1:5).

Solomon introduces Proverbs 8 with two rhetorical questions: “Doth not wisdom cry? And understanding put forth her voice?” (Proverbs 8:1).  The implied answer to the questions is “YES!”  Wisdom does cry and raise her voice yearning to be heard and heeded.

Proverbs 8:2-3“She [Wisdom] standeth in the top of high places [where cities were built in ancient times], by the way in the places of the paths [where roads meet or intersect]. 3 She crieth at the gates [where city elders sat in judgment], at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors [in shops and places of commerce].”

Where can wisdom be found today?

Wisdom’s voice is silent in the halls of academia and expelled from the majority of churches and pulpits.  However, godly wisdom is found where she has always been— “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments…”  (Psalm 111:10).

Godly wisdom belongs to those who have knowledge of God through His Word and His revelation of Himself in His Son Jesus Christ.

An old farmer wearing overalls and driving a Farmall tractor might lack the education of a college graduate; however, he is the personification of godly wisdom if he knows the Lord as His Savior, meditates on God’s Word, and walks according to the law and commandments. farmer on tractor

Godly wisdom belongs to those who fear the Lord” [lit. revere, worship—implying a personal, intimate knowledge of God, made possible through His Son Jesus Christ] and align their lives with His Word.

James 1:5 – “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith