Month: June 2021

The Importance of Words (Proverbs 18) (Part 2)

The Gossiper

Proverbs 18:8 (NIV) “The words of the gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s innermost parts.” Gossipers is worse than the Fool because he does not blunder into trouble with his eyes shut, he really means to cause it.

  • Gossip is forbidden by the Law – Leviticus 19:16 (NIV) “Do not go about spreading slander among the people.”
  • Gossip divides friendship – Proverbs 16:28 (NIV) “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separate close friends.”
  • The Listener to malicious gossip is as “wicked” as the person who speaks – Proverbs 17:4 (NIV) “A wicked man listens to evil lips; a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue.

The way rumours are received is graphically described in Proverbs 18:8 – they are like “choice morsels,” those titbits which do not need chewing or stick in the throat but slip easily “down into a man’s innermost parts” (“inner room”). A person finds no difficulty in concentrating on the gossip’s tale, he laps it up. Nor the person finds it hard to remember indeed the term (literally) “inner rooms” has the sense of storeroom where things are retained to be brought out later. In this way the Listener to gossip assists the Gossiper in carrying out his “trade.”

A Wise Man

Proverbs 18:4 (NIV) “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” The two parts of Proverbs 18:4, as often with Book of Proverbs, are parallel, so that it is “the words of……wisdom” that are here in view throughout:

Verse 4a Speaks of the Source – It comes from the Depth of the Person’s heart and is therefore like “deep waters” – Proverbs 20:5a (NIV) “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters.” Wisdom is Deep (Job 28), it is what God is (Romans 11:33).The Person who is taught by God’s Word is admitted into His (God’s) Counsel which “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,” but which “God has revealed….to us by His Spirit” (1Corinthians 2:9).

Verse 4b Describes the “Communication” of this Wisdom, which is compared not to an Ocean or well but “the Fountain” from which flows a “bubbling brook.” This is how others come to benefit from “the Depth of the Wisdom and Knowledge” of God that the Wise Person has. This brings refreshing and revive those he speaks to:

  • Proverbs 10:11a (NIV) “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.”
  • Proverbs 13:14a (NIV) “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.”

Apostle Paul exhorts: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” – meditate deeply upon it – then, “Let your conversation be always full of grace” (Colossians 3:16; 4:6).

The Wise Person Acquires WisdomProverbs 18:15 (NIV) “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” Proverbs 18:15 tells us how this ability to speak wisely is acquired. It takes us back to the First Nine Chapters of Book of Proverbs, which are chiefly an encouragement to cultivate Wisdom. Proverbs 18:15 is the good summary of the teaching and exhortation of Proverbs Chapters 1 to 9:

  • Cultivates a discerning heart by appreciating the Value of Knowledge. This is what the Parents try to cultivate by their patient instruction, part of which is to praise wisdom above all else (Proverbs 3:13-18; Proverbs 4:5-7; Proverbs 7:21-27; 8; Proverbs 9:10).
  • Approaches it with earnestness, “seek it out,” do not wait for it to come to us. Knowledge lies deep down in the heart of the people and has to be carefully “surfaced” by being a Good Listener – “Ears of the wise seek it out.”
  • Gives it rapt attention – the heart will not acquire it unless the ears listen to it with concentration in order to understand and retain it.

Final Words…… Power of Words

Power of WordsProverbs 18:20-21 (NIV) “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips, he is satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” The Power of Words for good or evil has already been illustrated in the above Verses. Here it is shown forth as “the Fruit.” A person must realise the consequence (fruit) of his words. There is great satisfaction in speaking what is true, edifying, informative, understanding, instructive, sympathetic, comforting and even rebuking that brings forth life. Whereas lies, misinformation, cursing, boasting, vilifying (defamatory) beings forth death. Each person must give an account for every careless word spoken – Matthew 12:36 “But I say to you that for every idle word men speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement.”

The Importance of Words (Proverbs 18) (Part 1)

The Statement

Wise and foolish words are one of the main themes in the Book of Proverbs. It receives further treatment in Proverbs chapter 18. It surveys the differing uses of tongue and their consequences:

A Foolish Person

Proverbs 18:2 (NIV) “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” A person who “delights in airing his own opinions” can appear knowledgeable, wise, and even gain a great following, but he lacks understanding.”

  • This is because he cannot be bothered to go thoroughly into the matters on which he expresses his opinion – Proverbs 18:15 (NIV) “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge the ears of the wise seek it out.”
  • This is too much trouble and he “finds no pleasure in it” (Proverbs 18:2a, NIV). After all, if he does, he may discover he was wrong and have to eat his words, which the self-opinionated will never do.
  • He must be different in order to draw attention to himself. It is important for us to check our opinions against those of others and gleamed wisdom from interaction.
  • Foolish Person cannot be taught; he is critical and is in a danger of forming his clique.

Self-Opinionated Person

A Self-OpinionatedProverbs 18:6-7 (NIV) “A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.”  Self-opinionated Fool is trapped by his own words because he provokes disagreement, which leads to strife, but being a controversialist he enjoys this – Proverbs 18:20 (NIV) “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.” However, provocative words can lead to blows: “His mouth invites a beating” (Proverbs 14:3). He may get the best of argument, but he comes off worse off because “his mouth is his undoing,” literally “ruin, destruction.” This may mean he is such a well-known nuisance that no person will take his part and he may be brought before for punishment – Proverbs 19:19 (NIV) “A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.” Whichever it is he has only himself to blame. No person sets out to get him, he himself laid the snare which brings “ruin” (“undoing”) to himself:

  • Proverbs 10:8b (NIV) “A chattering fool comes to ruin.”
  • Proverbs 12:13a (NIV) “An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk.”
  • Proverbs 13:3b (NIV) “He who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”

James put it in a nutshell: “What a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” (James 3:5). Ecclesiastes 10:12b (NIV) “A fool is consumed by his own lips.”

To be continued…… Stay Tuned.

Quarrelling (Proverbs 20:3)


Proverbs 20:3 (NIV) “It is to a man’s honour to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Proverbs 20:3 (KJV) “It is an honour for a man to cease from strife, but every fool will be meddling.”

Quarrelling is one of the commonest human weaknesses and has the most serious effects; it marks one of the clearest differences between Wise and Foolish Person. Every Foolish Person is quick to quarrel because the Person is “quick-tempered” and lacks understanding:

  • Proverbs 14:29 (NIV) “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly (foolishness).”
  • Proverbs 16:32 (NIV) “Better is a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”
  • Proverbs 17:14 (NIV) “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so, drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”
  • Proverbs 19:11 (NIV) “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

It is honourable for the Person to avoid (“cease from” – KJV) strife. The phrase ceased from (KJV) means “a complete separation from strife.” The word avoid (NIV – “cease from” – KJV) has the idea of sitting still, remaining calm under a hail of insults. The world sees this as weakness and dishonour (James 3:14-16). But, as Bridges puts it, “An evil world is a fine theatre for the display of the Grace of God in the fruits of ‘the wisdom that is from above,’ that is, Peaceableness” (James 3:17). It takes far more strength to control your temper than to stand up for your right.

Strife begins when honour is impugned (call in question, challenged) and must be defended, however, honour does not come from defending it, but controlling oneself and forgiving the injury – Proverbs 19:11 (NIV) “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

The Wise Person does not get entangled with the petty grievances that often characterize life. This does not mean that the Wise Person will completely avoid addressing an issue when Principle is involved. However, the Wise Person will not get involve with the many neutral matters that give ground for quarrelling and irritation. In contrast, the Foolish Person “will be meddling” (“starts a quarrel” – Proverbs 20:3), because his lack of self-control leads him to focus on matters that would be best forgotten.

Personal Relationships (Proverbs Chapter 18: 1,22,24) (Part 2)

True Friend

Proverbs 18:24b (NIV) “But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Having seen the “unfriendliness” in Proverbs 18:1 and “over-friendliness” in Proverbs 18:24a, we now have the “just right friendship” in Proverbs 18:24b “But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

  • True Friendship is giving of Oneself unreservedly to the interests of Another. It is unrealistic to attempt this to everyone we are on friendly term with.
  • True Friend is brought together by a combination of circumstances and that mysterious chemistry that creates a bond between two Persons which can be closer than the ties of blood and qualify for the name “brother.”

King David’s brothers virtually disowned him, but Jonathan took up his cause. Jesus was rejected by His Jewish Brothers (John 1:11) but John, “the Disciple Jesus loved,” stayed with Him to the end. True Friendship is more than Affability (Friendliness), it is commitmentProverbs 17:17 (NIV) “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Marriage (Greatest Friend)

Proverbs 18:22 (NIV) “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favour from the Lord.” Marriage is the ultimate in Friendship, involving as it does a more formal and public expression of total and life-long commitment than that made to “a friend who becomes a brother” (Proverbs 18:24b).

  • Marriage is one of the Bible’s Finest Commendations of a “Excellent Friendship and Companionship.”
  • God Himself gave Adam a Companion for life by presenting Eve to him (Genesis 2:20b-24).
  • The wife (woman) is one of the “good things” that still remain through “favour (gift) from the LORD.” – God knows how much a man needs the support (“help-mate”), care and sympathy of a Companion.
  • God’s Favour (wife) is not a right, but it is a Gift of Grace (Favour) which has to be sought – We have to “find a wife” because not all women are compatible (well-matched) – Proverbs 11:22 (NIV) “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.”
  • Prayer, observation and thought have to go into the matter lest it turn out unhappily as in – Proverbs 19:13 (NIV) “A foolish son is his father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.” (Proverbs 21:19; Proverbs 25:24; Proverbs 27:15).
  • Husband must show love and tenderness – Colossians 3:19 (NIV) “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” (Ephesians 5:25-33; 1Peter 3:7).

Personal Relationships (Proverbs Chapter 18: 1,22,24) (Part 1)

The Statement

Proverbs Chapter 18 has no single theme, but underlying it is the whole subject of the Character and Conduct of the Wise. No Person can get far in life before coming up against the issues touched on in Proverbs Chapter 18: Relationship, Depravity, Words, Fairness, Security. There are some profound observations on these points:

Observation on Personal Relationships:

1. Unfriendliness

Proverbs 18:1 (NIV) “An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgement.” The unfriendly person is “a Loner.” The term “unfriendly” literally means “he who separates himself.” He is Antisocial, he has little time for anyone else because he is “selfish” and pursues “selfish ends,” that is, he has his own ends in view and the company of others interferes with them.

This brings him into conflict with conventional Wisdom – “Sound Judgement” – for in order to justify being different from others he has to criticize and condemn normal thinking and behaviour. The word for “defies” is strong, literally “breaks out,” suggesting that from his ivory tower he issues scornful denunciations of the lives and views of his fellow-citizens. This kind of person is introduced in Proverbs 18:1, as one not to be emulated, for the truth is, not that he is superior to others, but that he cannot form relationships.

2. Over-Friendliness

Proverbs 18:24a (NIV) “A man of many companions may come to ruin.” Proverbs Chapter 18 ended on the subject of Personal Relationships on which it began, but with the complete opposite of the Loner (unfriendly Person – Proverbs 18:1). The meaning of Proverbs 18:24a is a bit obscure but it describes a person who has many Friends, that is, he is a Good Mixer who treats all alike and is “every man’s friend.” There is no depth in relationship.

At first glance, this great Socialiser seems the ideal, yet we are told he “may come to ruin,” because in adversity he had no one to whom he is close enough to command his loyalty, no one such as the part two of Proverbs 18:24b (NIV) “But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” It is possible to have so many friends that we have no real friends!

To be continued…… Stay Tuned.

The Wife from The LORD (Proverbs 18:22 & Proverbs 19:14) (Part 4)

Amusing Note

It is amusing that God puts Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” and Proverbs 18:22 “Whosoever findeth a wife fineth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord” side by side in the Word of God. The tongue is used when the man proposes to the girl. He asks her to marry him, and that is the proper way for it to be done; and death and life are in the power of the tongue. It is like the story of the old bachelor who had never met a woman whom he wanted to marry because he thought they all talked too much. He found what society, using an unkind word, called an old maid, one who seemed very quiet. He fell in love with her and asked her to marry him. The minute she accepted the proposal, she started talking. She talked about where they would go and how they would fix their house and on and on. Suddenly after an hour or so she realised that she was doing all the talking and that he was quiet. “Why don’t you say something?” she asked. He answered, I’ve said too much already!” – I have proposed! – Proverbs 18:22 “Whosoever findeth a wife fineth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.”

From the Lord

Proverbs 19:14 “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord” (KJV). – Any man, worthy or not, may inherit the property from Progenitors; any man may bargain for a wife, or give a dowry to his son to further his matrimonial prospects. But a prudent wife is a gift of God, a proof of His gracious care for His people (Proverbs 18:22). Septuagint states: “It is by the Lord that a man is matched with a woman.” There is a special Providence that watches over wedlock (Malachi 2:13-17); as we say, “Marriages are made in Heaven.” But marriages of convenience, marriage made in consideration of worldly means, are a mere earthly arrangement, and cannot claim God’s Grace.

A prudent wife is from the LORD is emphatic. It implies that this gift is beyond both comparison and contriving. A good wife is necessary for the establishment of a happy home. She is not acquired, however, as are other possessions which may be worked for or inherited. She is always to be treasured as a Gift from The LORD.

The account of Ruth’s life beautifully illustrates God’s Providence in the Marriage. The Moabites married, contrary to all expectation, of that times, an Israelite. In this way she was brought into Naomi’s family. She had returned with Naomi to her (Naomi’s) land and then came to the attention of Boaz, who became Ruth’s husband. Often the wheels of the LORD’s working in this interesting matter constrain the admiration of men who are not used to observing spiritual matters (Genesis 24:50). And how much more endearing and secure is the Special Gift of God! – A Wife! Thus, a prudent wife is honoured as “a special blessing of God’s immediate choosing, and therefore to be obtained by our prayers at the hand of the Giver” (Bishop Hall).

Husband’s Crown

Proverbs 12:4a “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.” A virtuous woman one whose portrait is beautifully traced in Proverbs 31:10-31. The term is applied to Ruth (Ruth 3:11). The Vulgate renders “diligent.” Virtuous (hayil), when relating to men, especially soldiers, means “strength.”  Referring to a wife, it designates the womanly virtues, effectualness in the home and nobility of character, viz:

  • Graciousness – Proverbs 11:16 “A gracious woman retaineth honour, and strong men retain riches.” The comparison intimates that what strength is to man in maintaining his wealth, grace is to woman for securing her position and influence. This is a “finger-post,” directing woman in her weakness to the place where her great strength lies. The winsome will win her way. The adaptation of the feminine character to be the companion and complement of man is one of the best-defined examples of that designing wisdom which pervades Creation.
  • Wisdom – Proverbs 14:1 “Ever wise woman buildeth her house, but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
  • Virtuous – The root idea of strength and worth. The modern phrase, “she has a lot in her,” expresses something of the meaning.

The expression means one of power either in mind or body, or both. The same idea is contained in the virtue. Such woman is not simply loving and modest and loyal but is a crown to her husband; is an honour to him, adorns and beautifies his life, making, as it were, a joyous festival. Paul (1Thessalonians 2:19) calls his converts “a crown of glorying.” She delights in seeing her husband honoured, respected, and loved; prudent in the management of her family (Proverbs 31:10-31). She is immovable in affection (Titus 2:4); Conscientious in the carrying out of her domestic responsibilities (Proverbs 31:27-28); kind and considerate to all around her (Proverbs 31:20, 26), and as the root of all, Fearing the LORD (Proverbs 31:30). She is not the ring on her husband’s finger, or the chain of gold around his neck. That is far too low. She is his crown; his brightest ornament; drawing the eyes of all upon him, as eminently honoured and blessed – Proverbs 31:23 “Her husband is known in the gates, (place of honour in the city), when he sitteth among the elders of the land.” Her husband is honoured because of her.

The allusion is to the crown worn by the bridegroom at his marriage, or to the garlands worn at feasts. The Sons of the Sirach has much praise for the virtuous woman: “Blessed is the man that hath a good wife, for the number of his days shall be double. A virtuous woman rejoices her husband, and he shall fulfil their years of his life in peace” (Ecclus 26:1-2).

The virtuous wife is an important influence in the happiness in the home. The word is literally “a woman of power (character-positive aspect), and the idea of force lies in the word and idea of virtue (asset). Her moral character and influence make itself felt in all the life of her household. She is her husbands’ glory and pride. The central figure in wisdom’s home is the virtuous woman. She is possessed with a moral power that manifests itself in her godly character and domestic activity. The crown, or garland, is an emblem of renown. She bestows honour upon her husband!!! – Proverbs 18:22 “Whosoever findeth a wife fineth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.”  & Proverbs 19:14 “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.”  

The Wife from The LORD (Proverbs 18:22 & Proverbs 19:14) (Part 3)

Variety of Ministration

The wife is not the counterpart of the husband, but the complement. Human nature is completed in the union of the man and his wife. Therefore, it is not the part of the women to imitate men, nor is inferiority to be assigned to women because they differ from men. The rich, full, perfect human life is attained by the blending and not the competing of differences.

Happy Home

No life can be more beautiful than that of the happy home. The serious question is how it shall be realised:

  • The LORD First – Marriage must be ratified in heaven (Malachi 2:13-17). Its happiness may be wrecked on so many hidden rocks that it is not safe to venture on to the unknown sea without the assurance that God is in the marriage and is guiding the voyage.
  • Adaptation – Every woman is not suitable for every man. Hasty courtships may lead to miserable marriages. So serious a matter as the choice of companion for life is not to be lightly undertaken it there is to be any hope of its issuing in happiness.
  • Mutual Confidence – There must be mutual confidence between husband and wife if the marriage is to be one of true and lasting blessedness. Whatever be their position in the social scale, it is possible for conceding the fullest mutual confidence.
  • • Self-Sacrifice – Selfishness is fatal to marriage. Love must learn to give, to suffer, to endure. The happiness is most complete when each seeks it chiefly for the other. Ogden Nash gave advise on how to make marriage a success in a little poem that he wrote:

To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right shut up.

Good Thing

Proverbs 18:22 (KJV) “Whosoever findeth a wife fineth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.” What is good implies godliness. Godliness is found when the man marries in the Lord and one who is the Lord.” Manoah found a good thing in his wife (Judges 13:23). A Writer comments: “that Manoah could speak so loud that all our Israelites could hear him, about the goodness of his wife.” The “good thing” is:

  • When the husband honours her, not as the wisest or the holiest of women, but as the person, whom God sees to be the best and fittest for him. She becomes his object of his undivided heart – “One flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
  • Mutual faith is plighted in the Lord Jesus. Such a communion acknowledges His (God’s) affections and elevates Him (God) from earth to heaven.
  • As an answered to prayer (Genesis 24) – “Choose thou mine inheritance for me” (Psalm 47:4) – is the cry and confidence of the child of God. Then assuredly, he will receive the wife, not as a result of good fortune, or as the proof of his own good discernment; but, as Adam received his wife, “from the LORD,” a token of God’s favour.
  • The good thing is displayed in her skill in the management of domestic affairs – Proverbs 31:11-12“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.”  – Their financial affairs (Proverbs 31:13-22). She is loved and appreciated by her husband and her children (Proverbs 31:28).
  • The good sense that makes her an agreeable Partner and directs her to that kind of attitude which makes her husband happy (blessed) in this connection. To these qualities, if piety be added, it renders her a far greater blessing (favour) than any possessions that husband can obtain. We are to thank God for every outward enjoyment, but chiefly for those in which His favourable providence is most plainly shown in the person of a wife. A wife is a rich present from God her husband is bound to show her all that respect and kindness which God requires. Whatever character a wife deserves, God commands her husband to love her, but when a wife is prudent, the husband would be inexcusable who do not love her with the tender affection.
  • Proverbs 18:22 ““Whosoever findeth a wife fineth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord,” the wording, especially in the Hebrews, strikingly resembles that of Proverbs 8:35 “Whosoever findeth Me (God) findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord,” and so suggests that after wisdom itself, the best of God’s blessing is a good wife. Proverbs 31:10 makes a similar comparison, putting her price, like wisdom (Proverbs 8:11), above rubies. Good = literally, “a boon (benefit).”

If a man desires to have a wife, he must acknowledge God by earnest supplications; for He alone know the hearts of men and women and exercises a Sovereign influence over their affections. God declares that a prudent wife is a far richer gift than those things which are so much valued by the generality of men (Proverbs 31:10).

To be continued. Stay Tuned……