Proverbs in 365 Devotions
Proverbs 23:9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words. 10 Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, 11 for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you. 12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge. 13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. 14 If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol. 15 My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. 16 My inmost being will exult when your lips speak what is right. 17 Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day. 18 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.
In today's passage Solomon reminds his son and us of a number of “do not’s” that I am pretty sure he has shared already and now with these reminders he has also included a charge to exercise wisdom in all things.
I believe what he mentions are complex issues in any culture and would be difficult to apply with understanding if we did not exercise discernment with the Holy Spirit’s help.
Solomon mentions a few things here; like how we should be careful with our words… I know I need discernment with that one… He talks about moving landmarks. This might include moving any kind of boundaries that protect the vulnerable. He talks about disciplining children even with a rod. In today’s culture our minds might go directly to a steel rod but from what I have read this likely refers to a wooden stick of some kind... again we need discernment in this for sure... we addressed this in Proverbs 22:6 devotion.
Today Solomon also talks about being caught up in the trap of envying our neighbor. All these things are serious and can be easily rationalized to suit our own benefit.
Since I think we have discussed these things, today I mainly want to talk about discernment in all these things and the encouragement Solomon gives us in pursuing instruction, knowledge and wisdom.
So let’s look at three parts of this passage I want us to reflect on.
First verse 12:
12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.
That word “apply” carries with it much more than hearing with the ear; right? And it is even more than understanding the instruction or a set of facts someone is sharing; true?
Whenever our boss gives us instruction he intends us to follow up by applying it with actions… in other words to do what he says. Parents expect their children to apply what they teach and explain to them so truth will bear out in their life through actions. If you go to church hopefully your Pastor preaches Gods Word not just so you will know the facts of the Bible but that he also shows application in our lives in things like worship and loving our neighbor. I suspect there are thousands of people who know Bible facts inside and out but have never been awakened to the spiritual truths that transform our hearts to application. And so Solomon says “Apply your heart”.
Then to verse 15 and 16: 15 My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. 16 My inmost being will exult when your lips speak what is right.
Most usually I think Parents have great hopes for their children when they are born and being raised. Surly Solomon had the same aspirations for his children. Parents dedicate so much time and energy... and money to raising their children. And then when their lives begin to show attributes of godliness in worship of God and unselfishly loving their neighbor it is indescribable what effect this has on the hearts of godly parents.
You know our Father in heaven takes delight in his children when they grow in these same areas… as they see more of his glory and beauty and understand more of how he is good news for their soul each and every day… as they reach out in love to others sharing the beauty of Jesus with them… I think this brings a smile to our heavenly Father.
I think it is simple; God abhors sin… and he turns his face away from those who choose sin over him and he looks to those who are righteous with acceptance and joy.
If we went back to the days of Creation, we could see that before sin entered the world God delighted in all his creation.
Genesis 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
But when sin came through Adam and Eve It did not please God. Nothing changed the character of God… the fact that his delight would still only be in that which is pure and righteous… even perfection… although he loved the world, he could only delight in those who followed him… those who believed him and walked in righteousness. Unfortunately all of mankind were sinful souls and would need a foreign righteousness applied to their lives if God were to delight in them.
Like Genesis 3:15 and so many others, Isaiah 42 pointed to the coming Messiah; the perfect one whom God would find his delight in.
Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
And then when Jesus did come; at his Baptism… Matthew 3:17 records this: and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
And so this one whom his Father loved and was pleased with... Gods only Son Jesus came and lived the perfect life neither Adam nor Eve nor anyone else would live…
1st Peter 2:22, speaking of Jesus says: He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.
Of course God delighting in his Son who is good and perfect and righteous is not surprising. But where does that leave us who are broken in our sin? How could we ever please a righteous God?
Well, our acceptance with God is made possible because on the Cross the righteous Jesus became sin for us... As the Father does with all unrighteousness he turned his face away from his only son as he bore our sins in his body on the cross.
2nd Corinthians 5:21 says: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
In Matthew 27:46 from the Cross Jesus quotes David from a prophesy out of Psalm 22:
Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
So God looked away from his Son and from sin as Jesus was paid the wages of our sin so that all who hope in him receive his righteousness and God’s delight... In looking to Jesus as our treasure our desires for the treasures of sin are dying similar to how Jesus died for us on the Cross.
Finally in verse 18 Solomon indicates there is a sure and guaranteed hope for those who God has given a heart that no longer seeks after all these things of the darkness he mentions. He says: 18 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.
Why is our hope secure? Because Jesus was raised up from the dead.
He defeated the hold that sin had over our lives through the law relating to death. What does God’s law say? It says the wages of sin is death and it also says the soul that sins, it shall die. Jesus resurrection also defeated the hold that sin hold had in life as we face temptation with sin. Remember he never sinned and yet died for our sin while we sinned but now have died to sin. The Apostle Paul covers both of these victories that occurred with Jesus resurrection in Romans 6. Heres a clip from that:
Romans 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Look, for God to be pleased with us, it’s a matter of his work in our heart with things like humility, faith and repentance. God delights in those who look to him for mercy…
Psalm 149:4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
Psalm 147:11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
In Romans 2:29 the Apostle Paul also speaks of those whom God exults over:
Romans 2:29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.