Prov. 31:28a Her children arise up, and call her blessed.
Mothers’ Day! Oh yes, we must get her a card. Without even thinking we have slipped into the commercialism of Mothers’ Day. Strange that the world promotes a Mothers’ Day and we in our ho-hum ways accept it. Strange because only the sanctified in Christ understand the real value of a godly mother.
What are our mothers, Young Pilgrim? What did your mother do? Your mother fed you. Then she cleaned you. Then she “changed” you. Then she clothed you. When you wouldn’t cooperate and sleep at nap time, she patiently rocked you and perhaps softly sang “The Lord is my Shepherd. ” She gave you a cool sponge bath in order to break your fever when you were ill.
Tender woman, your mother!
As you became older she scheduled your orthodontist appointment around her menu planning, laundry, baking, and household chores. Besides, she fit her knitting, mending and shopping activities into your extracurricular events. She took you to your piano lessons and perhaps helped chaperone your outings and class trips.
Busy woman, your mother!
But any good mother does all these things. What did your mother do that made her distinguished from the others? She was your teacher, Young Pilgrim!
She read Bible Stories to you. She helped you memorize your catechism and Sunday School verses. She taught you the songs of Zion. She taught you early to say your prayers. She encouraged spiritual development. She demanded godly behavior. She expected proper godly manners.
Virtuous woman, your mother !
Have you called her blessed, that is, do you declare her happy?
What a response!
This proverb is not a goad, not a prod. This is not an exhortation, nor a command. The response must be spontaneous, coming from the desire of a believing heart which is thankful to our Covenant God for such a gift of His Love: A Mother!
So now, how is this done? How do you go about making this declaration? This is the difficult part. It almost makes you nervous, doesn’t it? You do it so seldom (so do I). After all, she knows. . . , she knows you love her. Young Pilgrim, I ask you, when was the last time you said “Mom, I love YOU”?
Loving woman, your mother!
Do you inquire concerning your mother’s well-being, Young Pilgrim? Yes, I know the rhetorical “Hi, Mom, how are you?” But we are talking now concerning her spiritual well-being. After all. having taught you so much in your early life, (can she still teach you something, or do you now know it all?) and sharing so many spiritual insights with you, what is your response? You must make her feel needed. She still has a desire to share spiritual insights with you. Make her aware of your needs and concerns, your activities, your problems. She needs to know. She wants to share.
Anxious woman, your mother!
When others in your group are registering complaints about their “ole’ ladies” you must speak highly of your mother! Tell them what she has done for you, tell them what she means to you. Tell them what a great mother God has given you. Tell them how thankful to God you are for such a gift of His love. Tell them. . . .
Blessed woman, your mother!
Do things. Do things with your mother. Do things for your mother. Mold your schedule to include some of her house hold activities. Volunteer your services so she can have a break once in a while. Don’t be selfish about your God given time. Share it with your mother.
Tired woman, your mother!
And Young Pilgrim, walk as a child of Light. Walk in paths of righteousness. Do what your mother has taught you to do. Say what your mother has taught you to say. Think as your mother has taught you to think. From early infancy until now, she has taught you Godliness. By taking heed to her teachings you also arise up and call her blessed.
Happy woman, your mother!
Prov. 3:7 “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD and depart from evil.”
This Proverb, Young Pilgrim, immediately follows the familiar “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him.” If in fact there is total trust and acknowledgement of Him, then it is also impossible that we are wise in ourselves. The promise is that “He shall direct thy paths.” So there is the fear of the LORD and the departure from evil as we understand this Proverb.
Without delay the matter of sin is held before us. Young Pilgrim, we must tangle with our natural spiritual condition! And why not? A lack of understanding our sins only subtracts from our understanding of the glorious salvation God has given. Then too, lost is the urgency to walk sanctified lives.
“Be not wise in thine own eyes.” “O no,” we say, “that isn’t me, that is so and so!” We recognize immediately that such an attitude of applying this proverb to another person makes the other person a little less in our own eyes and makes a little more of ourselves.
Then there is the “I’m alright, everybody else is all wrong” type of attitude. Those dumb parents, they don’t know nothing! Why don’t they let me do it? I know how, besides I gotta learn sometime. And those crazy teachers, honestly, they treat us like little kids. Don’t they know we are practically grown up now? And where am I gonna git that money I need? There ain’t no fun if there ain’t no money! That tight-wad boss of mine. (Honk! Honk!) That idiot driver, what’s he switchin’ lanes like that for? Don’t he know this is my lane when I’m in it? There sure are a bunch of goofs out there! Why can’t people be more like me?”
“Be not wise. . . .” As we contradict this exhortation we touch many lives. But are we ashamed? Perhaps when we realize the type of characters we are we proceed to make excuses. “Well, it has been a bad day – nothin’ went right for me.” (This basically means “I didn’t get my way.”) Sometimes we reflect on these attitudes with a smile: “I must be going crazy or something.” Seldom do we allow ourselves to call this sin.
Ah, yes, Young Pilgrim, our smart, self-centered, self-righteous selves! Sounds like the Pharisees, does it not? And how does Jesus Christ address this? “. . . except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:20.
Christ had perfect, righteous fear of Jehovah. He fulfilled all righteousness, that is, He make us “right” with God.
He did this in His earthly sojourn, as He touched many lives. He spoke with the woman of Samaria (John 4). He ate with publicans and sinners (Matt. 9). He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the deaf to hear, the lame to walk and raised the dead. All this did He, not being wise in His own eyes, but in perfect righteousness, fearing the LORD. In perfect obedience to God. He did all that the Father gave Him to do. Finally on the accursed tree – for earth rejected Him, and Heaven would not receive Him – He hung in perfect obedience.
“Be not wise. . . Fear and depart! Imperative, Young Pilgrim.
You say that you are not wise in your own eyes? You say the fear of the LORD is in you? Illustrate that then! Depart from evil!
This involves a certain awareness of our own evil. We must be instant to identify and confess and turn from our evil ways. In order to do this, we must see ourselves not wise in our own eyes, but rather in the light of God’s Law as fulfilled in Christ. This is a humbling experience. But remember, Christ, in fulfilling righteousness, humbled Himself unto death. (Phil. 2:8)
And this humility will touch many lives. With humble honor we obey our parents who know something after all. With humble respect of our teachers we find that respect is reciprocated. With humble courtesy extended toward our peers we discover a mutual relationship of caring and sharing.
Young Pilgrim, fear the LORD and depart from evil. In doing this you will not be wise in your own eyes. Rather, your eye of faith will be fixed on One greater, the Most High God!
Proverbs 30:25 “The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.”
The ants, we learn from vs. 24, are the first of “four things which are little upon the earth, but . . . exceeding wise.” Interesting it is that, in God’s creation, He provided us such a creature as an ant. Pests, are they not? Holy Writ however, instructs us to observe the ways of ants in order that we may develop spiritually.
Tiny creatures, these insects are. One stomp of your foot eliminates several ants as they throng at the opening of their den. The fact that many are on the scene of an ant hill indicates to us that they are a social type of creature.
They live in colonies, they work together, they have a common cause. Yet because of their size, or perhaps lack of size, they are not strong. A small crumb of bread, for example, is sometimes too large for one ant to handle alone.
Working together, a colony of ants can accomplish several objectives. They establish their community. Some types of ants tunnel their way through the earth, for example, which tunnels then become “roads” leading to housing or food storage areas. The “houses” then must be made comfortable and, as our Proverb also suggests, the food storage areas must be filled. The colony understands that it must be prepared for the present and the future, for ahead is winter; preparations must be made.
Striking, is it not, Young Pilgrim, that God has given to us these pesty little creatures for our spiritual profit? Our Proverb maintains that we must pay attention to these miserable little pests for they are wise. (vs. 24)
Do we see our sin and misery when we observe these creatures? Do we see the cross? Do we understand by the example of a colony of ants how we ought to walk in true gratitude to God?
Ants are so small, so insignificant, and such bothersome little beasts. Indeed, wretched we are by nature! On account of our sins against the Most High God, what pests we are! Do we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think? (Rom. 12:3) Puny, insignificant creatures before our Maker, are we not?
Ants are not strong. But O, Young Pilgrim, how we would stand in our own strength! We do this and we accomplish that. Inclined to all evil, we would rely upon our own strength independent of our Maker. Do we confess as in Job 9:19 “If I speak of strength, lo, He is strong”?
Ants are a people. And thanks be to God that in Jesus Christ there is a communion of saints! There is mutual exhortation, encouragement, and edification in the colony. There is work t be done together in the common cause of the Glory of God, and to the praise of His Name.
Ants need food. We, too, need spiritual food. God has given to us His Son, the Word made flesh, Who is the Bread of Life. His crucified body and shed blood is our spiritual food and drink. Through Him we are nourished unto everlasting life.
Ants are prepared. Do we avail ourselves of the utensils provided for us in order that we may be prepared to partake of the nourishment? Ants are not lazy! For them it is work; a flurry of activity surrounds an ant hill. No leisure time, only work. Do you, Young Pilgrim, read spiritual literature, listen to spiritual music, participate in spiritual discussions, and commit Scripture to memory?
Ants work in the summer. While there is time, while we have the opportunity, we must prepare! The time comes when it will be too late to work. Read, study, commit to memory the Scriptures. Understand how the life of Christ in you must be revealed in all of your activities. We cannot pursue our pilgrimage with one eye fixed or Mount Zion and the other eye wandering! A colony of weak ants, while there is opportunity, works to maintain its existence.
Young Pilgrim, see the ants.
Prov. 3:19: “The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens”.
How glorious is the truth of creation!
Jehovah God, infinite, wise, and eternal has founded the heavens and earth in time. Made unto the glory of the Creator, the creature depends upon and is subject to the Creator. And as the potter has power over the clay (Rom 9:21), so also the Creator has control over the creature.
We wouldn’t think anything, we wouldn’t say anything, we wouldn’t do anything in order to contradict the Glory, the Power, or the Wisdom of the Creator, would we?
Scripture tells us how God created. In our proverb we are instructed that wisdom and understanding are the means God used to found the earth and establish the heavens. God’s wisdom and understanding caused creation. This must refer to Christ. Prov. 8:22-30 refers to wisdom being a possession of the LORD from everlasting. Wisdom was present when the heavens were prepared (vs. 27). This same wisdom declares in vs. 35 “Whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the LORD.”
And certainly Christ was present at creation. John 1 teaches that the Eternal Word, by Whom all things were made, also became “flesh, and dwelt among us.”
Who among us would contradict either in doctrine or in life, that Christ, the Anointed, participated in the work of Creation?
But what is it to create?
Scripture gives us this definition in Rom. 4:17 “calleth those things which be not as though they were.” This definition appears in Heb. 11:3 “things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Ps. 33:9 yields yet another definition: “He spake and it was done, he commanded and it stood fast.”
Which creature has such power?
But the clear Scriptural teaching of Creation is contradicted. The Church has long withstood the theory of evolution. Although even today, evolution is presented as fact. Young Pilgrim, you must be on guard against this theory! Many textbooks which you use have concentrated doses of this evil teaching. Nevertheless, we must be aware of and oppose evolution.
Perhaps it is because evolution has received the focus in our attempt to defend the truth of Creation, that other evils have crept in past our peripheral vision. I refer now to our often careless use of the term “to create”.
The question above is appropriate. We wouldn’t think anything in order to contradict the Glory, the Power, or the Wisdom of the Creator, would we? Such thoughts are rooted in original sin. The serpent beguiles Eve, “And ye shall be as gods.” Ever since the fall of man in Paradise, the creature assumes for himself the power which alone is to be attributed to the Creator.
But how is this power, which belongs to the Creator, denied Him and claimed by the creature?
The “thing to do” today is to be “creative”. We participate in “creative crafts” for example, do we not? Or, “creative arts”. Or, “creative design”. Or, “Creative writing”. Moreover, we allude to these various activities, using the term “creative”, in such a casual manner that without thinking, spiritually thinking that is, we usurp a power which belongs only to the Creator! Who among us can be creative in writing or crafts, or arts and so on?
Scripture presents a simple fact that God alone can create! When we use Scriptural terms then we ought to use them in a spiritually sensitive manner. Hearing of the creatures’ performance of these various activities as being “creative”, the spiritually sensitive one covers his ears and shouts “No! I do not want to hear it!”
We ought not to be careless in our attitude toward these things, Young Pilgrims, lest our spiritual senses become dull and we too worship the creature rather than the Creator! (Rom. 1:25) And, understand that this happens, for who receives credit for the product which is produced as a result of these activities which are being termed “creative”?
How serious is this careless use of the term “to create”?
It is this serious, Young Pilgrim, that it is a denial of faith!
The Scriptures maintain that God alone has the power to create. Heb. 11:3 connects this to faith. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” When we engage in an activity which today is called “creative”, we use things which do appear in order to produce a finished product. Then we have not created anything at all.
By faith we believe that “the LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth, by understanding hath he established the heavens.” May we maintain this not only in doctrine but also as this truth is revealed in our lives.
Proverbs 4:26 “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.”
In this section of Proverbs 4, Young Pilgrim, spiritual matters are dealt with from the viewpoint of the physical parts of the body. Vs. 23 makes mention of the heart. From a physical viewpoint, the heart is the center of the body. No less is it the spiritual center “for out of it are the issues of life.” We are exhorted to keep diligently our hearts. For, with our hearts we believe and with our mouths we make confession. Cf. Romans 10:8-11. So our mouths and lips must also be guarded according to vs. 24. And vs. 25 exhorts the pilgrim to watch where he is going. With an eye of faith, and looking straight ahead the pilgrim carefully treads the path of life. In order to travel along a path one must use his feet. And this is what our Proverb suggests.
Feet do crazy things. They can lead us into more trouble! With our foot we push down the accelerator pedal – oops too far – got caught! With our foot we kick a textbook down the school corridor. Our feet carry us to forbidden places, like movie houses. No, we are not that bad, are we? Let us just say our feet carry us to ‘‘unforbidden places” such as the television viewing area of our homes. There, now, that sounds so much better than “movie houses”. After all, our homes are not “movie houses” are they? These are some of the crazy things our feet do. They run from that which is right.
Spiritually our feet are no better, are they? As our feet transport us along the way of life, they carry us away from the established path and we enter the brambles of evil. Our actions, words, and thoughts are corrupt by nature. An honest appraisal of ourselves reflects that we are spiritual bullies. With our spiritual foot we kick a fellow pilgrim when he is down, so to speak.
But our feet are guided. “Established” is the term our Proverb uses. Indeed the old path is hardened by the many previous pilgrims who have followed the way. The way of truth it is, free from the brambles of the lie. Sometimes, the path of truth is difficult, we would rather avoid it then, would we not? Yet the way is established.
This entails the serious calling of becoming knowledgeable concerning the well worn ways. We are talking history, Young Pilgrim! Do you know it?
The Old Testament history of types and shadows is a contributing factor in the hard established path upon which we travel. Old Testament history is for us an example. Cf. I Cor. 10:11. Do we dare not to know this history?
Likewise New Testament history must be known by us; for, here is the fulfillment of God’s promise revealed in Christ. The feet of our Lord brought Him to Calvary! The way is established! He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6
Furthermore, we must have a knowledge of Church History, It is the history of the Church to which we belong. The Spirit of Christ leads the Church unto the Truth. The doctrines of the Church have been developed through time until the present. But development may not stop here. Further development must be pursued.
“Ponder the path of thy feet.”
The continued pursuance of the development of the truth of the Scriptures is a process of careful consideration. We must be thinking Christians! When we ponder the paths of our feet then we recognize our miserable condition. How often we attempt to find new ways. We try untested and unproven ways. We become flighty, impulsive, shallow thinking Christians. Our feet run loose all over the place, leading us into all sorts of trouble and -problems, and we might add, inconsistencies. We go astray from the established way and the brambles of the lie prick us. The reason we can recognize this is because Christ has established the way which we are to follow. Being acquainted with that way we also know when we are not in it.
But the way which Christ established is the way which we must follow. When we do follow the established path then Christian conduct is illustrated in our lives. It is in this way that previous pilgrims have followed the path. Through the ages of history the path has become increasingly hard and firm.
And do we properly appreciate the feet of previous pilgrims who have maintained and developed the way of truth? In order to appreciate previous pilgrims we must know the history that surrounded them. Many even died on account of the established way! We show our gratitude for these pilgrims by following the path which has been firmly packed by their footsteps. Even as they pondered the paths of their feet, so ought we to ponder our path.
Let us then be thinking Christians.
“As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.” Proverbs 25:12
Young Pilgrim, the proverb speaks of jewels; jewels of great value. The value has been increased by the removal of the impurities in the gold. The proving of the gold has made it more precious. Not only are these ornaments now precious from the viewpoint of their worth, but also from the viewpoint of their endearment. These jewels are become objects which are dear to us. This is illustrated by how we use these jewels, that is, we adorn ourselves with them.
The proverb also speaks of a “wise reprover”. Reproof is not necessarily an act of one in authority. Each of us must express our disapproval, for example, of an unjust deed or word by another who is perhaps our peer. However, the perspective of this proverb is from the view of authority. That this is true is evident from the mention made of “an obedient ear.”
The scope of this proverb is, then, that even as an ornament would serve to add beauty to its bearer, so the word of wisdom given by method of reproof will grace the obedient hearer.
Notice, Young Pilgrim, the mutual benefit derived from this reproof. On the one hand the one who receives the reproof and responds in obedience benefits, for he has now made a positive development in, shall we say, his conduct. On the other hand, the one who reproved also benefits, for he sees fruit upon his word of wisdom. Together, the reprover and the obedient complement each other.
Now the question is “What are the spiritual implications of all this?” In answer to this question we will attempt to look at two particular areas of authority in our lives.
You are concerned, Young Pilgrims, with the relationship you have with your parents, are you not? God has given to you parents to be an authority over you. Their reproof is a function of that authority. You must view the reproof they give as a valuable jewel which is precious to you.
By nature we despise reproof. We believe ourselves to be pretty good, rather mature for our young age, wise beyond our years. Who needs parents to tell us that we are wrong? Who do parents think they are anyway? Why do they always think they must belittle us? They never praise us, in fact, often they minimize our efforts.
Wise reproof adorns an obedient ear.
When your parents would adorn your ears with wise reproof, it is your calling to respond in unwavering obedience. To continue in disobedience is to cast aside a valuable jewel. This would be disgraceful. But when you take the jewel and grace yourself with its beauty in obedience, then both you and your parents benefit. You have been advanced and developed in Godly conduct. Furthermore, your obedience reflects, as a jewel, a positive fruit upon your parents labor. They also are advanced because their wise reproof is reflected in a Godly conduct in their Young Pilgrim.
And why shouldn’t your parents know something about the struggles of young pilgrims? Remember that they too were once young! Moreover, even now they also are children of our Heavenly Father. Wayward children, too! And He comes to them with His Word.
A word of reproof.
The preaching is the second area in our lives which we should examine. Authoritative preaching must be based upon the Scriptures. And scripture “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” II Tim. 3:16,17. Reproof then is an essential ingredient in the preaching.
Explicit reprimand for our denial of doctrine is a must in the preaching. The sharp and piercing (Heb. 4:12) reproof effects an examination of self. It is not enough for us to hear, for example, how others would deny the truth of total depravity. What we must hear in the preaching is that we, ourselves, deny this fundamental truth! The truth devastates our self-esteem, does it not? By nature we do not want it! Yet, without this truth, salvation would not be wholly Divine and it would be impossible for us to walk in gratitude for such deliverance from our depravity!
But I fear sometimes that the preaching is not as sharp as it should be. We hear about the apostacy of others. But, if through the preaching we are reproved for our sins of apostacy, it is mild. Agreed, for another example, that it is a shame that others allow women to be office-bearers. But what does that have to do with the personal salvation of each individual believer in the congregation?
There must be wise reproof in the preaching. It must adorn obedient ears. Instruction in obedience demands reproof! Only when we stand thoroughly reproved by the preaching do we understand sin and grace! Being brought to our knees in confession, receiving forgiveness of sins, we are comforted by the Word. Then follows the resolve to walk in new obedience.
In the way of obedience we receive all the benefits of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He bestows these benefits upon us.
He adorns our ears with His wise reproof. He gives spiritual hearing and understanding. He gives obedience. We grow in His grace. As obedient children we give praise and honor and glory to His Name.
Proverbs 26:12 “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.”
At first glance, young pilgrim, this Proverb could be somewhat baffling to us. Is not “a man wise in his own conceit” a fool? The fool, as Jesus presents him at the conclusion of the sermon on the mount, is one who, wise in his own conceit, builds his house upon the sand, (cf Matt. 7:26, 27) However, in this Proverb there is a distinction made between one who is ‘‘wise in his own conceit,” and ‘‘a fool.” Moreover, the fool has hope. Are you puzzled, young pilgrim?
It is not difficult to identify the conceited one. One who is wise in his own conceit is without God. He is independent of God, or so he claims. A creature, not dependent on the Creator, is his attitude toward life. He is not one to obey the Law of God. His ungodly life is a following of the wisdom of this world. He is given to reason apart from faith; and his wisdom, he claims, is wiser than God.
Not infrequently Scripture presents an exemplification of ‘‘a man wise in his own conceit.” One clear example is the self-centeredness of Pharoah. Ex. 5:2 “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.” Clearly, in his own wisdom, Pharoah would establish his kingdom above the kingdom of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Another unmistakable example given in Scripture is that of the pride of Nebuchadnezzar. Dan. 4:30 “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the house of my majesty?” Once again it is clear that, in his own conceit, Nebuchadnezzar would exalt his kingdom above the kingdom of our God and of His Christ.
Such then, is the one who is “wise in his own conceit.” He pays no homage to the Law of God. The commands of our Lord Jesus Christ are below his self-esteem. He finds the various exhortations and admonitions of Scripture to be unworthy of his attention. Would we not call him a fool?
However, in this Proverb, young pilgrim, the “fool” is to be distinguished from the one who is “wise in his own conceit.” For the fool presented in this Proverb has hope.
Who, then, is this fool?
We receive a glimpse of who this fool is from the prayer of Jesus in Matt. 11:25 and Lk. 10:21. “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.”
The prayer of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew follows his rebuke of Chorazin,
Bethsaida and Capernaum. In Luke, on the other hand, this prayer of Jesus follows the joyful return of the seventy disciples whom the Lord had sent out, two and two, into every city and place, (cf. Lk. 10:1) Included in the commission of the seventy, by Jesus, is the rebuke of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum.
Now, I do not wish to become too involved with these Gospel narratives. However, one thing is important for us to understand. That is the preaching! The “woe” which Christ pronounced was His preaching! The mission of the seventy was to proclaim the Day of the Lord. Again, preaching! And the understanding of this is given by revelation unto the babes. The same revelation comes to us by means of the preaching.
Paul, in I Corinthians 1, connects the preaching with the foolish. Unto the saved, the preaching is the power of God; unto the lost, the preaching is foolishness, (cf. vs. 18) God is pleased to use the foolishness of the preaching, (cf. vs. 21) The preaching of the cross is the wisdom of God (cf. vs. 24) More wise than men is the foolishness of God. (cf. vs. 25) “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” (vs. 27)
Who, then, is this fool?
He is the fool, who claims dependence upon God. He follows not the wisdom of the world, but he follows the foolishness of the preaching. He, who heeds the Law of God, is the fool. The fool is subject to the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the fool, who pays close attention to the various exhortations and admonitions of Scripture. Such is the fool presented in this Proverb!
Notice, in this connection, how the “man wise in his own conceit” would distort, displace, and thereby destroy the preaching! Preaching has a smaller and smaller place in worship. Preaching is distorted when false doctrine is presented. Preaching is displaced when many gimmicks are introduced into the worship service leaving scarcely enough time for even a brief exposition of Scripture. In fact, a quick glance at Saturday’s paper, which lists all the schedules for various churches, reveals how preaching is being replaced by choir performances and guest speakers and even “Dobson Films.”
I am reminded, too, of the elders of Israel coming to Samuel in Ramah, I Sam. 8:4, 5. Israel wanted a king. Why? So they could be like all the other nations. And, I feel, that attitude is all too often among us! “We want a king,” chanted Israel. I am afraid to listen, for the distant echo in our church community seems to be “We want a seminar!” or “Give us a lecture with an eye-catching title to be presented by a dynamic speaker!”
I am not saying that seminars are bad. Neither am I saying that lectures are evil. No! But the trend seems to be that these types of things are much more enthusiastically received than the preaching! If so, then the preaching is being displaced. Beware, lest the foolishness of the preaching is destroyed and the “man wise in his own conceit” is allowed to replace it!
The fool has hope. O yes, in each of us there dwells the old man of sin. By nature we all are wise in our own conceits.
Nevertheless, the fool has hope. I Peter 1:3 teaches “. . .begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection. . .”
Notice here especially two things.
First, that we have a lively hope instilled within us by virtue of the fact that we have been given a new birth. We, who by nature are wise in our own conceits, have hope!
Secondly, that this is possible by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection is the good news of the gospel! No resurrection, no gospel; it is that simple. But this good news of the resurrection is preached! I Peter 1 concludes with these significant words: “And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
“It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.” Proverbs 10:23
Each of us is well acquainted with the mischievous type character. He is the one who does the naughty little things. He is always in minor trouble nothing really serious. Wherever he is, crazy little events just seem to happen. Following in his wake, we find a certain incorrect conduct. Shall we say he is a misfit?
He is in constant need of scolding. Not requiring severe discipline, he is always amazed by the perpetual admonitions directed toward him. He always wonders and sometimes even expresses, “Why does this always happen to me?” Again, you will hear him ask one in authority, “Why do you always pick on me?”
You know the type. He is the child whose mother has told him that he may play outside “but”, she pleads, “try not to get too dirty” He promptly makes a mud puddle with the garden hose. “After all”, he reasons, “the water coming from the hose is not dirty.”
He is the youth who is continually teasing his siblings. Nothing serious, only mild mocking, perhaps. To “get under their skin” is his goal.
This mischievousness becomes as a sport to the youngster. He seems to enjoy causing minor disruption. This mischief is fun and games! Many times there is laughter and glee attributed to him on account of his clever tricks or witty sayings. But because he is yet an amateur at this game, he will “carry it too far” and need a word of admonishment.
Although he is yet a novice, he is encouraged to expand his repertoire of comical tricks by the “positive” attention he receives from his peers. The development of his skills is hindered only slightly by the mild rebuke he receives from a person who may have authority over him. He soon achieves a sure method of development in his trade. As his mischief becomes more refined, he receives more attention of laughter and less of exhortation, he “doesn’t get caught. ”
As he becomes more proficient in his mischief, his spiritual sensitivity declines and notice what happens. His mischief becomes more a matter of word than deed. Foolish jesting, crazy remarks, passing of rumors all become part of his repertoire.
Experience polishes the skill. The silly remarks which once reflected upon him, drawing laughter directed toward him, have now become witty commentaries of other people, reflecting upon them and sending peels of laughter toward them. Stupid little events which he was once involved in, which drew attention toward himself, are now become clever observations of another’s circumstances in life. (Need we add that these observations are derogatory?) While he was once the recipient of scolding and admonitions, he now coins sly comments which belittle others.
When yet a novice, most of his mischievousness hurt only himself! The laughter he drew was directed toward him. He received the scolding and admonitions.
But his mischief has become more advanced. No longer does he injure himself, but his mischief is performed at another’s expense. Several people have gathered to hear his witty commentaries, clever observations, and sly comments, all of which are directed toward other people. And these same several people help him hurt others when they join in the laughter and gaiety. Their light-heartedness makes them partakers in his mischief.
Fools, for this is their sport. Fools, for this is the entertainment they seek. Fools, for they participate in this amusing performance.
We do not participate in this type of thing though, do we?
Consider the individual who receives this callous abuse. The ridicule has been merciless. He has been robbed of his integrity, his reputation has been slandered, and now totally embarrassed by all this unjust treatment he feels that he has suffered at the hand of fellow Christians.
“The man of understanding hath wisdom.”
Yes, the man of understanding is filled with compassion for the individual who receives such callous abuse. He recognizes the ridicule and mockery for what it is . . sin against the brother. For how ought we to behave ourselves one toward another? The Law of God requires Love!
The Apostle Paul wrote concerning Love: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind’ seeketh not her own . . . thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity.” I Cor. 13:4-7.
The entertainment of the above mentioned mischief is gone. No longer do we hear the mockery, the laughter, the ridicule, the gaiety, the slander, the light-heartedness.
All is quiet!
“Why don’t you grow up?” This is the quick, sharp rebuke from the man of understanding.
Yes, Young Pilgrim, the man of understanding. . . . “but when I became a man I put away childish things. ” (1 Cor. 13:11)
Considerate, merciful, kind, compassionate man he is. Understanding the hurt of the brother and having wisdom to both know and apply the Law of God.
As we walk the path of life, Young Pilgrim, may we also “put away childish things,” and grow up to be men of understanding, having wisdom.
“The eyes of the Lord are in everyplace, beholding the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15: 3
Does not this Word of God make you feel uneasy, Young Pilgrim? We have often sung “God the Only Deliverer’’ and often paid little or no attention to the words.
“Jehovah from His Throne on high Looks down with clear and searching eye on all that dwells below; and He that fashioned heart and mind, Looks ever down on all mankind, The works of men to know.”
The “I AM THAT I AM,” the Most High God, the Sovereign Lord of Lords and King of Kings looks and sees each of us; and He beholds both the evil and the good. I repeat: does not this Word of God make you feel uneasy?
The eyes of the Beholder are in every place. As we walk life’s pilgrimage, Young Pilgrim, we must be consciously aware of being watched! And life’s pilgrimage takes us many places. We are being watched when we obey or disobey our parents either in the home or apart from the home. Sometimes we get the idea that because our parents are not observing us we can “get away with” doing something disobedient.
Other times when we are in the shopping center and escape through the exit door with an item obtained by “five finger discount” we feel that no one observed us. Beware! You are being watched!
The eyes of the Beholder penetrate the intentions of the heart and mind. Consider the Young Pilgrim who, having prepared a box of treats, sets out to visit an elderly, lonely widow. Noble effort? Perhaps. Excellent outward appearance, but with possible evil intention.
Think of yourself, Young Pilgrim, as you experienced thoughts, words, and deeds today. Each of these are reactions to people, places and ideas. In your reactions did you reveal the life and love of Christ which reigns within your heart? Analyze your reactions. Was there a struggle? Were your reactions open or secret? Were you submissive or rebellious? Did you act deliberately or spontaneously?
There is a popular slogan today, an ungodly, spontaneous reaction. “If it feels good, do it.’’ This current philosophy is to be expelled from the pilgrim’s life. It is an encouragement to react in an evil way. It betrays, for, believing that “it will feel good’’ and having then “done it’’ we are left miserable with the guilt of sin. We also feel tricked because the experience was not quite the thrill we thought it should have been. The slogan concentrates on ungodly natural self, while the pilgrim is called to have eye contact with the Beholder.
This eye contact is a look of faith. In many places Scripture commands us to “look to Him’’. Is. 45:22 “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” Another place is Heb. 12:2 “Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.’’
We are reminded of at least two Bible characters in connection with this eye contact. First is Lot’s wife, who looked not unto Him. You will recall that the Angels rushed Lot and his family out of Sodom. Yet we read of Lot’s wife that she looked back and became a pillar of salt. (CF Gen. 19:26) Jesus reminds us of this in Luke 17:32 while giving instruction on when the kingdom of God should come.
The second event involves Peter and his denial of our Lord at the time of Jesus’ trial. After the third denial immediately the cock crew (Luke 22:6lff) “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.” Devastated, “Peter went out and wept bitterly.”
The contrast in these two stories is obvious. Lot’s wife would not look to Him Peter could not look to Him.
Our Lord yet remembered Peter and made certain His comfort when after the resurrection the angel commanded the women to “tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee.”
Young Pilgrim, can he “Stare you down”? Look to Him!
Prov. 22:28 “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.”
’The Pilgrim passing through this strange land in which we live cannot help but see social unrest. Certain evils prevail and out of them we see multiplied corruption. The natives of this land would continually tempt the Pilgrim to end his Pilgrimage, and to set up residence in the community. They make the settlement so appealing. The Pilgrim, weary in his journey, often will pause in his Pilgrimage in order to be tempted.
By God’s grace, rather than being tempted, he sees the prevailing evils and places them in proper perspective: there are no boundaries! There are no limits to the evils which are readily accepted by the natives. The border of morality is broken down. Immorality has invaded the enclosure of decency. Not only is modesty absent, but immodesty and its instigation is promoted.
The Young Pilgrim could easily become confused by such contradiction. The ways of the natives are contrary to the way Young Pilgrims have been taught. Thanks be to God that the fathers have set ancient landmarks!
Landmarks tell all who pass by exactly where the boundaries are. The natives have ignored the landmarks for so long that they scarce can recognize them anymore. The Pilgrims, on the other hand, not only recognize the landmarks, but also familiarize themselves with them. The landmark stands as a symbol, a memorial, dear to the Pilgrim’s heart. He loves it!
In the proverb which we are considering, the landmark has been set by the fathers. One may think that the landmark, which sets the boundaries of our lives, is the Law of God. In a certain sense this is true. The established Law of God certainly must be the rule for the Pilgrim’s life of Thankfulness. But the landmark in our Proverb is the setting forth of principles of God’s Word. These principles are given to us by our fathers and we must take heed to what the fathers have said.
From old time, from yesteryear, the well established landmark stands, never to be removed. O, yes, the landmark is in the way of the native! He stumbles around it. He would have it torn down and destroyed. He would eliminate it, he would cut a new path so to bypass it. But being firmly set, the landmark has stood the test of time. The native can choose to ignore it, attempt to avoid it, yet it is not removed. It remains!
But what about us? Have we Young Pilgrims made ourselves familiar with the landmarks our fathers have set? And if we are familiar with them, would we attempt to have them removed?
Do we cut new paths in order to bypass them? Are we also guilty of ignoring or avoiding the landmarks?
Perhaps we should have our consciences pricked while we recall some of the landmarks. We know them well, they are familiar to us. Do we hold them dear to our hearts?
There is the landmark of the place of movies and drama in our lives. Have we not nearly eliminated this landmark from our lives? Movies are a prevailing evil in this strange land of our pilgrimage. There is no limit to the corruption and immorality which this evil has caused. Do we look lovingly at the landmark which our fathers have set? Do we know and embrace the boundaries marked out?
There is the landmark, which our fathers have set, called work. Yes, good old fashioned, dirt under-the-fingernails, work! The natives seem to scorn work. Unemployment and welfare is practically preferred. Part of the curse due to man for sin is that ‘‘in the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread all the days of thy life.” Work. Hard work. Do we join in with the natives in their attempt to bypass the curse?
There is the landmark of discipline. This landmark involves the teaching of proper conduct. How easy it is to pause in our pilgrimage and to participate in some type of mischief. How easy to compromise! “Nothing really wrong with it,” we say. How easy it is to ignore, and thereby remove, the landmark.
There is the landmark of the place women have in the home. ‘‘Women’s lib” has attempted to break down the boundaries. Sometimes I am even concerned that the curriculum in our schools is geared to teach our daughters some other career than that of being a wife and mother in Israel! Do we tend to avoid this landmark?
Landmarks which our fathers have set. The list can go on. Landmarks of music, Christian liberty, the place of recreation in our lives, materialism. We are familiar with the landmarks.
Young Pilgrim, embrace the landmarks, hold them dear to you. Surround yourself with the boundaries which they mark out. There is a feeling of security on the inside of these boundaries. A certain peace prevails inside these bounds because they provide the way of life which leads to the Pilgrim’s goal: the journey ends in eternal life.
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