PROVERBS 7:1 – 9:18 and 1 THESSALONIANS 4:1–18
In verses 1-5 we see similar instruction that has already been given in previous chapters. The need to keep and uphold the Law and Commandments of the Lord. The exhortation is not only to keep them but to bind them upon the fingers and have them inscribed upon the heart. How many times has this kind of instruction been given? He then adds the importance of having wisdom and understanding as companions. How often have we heard about the qualities of wisdom, knowledge and understanding? Solomon, Israel and all of us are without excuse when considering the warnings and exhortations that have been given.
Attention now returns to the subject of the strange woman in verses 6-27. This is more of a true life account of what can happen to a man who is void of understanding and left to his ways. This account speaks as to how the spirit of the strange woman operates. It is told in a way that helps for one to understand how one can fall and the consequences that come as a result. When reading through this chapter it is clear that there is a need for vigilance and for the guarding of the heart. As we saw earlier the “strange” woman will seek its prey looking for the vulnerable ones.
In verses 8-10 we see the simple man allowing himself to be drawn towards her quarters. This already indicates a troubled heart issue. This can be likened to one who exposes himself to questionable TV programs, movies or internet web sites. Instead of putting an immediate stop to his inclination he treads closer and deeper into its web. That which the man started out looking for was found in verses 10-15. The strange woman heightens the allure of the moment by laying hold of the man and speaking flattering words of inducements into his spirit. She sweetens the trap further by putting to rest any fears of being caught as seen in verses 19-20. This is one of the biggest lies of the enemy. The secret sin may be hidden for a season but eventually the sin will be discovered one way or the other. This lie served as the downfall to many, including David until his sin was addressed by God through Nathan.
In verses 21-22 the trap is baited and set and there is now no escape. The fleeting moment of forbidden pleasure suddenly comes face to face with the eternal reality of its consequence as seen in verse 23. In the lead-up to the moment of sin the consequences seem to never come into consideration. Suddenly, everything has now changed. How many lives, families and eternities have suffered under this scenario? The countless warnings and instructions has not stopped the assault of the “strange” woman. The Spirit that Solomon is warning all of us against will one day apprehend him. It is only the grace of God and His keeping power that preserves. We must constantly cry out for a life that is pleasing to Him so that our paths will be preserved. An idle unattended heart; a heart consisting of idols or a heart that is uncircumcised is vulnerable and prone to her advances. This chapter ends with the sobering reminder of her track record and of her ability in bringing down many strong men. The path of the “strange” woman leads to hell unless sin is repented of and forgiven by the grace of God. This spirit is alive and hard at work today; especially seeking after those with a high calling. May the Lord place a love for Truth, a love for righteousness and an outpouring of abundant grace so as to live triumphantly for Him.
The theme of this chapter concentrates on wisdom. It is described as a woman who stands in the high places calling out to men who will hear and respond. This woman is in direct contrast to the strange woman seen in the previous chapter. You have a contest between these two women as they call out and seek out those who will respond to their overtures. She cries out to the simple ones, (vs 5) the same ones who fell prey to the strange woman in chapter 7. The words from the mouth of this woman are words that edify, words that speak truth and righteousness (vs 7-8). You will not find wicked or deceitful words coming forth from this woman (wisdom). This same contending is taking place today. Which of the two women do we give heed to? The spirit of the world puts the focus upon the strange woman because she reflects what the world today represents. The woman who speaks of wisdom is not as readily sought after. Her words oftentimes fall on deaf ears because they are tuned in to that other voice.
In verses 10-11 wisdom, knowledge and understanding is valued at a price far greater than gold. The treasure of the Fear of The Lord is also expressed but it often goes unheeded. Wisdom continues to speak as to how kings reign by her. This was seen in the early years of King Solomon. He cried out for wisdom and obtained her. His reign in the beginning was glorious but over time his heart began to be inclined to other voices. Where did these other voices come from? They came from other women, “strange” women that he allowed to come into his life. Eventually the spirit of these other women put a stranglehold upon Solomon causing him to seek out the pleasures of man all the more.
The Lord speaks as wisdom and makes clear that He has a special love for those who love Him and who seek Him early (vs 17). Wisdom again equates her value as being far greater than gold and silver. It is true when you weigh things from an eternal lens and viewpoint. Wisdom leads in the ways of righteousness and judgment. She existed before the formation of the earth. Let us not forget that wisdom is an attribute of the Holy Spirit. When we consider wisdom in the above context we get a more enhanced picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We see that wisdom existed from the beginning as expressed in verses 23-29. Wisdom was there at the creation, was there when the heavens were formed and even before the earth came into being. With these kind of credentials don’t you think we would be well served to embrace her and live by her guidance and instruction?
Wisdom constantly calls out but we need to incline our ears to hear. We then need to appropriate her counsels and guidance. It requires that we be proactive with a heart that seeks after her daily. Our hearts must not be cluttered with other attachments otherwise wisdom will not be able to take hold. If we pursue after her and we will be found of her and as a result find favor with the Lord. On the other hand, if we neglect her we ruin our own soul by allowing the wiles of the strange woman to lay hold which in the end will result in death. It all comes down to which of the two women we will seek after. Will our choice be the “strange” woman or the woman that is embodied by wisdom? It all comes down to a choice and that choice is ultimately reflected by what is within our heart.
Wisdom is now characterized as one who has constructed a house consisting of 7 pillars. These 7 pillars can be contrasted with the 7 qualities of wisdom seen in the Book of James.
Jas 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Wisdom continues to makes its appeal to men to come and partake of her beautiful fruits. Wisdom destroys the beasts and all that would oppose the purposes of God. It makes provision by furnishing the table with its fruits (vs 2). Wisdom gives instruction regarding correction to a wise man as well as instruction to the foolish in how to turn from his way. The 7 pillars of wisdom that are identified from James’s epistle helps us to appreciate the needed attributes to be applied in our own lives. It begins with the understanding that everything that comes forth from God above is pure and undefiled. The 2nd pillar always seeks to be peaceable with both God and man. There is a gentleness required so that we can help to make a difference in lives in much the same way a true nurse looks after a patient. Wisdom can be applied in a way where its message is easy to be received in an area of need. The results of wisdom being properly applied are fruitfulness that will endure. Finally, there is no partiality or hypocrisy in its message. Once we know what these 7 pillars of wisdom are and how they can be appropriated it gives us understanding and perspective to the events described in Proverbs 9. It is a wise and just man that will continue to grow and learn from the instruction of wisdom. This is the kind of man that wisdom seeks after and we would do well to position ourselves unto her pathway.
In verse 10 we see 4 of the 7 Spirits of God mentioned. It is the Fear of the Lord that serves as the foundation of wisdom with the knowledge of the Holy as understanding. Wisdom looks for the wise man and the wise man is one who walks in the Fear of the Lord. This is a man who has an awareness of the presence of God at all times. He is sensitive to the Lord and has the ability to know when the Spirit is grieved. The anointing of the Fear of the Lord will help keep a saint on the right path which in turn will produce a greater pursuit for more. This of course is in far contrast in the approach taken with the “strange” woman. If wisdom is pursued and sought after she will be found and she will ensure prosperity and longevity of days.
The attention now turns back to the foolish woman in verses 13-18 who seems to be linked to the “strange” woman of Proverbs 7. What is seen in chapters 7-9 is a choice that is to be made between two women. It is a picture of a similar choice that is being made today. It all comes down to what is in the heart of man. There is a time when it seems one can gravitate between the two in a type of middle ground capacity. The middle ground has eroded requiring now a choice to be made. The Lord addressed this point in His appeal to the church of Laodicea in Rev 3:16. It is to be one or the other. What is in our heart will ultimately determine the pathway we will choose. This is why it is essential that we give our heart to the Lord and allow Him to bring forth a new Covenant reality to our being. May wisdom be our pursuit and may we be ever found in her pathways.
1 Thes 4
Paul will now exhort the saints in Thessalonica to purse the path of holiness. He begins in verse 1 by sharing with how important one’s walk with God is to be. Paul is an example for them to emulate and follow. As we walk in God’s path we will begin to experience a greater separation unto God and separation from the things which hinder our relationship with him. This is seen in the life of Abraham who separated from his homeland, his father and Lot but in doing so became intimately linked with God. This is how holiness is produced. It does not just happen it comes into being over time as we walk in obedience to God. Our walk must be established in “present truth”. The church today is far more enlightened than that of the first century churches so what is the manner of relationship and walk that we have with God? Are we walking in present truth and in the Revelation that God has given through the years? We are far more accountable in our walk due to the light that has been given to us (1 John 1:7).
In verses 2-8 Paul exhorts the saints to “possess” or maintain their vessel in sanctification and honor. Paul likens our body to the temple of the Holy Ghost. If true, then what are we making allowances for in our lives? When God gives us His Spirit it is not due to our being holy but it is for the purpose of making us holy. The question is will we allow the Spirit of God to do His work? We are the one who ultimately chooses but it must be done God’s way. Do we have the type of indignation that Jesus had when he went into the temple to cleanse it (Mark 11: 15-17)? As we draw closer to the Lord and become more intimate with Him there will be no desire or room in tolerating these vices. Our vessels will become cleaner, purer and more habitable for the fullness of God’s presence to dwell. On the other hand, if we make provision in our heart for secret sins there will come a time when they will find expression. This kind of heart will not make room for the fruits of the Spirit to be able to manifest. In verse 7 Paul puts it down to one of two choices. He makes clear that we are not called to uncleanness but unto holiness. Which of the two is it? It is a similar study that is seen in Proverbs between the two women (Pro 7-9). Make no mistake; holiness is a pre-requisite in being able to reign with the Lord during His Millennial Reign.
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Paul makes the point that if one refuses the keeping of God’s ordinances and laws they are despising God and not man. There are areas of doctrine in the church today that are being compromised. Are these doctrines man-made or do they come from God? We must know and understand what God’s Word says and seek to teach it and live by it. We are called to holiness and there is provision for man to come into that experience but it must be on God’s terms. We are the temple of the Holy Ghost and he is able to do the needed work within provided we seek after God and His ways. Our responsibility is to possess our vessel in sanctification and honor.
Paul encourages the saints in Thessalonica to grow in love for one another (vs 9-10). This is not a new commandment but something that has been known from the beginning. Paul wanted the love they had for one another to be so fervent that it would spread beyond its borders throughout the whole of Macedonia. The true love of God expressed through the body of Christ is one of the greatest witnessing tools to man. It is so needed for our day in the midst of all the chaos and volatility.
Paul addresses their work ethic in verse 11-12. This points out the importance of the work place environment and how it serves as a barometer of the kind of character we possess. The Thessalonians were becoming slack in their business because of their misinterpretation of the 2nd coming. Many began to abandon their work responsibilities because of their sense of the Lord’s pending return. Even if the Lord were to return at any time it does not mean we are to become slack in our business. Many of the great leaders that God used in scripture were industrious in their related occupations.
Pro 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
God will not use a slothful man or woman in positions of authority in his kingdom. We must appreciate the importance of living a “disciplined” manner of life. A hard working industrious person is one whom God can tap and use for His purposes. This is a quality that allows for flexibility and availability which are attributes that God can use. This was a problem for this church. There was a notable sedation coming upon this church due to a false interpretation regarding the 2nd coming and due to a lacking “work ethic”. Paul wanted them to take note of his example; he took nothing from them and always demonstrated a healthy approach to work and ministry. It was not just Paul’s words and teachings it was his manner of life that spoke volumes to this hearer’s.
It is verses 13-18 where much of the controversy has developed. The church believed that the 2nd coming could take place at any time so they began to change the way that they lived. This portion of teaching does have a “present tense” sense to it. Paul later understood how the Thessalonians were applying this particular teaching and quickly wrote in his 2nd letter many of the things that had to first come to pass. What Paul is writing here is meant for the last days, perhaps the days we are currently living in. Paul will revisit many of these truths in his 2nd letter as he goes about clarifying some of their misconceptions. Regardless, we are to be vigilant and to be found faithful till the time of our departure. Each of us are appointed to die and it is vitally important that we seek to be prepared and ready for when that time comes. Some of the great men and women of God grew in strength and vigour in their later years. While the world seeks retirement and for settling down the spiritual man and woman keep pressing onwards till the end. That is the work ethic Paul lived by and the example he presents to the Thessalonians as well as to us.