PROVERBS 10:1 – 12:28 and 1 THESSALONIANS 5:1–28
Solomon is now beginning to speak more from his experience. In the first 9 chapters he was echoing much of what his parents have instructed him through the years. He begins here by speaking of the joy that comes to a father through the life of a wise son. David would have seen some of the early potential in Solomon before he died. He and Bathsheba spent considerable time instructing him in the way he should live seeing that he was being prepared for the throne. I can relate to the 2nd portion of the 1st verse seeing that I tormented my mother in my early years. I was that foolish son and came to know of the heaviness and grief that came to her during my rebellious years. Thankfully, God in His mercy allowed me to come to my senses which resulted in a very close relationship with my mother from the age of 16 onwards.
The theme of righteousness is highlighted in the next few verses. Righteousness is being contrasted with the treasures of wickedness. The contest between the two is heavily tilted in favor of the treasures of wickedness when you look at today’s world. Righteousness is jettisoned in lieu of opportunities to gain in wealth. There is nothing wrong in growing in wealth but is at the expense of ethics and righteous values? Solomon then instructs on the importance of diligent work especially in the area of preparing for the harvest. This is the thought that has been coming strongly in recent weeks. The need to prepare for the harvest, the need to dig ditches now before the rains and the harvest is brought in.
2Ki 3:16 And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Make this valley full of ditches.
This thought can be linked to the 7th kingdom parable of the great net. There will be a huge ingathering of fish, both good and bad and the question is how such a harvest will be facilitated? We all look forward to revival but are we really ready for it? Will our nets hold with all that is coming? It would be a tragedy to see a huge intake of souls lost during the harvest due to the nets not being able to hold. It is helpful in contrasting the two nets seen in the Gospels (Luke 5:6, John 21:11). It is also good to contrast the two types of ministries that Jesus called together (The Fishermen-Math 4:18-20, and the Menders-Math 4:21-22). Both ministries are needed and must be thriving in these last days.
It is a wise heart that will receive commandments and instruction as seen in verse 8. How do we live a life that helps in having this kind of heart? A key is found in verse 17 where it speaks of being in the way. This is a reminder of how God led Eleazar, the servant of Abraham when he was tasked to find a bride for his son.
Gen 24:27 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.
Do you also notice that combination of Mercy and Truth in the above verse? We have been following these companions over the course of our study seeing that they are mentioned 10 times together in scripture. The foundational verse that best defines these treasures is found in Psa 25:10.
Psa 25:10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
The key to receiving the commandments of God into one’s heart is to be in the pathway of God. One must have a love for mercy and truth as well as understanding their functions. If we desire after these treasures it will prove helpful in staying on the good path. If we are on the Lord’s ordained path we will know His safety and provision. Solomon speaks to the importance of the words that we speak in verses 18-21. It is so important that we measure our words before speaking, especially while going through a trial. It is at such times that the words that come forth may reflect what is actually in our heart.
The blessing of the Lord makes a man rich and it is a blessing that does not have accompanying sorrow (Pro 10:22). What a treasure this is. It speaks of the generous nature of God in how He desires to bless His own. Those who seek Him and please Him in their ways comes to know the benefits of this beautiful verse. There is a sense that there is a season of blessing, revival and glory that is about to come to the church. Once again, the question is, are we prepared for it? Solomon concludes this chapter by once again highlighting the Fear of the Lord (vs 27). Here it is seen as prolonging days in contrast to the judgments that come upon the wicked. The righteous shall be established and not moved no matter the situation. This speaks of a people and a church that is well rooted and grounded in Truth. This manner of people will speak forth words of wisdom that bless, edify and give perspective to the people. It will be a people who honor and uphold the name of the Lord.
Solomon addresses the subject of an improper balance in verse 1. This is a most important truth because one can speak truth but do so in a way where it does considerable damage. This is why wisdom is so important. It allows for the right administration of knowledge for any given situation. The Spirit of God is essential in helping us to know how to flow and function in our daily walk. He knows the situations involved in the lives of people and He knows the mind of God. He will help us in knowing the proper measure and weight of truth to be used and when to use it. Solomon again goes back to the subject of righteousness and how it should be sought after. Riches will not deliver men in the day of calamity and yet it is still pursued in earnest.
On the other hand, we have the exhortations to seek meekness and righteousness so that we might be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger (Zeph 2:3). We must be able to distinguish between the two types of righteousness seen in the life of a believer. There is the imputed righteousness of Christ that covers us at the time of salvation. There then is the imparted righteousness that comes by way of experience. It comes by yielding to right choices as the Lord leads us in our respective journeys. This is the type of righteousness that Solomon is referring to here. In verse 5 we see a repeated truth from Pro 10 where righteousness helps to keep us on the right path. The pursuit of righteousness helps to give direction and guidance while wickedness leaves one vulnerable and exposed. Solomon speaks of added blessings for the righteous in verses 8-10.
Solomon continues to speak of wisdom and understanding while introducing the subject of Counsel. This is another one of the 7 Spirits of the Lord (Isa 11:2-3). A wise counsellor is one who does not reveal secrets or one who subscribes to being a talebearer. A wise counsellor is one who can be trusted with secrets and one who is counted faithful in all things. He goes on to speak about the need to be surrounded by a multitude of wise counsellors. This is a strength and added protection in the life of a believer. It helps to maintain proper accountability as well as preventing a wrong or damaging decision to be made. It is critical that the counsellors we surround ourselves with are sound and credible. There are too many people who undertake important decisions on their own without seeking counsel. A good counsellor will oftentimes bring a perspective or bigger picture that others do not see. We always want to avail ourselves the strengths of the body of Christ; it is one of God’s primary methods in building and equipping the church for the last days.
The blessings of righteousness are again addressed in verses 18-19. It is something that can be sown by way of an act or by the anointed Word. The pursuit of righteousness brings life as opposed to the fruits of wickedness which lends itself to death. These are two extreme streams but we are beginning to see a distinction beginning to be made between these two groups. The Lord is not allowing for a middle of the road type of Christianity. Even as believers we will see two streams in the last days where people in the church will be flowing in one of these two rivers. A love for righteousness and Truth will help ensure we are on the right path, the path that is established and the path that leads unto Zion and life. If truth, righteousness and holiness are not a priority it will leave us vulnerable to the wiles and trappings of the enemy.
Another key to growth is the ability to be liberal in one’s giving (vs 25-26. There are two groups seen here, the one who withholds and the one who is liberal in giving. Which are we? Are our riches and possessions becoming our trust or is our trust in the Lord? We commit and make provision for the things that are in our heart. The righteous is again brought forth front and center in the last two verses. His fruit is a tree of life that nourishes his own soul while blessing others. He shall be recompensed and rewarded. It may not happen right away but God knows the right timing. We must have a godly perspective of situation and events. This perspective can come from a diligent study of God’s Word. The one primary message that comes forth from this chapter is the Righteousness of God. May it be our pursuit and may we be those who respond to the exhortation of Zephaniah the prophet.
“Seek ye the Lord, all the meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.” Zeph 2:3
This proverb opens with the picture of one who can take and receive instruction in their life. This person is one who loves knowledge. Mankind has a lifelong quest for growth in knowledge; the question to be asked is what kind of knowledge? From the very beginning we see the enemy seeking to tempt man in the realm of secret and hidden knowledge. It is a knowledge that would make one wise to the point of even being like God Himself (Gen 3:5). This was a knowledge that was forbidden to man as spoken by the Lord to Adam (Gen 2:16-17). At the same time there is a knowledge that God desires man to pursue; a knowledge of Him and His ways. This pursuit of knowledge requires a transparency on our part; the ability to acknowledge the truth about ourselves so that we can be changed to become more like the Lord. A person who is open to such correction is likened to one who has a love for the knowledge of the Lord. This is the kind of knowledge that God desires to see covering the earth. Sadly, many reject this knowledge opting for an easier way of serving God. This easier path takes us right back to the garden when the serpent tempted man. In essence what Satan was doing was affording man an easier way. This account in the garden has great significance for our day and should be studied closely. There is a movement known as Kingdom Now Theology or Word of Faith which has its origin and roots in Gen 3:5. The promise that Satan gave to Eve resembles much of what God is promising to man. The difference is that God has His terms and methods by which it is to be achieved. The way of Satan circumvents the Cross which is very similar to the above mentioned theologies. It is a way of obtaining God’s promises in a presumed fashion on terms set by an “elite” group of appointed leaders. Let’s be very clear; there is no substitute for the way of the Cross.
One of the common threads in the Proverbs is the contrast between the two women. In verse 4 we see a beautiful portrait of the virtuous woman. She is such a support and strength to her husband. This is in contrast to the foolish woman who undermines the authority of her husband resulting in shame and bitterness. The price of a godly woman cannot be measured; her worth goes beyond any earthly treasure. We need to seek and ask the Lord to help give an eternal perspective concerning the worth of the virtuous woman.
The fruit of wisdom is highlighted in verse 8. The more we seek to study this subject the more we understand the exhortation of seeking wisdom more than anything else. Wisdom allows us to see things as they really are, to know what to do in any situation and it is a fruit that is seen and admired by men. Wisdom that functions in the life of man honour’s God in significant ways. Can we appreciate the great need for wisdom in our day as we see everything deteriorating around us? Sadly, it is people of perverse hearts that seem to rule the day. It is time for the church to become the head as opposed to following the whims and directions of the world.
In verses 11-15 we see a contrast between those who follow vain men from those who seek to live simply and humbly. The Bible speaks of a trap for those who seek to live like the admired people of the world. There is the tendency to seek after wealth and the prosperous lifestyle that they convey. This allurement is all a lie and it again reverts back to the enticing yet forbidden tree of Genesis three. Let us never forget the lessons of Solomon as seen in Ecclesiastes. He came to the point of longing for a simple meal with family in contrast to the vanity and lie of riches. It was Solomon who wrote these proverbs and sadly it will later be Solomon who will come to know the fruit of what he writes. Let’s take his words to heart.
In verse 17 the exhortation to speak Truth is again given. One of the attributes of the soon coming antichrist will be his ability to speak smooth and alluring words. Unless we know, love and embrace Truth we can easily fall prey to his words. The ones who will be with the Lord are those who know both meekness and truth as seen in Psalm 45.
“And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of Truth and Meekness and Righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.” (Psa 45:4)
Solomon concludes this Proverb with the exhortation to pursue after righteousness (vs 26-28). It requires a man of diligence and intentionality. Will we be among those who seek after knowledge, wisdom and understanding?
1 Thess 5
Paul is now going to exhort vigilance and not to be caught off guard. This is a real warning for the church of our day seeing that there is a prevailing sense of apathy and indifference. There is a notable stupor that can even be found in the church. There are many similarities that can be seen between Paul’s day and ours. Remember, there was a sense amongst the Thessalonians that the Lord could return at any time. There were many heresies and false teachings that Paul had to contend with just as there is today. There are many significant moves of God that can be cited in Paul’s day just as there is today with the promise of even greater revivals to come. The primary difference is that we may well be living in the season of the Lord’s return. If true, it makes this message that Paul was speaking to the Thessalonians even more meaningful for us today.
In verse 1 Paul speaks of the importance of having an awareness of the times and seasons of which we live in. The tribe of Issachar is brought up constantly due to having the attribute of knowing the times and seasons of the Lord (1 Chr 12:32). The problem today is there is little difference or distinction between the world and the church. If this is true how then will the church be able to discern effectively the times and seasons? What is required is the character of Daniel and his friends who were deliberate in their approach towards God. They chose to not be defiled or entangled with worldly things. Is it any wonder that God enabled them to be endued with wisdom, knowledge and understanding that exceeded that of the world 10-fold? If truth be told, Paul is actually writing more to us and our generation than that of the Thessalonians.
Paul warns the church to expect the unexpected in verse 2. This should make us aware of the need to have a proactive and prepared approach regarding our walk with God. The delays of God allow for a testing of what is in the hearts of the people. Will we allow for God to hold us steady or will we veer and answer to unresolved issues of the heart. Everything in the end comes down to a heart issue. Paul warns of the danger of a “false sense of security” that can easily engulf a people. This is seen continuously throughout the history of the children of Israel. Remember, the events at Shiloh and the warnings that Jeremiah gave to the people about trusting in things that will not hold (Jer 7:12-14)? What are we trusting in today?
Paul exhorts us to again to be watchful as seen in verses 4-6. There is no reason that we should be a people in darkness and be overtaken in sudden fashion. We are a people that have been enlightened and should be able to recognize events taking place around us. These verses make clear that there is no room for middle ground. If we are of the day then we should be prepared for any eventuality. Sadly, there is an intoxicating, anesthetizing effect that seems to come over God’s people just prior to a significant move of God. Who would you rather be; an Abraham who is in alignment with God and His purposes or a Lot who is vexed with the ways of the world in Sodom? There really is no middle ground, it is one way or the other.
Paul puts emphasis on faith, hope and love as primary ingredients in being sober and prepared in living in the last days. Paul labels faith and love as being like a breastplate which helps to protect our “heart”. It is the heart where the issues of life come forth. If we lose heart and allow for unbelief we will soon find that it will affect the whole of our being. The love of God that is shed abroad in our heart helps to keep us from bitterness and envy. We find that Hope helps to serve as an anchor that keeps us steady in the midst of circumstantial storms that so often comes our way.
Paul also encourages the brethren to comfort and edify one another. In fact, he uses the word “comfort” on five different occasions in these epistles. Paul closes this first epistle with an exhortation to comfort the feebleminded while supporting the weak. He adds the need to warn those who are unruly who seems to cause trouble amongst the masses. Some of the more potent exhortations are found in verses 16-18. They are short verses with very powerful messages: First is to rejoice evermore followed by praying without ceasing. Finally, in verse 18 he speaks of always being in a state of thankfulness. An exhaustive commentary can be made on any of these three key ingredients to a successful Christian life. A rejoicing spirit will help maintain good spiritual health. One who is consistent in prayer will come to know the heartbeat of God. This person will learn how to prioritize his or her life in a more predictive fashion. A person who learns to major on thankfulness will be one who will experience a release of faith (John 6:11-12).
Joh 6:11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
Joh 6:12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
Thankfulness also helps to prepare us to come into God’s presence (Psa 100:4). These are some of the keys that help for us to achieve an overcoming life. There are several other areas of instruction that are given pertaining to the functioning of the Holy Spirit in a service (vs 19-21).
A very practical instruction is given in verse 22 where one is to abstain from any appearance of evil. This is especially true for anyone who is involved in ministry. People watch how leaders live out their lives. There may be situations that may not be sinful in of themselves but may be seen as otherwise by observers. A minister needs to know and be aware of his own weaknesses and not allow for provision for the flesh to be made.
Paul closes with the thought of sanctification in verses 23-28. In many ways true sanctification can be likened to ones understanding of holiness. Both holiness and sanctification have a two-fold application. There needs to be a separation from the things of the world and a separation unto God. In personal terms this could be seen in the life of Daniel and his three friends in chapter one. They chose to not be defiled with the things of the world while at the same time seeking the face of God in prayer and fasting over a period of 10 days (Dan 1:8, 12). On a corporate level we can see this process in Paul’s letter to the Colossian church. They were called to mortify or put to death several elements of the flesh as seen in Col 3:1-8. They then were instructed to “put on” ten different garments which represent spiritual attributes of Christ. This thought of true sanctification needs to be understood and appropriated in our day today. Paul will soon follow up with another letter to the Thessalonians which will help clarify some of the misconceptions from his first letter. In the meantime, there is much to glean from this first letter seeing its meaning and application for our day.