PROVERBS 22:1 – 24:34 and 1 TIMOTHY 1:1–20
A powerful Truth is presented in verse 1. A good name is something that will endure beyond our lifetime. We celebrate the lives of key Bible characters due to the example and the lives that they have led. We also can call to mind many people that have touched our lives in one way or another who have a name that endures. There are examples of people whose lives have been poor examples and yet they are still spoken of. What about the name of Solomon? What do you think about when his name is brought up? It can range from the glorious early reign he experienced at the time of the dedication of the temple. We can call to mind the great wisdom he displayed in his rule; the Proverbs and the writings seen in the Song of Solomon. This is certainly a wonderful testimony and worthy of note. Sadly, he can also be known for one who became miserable and empty at the end of his life. The rest of verse 1 speaks of the perils of silver and gold when they become the pursuit of one’s life. This is one of the areas that contributed to Solomon’s downfall. We have mentioned on numerous occasions where Solomon and other kings failed. It was the law of kings that Moses gave to Israel before they went in to possess their inheritance (Deu 17:14-20). One of those laws was the accumulation of great wealth as well the accumulation of wives and horses. Solomon, even in his wisdom violated every one of them resulting in his name being tarnished. A good name must be reflected in a life that not only begins well but finishes well. There is no better example of this truth than the one who is presenting it.
A simple, quick and yet profound truth in how to live a life of honor and blessing is found in verse 3. The ability to exhibit humility, the garment of humbleness of mind (Col 3:12) in conjunction with the Fear of The Lord is a recipe for success in our Christian walk. It allows for the needed mind-set that we all must have. If we ever become anything in life it will be due to the Lord’s grace and mercy. There is no room for pride or areas of entrance that the enemy might seek to seize upon.
There will be many Proverbs that will speak to the raising up of children. One such verse is found in verse 6. The rod of discipline applied in a proper way will go a long way in establishing right principles in the life of a child. This is sorely lacking in today’s culture. One of the primary reasons for failure in this area is due to the breakdown in the homes. Oftentimes when discipline is administered it is out of frustration and anger. This brings a further divide between child and parent. This then results in an overreaction on behalf of society when responsible parents seek to bring needed discipline to their children. There was also a time when proper discipline was administered in schools to children. I know because I was a recipient. My parents always sided with the teacher and rightfully so when issues came up concerning my conduct in school. How things have changed over the past few decades. When one of the links within the family unit begins to break down it is a matter of times before it permeates the rest of society. The remedies to solve these problems from a human point of view are misguided and ineffective often contributing to even bigger problems.
Another principle that is very much in evidence today is found in verse 7. When one is in debt he or she can be controlled and leveraged. It is an evil that plays out today where corporations, banks and government policy induce people to get into debt. Once such a person is unable to repay their houses and property can be taken over. This brings a servitude that is unscriptural and evil. It is not only practiced by the world but can be seen in the church. Nehemiah had to deal with this problem in the midst of his rebuilding project. When you read chapter 5 in the Book of Nehemiah it seems to stand alone in contrast to the rest of the Book. There was an internal issue that had to be addressed where the rich of the exiles were extorting and taking advantage of the others. This was creating disunity amongst the restorers and Nehemiah realized that this was a ready-made opportunity for the enemy to take advantage of. This type of extortion can be very subtle in the church and must be avoided. The Holy Spirit moved on behalf of the early church in a community type atmosphere where everyone looked after the interests of one another. The account of the borrower and lender must be understood and properly administered.
In verse 28 Solomon speaks to the importance of ancient landmarks and how they are to be preserved. What does this mean? It refers to the fathers of the faith who have gone before. There is the tendency of being quick to dismiss or alter the teachings and examples of our spiritual father’s. You will hear expressions like needing to be on the cutting edge; needing to change with the times so as to be relevant to a generation of people. True enough, there needs to be that ability to adapt and flow in a way that makes the Gospel relevant and applicable to those whom we minister to. Jesus was very much like this; in fact, He spoke of the need to be new wineskins for new wine. Where does one draw the line? The standards and statutes that the fathers established are to be maintained. It is in the area of Doctrine where we often find violations on this principle. The moral absolutes of God never change. The landmarks that Moses posited in Deuteronomy are as relevant today as when he gave them. The succeeding generations of Israel’s leaders thought they were exceptions only to find themselves in a constant cycle of captivity and deliverance which eventually led to Babylon. It is no different today as the church of the last days is heading towards the modern day version of Babylon. Can we not learn from Biblical history?
In reading the first 6 verses of this Proverb I think of the lives of Daniel and his three friends. They are products of this wise instruction from Solomon. In the presence of royalty as eunuchs they had the opportunity to partake of the worldly delights. We can also make an application to Moses here as he willingly forsook the privileges of Egypt due to the burden he had for his people (Heb 11:24-26). In ceasing from their own wisdom (Daniel and his three friends) they gained in the wisdom of God. You can add knowledge, understanding and the fear of the Lord to that which characterized their lives. The fruits became evident and needful as the events of Daniel’s day began to unfold. The days of Daniel are very much like ours. The question is whether we will receive the instruction that is consistently being brought forth in these Proverbs.
There is a quick reminder to a prominent truth covered in chapter 22. The old landmark established by the fathers is not to be removed (vs 10). There is added warning about not going into the fields of the fatherless. What is the implication in that last point? I have always been fascinated with the 3 divisions or levels of Christians that are characterized in 1 John 2:13-15. There are the fathers, young men and little children. It says of the fathers that they know Him who is from the beginning. To me this means that fathers and mothers in the church are those who know the God of Genesis. If one understands the foundations of Genesis they then will have understanding of the whole of God’s Word. A father sees the big picture and has perspective. There are many teachings and doctrines being taught today that lack a father’s perspective. Without it a church and a people will fall short in their walk. It is God’s desire that all His children would be in the habitation of true fathers and mothers. The fields of the fatherless give little regard to ancient landmarks; they are those who will end up compromising on God’s absolutes for expediency sake. The Apostle Paul had this concern when he addressed the Corinthian church.
1 Cor 4:15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
In verse 12 we are instructed to incline our heart unto wisdom and our ears to the words of Knowledge. It is an attitude, a positioning we need to take. These Holy Spirit attributes will not be given to the passive. The cry throughout the Proverbs is that one would cry out and pursue wisdom and knowledge with a full heart. It is a matter of what we have an appetite for. Jesus made clear that if we seek Him with all our hearts; seeking righteousness and His ways that we would be filled (Math 5:6). What does our heart truly cry out for? We see with Israel and with Solomon in his later years that their heart cried out after idols and the things of the world. An idol takes the place in a heart that God desires to have and inhabit within us. This is why the first commandment of having no other gods is so vital. If our heart is occupied with interest other than god it will affect every area of life. On the other hand, if our heart is pure and one that longs for the things of God it will allow for a conducive environment for the presence of the Lord to dwell.
In verses 13-14 further instruction is given in the raising of a child. The thought of beating with a rod is not a pleasant one but when weighed with the dealing of a nature that can determine one’s eternity it then is worth it. I never was happy to receive spankings when I was a child. My dad would administer the rod but he always did it out of love. That famous expression “This is for your own good” was spoken over and over again. I hated that expression and I hated receiving spankings but now with the advantage of years I can wholeheartedly speak of its merits. As a child gets older without being disciplined it becomes more difficult to deal with behavioural issues. A nature is being groomed and emboldened. A child is like a tender plant and if handled lovingly and in wisdom is in a position to be changed. We are reaping the fruits of a generation that has not been disciplined. Somewhere along the line these Biblical principles have become redefined by man. The church bears much of the blame. The church also represents the potential solution.
One of the most precious of all proverbs is found in verse 23. “Buy the Truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction and understanding.” We have spent considerable time speaking on truth throughout these commentaries. We see that Truth is costly; a price has to be paid. It costs something in having to acknowledge who we really are. As we mentioned earlier the attributes of the Holy Spirit will not come by the way of the passive. Wisdom, instruction and understanding are of great value requiring a price to be paid. Jacob had a nature that plagued him, a nature that he used in deceit to obtain the promise of the birth right. He paid a great price in coming to the place of having to confront and acknowledge the Truth of being a “deceiver” (Gen 32:27). The time came when he recognized an opportunity, a defining moment where all of this could change. He embraced the work and wrestling of God and would not let go. He recognized the fact that he was being confronted by Truth Himself and he was not going to let the moment pass. This is the kind of desperation required in our pursuit of Truth and the attributes of the Holy Spirit. We do not want such opportunities to pass us by. May God help us to acknowledge Truth and buy the Truth along with the added attributes of the Holy Spirit.
When you do a thorough study of the Proverbs you cannot help but come back to similar themes that are threaded throughout the chapters. (There is a similarity to Moses words when he spoke to Israel in the Book of Deuteronomy before they were to go in and possess the land.) In verses 1-7 Solomon comes back to the treasures of knowledge, wisdom and counsel. We are again reminded that in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. The Lord has the title of Counsellor as seen in Isa 9:6. It is also one of the Seven Spirits of the Lord and it will prove to be a vital anointing in the challenging days ahead. There will be a great need in being able to give right Counsel in the last days. It will be through Counsel that man will know when to make war and when to refrain. This was one of the strengths of David. He asked of the Lord and did not assume in the battle he engaged in (2 Sam 5:23).
In verses 10-12 Solomon speaks of the need for strength in the days of adversity. The young men will grow weary and faint as the pressures mount (Isa 40:30). The prophet Jeremiah puts it another way.
Jer 12:5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
Part of being strong is the ability to look out for others and be ready to respond to their needs (vs 11). If we fail in this area, it is often because we are so caught up with our world. This kind of mind-set will not cut it in the days of adversity. If we struggle with the day to day issues of life how then will we contend with greater battles? God is making available His grace to those who seek Him while he can be found. It is to those who seek meekness and righteousness (Zeph 2:3).
Psa 119:2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
Let us not forget the 6th Kingdom parable that speaks of the man who seeketh after goodly pearls (Math 13:45-46). This is the demeanour we need to adopt. In doing so we will be prepared for the days ahead and we will be able to be strong and not faint nor grow weary.
We are reminded in verse 19 not to fret nor become envious of the short term success of the evil man. The psalmist struggled with this dilemma when he saw how the ones practicing evil seemingly prospered. This is one of the temptations today that we have to fight against. The world is so full of vanity and sensual delights. The evil man may be having their day now but it will be forgotten throughout the ages of eternity. The prescribed lens of eternity must be part of the believer’s possession as we approach the last days. These lenses help to bring into view a true vision and pursuit. An uncircumcised heart results in a “blindness” in being able to see as God sees.
In verse 21 Solomon instructs that we are not to meddle or become involved with people who are given to change. How does this relate to the words of Jesus when He tells His audience that new wine must be put into new wineskins (Math 9:14-17)? Is there a contradiction here? Solomon is speaking of those who change for change sake. Have you ever heard a minister who speaks of doing one program one week and then opts for something different the next? How about the minister who keeps changing his mind about how to do certain things? There is a need to know our identity and our calling. The winds of change are ever blowing but that does not mean we have to do the same. There will be times when the winds will blow contrary; will we stand or will we yield with every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14)? Esther came to know of this experience in her season of preparation.
Est 2:12 Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women
Song 4:16 Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.
It is the winds of adversity that help to make strong a tree. The same principle applies in the life of a believer. May God help us to hold steady and strong in the days that lie before us.
1 Tim 1
The Pastoral Epistles, part of which consists of 1st and 2nd Timothy are letters that Paul wrote to young Pastors (Timothy and Titus). Paul takes time to outline some of the responsibilities and challenges found in ministry. Paul makes very clear the cost and price to be paid if one is going to engage in a full-time ministerial role. The timing of these epistles is in the latter years of Paul. He takes these young men under his wings and lays out before them a summation of all of his experiences. The time is at hand when there needs to be a passing down of the baton to a new generation of leaders. The 1st Epistle was probably written around the year 65 AD. This would have been during the period between his 2 Roman imprisonments. The 2nd and last letter that Paul wrote would have been around 67-68 AD. Paul was going to address subjects such as: 1) How one should conduct himself in ministry. 2) How to build upon the foundation of Christ. 3) Some of the hardships that will be faced in ministry. 4) The need for setting things in order.
Timothy had a godly heritage through his mother (Eunice) and his grandmother. (Lois) These women in Timothy’s life were instrumental in helping to establish strong foundations in his life. As leaders and as members in the church we should always seek to invest into lives where and when we can. One never knows the long term impact that can result.
Paul opens his letter by writing to Timothy as a son. What a commendation that would be; to hear the words of being a son from the likes of Paul. Timothy was a faithful worker under Paul. He was a man who could be entrusted to represent Paul to the various churches throughout the region. In verse 3 Paul was concerned over some teachings that were beginning to filter through Ephesus and so he exhorts Timothy to abide there for the purpose of upholding the Truth. He mentions to not get caught up in doctrines and teachings that speak of fables or result in the asking of more questions than answers. How would we equate this today? The end time teachings of Christ are essentials in being prepared for the last days. Still, it is easy to get carried away in over-speculation as to what will happen and when. We do need to be vigilant and alert but at the same time we must stick to the teaching and upholding of the Word of God. If the study and embracing of Truth is our priority, we will be in a position of discerning the signs of the times in a prudent manner. This is what Paul is trying to convey to Timothy.
The end and purpose of good teaching is having the love of God shed abroad out of a “pure heart”. This helps to cultivate a spirit of unity, peace and good will amongst the people. The teachings that Paul is concerned about here genders strife and contentions. A pure heart signifies a work of grace that has been done in the life of a believer. It is heart that is sensitive to God and to the needs of man. This is an absolute essential for any minister. He warns in becoming like those who have swerved and turned aside from the Truth into useless and unprofitable subjects which only serve to deflect from sound and true doctrine. They purport themselves as being recognized teachers of the law who in actuality have no idea what they are saying. They majored on the “letter” of the law as opposed to the “spirit” of the law. Paul constantly wrestled against these factions as seen in many of his previous writings. The Judaizers were the primary offenders in this regard. Their belief and method of teaching circumvented the true reality and meaning of God’s law. This was Paul’s primary concern with what was currently happening at Ephesus and he wanted Timothy to address it. Paul goes on to further explain the primary purpose of the law as being for those who are lawless, disobedient, liars and those who oppose sound doctrine (vs 9-10).
Paul is quick to point out that he was at one time a blasphemer of the church (vs 11-13). He obtained mercy and the abundant grace of God and he is hopeful for others to have that same encounter with God. He recognizes that it was God who placed him into the position of being a minister of the gospel in spite of the man that he was. He saw himself as the “chiefest of sinners” which helps him now in doing all he can to witness unto others. He saw himself as a debtor to men (Rom 1:14). This was one of his primary motivations for being in the ministry. He shares this with his young disciples so that they have a clearer picture as to what motivates and sustains a true minister of God. If one is in ministry for any other purpose their work would be hindered. One must serve out of a good conscience and pure heart, having the love of God in their heart towards all men (vs 5). Paul was ever mindful of the mercies that were upon his life that enabled him to be a pattern of long-suffering unto others. It is this example he is presenting to Timothy and Titus as they will be carrying forward the work and ministry.
Paul gives a charge to Timothy to fight a good warfare against all enemies. A true minister will be involved in war and it requires the rising up of one’s faith. How is this faith built up? How does Paul address Timothy in this regard? He instructs him to take note of the prophecies and Words that have been spoken over his life (vs 18). The meditating and reflecting upon these words can allow for faith to arise and take root. Faith comes by the hearing and confessing of the Word of God (Rom 10:8-10, 17). A true minister will be on the frontlines of many battles and it is the faith of God that will help to stand strong at such times. To have the faith of God one must know the Word of God. An effective minister is one that takes the words of Paul to heart.
Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.