PROVERBS 25:1 – 27:27 and 1 TIMOTHY 2:1–15
We are all called to be kings and priests unto the most-high God. We commented earlier that kings are “made” and that there is a qualifying involved in order to rule and reign with Christ. We see some of the qualifications mentioned here. It is God’s desire that we come into this position of reigning with Him. He first needs to know how desperate and longing we are in becoming kings. In verse 2 we see that the Lord conceals or hides treasures for the purpose of finding out how much of a seeker we truly are. He does not give His gems to the casual believer. There are so many places in scripture where the Lord speaks of being a seeker. It is seen in kingdom parable number 6 where the man is seeking after goodly pearls (Mt 13:45-46). Jesus speaks about seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mat 5:6). It is an honor and privilege of being given the opportunity to seek out the deep things of God. We see another example of this in the “hidden manna” that is placed within the Holy of Holies of Moses Tabernacle. The hidden manna speaks of the secret and hidden things of God. Do you notice that the “hidden manna” is not placed in the outer court where the majority of Christians settle? In order to reign with the Lord as kings there will be a price that needs to be paid. There may also be periods of suffering involved. Does this sound like an honor or treasure? The truth of the matter is that it is; a priceless commodity that will bear eternal fruit.
2Ti 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
Solomon goes on to speak of some other attributes of a king. Their hearts have been purified and made whole (vs 3). The process of refining silver is attributed to the development of making a king in verse 4. The purpose for the making of a king in the life of a believer is so that we can become like the king. We are wise in allowing the Lord to lead us and to place before us precious treasures to be sought out so that we can become more like Him. The Truth comes at a cost but it is well worth the price (Pro 23:23).
In verses 11-14 a beautiful picture is presented that relates to words spoken in season. Have you ever been the beneficiary of a kind word that came from someone that blessed and ministered to you? I can call to mind several instances where this happened and remember how it changed my overall perspective in a difficult situation. It was a word “fitly” and appropriately spoken at a needed time. It was only words but there was a powerful anointing behind those words. This is something we need to seek the Lord for to have developed in our own lives. It is the ability to discern and recognize where a person is at and knowing how best to minister to their area of need.
What do we put our confidence in, where is our trust? Is it in the Lord? When trouble comes upon the earth whom will we turn to? The ways of the world and unfaithful men will not be a stable resource to lay hold of (vs 19). So many people today put trust in their bank accounts or to former experiences by holding on to the past. The Lord must be our anchor and refuge at all times, especially in times of trouble. There is a lulling and sense of slumber that is creeping into the church. The prophet Zephaniah spoke to this problem and we need to be warned:
Zep 1:12 And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.
This is the danger of what can happen when one becomes complacent and indifferent. We become comfortable and confident in the status quo type of mentality. It is time to be alerted to the happenings around us and seek the Lord at this time and season when He can be found.
In verses 1-12 Solomon speaks extensively on the perils of a fool. It is not honourable to be linked with fools or to be like them. In the harvest seasons of summer and fall the rain is not to be desired. This is likened to fools who are honoured and lifted up. Just take note of the kinds of people who are celebrated in today’s world. The vilest and most wicked men are lifted up as people to emulate.
Psa 12:8 The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.
Solomon warns about engaging fools in a way that further emboldens them in their folly (vs 4). We can do this by affirming their behaviour or way of life. This heightens their conceit and provides no opportunity for them to change. We need to be faithful witnesses at all times so people who are fools will feel shamed or exposed. They may not like what you are saying but at least they will not be affirmed by your words. A fool is not to be trusted as a messenger due to not taking his role seriously. That message will not be faithfully delivered and may even result in greater damage. Even as believers we need to be careful as to who we entrust with sensitive matters. A fool will not be faithful in conveying a message (vs 7). As ministers we need to be very careful as to whom our pulpits are opened up to. A fool is also one who is likened to a dog who returns to its own vomit (vs 11). Once again, we can put many Christians into this category seeing how one can be delivered only to go back to their old ways. It is only the grace of God that can apprehend and change any of us otherwise we would all be fools. Still, there has to be a willingness to change, a willingness to acknowledge truth and turn. If we refuse and stay in our old ways we then become the fool.
In verses 13-16 Solomon addresses the problem of the sluggard and slothful man. In verse 13 the slothful man says that there is a lion in the street. This is an excuse to keep him from doing some sort of task. He is the type of person who seeks to make every excuse not to do a particular thing. This is a repeated verse seeing that Solomon addressed this earlier (Pro 22:13). What is our mind-set? Are we among those who make every excuse to do a task or get a particular job done or are we one who sees a lion in the street; making every excuse to not do something? We need to guard against spiritual sloth. It can be likened to the enchanted ground that “Christian” from Pilgrim’s Progress had to overcome. There is a weariness associated with this problem and it can affect the strongest of men. There are also those who are compulsive and eternal men of sloth which is typified here. Another danger of sloth is the conceit and self-pride that develops within (vs 16). This person seeks to cover his slothfulness by seeing himself as spiritual and wise. It does not matter that 7 men can bring forth sound reasoning, he is convinced in his conceit. How deceptive the enemy can be in the area of sloth and pride.
We need to be careful to not get involved in matters that do not pertain to us. The reasons we sometimes do this is because we are picking up another person’s offense. I know, it clearly happened to me. It is very deceptive and dangerous. I was close to a brother and his wife who were going through difficulties with their senior pastor. I learned a valuable lesson through this episode. I am very grateful to the Lord for His mercies to me. Do you know how I came to know of this problem in me? Two different senior pastors came to me within one day and shared Proverbs 26:17 with me.
Pro 26:17 He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
Each Pastor had no idea what the other shared or knew the details of the above matter. Needless to say I was shaken in seeing how the Lord clearly confirmed His Word. I praise God for His mercies.
In verse 20 we see a powerful key in knowing how to diffuse strife and contentions. The key is to put the fire out by removing the fuel for the fire. Do we realize how our anger, our words and temper can fuel a contentious rage? If we learn to snuff out these tendencies it will remove the fire from being able to flame. The enemy is always seeking to provoke and stir up passions, anger, jealousy, and lust. These attributes are fuel for his fire and it allows him to become stronger and stronger the more we make allowance for them. Our words can go a long way in spreading poison and deceit. We are to be warned about the consequences of being a talebearer. May we never forget one of the first examples of tale bearing and the consequences that came about in the days of Noah. I am referring to the account of Ham exposing his father (Gen 10:21). The dangers of the mouth and what comes forth is further emphasized by Solomon in verses 22-28.
Solomon gives very sound advice in verse 1 about making the most of today and not worrying about tomorrow. There is no guarantee that we will have a tomorrow. Our life and the time that makes up our life is a precious commodity that must never be taken for granted. It is important that we thank the Lord for each and every day and seeing each day as a precious gift.
The power and torment of envy is highlighted in verse 4. Wrath and anger are cruel foes but it cannot be measured to envy which rots the inwards of a man. It is one of the chief sins of the fall seeing that Lucifer envied the position of the most-high. If envy goes unchecked, it soon consumes its host to the point of never be assuaged or satisfied. Perhaps the best case of this is seen in Saul’s pursuit of David. The spirit of envy was a judgement and something that Saul could never be set free from. This is why we must seek to be satisfied and thankful for all that God does. This attitude will produce contentment and satisfaction that comes from God. Solomon would later come to know in an adverse way the blessings that come to a man who has little but has peace and contentment in his home.
A true friend is one who loves enough to rebuke and address difficult issues in another’s life. The easier way is to feign love and interest without taking the painful steps of confronting sin or wrong doing. We all need to have such people in our lives. Do we give permission for certain ones (the right ones) to speak into our lives? This can be a painful exercise but when weighed against eternity is a most precious treasure. In verse 7 we see a man who learns to give thanks in every situation. A person who is hungry for God can even receive the bitter experiences with thanksgiving knowing that God works all things for good. Can you imagine how pleasing it must be to God when one of His own has this kind of attitude? In verse 8 there is the warning given to those who step outside the God ordained boundaries for their life. There is safety in the nest but we make ourselves open prey when we wander outside its borders. We mentioned earlier the merits of the tribe of Zebulon. They were a tribe that could keep rank and function in their accorded place. This is an attribute that God is looking to instil within his saints. It all comes down to identity and knowing who we are in God. We step outside our nests when we allow the world and its trappings to influence us. The bottom line is that we must allow the Lord to define who we are and to seek His grace to function faithfully in that role.
There is the warning to be vigilant in verse 12. A prudent man is one who has vision and sees what is coming and prepares accordingly. The exhortation from Zephaniah comes to mind here.
Zep 2:3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye 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.
A prudent man seeks the Lord at all times. In doing so he discovers qualities of God that help preserve Him in times of judgment. The simple ones are those who pay no heed and carry on as if nothing will ever happen. Their casual approach in their walk with God will not immune them from the punishments and judgments to come (vs 12). The time to seek the Lord is now, while He may be found. There is that sense that things are stirring and events are about to take place on a large scale. We need to be those who seek to be in the Holy place and be those who teach and exhort others to do the same. There is that covering of protection that is found there that does not exist in the Outer Court. The contentious woman does not go away as she is seen once again in verse 15. In this example she is likened to rain that falls all the day long. The contentious woman thrives and is alive and well due to a home life that is out of order. This is why the message of Restoration is such a threat to the enemy and why it is heavily opposed.
Have you ever found yourself in an environment with people you know that was stifling and confined? This is oftentimes the method that God uses to sharpen and fine tune us. The experience of iron sharpening iron is often achieved through people. It is often through people whom we may be close to. This is how true unity can be produced. It can be likened to an olive press that has individual olives placed inside of it. We can be like those individual olives with our unique identity and characteristics. Everything is fine until the press begins the process of crushing. There is no room for those individual olives to move. The flesh of the olives becomes crushed resulting in a united oil that blends and flows uniformly. This is how true unity can come into a reality. Solomon speaks to leaders, pastors and those who have responsibility over people to take stock and know the state of their condition (vs 23). This is a proactive work that requires the laying aside of self-interest. This is exactly what Jesus did as the Good Shepherd. In these last days there is no room for a hireling. There is a clear and distinct contrast between the good shepherd and the hireling that is illustrated in Ezekiel 34. Which of the two can be applied to us?
1 Tim 2
Paul makes clear to Timothy the importance of making prayer and supplication to all men; this includes people who have authority over the church or even rulers over nations. The authority structure being conveyed here originates with God. This does not mean that everyone who is in authority is necessarily a righteous person but the structure is authored by God and must be honored.
Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Rom 13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
The fruits of having this attitude allows for a quiet and peaceable life and a demonstration of godliness before men. This does not mean that we wholeheartedly go along with the policies of a ruler but we are to pray for them. Admittedly, this is becoming increasingly difficult to do depending on the nation one comes from. Praying for leaders whether they be in the church or in political office is good and acceptable before God. This is why the church is not to get entangled with political matters. The church is responsible for stating its position and seeking to live by them. It is God who raises up one and brings down another. It is the duty of the church to exercise their right to vote for the man or woman who best reflects the values that honor God. Still, it is God who ultimately determines who comes to power. We can influence elections by prayer and intercession but we need to rest in God’s choice when it is said and done. In addition, we need to pray for the one who is in authority even if it is not the one we deem to be the best choice. David recognized this truth while fleeing from the hands of Saul. He did not put his hand upon “God’s anointed” leader when he had the opportunity to do so (1 Sam 24:6).
In verse 4 we see that it is God’s intention that all men would be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth. This is God’s heart but we know that all men will not be saved. If it is God’s intention that all men be saved then why does it not happen? God is able to do anything so why then are not all men saved? God gives man the ability to “choose”. He has given man the freedom to make choices and to not be forced or coerced against his will. Secondly, many do not have a love for the truth nor desire to come into the knowledge of the Truth. Paul was an example of one who loved the truth and lived by it. He is exhorting his junior pastors to have that same love and zeal and to be warned that not all will share this love for truth. It must be restated again. It is God’s desire and intent that all men would be saved. If a person goes to hell it is because they have chosen to do so. God is just; He is good and all His ways are perfect and true. There will be no excuses when standing before the judgment seat of Christ. Each of us will be shown a review of our lives in capsulized form. We will be shown the times in our life where we were presented choices. There will be no denying the choices made and the opportunities gained or lost. As a minister this is the mentality that must be carried in our hearts.
Christ is the only mediator or bridge between God and man (vs 5). This truth is what separates Christianity from all other religions. We can speak of Christ as being a good man, a mighty prophet, great teacher and miracle worker. Yes, he was all of those things but most importantly He was the only begotten Son of God. He is the only remedy for the sin condition of mankind.
Paul now speaks as to how a minister should approach the subject of prayer (vs 8). He is to come before God and lift holy hands without wrath and doubting. There are many times when we are called to pray for people we really do not care about. This disposition, if unchecked will affect the prayer that goes up before the Lord. We need to ask God to help take away any venom or ill will we might have for a person or a leader. The fact that there may be wrath indicates a problem of the heart that lurks within us. We are also to have boldness and confidence when coming before the Lord. This is why the Lord instructed His disciples to initiate their prayer by understanding that they are coming before a Sovereign God, who is in heaven above all things. Our prayer life will be far more effectual if we can learn to adopt this frame of mind when coming before the Lord in prayer. It will allow for faith to arise so that God can move and accomplish the things that are upon His heart.
In verse 9-15 Paul speaks on the issue of women’s role in the church. There are many who would read these verses and conclude that Paul was some sort of chauvinistic, anti-woman type of leader. This is not the case at all. If one reads between the lines it is actually an indictment upon the men due to not upholding their God ordained role in leadership in ministry and in the home. Paul speaks more extensively on this subject in his letter to the Ephesian Church (Eph 5:21-33). The most prominent and effective women ministers I know have at least two things in common: First, they have an all-out love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, they all serve under godly authority. Their gifting as teachers, prophets and other ministry related attributes flows from serving faithfully under a covering. There were problems in Paul’s day as it is today where women serve independent of a covering. This is what happened to Eve when she was seduced by the serpent. She was divided and separated from her husband. Though Eve was the one deceived in the transgression it was the responsibility of Adam to cover her. This is where the problem with women in ministry surfaces. Yes, Paul’s words here are strong concerning women’s role in ministry but it must be seen in context. It is when man forfeits his role as a leader and covering for his wife; to love her as Christ loved the church that the problem begins. Paul is exhorting his junior ministers to seek to be like the 2nd Adam; to have the willingness to assume responsibility and serve as a true shepherd before the people. This was the way that the Apostle Paul lived his life and he now seeks to impart these virtues to his sons.