Day 266

PROVERBS 30:1 – 31:31 and 1 TIMOTHY 4:1–16

Pro 30
There has been considerable speculation as to who Agur, Jakeh and Ithiel were. Some speculate that Agur is actually Solomon by another name. In any case there are the usual profound expressions of truth that come forth. The writer describes himself as a man lower than other men as he begins to speak of the majestic and holy God. He will speak of the understanding and wisdom that comes from God while stating a total lack of both in his life. This brief discourse has similarities to portions of the conversation that Job had with Elihu as he was being measured before God. There appears to be moments in one’s life when one gets a true picture of who they are before God. Jeremiah saw his heart as being wicked and vile. Isaiah saw himself as being undone in the midst of a holy God. These experiences are not meant to condemn but to provoke us to become more like Him. These opportunities also help to bring needed conviction so that we can make confession for our sins.

We see a beautiful thought regarding the purity of God’s Word (vs 5). The Apostle Paul speaks concerning the washing of water by the Word. If there is openness in our heart for the entrance of God’s Word it can produce a cleansing to our soul and spirit. The speaking of God’s Word can bring a refreshing and cleansing to others. We should seek to have purity of doctrine in both the study and teaching of God’s Word. We also see in this verse how the Word can act as a shield to those who put their trust in it. There is the warning in not adding to His Established Words which many of the Jewish brethren were doing. This still occurs today. We need to pay close heed to what Jesus says concerning those who add or subtract from His Word. In fact, the following are the very last words in the Word of God.

Rev 22:18  For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

Rev 22:19  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

In verses 7-9 we learn the lessons of contentment. This was a quality that the Apostle Paul was able to live by. He could abound whether he was in want or in plenty (Phil 4:12). We need to appropriate the portion of the Lord’s Prayer that speaks of receiving our daily bread with thanks. We will see the opposite of this a bit later on in this Proverb. In verse 11 we are introduced to a generation that curses their father and mother. In other words, it is a generation versed in rebellion and not submitting to authority. This is one of the enemies prime methods and it is permeating virtually every fabric of society. It is not just rebellion towards parents but to authority at large. It reflects the very nature of Satan, the nature that led to the rebellion in heaven. When rebellion is in its fullness it results in a generation that is righteous in their own eyes. The laws of God are discarded in lieu of man-made ordinances. How can man be cleansed from filthiness with such an attitude?

In verse 15-16 we see discontentment on full display. The appetite is never assuaged and only cries out for more. There is no satisfaction that comes, only a hunger and desire for more of the world and its devices. Solomon will come to know and experience this sad reality in his later years. Only the Lord can truly satisfy and quench the cry of a longing heart. If the Lord and His ways are not our pursuit, we may come to know the eternal curse of never being satisfied. Just take a look at today’s world and gauge its appetite. The things desired bring only temporal pleasure and satisfaction. It leaves an emptiness that again will never be fulfilled.

The Bible warns on many occasions to not engage in any kind of mocking (vs 17). The first incident of mocking is seen when Ismael mocked Isaac. This was more than just an elder half-brother mocking his younger sibling it was a mocking of God’s order (Gen 21:9). This rivalry involving mocking is dangerously playing out on an international stage in our day. Today, as I am writing this I have come to know of a video featuring a famous musician mocking the handicapped people back in the 1960’s. This same musician also spoke of being more popular that Jesus Christ. This musician met an untimely end in December of 1980. “God is not mocked”.

There are several other statements made that the writer makes to help give perspective to life. He speaks of the wiles and ways of an adulterous woman; the same woman that was highlighted in Proverbs 5-7. She was identified as the strange woman. An interesting observation is made concerning the ant in verse 25. Like the strange woman the subject of the ant is again brought to our attention (Pro 6:6). We would be wise to observe their traits since they make preparation ahead of time, long before the arrival of winter. There is much lethargy and slumber in today’s church. We have a sense of judgement and great glory to come but we walk through life as if in a stupor. The ant does not wait for the winter to hit. By the time winter arrives it is too late. Now, is the time to plan and prepare, now is the time to dig ditches (2 Kings 3:16). It is time to awake out of our slumber so that we hear and do what the Spirit of the Lord is saying.

Jas 1:22  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Rev 2:7  “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;…”

Pro 31
Once again we are introduced to a name that makes it rather difficult to identify who it may be. The general consensus seems to be that is another form of the name for Solomon. We will approach this as words given to Solomon from his mother Bathsheba. This would be similar to the first several Proverbs where David was the one giving instruction to his son. In the first two verses the warnings given by Bathsheba ended up being the primary problem that overwhelmed Solomon. He gave his strength to women (2 Kings 11:3) and he engaged in those things which destroyed kings (Deu 17:14-19). There is also the warning of being given over to strong drink. It perverts judgement and affects the senses. It also results in the lessening of the standards of God due to strong drink’s affect upon the soul. There is an allowance for those who are near death in helping to make them more comfortable. Today, there are medications given which have a similar medicinal effect.

The subject of the poor surfaces once again. Bathsheba as his mother knew that he would one day rule upon the throne. She is exhorting him to do justice for the poor and needy. This was something that David emphasized as he was nearing the end of his life.

2Sa 23:3  The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

The prophet Micah sums up the matter in a similar way.

Mic 6:8  He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

The church sometime forgets that they are called to judge situations and people. The problem comes when judgement is not first exercised in one’s own life. The Bible warns that how we judge others will be the manner in how we are judged. Solomon, in his early years of reigning judged righteous judgement.  He judged in wisdom and in the Fear of the Lord. These things will keep us humble and in check from potential danger.

In verses 10-31 we celebrate the attributes of the virtuous woman. This is in strong contrast to the “strange woman” that has been seen throughout other chapters of the Proverbs. In examining the virtuous woman we need to be mindful of the loving bridegroom. He is the one that covers her, protects her and allows for her to express fully the beautiful essence of all that a godly woman should be.

In verse 11 we see the beautiful trust that the husband has for his wife. He holds nothing back from her due to his knowledge of how faithful and accountable that she is. This is exactly the picture of what our heavenly bride-groom seeks for us. He desires to freely give us all things knowing that whatever we do will always be through the motivation of love. As we progress through the balance of Proverbs 31 we see a woman who does all these things out of love and not out of duty. She is always looking out for her husband’s good in all she does (vs 12). She is diligent, industrious and hardworking making sure the needs of the home are covered. She is proactive and prepared as she approaches each new day. We see attributes of the wise virgins in the approach she takes towards her household (Math 25:2, 9). The wise virgins paid a price; they purchased oil long before the bridegroom came calling. The virtuous woman demonstrates these same exact qualities (vs 14-16).

Her reputation and manner of life allows for her husband to be known in the city. I can attest to this truth due to my wife’s work in the Indian city of Visakhapatnam. Her work as a special needs teacher has allowed for me to have a measure of favor with some non-Christian groups. I have often referred to the work that my wife does as likened to glue that holds things together. Glue in itself is invisible but without it everything falls apart. This is one of the qualities of the virtuous woman. In our walk with Christ we should be having a testimony that reflects well upon Him. Is our service to him predicated out of love or duty? People should be able to “taste and see” that the Lord is good through our example. We see that she makes fine linen in verse 24. Fine linen speaks of the righteousness of God. A virtuous woman should prompt and provoke her husband to higher heights in God. This is seen in Achsah in her relationship with her husband Othniel.

Jdg 1:14  And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou?

Jdg 1:15  And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.

The above is not to be construed as the usurping of authority; Achsah was not stepping outside her husband’s covering, she by way of her influence, moved him to ask for a greater inheritance.

The ultimate quality seen in the virtuous woman is found in verse 30. She is a woman that fears the Lord. The anointing of the Fear of the Lord is a subject covered throughout the whole of the Proverbs. David instructed Solomon concerning this (Pro 1:7) and Solomon echoed these truths in his writings (Pro 14:27). It is a fitting ending in our study of the Proverbs. Each verse has its own profound meaning however it is the foundational truth of the Fear of the Lord that anchors it all. It is a most precious anointing and one we should always be seeking after. It allows for us to have a conscious awareness of God at work at all times. Somewhere down the line Solomon lost this ability; he forsook the teachings and counsel of his mother and father. Let us honor Solomon by taking to heart his instruction as seen in these proverbs. Though he did not finish well he gives us the tools and example to help us not to make the same error. For this we owe him a tremendous debt.

1 Tim 4
In the first 3 verses Paul speaks about some of the events that will happen in the last days. He seems to write this letter a bit differently than his first letter to the Thessalonians seeing how they misinterpreted its timing. What are doctrines of devils and seducing spirits? To me they speak of those who take a measure of truth and go about redefining it. There is a subtlety in how this is employed. The primary goal of the enemy is to prevent a believer from hitting God’s ordained mark for their lives. He can accomplish this in the life of believers by injecting half-truths that may sound good but eventually lead people off their course. Paul will elaborate on this in his 2nd letter to Timothy (2 Tim 4:3). False teachings and doctrines exist because people have an ear and heart for them. God is constantly drawing us to walk in the light so that we have opportunity to be washed and cleansed by His blood (1 John1:7).  It comes down to a choice as to whether we will allow Him to do so. We have discussed in other summaries in how many do not have a love for truth. Because there is a lack of love for truth God sends delusion so that the people will believe a lie (2 Thess 2:11). This is a most scary proposition because it is God that is allowing it to happen after a prolonged time of reaching out to His people. The antichrist will seize upon this when he comes on the scene in later years. It is already clear that the spirit of antichrist is already at work. We need to guard against our consciences being seared whereby we become desensitized to the promptings of the spirit. If we reject truth, we may opt for a religion of ordinances thinking that by observing a certain set of do’s and don’ts we are somehow becoming more spiritual. This is very much the case in many church circles today. We are aware of some once vibrant spirit filled ministries that have gone back to a religion of ordinances and traditions. We must never underestimate the potential for turning away from Truth. May God put within us a fresh desire to be valiant for the Truth and for that which is right.

Paul exhorts his junior ministers to commit to the brethren the very things that have been taught. They are to be an example to them by word and deed. In their ministry they should be able to help cultivate an atmosphere of faith by reason of teaching good doctrine. They have been taught well seeing that they have served as sons and now they are to impart likewise to others. This is one of the primary objectives of a leader such as Paul. He seeks to reproduce himself through his sons; reproducing the same life changing gospel so that the generations to come will manifest an even greater abundance of fruit.

Today we see an obsession with many in the area of bodily exercise. It is good stewardship to exercise our bodies but in must be in a balanced fashion. Bodily exercise can become an idol that eventually takes precedence over the things of God. We make provision for what is ultimately in our heart. This is personal for me because I was once a product of that which Paul warned against in verse 8. In fact, in my years when I was eating, sleeping and living body building at the gym the Lord spoke this verse to me (vs 8) in very direct terms. I was on my way to the gym and was psyching myself up for another hearty workout. On my way to the gym I was listening to a Christian radio station where the teacher was speaking from 1 Tim 4:8. He made the comment about those who dedicated themselves to bodily exercise. He then asked the question as to how far a person could go if they were to put the same commitment to God. I was totally convicted because that was me. It was a matter of a few weeks later before a noticeable change of priorities came into my life. I praise the Lord for His mercies and for the way he brings about conviction. I was living a highly disciplined life but it was channelled in the wrong direction. I may not be as fit or as strong physically today as I was then but spiritually I am much further ahead.

In verse 12 Paul wanted to assure his junior ministers that their youth was not to be a hindrance. There may be people who would look at Timothy and Titus and see them as novices but these were young men who sat under Paul’s tutelage. In fact, you will find many in scripture who made an impact upon the kingdom at a young age. Jeremiah, Josiah, Ezekiel, Zephaniah, David, Daniel and his three friends, Samuel, Esther are just a few who could be cited. So too today; there is a rising generation who have a hunger for Truth. They are not impressed with the veneer and hyped up surface Christianity that is so prevalent in many churches. There may be those who will despise or take issue with the youthfulness but we need to encourage and challenge young people to arise and know their position and calling in Christ. Finally, Paul gives them the charge to meditate and give themselves wholly to the things that are being presented to them (vs 15). They are to do what John the beloved Apostle would later say to do with regard to God’s Word. They are to know the Truth and continue in the Truth (John 8:31-32, 1 Tim 4:16). Paul is establishing a very solid foundation for them to build upon. These foundational truths are also relevant for the pastoral leaders of these last days.