Monday, July 25, 2016

Never Satisfied

   Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, 
   Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.
   --Proverbs 27:20

We get this one, no mystery: In general, people always desire more. 

Yep, that’s it. Got it. What’s next?

The  proverb is easily understood, but why did he use Sheol and Abaddon as parallel ideas?

Sheol is a Hebrew term used for ‘the place of the dead,’ and sometimes, for ‘death’ itself. Abaddon, another Hebrew word, comes from a root word meaning ‘to perish.’ Abaddon means ‘place of destruction’ or simply, ‘destruction.’ In the Bible, Abaddon is most often paired with death. When used together, Sheol and Abaddon represent ‘death and destruction.’

Solomon personified Sheol and Abaddon by saying that they are never satisfied. It is a way of saying that there is no end to death and destruction. There will never be a time when a sign is posted outside Sheol, “No Vacancy.” Abaddon never turns anyone away. More death; more destruction. Never satisfied.

By using Sheol and Abaddon to make his point, Solomon paints a rather dark, grim scene. The reality of death and destruction is oppressive.

Once our heart is weighed heavy with the thoughts of Sheol and Abaddon; once we feel the oppressive sickness and dread of death and destruction, then we are in the right frame of mind to hear the second half of the proverb:

   Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.

It is a repulsive reality that people, in general, have little discipline, little contentment, little understanding. People are just like Sheol and Abaddon. Never satisfied.

Solomon did not merely ‘observe’ reality. He painted a repulsive picture for the purpose of communicating an oppressive truth about man...about all of us. So...
  • Wisdom cries out for us to control our appetites.
  • Wisdom begs that we apply discipline, use discretion.
  • Wisdom pleads for contentment.
From time to time perhaps we should stop 'looking' and just close our eyes and choose to be content. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate the things we desire/pursue.

What are you chasing in life!?
What are you really lacking?
Why are you not satisfied?

Be wise.

Monday, July 18, 2016

I Probably Shouldn’t Tell You This, But . . .

You’ve heard it, perhaps you’ve said it yourself: “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but . . . .”

The person who begins a sentence with this phrase usually glances quickly to the left, then to the right. (They must be checking to see if anyone might “see” what they are about to say.) It is an obvious signal that they want to conceal what they are about to do. They don’t want to get caught...because...there is no ‘probably’ about it. They should not tell, and they know it.

However, the abundance of listening ears tempts the whisperer. So, the whisperer tells things that should not be told.

It really doesn’t matter who already knows. It doesn’t matter that names aren’t used. It doesn’t matter that the listener is considered a friend or thought to be trustworthy. Both the whisperer and the one who listens to the whisperer are guilty of gossip.

Have you ever watched a bully on a playground? He is quite different than the whisperer. He struts around as if untouchable. He barges ahead without watching where he is going. He puffs out his chest and threatens others. He usually starts his fight with words, but he really wants to use his fists.

The actions of the bully are unacceptable, but at least he is honest and open with his intentions...not the whisperer.

Regardless of her intentions the whisperer causes strife and contention among others, just like the bully. Yet, her approach is subtle. Off to the side, over in a corner, by phone, over mid-morning coffee, she masks her gossip with quiet whispers.

   For lack of wood the fire goes out, 
   And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.
   --Proverbs 26:20

Do you know how to deal with a whisperer?
When you hear the signal, “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but...” interrupt!
Rudely interrupt with kind agreement, “You are so right!”

The fire goes out...
Enough said.

Monday, July 11, 2016


We learn in many ways. Information comes to us by word of mouth and various news sources. Parents and teachers teach and train in both formal and informal settings. Of course, there is the presumed ‘best’ teacher, experience. And do not forget that discipline is a form of instruction.
(See “Musar” from May 9, 2016.)

Solomon tells about yet another source of instruction:

   When I saw, I reflected upon it;
   I looked, and received instruction.
                                  --Proverbs 24:32

This statement is the anchor verse in a brief passage about someone who is lazy and who lacks sense. Here is the broader context...

   I passed by the field of the sluggard
      And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,

   And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles;
      Its surface was covered with nettles,
      And its stone wall was broken down.

   When I saw, I reflected upon it;
      I looked, and received instruction.

   “A little sleep, a little slumber,
      A little folding of the hands to rest,”

   Then your poverty will come as a robber
      And your want like an armed man.

                                         --Proverbs 24:30-34

By careful observation and reflection Solomon was able to connect the cause to the effect.

I don’t know how long it took Solomon to come to his conclusion. I can imagine him reflecting on the images he had stored in his mind. I can imagine him posing a variety of questions in his mind as he wondered how the field and vineyard had become overgrown and practically unusable.

He observed.
He saw a result.
He gathered information.
He reflected.

He was like an ancient detective trying to solve a mystery. He put things together in his mind and came to a conclusion. He saw a principle of life at work.

God has revealed many things in scripture that cannot be concluded by simple observation. However, God gave us a brain, senses, and 'sense' and he clearly expects us to use good sense along with our senses to learn about our world and learn about life.

When is the last time something caught your attention and you stopped! . . . and pondered?

This is not an invitation to close God's Word and ignore His revelation. Rather, it is to recognize that God has given us the ability to reason. He has places us in an organized universe and he brought about our redemption with forethought. God expects us to use the ol' noggin. To do so...
   We will need to stop.
   We will need to look around.
   We will need to observe, even inspect.
   We will need to ask ourselves questions, ponder...and reflect.

But, first...we must STOP!

Then, we might receive instruction.

Be Wise.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Think. Think! THINK!

It is a well-known proverb that has prompted many motivational speeches, articles, and even books.

   “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

Just wait until you read the whole verse along with the preceding verse and the one immediately following. You are likely to get a very different picture. Ready?

   Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, 
      Or desire his delicacies;
   For as he thinks within himself, 
      so he is. 
   He says to you, "Eat and drink!" 
      But his heart is not with you.
   You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, 
      And waste your compliments.
   --Proverbs 23:6-8

It is not a passage about the ‘power of positive thinking’ or the 'law of attraction.' It doesn’t really send you into a higher plane of thought to help you overcome the obstacles of pessimism. Nor does it sound like the beloved golden nugget of divine motivation as many have suggested. In reality, it is a simple saying that might actually turn your stomach. So, is there even a dry crumb of wisdom for us?

The proverb is about eating at the table of a selfish wealthy man. (Begin in verse 1 for the full context.) When it comes to riches and those who are rich, humans tend to be like a bug in the night that flies into the light. Most people are drawn toward wealth and they honor those who are wealthy in various ways. It is easy to be mesmerized by wealth and overlook the character of a wealthy person.

In this proverb, the simple warning is to be cautious when being entertained by a selfish wealthy person. He may speak with a generous tongue yet without a generous heart. So, do not be taken in and deceived by what your eyes see and by what your ears hear.

The point is that we must use discernment when the distraction of wealth is around us. Do not be deceived by another man’s wealth. Do not be lured in by the promises of a selfish man.

Think. Think! THINK!