Monday, September 26, 2016

Illusion and Reality

The Proverbs are specifically relevant to young adult men. That does not mean that others cannot benefit from the Proverbs, but simply that Solomon had a target audience, namely, his son. For that reason many of the early chapters were devoted to sexual purity in young men. Solomon warned his son against the adulteress. His son could remain sexually pure only if he was faithful to his wife. Any woman who was not his wife was forbidden.

The father warned his son of the illusion presented by the adulteress:
   For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, 
   And smoother than oil is her speech.
   --Proverbs 5:3

'Honey' was something very desirable in Solomon’s day. Consider the following biblical references to honey:
  • The Promised Land flowed with milk and honey; "the glory of all lands" (Exodus 3:8, 17; 13:5; Ezekiel 20:15);
  • Honey brightened the eyes of Jonathan (1 Samuel 14:25);
  • Honey was presented alongside gold as something desirable (Psalm 19:10);
  • Honey satisfied (Psalm 81:16);
  • Solomon recommended honey (Prov. 24:13);
  • The bride’s lips dripped with honey; milk and honey under her tongue (Song of Solomon 4:11);
  • Honey was included as a part of the pleasure of lovers (Song of Solomon 5:1).

Sweet honey describes the 'lips' of the adulteress. She is able to lure the unsuspecting young man with tremendous power. In addition, her 'speech' is smoother than oil, a reference to pleasant words and flattery that also lure. By every external appearance, the forbidden woman is very desirable.

   But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, 
   Sharp as a two-edged sword.
   --Proverbs 5:4

'Wormwood' is bitter. In Scripture it is often found in the same text with poisonous water. Wormwood makes a person sick. In the book of Revelation men die from water made bitter from wormwood (8:11). Wormwood stands as a sharp contrast to sweet honey. The adulteress presents the illusion of sweet honey, but in reality she offers bitter wormwood.

A 'sword' is for battle. Swords pierce, cut, kill, destroy. A two-edged sword cuts both ways, possessing even greater destructive power. The speech of the adulteress has the illusion of smooth oil, but in reality is a sharp destructive two-edged sword.

A true man of God walks by faith, not by sight. He will recognize the illusion for what it is. He will listen to the warning, understanding by wisdom that reality exists behind the illusion. He will resist chasing the illusion.

Men...the illusions are strong! Yet, by faith in God's wisdom and the help of the Holy Spirit you can tear the illusions from your eyes and see past to the ugly reality of her lies. She will destroy you!
Be wise to illusion and reality!

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Stupid Woman

Hold on ladies!
Don’t get the wrong idea. This is not about women in general, just a certain kind of woman. Most likely, if you are reading this, you are not that kind of woman.

A father warns his son to avoid the ‘stupid’ woman. Who is she?
One verse says it all.

   The woman of folly is boisterous, 
   She is naïve, and knows nothing.
   --Proverbs 9:13

The term ‘folly’ in this verse literally means, stupid. Whatever she may seem to be she is, in reality, a woman of stupidity. Now, what fellow wants to pursue a relationship with a stupid woman!?

The ‘stupid’ woman is boisterous. She is described in detail in Proverbs 7 as someone who is rebellious. She is restless and does not stay at home. Instead, she lurks about in the streets looking for her next victim. Her husband is away. So she lures another man with seductive and deceptive words. She lures him to her house, to her bed that she has already prepared. A trap!

The “stupid” woman is naïve. The Hebrew term for naïve literally means “open-minded,” yet in a bad sense. The naïve person is gullible and lacks sense. You might enjoy this person at a party (as the butt of a joke), but you would never trust her as a companion.

The “stupid” woman knows nothing. She is thoughtless, breaking her commitment to God (2:7). She meanders through life without thinking, without planning, without discernment (5:6). She lives for the moment. After all, you only live once!

The last few verses in Proverbs 9 tell the end of her story, an end that she herself does not know! . . . she is a ‘stupid’ woman. 

Her end and the end of all who embrace her?

Are they not all stupid who do not follow the Lord!?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Your Gaze

I was about 12 years old, living in ‘small town’ America (population 364). I had gone with my dad to our garden spot a few miles out of town on a long dusty gravel road, literally out in the middle of nowhere.

On our way back home I courageously blurted out in my Arkansas twang, “Can I drive?”

Dad squeezed himself next to the driver’s side door and let me scoot across the wide bench seat in behind the steering wheel. Giving me a few brief instructions, we were off . . . s-l-o-w-l-y.
I was driving!

A moment later dad saw a bright red cardinal perched in a tree to the right of the road ahead. He pointed to the bird and I looked at it.

The next thing I knew dad jerked the steering wheel to the left to get us back on the road. Driving lesson over.

I had become a perfect example of what ‘not’ to do. Having no prior experience, I naturally steered the car in the exact direction I looked. I saw the bird in the tree and I unconsciously adjusted the steering wheel toward the bird, the object of my gaze.

   Let your eyes look directly ahead, 
   And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
   --Proverbs 4:25

This proverb sounds like it was written for the inexperienced driver, but Solomon  was warning about one’s gaze as it applies to life. Observing that we are all on a spiritual journey he encourages us to give careful attention to our path, not turning to the right or left. In this way the wise will avoid evil.

It is true in our physical lives and in our spiritual lives: We will walk along a path according to the gaze of our eyes.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
--Hebrews 12:1-2

Upon what is your gaze?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Wise Eyes

Two young boys, brothers, walked to the river while on a camping trip. Surveying the wide river they both imagined themselves playing in the water. Just as the younger brother kicked off his shoes and started for the water, the older brother warned, “You’d better not go in; remember what dad said.”

Hesitating, the younger replied, “It looks pretty calm to me. I think it's ok.”

With another reminder from the older brother, they refrained.

What stopped them?

They were the ones at the river. They had firsthand knowledge. They could see that there were no dangers, but they hesitated; they stopped.

We are often like the young boys. We approach life like a wide inviting river. We want to kick off our shoes and wade in without a care in the world. We see no dangers, so we think it's ok.

We stand at the side of the river; we can see that everything is safe. But our Father has warned us.

The boys could not ‘see’ the dangerous undercurrent their father knew to exist. Likewise, we often cannot see the dangers that our Father knows to exist.

Fear stopped the boys; fear of their father. There was an element of ‘scared’ fear, but there was something more. They held their father in high esteem. There was trust and respect and knowledge of potential consequences for disobedience. Fear. Respect. Honor.

   Do not be wise in your own eyes; 
   Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
   --Proverbs 3:7

Reverence and awe for God will be a protection from evil.

Do you have ‘wise eyes’?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Bring It

   Apply your heart to discipline, 
   And your ears to words of knowledge.
   --Proverbs 23:12

In most English translations this proverb begins with the word ‘apply.’ It is a good translation of one of the most common Hebrew words in the Old Testament. The general meaning of the word is: to come, or to bring.

Does the idea of ‘bringing’ create a picture in your mind?
   Bring your heart to discipline,
   Bring your ears to words of knowledge.

Does 'bringing' emphasize the fact that you are the one who possesses your heart? That you are in control of your ears?

If you are to learn and grow in wisdom, you are the one who must take the initiative to ‘bring’ your heart and ‘bring’ your ears.

This proverb does not emphasize a conceptual application of wisdom and knowledge. Rather, it emphasizes the task of getting your heart and ears to the place where discipline and knowledge are taught...and I think we recognize that the 'place' will not be found on a map.

Have you brought your heart to God’s school of discipline and instruction?
Bring it.
Have you brought your ears to God’s school of knowledge?
Bring it.

Don't you think it is time to make a step forward?