Trust in the Lord – Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Prov 3:5-6)

Proverbs 3=5-6Proverbs 3:5-6 is perhaps one of the best-known passages in all of Scripture. These words written by Solomon are found on many plaques, posters, and paintings that hang on home and office walls. Like any proverb, it encapsulates a big truth in a small phrase. The words are an exhortation to trust in God in everything we do (Prov 3:5-6a), with a promise that He will make our paths straight if we comply (Prov 3:6b). As believers who are called to “walk by faith” (2 Cor 5:7), we are to know God’s Word and rely on it more than our own inadequate understanding. As believers, our walk of faith requires a discipline of mind and will, for fear and pride—our perennial enemies of the heart—can derail our walk if we let them.

Solomon opens his instruction with the word trust, which translates the Hebrew verb בָּטַח batach, which means to “to trust, rely on, [or] put confidence in.”[1] According to John Oswalt, “batach expresses that sense of well-being and security which results from having something or someone in whom to place confidence.”[2] And John Kitchen notes, “This ‘trust’ is the sense of security and safety that comes from being under the care of another more competent than ourselves.”[3] God is our provider, and our faith is in Him and His directives and promises. And the Lord is completely reliable, for “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num 23:19). Yes! Of course He will! God has integrity and always keeps His Word, for “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb 6:18). And God is all-wise, which means He makes no mistakes in His directives. And His love is perfect, which means He always seeks our best interests.

Two WaysIf we turn away from the Lord and trust in mankind (or any created thing), then we place our confidence in something that is, by its very nature, weak and subject to failure. Elsewhere, Solomon wrote, “He who trusts [בָּטַח batach] in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf” (Prov 11:28), and “He who trusts [בָּטַח batach] in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered” (Prov 28:26). And a psalmist penned, “Do not trust [בָּטַח batach] in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation” (Psa 146:3). I don’t think these verses are to be taken to mean we never trust in people at all, for practical living requires it. Rather, the idea is that we do not trust in things, self, or others to provide direction or meet needs that only God can provide.[4]

And Solomon’s instruction is that we are to trust in the Lord with all our heart (לֵב leb). The heart represents the inner person and refers to the mind and will.[5] These work together like a hand in a glove. Living in a fallen world, we are faced with tremendous external pressures to act in conformity with Satan’s values, which are promoted in all aspects of society (i.e., government, business, education, entertainment, etc.). Plus, we struggle with internal temptations from our fallen natures which seek to pull us away from the Lord. This is why renewing our minds is so critical for our spiritual life and health (Psalm 1:1-3; Rom 12:1-2), for we cannot live what we do not know, and learning God’s Word necessarily precedes living His will. When our minds are saturated with God’s Word, we have the capacity to operate from divine viewpoint, which directs the will into righteous living. Elsewhere, Solomon said, “He who gives attention to the word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD” (Prov 16:20).

There is always a temptation to trust only in ourselves and our own understanding; but Solomon says, “do not lean on your own understanding” (Prov 3:5b). This statement does not exclude academic learning or suggest in the slightest way that God’s children turn off their brains. In fact, Solomon says, “Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Prov 23:23). Solomon himself was a prolific writer and composed 3,000 proverbs and a 1,005 songs (1 Ki 4:32). He also studied botany, zoology, ornithology, entomology, and ichthyology (1 Ki 4:33). Solomon’s statement (v.5b) means we should subordinate our reasonings to Scripture, so that where human knowledge is inadequate, or in conflict with God’s Word, it yields to divine revelation. Our understanding, at its very best, is but a thimble of knowledge compared to the infinite ocean of God’s wisdom, and we are fools to trust in ourselves in matters where God has spoken and gifted us with divine insights. John Kitchen states:

‘Understanding’ is a word that is generally given a positive spin by Solomon (cf. Prov 1:2; 2:3), but here is seen negatively. Here it is that human wisdom worked up from our natural selves as compared to the divine wisdom that God gives to those who seek Him (cf. Jam 3:15–18). This does not mean to imply that there is nothing to be trusted in ‘common sense,’ but simply that you don’t use it as your sole, or even primary, support in life. Rather, we should bank our all on God and the wisdom of His ways. His ways are above ours (Isa 55:8–9; Rom 11:33–34), and must be chosen when they seem to contradict our earthly, human wisdom.[6]

And in what areas of our lives are we to trust in the Lord? Solomon answers, “In all your ways acknowledge Him” (Prov 3:6a). The word ways translates the Hebrew noun דֶּרֶךְ derek, which commonly refers “to a path worn by constant walking.”[7] Here, the noun is used metaphorically to refer to one’s behavior, lifestyle, or way of life. Trying to capture the essence of the phrase, other translations read, “think about Him in all your ways” (Prov 3:6 CSB), and “in all your ways submit to Him” (Prov 3:6 NIV), and “seek His will in all you do” (Prov 3:6 NLT). God’s ways are much higher and better than our ways (Isa 55:8-9), and the wise look to Him in everything.

Bible With PenThe word acknowledge translates the Hebrew verb יָדָע yada, which means to know. But this is not merely an academic knowledge of God’s Word, but the experiential knowledge that one has by applying the truth of Scripture. Living by faith is a two-step process. First, it requires us to know God’s Word, which means studying it carefully and thoroughly on a regular basis (Psa 1:2; 2 Tim 2:15). Second, it means we make choices in the light of His revelation and follow His directives and cling to His promises, being “doers of the word, and not merely hearers” who deceive ourselves (Jam 1:22). To acknowledge the Lord is an intentional act, in which we consciously and purposefully set our minds upon the Lord and insert His Word into everything we think, say, and do. And “the LORD knows the way of the righteous” (Psa 1:6), as we walk with Him in the light of His truth. But this way of living can be risky business as we cast ourselves fully upon the Lord, trusting that His ways are best and that He will keep His promises to us, all in His time and way.

To the one who trusts in the Lord, not relying on human viewpoint, but acknowledging Him in every area of our lives, Solomon then gives the promise that “He will make your paths straight” (Prov 3:6b). Allen Ross points out, “When obedient faith is present, the Lord will guide the believer along life’s paths in spite of difficulties and hindrances. The idea of ‘straight’ (v. 6) contrasts to the crooked and perverse ways of the wicked.”[8] Elsewhere, Solomon tells us the wicked are those “who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness; 14 who delight in doing evil and rejoice in the perversity of evil; 15 whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways” (Prov 2:13-15). John Kitchen states:

The reward is more than the promise of simple guidance. It includes the removal of obstacles (Isa 40:3; 45:13) from the path of the wise and the surety of arriving at one’s destination. When you abandon yourself to God in trusting obedience, finding your entire support in Him and striving in every avenue of your life to know Him more intimately, He guarantees that the path before you will be clearer and smoother than otherwise it would have been, and that He will keep you in His will.[9]

Having a straight path does not mean we are exempt from the troubles of this life or that we will never experience injustice or poor health. Jesus epitomized a life of knowing and walking with the Father, yet He suffered great opposition and was rejected by the majority of those who heard Him speak and witnessed His miracles (John 3:19; 12:37). At every moment, we are faced with two paths, one that is marked by truth and righteousness, and one that is marked by falsehoods and evil. For each and every second of your life, I encourage you to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Prov 3:5-6).

Dr. Steven R. Cook

Related Articles:

[1] William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 904.

[2] John N. Oswalt, “233 בָּטַח,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 101.

[3] John A. Kitchen, Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary, Mentor Commentaries (Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor, 2006), 76.

[4] We see in the book of Jeremiah a contrasting use of בָּטַח batach. In the first situation we see a misplaced trust in mankind, as the Lord said, “Cursed is the man who trusts [בָּטַח batach] in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant” (Jer 17:5-6). Choices have consequences, and spiritual health is starved in the one who trusts in measly mankind. But in stark contrast, we are told, “Blessed is the man who trusts [בָּטַח batach] in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. 8 For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit” (Jer 17:7-8).

[5] Some would include emotions as part of the inner person. Maybe. I think it’s better to see emotions as responders to thought and action, as they never operate independently of the mind or will. Emotion follows thought and action like a trailer follows a truck. If we think and act as God directs, our emotions will follow and stabilize.

[6] John A. Kitchen, Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary, 76–77.

[7] Herbert Wolf, “453 דָּרַך,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 196.

[8] Allen P. Ross, “Proverbs,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 5 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), 917.

[9] John A. Kitchen, Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary, 77.

Choosing a Righteous Life and Righteous Friends

BibleThe Bible repeatedly emphasizes the importance of choosing a righteous life and righteous friends. Solomon wrote, “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Prov 12:26 NIV). Elsewhere, Solomon said, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov 13:20). The word walk translates the Hebrew verb הָלַךְ halak, which here refers to “a lifestyle, [or] a pattern of conduct.”[1] Our lifestyle is influenced by our friends, who reinforce our path, either for good or harm. The one who chooses wise friends will gain wisdom and be blessed. A wise person—biblically speaking—is one who fears the Lord (Prov 1:7a), whereas, “fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov 1:7b). The wise person receives “instruction in wise behavior, doing what is right, just, and fair” (Prov 1:3), and this according to the standard of God’s Word. Simply stated, the biblically wise person is the one who learns and lives God’s Word on a regular basis. Jesus said, “everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt 7:24).

There is a danger in choosing foolish friends, for the one who befriends a fool will end a fool, and this with injury. Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matt 7:26). Dwight Pentecost states, “A fool is not necessarily one who is marked by a low IQ but one who leaves God out of his consciousness…The fool is the man who does not take God into consideration in every area of his life.”[2] Merrill F. Unger adds, “The ‘fool’ is not so much one lacking in mental powers, as one who misuses them; not one who does not reason, but reasons wrongly. In Scripture the ‘fool’ primarily is the person who casts off the fear of God and thinks and acts as if he could safely disregard the eternal principles of God’s righteousness (Psa 14:1; Prov 14:9; Jer 17:11; etc.).”[3]

Path of RighteousnessAs Christians, we choose what paths we take. Biblically, there is a righteous path and a wicked path, and we must choose the former and avoid the latter. David wrote, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” (Psa 1:1; cf. Prov 4:14-17). David generally made good choices throughout his life, and this meant avoiding wicked people. He said, “I do not sit with deceitful men, nor will I go with pretenders. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked” (Psa 26:4-5). Elsewhere he said, “He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me” (Psa 101:7).

The psalmist also wrote, “I am a companion of all those who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts” (Psa 119:63). Allen Ross writes, “The psalmist’s loyalty to the LORD also finds expression in his association with other believers—he is a companion (חָבֵר) to all who fear the LORD, meaning those who keep his commandments. The tie that binds the devout together is the commitment to keep God’s commands.”[4] And Charles Spurgeon adds, “We can hardly hope to be right in the future unless we are right now. The holy man spent his nights with God and his days with God’s people. Those who fear God love those who fear him, and they make small choice in their company so long as the men are truly God-fearing.”[5]

In the New Testament we learn about the good choices Christians were making as they “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). The words continually devoting themselves translates the Greek word προσκαρτερέω proskartereo, which denotes steadfast commitment and constant devotion. The two things these Christians were constantly devoted to were: 1) the apostle’s teaching, and 2) fellowship with other believers (which included a time of meals and prayer). Here is wisdom.

Christians are to live righteously, as this is consistent with our identity in Christ. The apostle Paul implores us “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love” (Eph 4:1-2). Here, our pattern of behavior should mirror our position in Christ. Paul uses similar language when he writes, “You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light; for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth, trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph 5:6-10). Since we are called to such a high standard of living, it’s very important that we choose our friends carefully, to make sure there is mutual interest in walking with God and living as He directs.

Do not be bound together.pngFor this reason, Paul directed the Christians at Corinth not to associate with people who are committed to live by worldly values. Of the unbeliever, Paul wrote, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor 6:14). Of the worldly Christian, Paul wrote, “not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?” (1 Cor 5:11-12; cf., Jam 4:4). The general reasoning behind these directives is that “bad associations corrupt good morals” (1 Cor 15:33).

Close relationships should be developed over time, only as we get to know others, hearing their words and watching their ways, and feeling confident they are among the faithful righteous. Some of the characteristics of a righteous person include:

  1. A commitment to learning God’s Word (Psa 1:1-2; Acts 2:42; Rom 6:17).
  2. Submitting to God’s will (Rom 12:1-2; Jam 1:22).
  3. Confessing sin to God daily (1 John 1:9).
  4. Displaying Christian love (John 13:34; Rom 13:8; 1 Th 4:9; 1 Cor 13:4-8a).
  5. Seeking to glorify God (1 Cor 10:31).
  6. Living by faith in order to please the Lord (Heb 10:38; 11:6; 2 Cor 5:9).
  7. Speaking biblical truth in love (Eph 4:15, 25).
  8. Modeling humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance and peace (Eph 4:1-3).
  9. Being forgiving (Matt 18:21-22).
  10. Doing good (Gal 6:10).
  11. Encouraging other believers to do good (Heb 10:24).
  12. Desiring fellowship with growing believers (Heb 10:25).
  13. Praying for others (1 Th 5:17; 2 Th 1:11; Jam 5:16).
  14. Building others up in the Lord (1 Th 5:11).
  15. Being devoted to fellow believers (Rom 12:10).

Choose the righteous life, and choose your friends wisely.

Audio Lesson

Dr. Steven R. Cook

Related Articles:

[1] William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 924.

[2] J. Dwight Pentecost, Designed to Be Like Him: Understanding God’s Plan for Fellowship, Conduct, Conflict, and Maturity (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 55.

[3] Merrill Frederick Unger, R. K. Harrison, Howard Frederic Vos et al., “Fool”, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988).

[4] Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90–150): Commentary, vol. 3, Kregel Exegetical Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2016), 519.

[5] C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 111-119, vol. 5 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 257.

Proverbs 31 – Snapshot of an Excellent Woman

The Woman of Excellence Proverbs 31 describes the woman of excellence. The phrase an excellent wife (Pro 31:10; Heb.   אֵשֶׁת־חַיִל esheth chayil) was first used of Ruth, who was described as a woman of excellence (Ruth 3:11, NASB) or a woman of noble character (CSB). Ruth was the great-grandmother of King David, who married Bathsheba, who is perhaps the one who shared her wisdom with her son, King Solomon (Pro 31:1). If this is correct, then it’s possible Bathsheba saw in Ruth a template for the woman of noble character. A study of the book of Ruth reveals she was committed to God and His people (Ruth 1:16-17; 2:11), possessed a strong work ethic (Ruth 2:7, 17), listened to good advice (Ruth 2:8-9; 3:1-6), showed respect to others (Ruth 2:10), cared for the needy (Ruth 2:17-18), sought to marry a noble man (Ruth 3:7-10; 4:13), and was praised for her excellence and love for others (Ruth 3:11; 4:15).

According to Proverbs 31:10-31, the excellent wife is precious to her husband (Pro 31:10), and he trusts her (Pro 31:11). It is said, “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Pro 31:12). She delights to work with her hands, knowing she’s providing for the good of her family (Pro 31:13, 15, 17-19, 27). She’s a smart shopper (Pro 31:14), and savvy business woman (Pro 31:16, 24), who is recognized for her work (Pro 31:31). She uses her time well (Pro 31:15, 27), is energetic and strong (Pro 31:17), cares for the poor and needy (Pro 31:20), provides for those in her household (Pro 31:21, 27), and does not neglect her own needs or appearance (Pro 31:22). As she is respected in the home, her husband is respected in the community (Pro 31:23), and both he and her children give praise for her dignity (Pro 31:28). She has an optimistic outlook on life, as “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future” (Pro 31:25). She is also noted for her wisdom, and “the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (Pro 31:26). She is the ideal wife, and though many women have done nobly, she excels them all (Pro 31:29). What makes this woman so excellent? What drives her to possess all the virtues of a godly woman, for which her husband praises her? Solomon tells us. It’s not her personal charm, which is deceitful; nor her physical beauty, which is fleeting (Pro 31:30a). Rather, it’s because she is “a woman who fears the LORD” (Pro 31:30b). This one “shall be praised” by all who know and appreciate her godliness. What is prioritized is the inner qualities of godliness and virtue that make for an enjoyable, stable, and lasting marriage. Other qualities of godly women are as follows:

I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. (1 Tim 2:9-12)

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Tit 2:4-6)

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. (1 Pet 3:1-6)

Dr. Steven R. Cook

Audio Lesson (22 minutes)

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Guard Your Heart

Guard     Our life is a reflection of what fills our heart. Good in is good out, and garbage in is garbage out. We determine what fills the heart. Solomon said, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Pro 4:23).[1] Other translations read: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Pro 4:23 NIV), and “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Pro 4:23 NLT). The Hebrew concept of the heart (לֵב leb) is the total inner person; it includes the mind, the will, and emotions. It is the base of operations which determines the course of life. I believe Solomon is here talking to believers, for the heart of the unbeliever is bent only on sin (Jer 17:9; Gen 6:5; 8:21; Psa 53:1; Matt 15:19).

The text assumes that one can and should control that upon which his mind dwells. Evil thoughts must be barred or expelled. The “issues of life” are the impulses, the choices, the decisions that affect the nature of man’s existence in this world. If the heart is pure, the life will be pure. Conversely, if the heart is corrupt, the life will be corrupt. In Hebrew psychology the heart is the center of moral consciousness and the seat of the affections.[2]

     All we say and do flows out of the heart. This is true both for the righteous and the wicked. David wrote, “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip” (Psa 37:30-31). But this is not so with the wicked, for “sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts” (Psa 36:1 NLT). Jesus captured both ideas when He said, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart” (Luke 6:45).

     To find and keep good mental health, I carefully select the literature I read, the music I listen to, the TV shows I watch, the conversations I engage in and the friends who will help advance me spiritually in my walk with the Lord. The condition of my heart is paramount, for what I sow is what I will reap, and this determines the outcome and quality of my life. “There is not a more portentous predictor of your ultimate end than what you expose your heart to. Above all else, guard your heart!”[3]

Dr. Steven R. Cook

Related Articles:

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible, 1995.

[2] James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), 499–500.

[3] John A. Kitchen, Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary, Mentor Commentaries (Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor, 2006), 113.

Righteousness Exalts a Nation

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. (Prov. 14:34)

       Righteousness (Heb. צְדָקָה tsedaqah, Grk. δικαιοσύνη dikaiosune) is understood in two ways in the Bible: First it refers to the standing of those who are God’s people by means of the imputation of His righteousness that is credited to us at the moment of salvation (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:1-5). God’s righteousness is given as a gift by means of faith, “to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly” (Rom 4:5; cf. Rom 3:24; 5:17; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9). Second, righteousness refers to the high moral behavior that God expects of His people, in which He instructs us “to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Tit 2:12). “In order for a nation to be great, its leaders and people must have upright, moral characters known for their righteousness.”[1]

The generations and ages have repeatedly proved the truth of this proverb. A nation which conducts itself in righteousness ‘exalts’ itself. The word ‘exalts’ describes the lifting up, or elevating, of the people’s collective life. It is more of a moral term than descriptive of material benefits. This has already been stated in regards to a ‘city’ (Pro 11:11) and it applies to ‘kings’ (Pro 16:2; 14:28). In contrast, the people who tolerate and promote sin find it, in the end, to be a disgrace. The word here is rare and unusual…It describes a deep and disgraceful shame of almost unspeakable proportions (Lev 20:17).[2]

       The values of a nation are never neutral. They either conform to God’s character or not. Righteousness is not accidental. When the majority of people in a nation purpose in their hearts to know God and walk in His will, then that nation will reflect righteousness and be morally strong. When leaders and citizens choose righteousness, the nation is lifted up and reflects the highest and best in mankind. But sin destroys a nation; and it does so from the inside out (arrogance, selfishness, greed, hatred, etc.). 

       Righteousness is taught from one generation to the next. It starts with believers learning and living God’s Word, then teaching their children to do the same. Each child must choose to accept the biblical values of the parents, then to walk in those values. When God established Israel as a nation under the leadership of Moses, the Lord commanded the parents to teach His word to the children. God said:

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deut 6:6-7)

Rigtheousness Exalts a Nation       The blessing and prosperity of Israel depended upon their obedience to God’s word (Deut 6:8-25). If they feared God and walked in His truth, then there was blessing (Deut 28:1-14). If they turned away from God and lived in perpetual sin, then there was cursing (Deut 28:15-68). The cursing of God upon the nation of Israel came in stages (decaying social life, destruction of crops, famine and military defeat), and eventuated in total destruction if they failed to humble themselves before the Lord. When Jewish children asked their parents why they were to learn and obey God’s word, the parents were to say, “the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival” (Deut 6:24). 

       Israel is the only theocracy to exist in human history. Today there are no theocratic kingdoms in the world. There is only the spiritual kingdom to which all believers belong (Acts 26:18; Col 1:13). Believers within a national entity have the power to influence their country and help perpetuate its blessing from God; and like those living in ancient Israel, righteousness must be taught and caught by each new generation. God gives freedom, but freedom must always be seen as an opportunity to do good for others; for God declares, “Surely I will set you free for purposes of good” (Jer 15:11). And Paul states, “you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Gal 5:13). Each new generation must choose God and His will, for a nation is only one generation away from success or failure; from being righteous or sinful. 

Godly parents can raise godly children, and godly children can provide godly influence in their communities and in the nation. In a democracy, where leadership is elected and not inherited, the Lord’s remnant must exert as much influence for righteousness as possible; certainly every believer ought to pray for those in authority (1 Tim. 2:1–8).[3]

       National leaders and citizens commit sin (Heb. חָטָא chata, Grk. ἁμάρτημα hamartia) when they deviate from God’s will. At the core of sin is a rebellious heart, a fallen nature, an internal defiance toward God in which a person sets his will against his Creator. Whether educated or uneducated, religious or irreligious, believer or unbeliever, every person has the capacity and propensity to sin. Every nation has its unbelievers who continually produce sin; but only the believer has a spiritual nature (acquired at salvation) which enables him to walk with God in accordance with Scripture. The believer has a choice to follow God or the world, and God calls the believer to forsake sin and live righteously (Rom 6:11-14; 13:12-14).  Paul stated:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Tit 2:11-14)

Light of the WorldThe Christian is chosen by God to be a light in the world, and to call people to God that they might be saved by grace through faith. The whole world lies in darkness, and the Christian is to preach the gospel to the lost, calling unbelievers “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). The world, as a whole, will never be reformed or made perfect because it consists of a majority of unbelievers who are guided by sinful values. Absolute perfection only comes when God destroys the current heavens and earth and creates a new heavens and earth (Rev 21-22). The apostle Peter states, “according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13). Until that happens, God is calling out a special people to be set apart from the world, sanctified and holy. We live in the world, but we are not of the world. Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:19). Though we live in the world, we are called to strive for holiness rather than conformity (Rom 12:1-2).  

       Historically, Christians have been a positive influence in society by promoting law and being charitable to the needy (Gal 2:10; Jam 1:27). They’ve built schools, hospitals, orphanages, and other helpful organizations that lift man up. They’ve fed the hungry, cared for the sick, housed the homeless, provided for widows and orphans, and visited prisoners with the Gospel. Christians have also promoted art, literature, music and science. Certainly there have been abuses in the name of Christianity; however, the historical record speaks favorably about Christian service. For the most part, believers have obeyed Scripture and become law abiding citizens rather than rebels. Scripture teaches Christians to think of government as a “minister of God” (Rom 13:4), to obey good leaders (Rom 13:1, 5; Tit 3:1; 1 Pet 2:13-15), pay taxes (Rom 13:6), regard rulers as “servants of God” who do His will (Rom 13:6), and to pray for them (1 Tim 2:1-2). We realize there is a legitimate sense in which the leaders of this world accomplish God’s purposes by keeping harmony and promoting justice (Rom 13:2-4; 6-7). We do not blindly submit to their authority, and should say no to governmental leaders when they command us to go against the commands of God (see Dan 3:1-18; 6:1-13; Acts 4:19-20; 5:28-29). The Christian obeys or defies human authority only as the Bible directs. Ultimately, those who obey God’s word prove to be a blessing that promotes righteousness within a nation.  

Dr. Steven R. Cook

Related Articles:

  1. The Gospel Message
  2. Choosing Righteous Friends
  3. Love Your Enemies
  4. Satan’s World System
  5. Overcome Evil with Good 

[1] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 828.

[2] John A. Kitchen, Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary (Christian focus publications, Germany, 2006), 322.

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Skillful, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 133.

Dealing with Fools

The Bible, especially Proverbs, contrasts the wise man with the fool.  Wisdom (Heb hokmah, Grk sophos) is the beneficial instruction necessary for making good choices that agree with God’s Word. The Bible contrasts divine wisdom which comes from God, and worldly wisdom which ultimately comes from Satan (Jam 3:15-17). Divine wisdom is the knowledge necessary to perform a task in conformity with God’s Word. Biblical wisdom is based on God’s revelation in the Bible and leads to moral uprightness. The wise man “will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel” (Prov 1:5; 2:5); however, “fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov 1:7b). The fool rejects the wisdom of God in Scripture which leads to salvation and righteous living. The fool is friendly toward the world and its philosophies and values that promote human wisdom and accomplishments. According to J. Dwight Pentecost, “A fool is not necessarily one who is marked by a low IQ but one who leaves God out of his consciousness…The fool is the man who does not take God into consideration in every area of his life.”[1] And Merrill F. Unger states:

The word [fool] is used in Scripture with respect to moral more than to intellectual deficiencies. The “fool” is not so much one lacking in mental powers, as one who misuses them; not one who does not reason, but reasons wrongly. In Scripture the “fool” primarily is the person who casts off the fear of God and thinks and acts as if he could safely disregard the eternal principles of God’s righteousness (Ps 14:1; Prov 14:9; Jer 17:11; etc.). Yet in many passages, especially in Proverbs, the term has its ordinary use and denotes one who is rash, senseless, or unreasonable.[2]

The fool, according to Solomon, is a fool by choice and never by chance. He can stop being a fool anytime he is ready to learn and apply God’s Word. He makes himself a fool by the way he thinks, and is identified as a fool by the way he speaks and by his behavior. Over time, folly can be so ingrained into a person that neither kindness nor suffering can remove it. Here are some biblical facts about the fool:

  1. The fool is a fool by choice and never by chance (Prov 1:22-33). “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge?” (Prov 1:22). “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind” (Prov 18:2; cf. 14:9). He can stop being a fool anytime he’s ready to learn and apply God’s Word.
  2. The fool can be recognized by his outward behavior. “Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool” (Eccl 10:3).
  3. The fool loves to slander others. “He who conceals hatred has lying lips, and he who spreads slander is a fool” (Prov 10:18). Slander is the intentional circulation of a falsehood about another for the purpose of destroying their character.
  4. Wickedness is like a game to the fool, and it thrills him to do evil. “Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool, and so is wisdom to a man of understanding” (Prov 10:23).
  5. Children are naturally bent toward foolishness and the loving parent seeks to discipline it out of them. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him” (Prov 22:15). “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother” (Prov 29:15).
  6. The foolish child rejects his parent’s discipline. “A fool rejects his father’s discipline, but he who regards reproof is sensible” (Prov 15:5).
  7. Over time, as the fool becomes an adult, his folly becomes entrenched in his heart and he is very resistant to any external pressures to change. “A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool” (Prov 17:10). “Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him” (Prov 27:22).
  8. The fool is a grief to his father and mother. “A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother” (Prov 10:1; cf. 15:20). “He who sires a fool does so to his sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy” (Prov 17:21; cf. 19:13).
  9. The fool ruins his own life and fights against God. “The foolishness of man ruins his way, and his heart rages against the LORD” (Prov 19:3).
  10. Fools like to argue with others without a just cause. “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel” (Prov 20:3). It’s better to avoid the fool rather than pursue conflict with him. “When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, the foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest” (Prov 29:9; cf. 20:23).
  11. Fools are arrogant and often storm through life without consideration of others. “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless” (Prov 14:16).
  12. Those who employ a fool feel the painful effects of his stupidity. “Like an archer who wounds everyone, so is he who hires a fool or who hires those who pass by” (Prov 26:10).
  13. Fools repeat the same ugly acts over and over. “Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly” (Prov 26:11).
  14. Fools have no control of their emotions. “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back” (Prov 29:11; cf. 25:28).
  15. Fools pursue worldly pleasure and ruin themselves. “The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, while the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure” (Eccl 7:4).
  16. The words of the wise are gracious, whereas the words of the fool express wickedness. “Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness” (Eccl 10:12-13).
  17. The person who befriends a fool causes himself harm. “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov 13:20).

Dealing with the fool:

Wise men often do not answer the fool because he’s not teachable; though there are times the fool needs to be corrected so that his false estimation of himself does not go unchecked. Wise men leave the presence of the fool, as there is no benefit to his company. When one encounters a fool, there are several things one should do depending on the encounter.

  1. Once a fool is identified, do not provoke him, or you will bring grief on yourself. “A stone is heavy and the sand weighty, but the provocation of a fool is heavier than both of them” (Prov 27:3).
  2. Avoid speaking in the presence of a fool, or at least keep your words few. “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words” (Prov 23:9). Fools despise wisdom, so they despise those who speak and live by wisdom.
  3. Don’t answer the fool in the midst of his foolishness. “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him” (Prov 26:4). It is foolish to try to correct the fool.
  4. There are times to address the fool so that he does not think himself wise. “Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes” (Prov 26:5). This type of correction does not seek to correct the fool, but only his false estimation of himself. Wisdom discerns when to answer the fool.
  5. Lastly, make the conscious decision to leave the presence of the fool so that you are not infected by his folly. “Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge” (Prov 14:7). This is because “the foolishness of fools is deceit” and there is no truth in their speech (Prov 14:8b).

Dr. Steven R. Cook

Related Articles:

[1] J. Dwight Pentecost, Designed to Be Like Him: Understanding God’s Plan for Fellowship, Conduct, Conflict, and Maturity (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 55.

[2] Merrill Frederick Unger, R. K. Harrison, Howard Frederic Vos et al., “Fool”, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988).

Biblical Wisdom

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: to know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the naive, to the youth knowledge and discretion, a wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:1-7)

       According to verses 2-6 we see a five-fold purpose for Proverbs: 1) “to know wisdom and instruction,” 2) “to discern the sayings of understanding,” 3) “to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity,” 4) “to give prudence to the naïve,” and 5) “to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles.”

     The Hebrew word hokmah (translated “wisdom” in verse 2) appears forty-five times in the book of Proverbs and is the common theme of the book.  In a general sense, wisdom is the knowledge necessary to perform a task successfully.  Overall, the book of Proverbs is a compilation of wise sayings which provide the necessary instruction for making good choices in life.  The book of Proverbs belongs to that group of biblical literature classified as wisdom writings; and the didactic nature of Proverbs made it useful for parents who wanted to instruct their children, as well as teachers who wanted to instruct their students.  A proverb is a concise and pithy statement that summarizes an experience or compares two things; thus capturing a principle that benefits one throughout his life.  Often it is teaching by analogy. 

       In verse 7 Solomon tells his readers that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; [whereas] fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  In this antithetical parallelism, Solomon contrasts the healthy humble minded person who fears the LORD with the arrogant person who shuns Him. The attitude of the heart determines how a person responds to God’s revelation. The person who fears God respects His authority and responds properly to His word. The fool is the one who is devoid of God’s word, or rejects it after hearing it.

       The Bible contrasts divine wisdom which comes from God, and worldly wisdom which ultimately comes from Satan (James 3:15-17).  Divine wisdom is the knowledge necessary to perform a task in conformity to His standards and values.  Examples of divine wisdom include:

  1. Artistic wisdom: The ability to create works of art (e.g. the artisans who created the garments for Levitical priests as well as the articles of worship in the Jewish Temple, Ex. 28:3; 31:2-5; 1 Ki. 7:14).
  2. Academic wisdom: The ability to learn about God’s world (e.g. zoology, biology, botany, etc.) and write books (e.g. Solomon’s proverbs and songs, 1 Ki. 4:29-34).
  3. Judicial wisdom: The ability to decide legal matters for God’s people (e.g. Judges, Solomon, etc. 1 Ki. 16:28).
  4. Military wisdom: The ability to defeat God’s enemies (e.g. Joshua, David; Prov. 20:18; 21:22; 24:6).
  5. Governing wisdom: The ability to leads God’s people into His will (e.g. Joseph, Moses, Nehemiah, Church Elders, etc.).
  6. Serving wisdom: The ability to meet the needs of others (e.g. Deacons, Acts 6:3).
  7. Teaching wisdom: The ability to communicate clearly God’s Word to others (e.g. Moses, Paul, etc., Col. 1:9).
  8. Spiritual wisdom: The ability to live God’s will in accordance with His Word.

       Worldly wisdom is the knowledge required to live in Satan’s fallen world, has the appearance of real wisdom, but is actually deceptive and seeks to ensnare people in Satan’s schemes (Ex. 7:11; Col. 2:23; Jas. 3:14-15).  Those who are called wise in a worldly sense are actually fools by God’s estimation.  The majority of people in this world operate according to worldly wisdom and live their lives outside of God’s will.

       Examples of worldly wise men include the magicians of Pharaoh’s court who were demonically enabled to replicate some of the miracles performed by Moses (Ex. 7:11), and Nebuchadnezzar’s counselors who claimed to be able to interpret dreams and have spiritual insight into his future (Dan. 2:12-18).  The apostle Paul spoke out against worldly judgments which have “the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence” (Col. 2:23); and James admonished his readers to be on guard against “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” which is a wisdom that “does not come down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic” (Jam. 3:14-15).  In the end, worldly wisdom is always Satan-serving; whereas divine wisdom is always God-serving. 

       We do well to know that it is possible to lose wisdom and become a fool.  We know that even Lucifer was once wise, for the prophet Ezekiel tells us that he had “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezek. 28:12).  Ezekiel goes on to say that Lucifer’s “heart was lifted up” because of his beauty and his wisdom became corrupted by reason of his splendor (Ezek. 28:17).  From within himself Satan’s wisdom was turned to foolishness.  Through Isaiah the prophet, God gives us a glimpse into Satan’s mind, and tells us what he was thinking in his heart.  At the time of his foolishness Satan declared:

“I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isa. 14:13-14)

       Lucifer’s pride caused his fall.  He created his kingdom of darkness when he sinned, and through temptation he brought down to death the first humans when he convinced them to turn from God and follow his advice (Gen. 3:1-8).  Now all men are born into this world of darkness, into Satan’s kingdom, born in Adam, born in sin.  The minds of all men are darkened by the sin nature and have a propensity toward foolishness.  Even after regeneration, men’s minds are not suddenly wise, but still dark from all the world’s philosophies.  Two things must happen before a saved person can have God’s wisdom: 1) he must learn to fear the Lord, and 2) he must discipline his mind to seek truth.  The fear of the Lord and seeking truth go together like two sides of a coin.

       The fear of the Lord is to acknowledge Him as Lord and His right to rule over our lives and to respond with obedience.  Solomon declares that we are to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13).  The fear of the Lord is that healthy reverence the believer has for God, knowing that He is the Sovereign Lord of the universe, and that as His creature we do well to submit to Him. 

       To seek truth means we apply our minds to know God’s word, and once we know it, to apply His truth to every area of our lives.  Jesus declared “the man who hears my words and does them shall be compared to a wise man who built his house upon the rock” (Matt. 7:24).  Here, Jesus tells us the wise man is the one who hears His words and does them.  There is order here, for one cannot live what he does not know, and knowledge of God’s word must precede application to life. 

       Jesus, as our role-model, spent His entire life learning and living by His Father’s teaching.  Luke tells us that Jesus, as a child, “continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom” (Luke 2:40).  Messiah, speaking in Isaiah 50:4 states, “He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.”  Jesus woke each morning to give His ear to the Father’s instruction.  Mark tells us in his Gospel, “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there” (Mark 1:35).  It is healthy to fear the Lord and seek His instruction for every area of our life.

     God’s greatest expression of wisdom is the cross of Christ.  To those who hold to worldly wisdom, “the word of the cross is foolishness” (1 Cor. 1:18).  To those who are saved, the cross of Christ is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24).  Divine wisdom always leads one to God through the cross of Christ.  Any so-called wisdom that does not lead one ultimately to the cross of Christ is pseudo-wisdom.  God has rejected the world’s wisdom, and the world has rejected His. 

       One knows he has found wisdom when he has found the Lord; for true wisdom exists only in relation to Him.  One knows he is growing in wisdom when he fears the Lord, respecting His authority and doing the things that are pleasing in His sight.  The believer is benefited  and God is honored, when His word is understood and obeyed on a regular basis. 

       The wise believer knows his place in God’s creation; that he is the creature, and God is the Creator, and there is submission one to the Other.  The fool is the one who blurs the creator/creature distinction, and sets his will against the will of God.  The fool is devoid of God’s wisdom, and his words and actions reveal his darkened heart.  On the other hand, the wise man learns God’s word that he may live His will, and this too is revealed through his words and actions. 

       Lastly, the wise believer seeks to incorporate God’s word into every area of his life, and does not compartmentalize, leaving some areas to self.  Wisdom gives order and purpose to life, and affords one the knowledge necessary to make good choices.  The wise believer is able to understand the world around him, and knows why things are the way they are, and why people behave the way they do.   Wisdom gives one hope for the future, because Christ is coming back, and He will reign in righteousness and truth (Rev. 20:1-6). 

Below are forty Scriptural truths regarding biblical wisdom:

  1. The Lord possesses and operates by His wisdom (Ps. 104:24; Prov. 3:19; Jer. 10:12).
  2. Wisdom comes from the Lord (1 Kings 3:12; Prov. 2:6; Dan. 2:21; Jas. 1:5).
  3. God’s wisdom is found in Scripture (Ps. 19:7; 119:98; Jer. 8:9; 2 Tim. 3:15).
  4. Jesus, while in hypostatic union, had to learn wisdom day by day (Lu. 2:40, 52; Isa. 50:4).
  5. Wisdom is better than riches (Prov. 8:11; 16:16).
  6. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10).
  7. Wisdom resides first in what we think, then in what we say and do (Ps. 51:6; Col. 4:5).
  8. The humble receive wisdom (Prov. 11:2).
  9. Wisdom can be communicated by speech or writing (1 Ki. 11:41; Prov. 15:7; 1 Cor. 2:6-8, 13).
  10. The one who loves his soul seeks wisdom (Prov. 19:8; 24:14).
  11. Wisdom is pleasant to the soul (Prov. 2:10).
  12. Wisdom is better than strength (Eccl. 9:14-16).
  13. A wise man accepts reproof and instruction (Prov. 9:8-9; 10:8).
  14. The wise man has persuasive speech (Prov. 16:23).
  15. The wise man boasts of the Lord (Jer. 9:23-24).
  16. The wise man accepts Jesus as his savior (1 Cor. 1:18-31).
  17. Christ is the wisdom and power of God (1 Cor. 1:24).
  18. The wise man walks in righteousness (Hos. 14:9).
  19. The wise man hears and acts on the words of Christ (Matt. 7:24).
  20. The wise man engages in good deeds done in gentleness (Jas. 3:13).
  21. The wise man controls his temper (Prov. 29:11).
  22. The wise person avoids intoxication (Prov. 20:1).
  23. Military victory comes by wise guidance (Prov. 20:18; 21:22; 24:6).
  24. Wise men hang-out together (Prov. 13:20; 15:31).
  25. The wise decide judicial matters (Ezra 7:25; 1 Cor. 6:1-7).
  26. The woman of excellence speaks wisdom (Prov. 31:26).
  27. The wise parent disciplines his child (Prov. 29:15).
  28. A wise child is better than a foolish ruler (Eccl. 4:13).
  29. The wise child accepts his parents discipline (Prov. 13:1).
  30. A wise son makes his father and mother happy (Prov. 23:15, 24; 27:11; 29:3).
  31. Wisdom helps a man understand his culture (Eccl. 1:13).
  32. Wisdom helps the believer discern the future (Deut. 32:29).
  33. One does not have to be old to be wise (Dan. 1:4; Matt. 11:25).
  34. Wisdom leads one away from evil (Prov. 3:7; 14:16).
  35. The wise man learns from nature and others (Prov. 6:5; 24:30-34).
  36. An accepted bribe blinds the eyes of the wise (Deut. 16:19).
  37. The wisdom of the world is foolishness (1 Cor. 3:19).
  38. The fool is the one who rejects and despises wisdom (Prov. 1:7; 23:9).
  39. The rod of suffering belongs to the one who lacks wisdom (Prov. 10:13; 14:3).
  40. There is a worldly/demonic wisdom (Ex. 7:11; Col. 2:23; Jas. 3:14-15).

Dr. Steven R. Cook

The Prayer of Agur

Two things I asked of Thee, do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, lest I be full and deny Thee and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or lest I be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God. (Prov. 30:7-9)

  1. Agur, the writer of this Prayer, recognized his weaknesses and asked to be shielded from the two areas that would affect his relationship with God.
  2. In the first area, Agur asked to be shielded from “deception and lies” which can lead a man away from God. Deception can lead to idolatry and the exaltation of things over/against the Creator.
  3. In the second area, Agur asked God not to give him more than he can handle, either in wealth or poverty. In both cases, Agur was fearful that he might fail prosperity or poverty situations and “profane the name” of God.
  4. Here, wisdom is displayed in one who knew his weaknesses, and who prayed that God would not give him more than he could handle.

Steven R. Cook, D.Min.