"Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeks and intermeddles with all wisdom.” - Proverbs 18:1.
This is one of verses in the Scripture that is used to justify and even encourage the idea of the benefit of seclusion oneself in a monastery or other place to absent and protect yourself from the negative and detrimental effects of the world around us. From out of these verses has come the practice of giving your life and attention to the denial of social world so that you can “give yourself” to God and to contemplation and prayer. Now, while the general thought there might seem good, that is NOT what the Lord Jesus meant when, during the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) he spoke of the various “blessed” ideas(9 of them) in the Sermon.
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“He that justifies the wicked, and he that condemns the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.” (Proverbs 17:15 (Cf. 24:24)).
I’m certain that that there were some events and happenstances that prompted Solomon’s statement here; we don’t have a clue as to what exactly they were, bust it seems obvious that was something going that Solomon found distasteful and that he was convinced that God hated and found more than a little objectionable Himself. While we don’t to just take another’s word for a matter, I think it essential that we lend some greater (if not a good deal greater) credence to that's which the Word of God puts forth as reliable and binding to the way we think and act.
This seems to be the case in a number of the passages we find in the writings of Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived; the one who wrote and thus declared the mind and heart of God. It seems unwise, even dangerous for us, as believers to disregard or cast aside what Proverbs has to say about anything what it clearly puts forth. Solomon was not only the wisest man who ever lived, but was a great writer and was clear and definite in what he wrote.
Interestingly, this passage has particular application to our own time, as it seems to speak to the tendency of many to play fast and loose with what Solomon, in many places calls the just and unjust, exactly, it seems, as was happening in some circumstances in Solomon’s time and circumstance.
Notice that he begins the first two short phrases with the couple words “He who…”. It was a common way of making a general reference to that which a known or seen acquaintance conducted himself and which Solomon wished to address in a specific fashion regarding either the statement of his behavior or the consequences of that behavior. The mechanism occurs in some 550 verses in the both the OT as well as the NT. In the NT is particularly prominent in the Gospels but is present in the Book of Acts as well as the Epistles as well.
He speaks of two kinds of people and of the qualities of their walk on the earth and among men.
1. First, he speaks of the wicked and how the one in view treats or speaks of them.
2. Second, he speaks of the righteous and the implication is the mentioned response to them his treatment of them.
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"The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.” - Proverbs 16:23 (Cf. vv. 21, 24; 22:18).
Proverbs 16 is one of the chapters of Proverbs that is all about the contrast between the upright and the wicked. In other words, it speaks to what is good and smart to do and what is not so good and smart. In fact, many of these chapters and “Proverbs” speak in varied fashion to that which, for many, is virtually normal behavior and perhaps has been for some time, even much of their lives. Indeed, Solomon had much to say about these groups and their conflict in the life of the redeemed and the body of the Lord.
As is usual in many of the Proverbs, he begins with a reference to the “heart”, that is, the very center of man, his mind, his will, and/or his emotions. It speaks, as we have spoken of before, of the center of things for man. That which, collectively, allows him to interact with and accomplish, meaningfully, spiritual living (if we are talking about a redeemed person) and some meaningful purpose for God. In order to do so, of course, one must be allowing God’s Spirit and His Word to inform and maintain the wisdom and abilities of this “center” of a man.
Solomon draws our attention to the heart of the “wise”. Wise here, as in a lot of other places in Proverbs, speaks of a number of “shades” of application and meaning to the mind and workings of God’s people. It can indicate that they are cunning, subtle, skillful (in technical work), shrewd (even describing a whole class of men), crafty, wily, learned, but is most often translated as wise (ethically and religiously). It is used more than 165 times in Proverbs and a huge amount of times elsewhere in the OT.
It is interesting that Solomon hints at the idea that the “heart” is what guides the mouth. We can readily understand the idea that the mind or intelligence guides what we say. It arms or equips us so that we speak rightly and effectively. Sadly or disturbingly, it is true that man often speaks as prompted by our feelings or on impulse. But we need to remember that Solomon is not saying that we need to allow that aspect of our “inner man” be that which controls or even drives our communication with others.
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“Whoso mocks the poor reproaches his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished” Proverbs 17:5 (Cf. 14:20, 31).
This is another of Solomon’s “He who…” statements found fairly abundantly throughout the Book. They go pretty much just like the one in this verse. Whoever ______________ is doing ____________ to God. In this case both sides of the equation are clearly negative and wholly undesirable, not to mention absolutely unBiblical for a believer. Often, the essence of the statement is most often one that makes complete and obvious sense as well. It also seems that the action of mocking is one of Solomon’s particular dislikes. And, of course, anything that either dishonors or brings reproach upon His reputation among men likewise earns Solomon’s active disdain.
“Whoso”, as it is translated in some version is the older English way of simply saying “The one who…” (as it might actually say in your version). It points to the perpetrator of the act in view as well as providing the implication that we are not talking about a single target, but rather, a generalized statement that applies to absolutely everyone who performs the act under scrutiny. In this case it is English word “mock”. Everyone, in general, who “mocks the poor” is actually and actively doing what Solomon refers to in a moment. Mock is not a very widely used word in the OT. It comes from a 15th century French word, “marquee” meaning to “treat with contempt or ridicule”. It can also mean “to disappoint the hopes on the one (or ones) in view; here…the poor. It is only used 18 times in the OT, rendered mock 8 times, scorn 3x, laugh at 3x, to “hold in derision 2x, as well as a couple other forms depending on the particular translation in mind. Inherent in the word is the idea of scorn or derision in the mind that prompts the action.
The stated object of this “mocking” (or other uses) is said to be “the poor”. Poor, of course, refers to the one who has little or no wealth. It can also refer to the condition of lack, not speaking of monetary lack, but the lacking of whatever objective situation is in perspective. One can be “poor” in influence, for instance. It is also interesting that this “poor” quality can be something that is the result of ones’ own actions (or lack of action). The poor quality or neediness is just as valid, but the cause is different.
It is not the condition of poorness or poverty that Solomon is mainly commenting on in this verse. Rather, it is the matter of “mocking” those who are in that condition. As Wes noted, Solomon, by using this term in speaking of how Someone speaks of or treats those “poor” that he is drawing our attention toward. It has to do, not so much with the idea of walking around verbally make fun of them; butt rather of the inner attitude that one holds toward them.
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“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth from Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
— Micah 5:2
The way that the text of the Bible sweeps along is always fascinating to observe. Micah was, of course, one of OT “minor” prophets, and here in chapter 5 takes up the topic of the coming of the Messiah, the Christ. Chapter 5 and verse 1 speaks, at first, of the fact that the coming Messiah will come as a purifying agent to Israel in God’s Name. Micah uses the terms “…shall lay siege against…”. Those are pretty serious terms to speak of. The idea of a “siege” in verse implies the idea that what the Messiah will being forth is that which will definitely accomplish its’ goal, no matter what the amount of time needful to get the job done.
The OT has been abundantly clear in just what God’s goals with Israel really are.
1. He wants to convince them of their sinful rebellion
2. He wants them to learn humility and bow themselves before He and grace and mercy.
3. He wants to demonstrate that He is loving and move them to the experience of that love.
4. He wishes to bring them to the place where they are useful to His purposes and bring Him glory and testimony of His righteousness and patience.
5. Actually, there are a number of others as well, but this suffices for now.
To meet these goals God has been willing to extend Himself again and again and again. But Israel was incredibly resistant and continued in their rebellion, even through the time of our Lord and including His crucifixion. Micah describe the idea as “…laying siege” to Israel. It is a powerful picture for what Israel’s God is willing, and indeed, will do to accomplish His desire with His people.
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“The heart of the righteous studies to answer: but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” – Proverbs 15:28 (Cf. 18:13; 29:20).
One of the truly useful (thinking and application-wise) aspects to Proverbs is the way that Solomon refers to the more general aspects of the character and nature of his readers. For instance, in this verse he uses the word “heart” to refer to the subject area of man that he wishes to be a part of the discussion. He doesn’t go through every individual area that are considered a part of the “heart” (the mind, the will, the emotions, the priorities, etc.). It is, however, in this instance fairly clear what he is referring to. Since the passage is speaking about the matter of “righteous studies”, we can easily see that it is the thought and understand capacities of man’s nature that are in view.
What Solomon is putting forth is really about a three-fold truth regarding the righteous. The second part of the verse speaks to a similar, but basically contrasting premise. As to the first premise, it is evident that an “answer” is the goal being held up. Solomon is seeking to give directions toward this goal and they are:
1. First, there are answers available, but the spiritual character, righteousness, of the one seeking them is a key to its’ ultimate achievement.
2. Such answers are not attainable with the simple reading of a principle or two. It takes diligent study with a mind to the apprehension of such answers.
3. Also, study is not a goal unto itself, it is the gaining of the answers themselves that must be our aim.
4. It takes effort, diligently applied and rightly directly that is useful.
5. We might also note that the effort spoken of must be applied in proper fashion. Again we note that thee must study and that study must be of the proper subjects.
6. We should also say that the “answer” in view here will not just be apparent or obvious, it will only come into view if we are willing to study and seek it out.
7. One last item, Solomon is not talking about looking inward and deep thinking to take the “answers” from within ourselves. He is speaking of ordering and structuring his opinion via what he gets from his study.
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“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” – Proverbs 15:23 (Cf. 24:26; 25:11).
Just to begin, as we often do, we should put in our figuring that “man” or “male” rarely, in Proverbs, exclusives the reference made to those of the male sex. It is very often used to of “mankind”, the entire race. It has view as to gender, race or religion or anything of that nature. Solomon is here speaking to all of those who would seek to please the Lord and live in a way that's is pleasing to Him, reaping the rewards of Godly living. The word translated “man” in most version is actually very direct in the original – meaning “person” and is deliberately “non-specific. ‘We might make the argument that the word and the subsequent translations of the passage did have a bit of bent toward the males in Solomon’s audience given what the prejudices and predispositions of the time were. This not to excuse it, not at all' but rather to seek to explain it. It is this that Solomon did most often in the Book. He left the definition of the gender of the group he was speaking to be decided by the context of the verse. For instance, when he would speak of “man who is a father”, the context would demand that “man” be understood as referring to a male.
“Has” is actually a preposition and could be understood as meaning “with” making the verse implying a gained possession rather the acquiring of same. This first phrase of the verse tells us that this first section is the due result of the second part. Such ties are often used in the Book, Solomon, apparently was very good with grammar. By the mechanism mentioned in a moment one comes into the passion or enjoyment of “joy”. Joy, here, refers to everything from the common idea of intense happiness, to mirth, gladness or to the active idea of rejoicing or actively enjoy a thing or experience.
How does Solomon say this will come about? It comes about by “the answers of his mouth”. “By” is another preposition that suggests mechanism, and is used appropriately here. It is “by means of” the answers of the mouth that joy can come to the one offering those answers. Notice that he is not talking just about what we could call generic speaking. But rather he is talking about responses, answers given to input from others. Answer is a relatively infrequently used word in the OT, appearing only 8 times. There is an implication inherent to the word that suggests that this answer or response is given “for himself”.
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The heart of him that hath understanding seeks knowledge: but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.” - Proverbs 15:14 (Cf. ver. 21; 18:15).
Just by way of introduction, I want to notice that here, as well as a number of other passages in Proverbs, Solomon is speaking in an editorial fashion. In many places it in a more 1st personal manner, as in a father to a son. But here he speaks in a manner suggestive almost of a sermonic discourse. The first 14 verses of chapter 15 have been in much the same fashion. Prior to that there was a lot of discourse in the same fashion that we find here, an editorial commentary on what is wise versus what is foolish, how the two character qualities show themselves, etc.
He has already developed his use of the mechanisms that he speaks of here prior to this in the book.
1. He speaks of the heart of the wise man with the implication that the heart of the fool is basic opposite to what he says. “Heart”, as he has said a number of times earlier, speaks of the fullness of man’s being, his mind, his will, his emotions, even the way his thinking processes conduct themselves.
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"Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.”
—Proverbs 15:16 (Cf. ver. 6; 16:16).
This is one of the passages in Proverbs that shows the immense wisdom of Solomon in a way that is particularly contrary to the way of men in our day, and perhaps from all days. Solomon was a tremendously wealth man, as many “kings” have been, but Solomon was rich beyond virtually all of them. We might also note that it is likely that Solomon knew what he says in this verse in an experiential and practical sense as well as in a theoretical way. Just to comment, quite a number of the verses contained in Proverbs are what Solomon was taught by God via his walk and interaction with God over the years of his life. This is not to say that all that Solomon has to say is just empty pontificating. That is by no means so. What I mean here is that there may have never been a time when Solomon had “little”. It appears, from the testimony of the Bible that Solomon grew into the great wealth of his later days as he built the Temple.
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German Psychologist Erich Fromm said
“If I am what I have and I lose what I have, who then am I?”
Fromm, like many, many Psychologist and so-called “thinkers” were and are vastly confused about where someone gets their identity from. They believe it comes from some perception of self that originates with whatever they can think of or call a part of them. This could refer to anything from talents and abilities, to material things, to achievements their place in the social world around them. They draw their self image and identity, sadly from outside of themselves and especially, from outside of the reasons and cause that we were created and placed in the world to begin with.
Think about it for a moment. God created man, and even went so far as to create Adam and Eve in such a fashion as they were clearly interdependent and had to lean on each other to make it in the world around them and into which God had placed them. It is sadly true that sin entered the world due to Adam’s deliberate and rebellious sin and passed to all men as a part of the resulting curse of God. Eve was deceived by Satan/the serpent and partook of the “forbidden fruit”, but Adam’s sin was very much a function that he KNEW was forbidden by God.
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