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Notes on Proverbs

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PROVERBS

1:1-7 - Scripture speaks of different kinds of ‘wisdom’. In Proverbs, wisdom is closely associated with godliness. In Ecclesiastes, wisdom - viewed as mere human intelligence - is described as ‘meaningless, a chasing after the wind’ (1:12-18). This contrast is continued in the New Testament, where Paul describes Christ as our ‘Wisdom’, contrasting this Wisdom with ‘the wisdom of the world’ (1 Corinthians 1:18-25,30). The purpose of Proverbs is set out in its opening verses. Notice the vital connection between ‘understanding’ and ‘doing’ (2-3). We are to be ‘doers’ as well as ‘hearers’ of God’s Word (James 1:22). We are to ‘keep what is written’ in God’s Word (Revelation 1:3). The great theme of Proverbs is stated in verse 7: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge’. Christ is our Wisdom. We will never be wise unless we build our lives on Him (Matthew 7: 24-27).

1:8-19 - If we are to be saved, we must follow the Wisdom of the Proverbs: ‘Listen, my son, to your father's instruction’ (8). We must follow the ‘Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing’, the living Word, our Lord Jesus Christ (Church Hymnary, 191). Satan is seeking to destroy us - ‘let’s swallow them alive, like the grave’ (12). To ‘go along with’ those who do not honour the Lord Jesus Christ is to ‘rush into sin’ (15-16). To live by faith in Christ is to be ‘kept by the power of God’ for full salvation (1 Peter 1:5). There are choices to be made. You remain a fool if you choose not to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5-8). The fool is ‘a double-minded man’, trying to live for the Lord and for the world at the same time. Will you be wise or foolish? - The choice is yours. Remember this has more to do with the moral choices you make than with how ‘well educated’ you may be.

1:20-33 - This section begins with the words, ‘Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares’ (20) and ends with the words, ‘whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm’ (33). The Gospel is not to be kept to ourselves. Christ is to be proclaimed. Why is it so important that we tell others about our Saviour, Jesus Christ? - It is because He offers salvation to all who come to Him: ‘Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved’ (Romans 10:13). Later on, in Proverbs, we read. ‘he who wins souls is wise’ (11:30). Those who are wise will pray for a greater fulfilment of the Lord’s promise: ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses ...’ (Acts 1:8). Filled with the Holy Spirit, we will speak the Word of God boldly (Acts 4:31).

2:1-15 - There is a real call for spiritual growth here. We are to accept God's words, storing up His commands, turning our ears to wisdom and our hearts to understanding (1-2). If we are to grow in the fear and knowledge of God, we must pray for insight and understanding. These blessings are greater than silver and hidden treasure (3-5). In the Christian life, there is both promise and warning. There is God’s promise - you will be led in a way that ‘will be pleasant to your soul’ (10). There is His warning - make sure that you do not ‘leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways’ (13). It is very important that we take time to read God’s Word, since it is ‘the Lord’ who ‘gives wisdom’. We must listen for God’s Voice, speaking to us through Scripture (6). As we listen to Him, we will be led in ‘every good path’ - protected and victorious (7-9).

2:16-3:4 - We read the warning about ‘the adulteress’: ‘her house leads down to death’ (16-18). We also hear the warning of the Gospel: ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). We are told that ‘none who go to her return or attain the paths of life’ (19). Left to ourselves, none of us would return to God, none of us would find the way to life (Romans 3:10-12). Some seek ‘prosperity’ (1). They seek ‘a good name in the sight of... men’ (4). We must not, however, make these things the be-all and end-all. There is more to life than material possessions, more than high ratings in the popularity stakes. There is eternal life - ‘the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23) - and the forgiveness of sins - ‘justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:1).

3:5-18 - ‘Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18). If we are to know the Lord, we must come to an end of ourselves: ‘Be not wise in your own eyes’ (7), ‘do not rely on your own insight’ (5). True knowledge of God comes through faith: ‘Trust in the Lord...’ (5). True knowledge of God is heart-knowledge: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart’ (5). Knowing Christ involves growing in grace. We cannot get to know God apart from the grace of God working within us. Growth in grace is not always a smooth pathway (11-12; Hebrews 12:5-11). Never forget: ‘the Lord’s discipline’ is an expression of the Lord’s love. ‘Lord, You are more precious than silver, Lord, You are more costly than gold, Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds, And nothing I desire compares with You' (13-15; Mission Praise,447).

3:19-35 - ‘You will walk on your way securely... for the Lord will be your confidence’ (23,26). Trusting in the Lord, we are to say, ‘He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold’ (Job 23:10). Our faith is under threat. There is the danger of ‘sudden panic’ (25). We are faced with the ‘man of violence... the perverse man... the wicked... the scorners... fools’ (31-35). What are we to do? Even in the most testing and trying times, we must hold on to this: God is at work for our holiness - ‘Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy. Set apart for You, Lord, I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master, ready to do Your will’ (Songs of Fellowship, 475). Submitted to God’s holy purpose, we rejoice in this: Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:39).

4:1-9 - This is ‘a father’s instructions’ to his ‘sons’ (1). The father has been a ‘son’ (3). He has wrestled with temptation. He has needed the exhortation - ‘Let your heart hold fast...’ (4) - and the warning - ‘Do not turn away...’ (5). Now, we turn to the divine Father and Son. The Father does not keep His distance from us. Through the Son, He has come near to us. Through the Son, we come to the Father (John 14:9,6). When Scripture says, ‘Get wisdom’ (7), it means this: ‘Come to the Father through Jesus the Son’. Wisdom brings ‘a beautiful crown’, ‘the crown of righteousness’, ‘the unfading crown of glory’ (9; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4). Be wise. Be ready for the Lord’s Return (Matthew 25:1-13). ‘Purer... higher... greater - Our wonder, our worship, when Jesus we see!’ (Church Hymnary, 374).

4:10-19 - ‘The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day’ (18). Face the risen Son. His life in us is like the rising sun. It begins with ‘the first gleam of dawn’. It ‘shines ever brighter until the full light of day’'. Christ ‘dawns on us like the morning light’ (2 Samuel 23:4). In a moment of discovery, we say, ‘It’s just dawned on me’. It is very wonderful when Christ reveals Himself, when He brings us out of our darkness and into His light. This is just the beginning. There is so much more: ‘No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9). ‘Light has dawned that ever shall blaze... Light a flame within my heart... Let my flame begin to spread’ (Mission Praise, 422; Songs of Fellowship, 339).

4:20-27 - 'Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you' (25). Living the Christian life is like 'walking a tightrope' - We must 'not swerve to the right or to the left' (27; Deuteronomy 28:14; Joshua 1:7; 23:6). Looking straight ahead, 'let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith...'(Hebrews 12:2). In the face of life's many difficulties, you may ask, "Can I 'run with perseverance the race marked out for me' (Hebrews 12:1)?". Keep your eyes on your own capacity for perseverance - and you will be filled with thoughts of your own weakness. Keep your eyes on Christ and His preserving power (1 Peter 1:5; John 10:27-29; Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:37-39). You will grow strong - strengthened by Christ's Word: 'My grace is sufficient for you' (2 Corinthians 12:9).

5:1-14 - Being married: There are many temptations - the ‘loose woman’ (3-6). Be positive: Through ‘mutual love and respect’, let’s build ‘strong and happy’ marriages, in which ‘the marriage bond is honoured’. Singles: Don’t spoil everything by getting entangled with those who are ‘loose’ in their commitment to believing in and living for Jesus Christ! Bringing up children: There are many problems - the natural reaction of the child (11-12). Our children are to be brought up ‘in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4). We need the tenderness - ‘I don't condemn you’ - and firmness - ‘don’t sin’ - of Christ (John 8:11). Children: The natural reaction - ‘I hate discipline. I will not listen’ - is the sinful reaction. Pray for God's help - to ‘obey your parents in the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:1-3).

5:15-23 - There is teaching here concerning faithfulness in marriage: ‘may you rejoice in the wife of your youth... may you ever be captivated by her love (18-19). We may apply this teaching to our relationship with the Saviour. You loved Him so much in ‘your youth’. You were ‘rejoicing in Him’. You were ‘captivated by His love’. ‘You were doing so well’, but something happened - you have gone off course (Galatians 5:7-8). Is this the story of your life? Return to ‘your first love’ (Revelation 2:4-5). There is also a warning against unfaithfulness (20). This can also be applied to our relationship with Christ. He ‘loved us and gave Himself for us’. He calls us to be ‘holy... a radiant church’ (Ephesians 5:25-27). We belong to Him. Why settle for anything less than the Best, anything less than our Lord Jesus Christ.

6:1-15 - ‘Save yourself... like a bird from the hand of the fowler’ (5). ‘He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler’ (Psalm 91:3). In Scripture, we have both the promise of grace and the call to faith: ‘By grace you have been saved’ (Ephesians 2:5), ‘Your faith has saved you’ (Luke 7:50), ‘Keep yourselves in the love of God’, ‘To Him who is able to keep you from falling’ (Jude 21,24). Laugh at ‘the sluggard’ (6-11), but do not laugh too quickly or too long: You may be laughing at yourself! Looking at the sluggard is like looking into a mirror. We see so much of ourselves in him! ‘A worthless man, a wicked man’ - ‘He “fancies himself”. He’s “a chancer”’. He better watch out: God doesn’t share this man’s opinion of himself - ‘calamity will come... he will be broken beyond healing’ (15).

6:16-35 - God’s Word is our ‘lamp’ and ‘light’ (23; Psalm 119:105). It leads us in the way we are to go (22). It exposes the darkness of the ways we are to avoid. It shows us the ‘things that the Lord hates’, the things which are ‘an abomination to Him’ (16). Why does God list the ‘things’ which are not pleasing to Him? He wants us to watch how we live. He wants us to keep on choosing His way. We must not allow things to drift. Keep God’s Word in ‘your heart always’ (21). Let ‘the reproofs of discipline’ keep you from straying (23). The world tells us, ‘Anything goes. Do what you like. It doesn’t matter how you live’. God’s Word speaks about sin: There is ‘no sense’ in it. It is the way of self-destruction. It will not ‘go unpunished’ (32,29). Be careful to obey God in everything.

7:1-27 - The way of obedience is the way of life: ‘keep My commandments and live’ (2). This is not a shallow legalism. It is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is ‘walking in the Spirit’. It is living as ‘a new creation’. We do not glory in our own obedience. We ‘glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 5:16; 6:16,14). Obedience is a mark of spiritual maturity. The ‘mature’ are ‘those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil’ (Hebrews 5:14). In His Word, God shows us how we are to live and how we are not to live. We must ‘listen’ to God. We must ‘be attentive’ to His Word, thinking on and doing ‘these things’ which will glorify Him (24; Philippians 4:8-9). ‘Sin so easily entangles... let us fix our eyes on Jesus’ (25-27; Hebrews 12:1-2).

8:1-36 - Hoping for ‘good luck’, some people expect good things to happen to them - all the time! God says, ‘Seek wisdom. Be ready for the hard times’. Wisdom comes from God. He speaks to us with words of wisdom (2:6; 6-8). Wisdom is not only for ‘kings and rulers, princes and nobles’. It is for everyone who loves the Lord (15-17). Wisdom calls us to choose good rather than evil, life rather than death (13,35-36; Hebrews 5:14; Deuteronomy 30:19). The way of wisdom is the way of happiness (32-34). Our path may not be paved with gold. Wisdom is better than ‘silver, gold and jewels’ (10-11). Christ is our Wisdom. Receiving Him, we receive wisdom. Growing in Him, we grow in wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:6). As you rejoice in Christ, remember: ‘He who wins souls is wise’ (11:30). Don’t keep Wisdom to yourself. Share Christ with others.

9:1-18 - There is, in verse 5, a Gospel invitation: ‘Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed’. We eat bread. We drink wine. We remember our Saviour (Matthew 26: 26-29). ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (10). ‘This sounds so old-fashioned’ - so the world tells us. ‘The fear of the Lord’ - This is something we must not forget. If we do not fear the Lord, we will forget Him. If we forget Him, we are fools. What is foolishness? Is it a lack of education? No! - It is a lack of obedience. When we do not ‘honour’ God, we are ‘without sense’. ‘Claiming to be wise’, we show that we are ‘fools’. If we are wise, we will keep ‘going straight on the way’, looking always to Jesus Christ who is the true and living Way. He leads us from ‘the depths of hell’ to the heights of heaven (13-18; Romans 1:21-22; John 14:2,6).

10:1-22 - What a difference there is between the ‘wise’ and the ‘foolish’. It is the difference between ‘righteousness’ and ‘wickedness’ (1-2). Throughout life, there are choices to be made. We may choose wisely, being led by the Lord ‘in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake’. We may choose foolishly, going ‘astray’, refusing to ‘call upon the Lord’ (Psalms 23:3-4; 14:2-4). We must be very careful about the choices we make. There is a ‘way that leads to life’ and a ‘way that leads to destruction’ (16-17; Matthew 7:13-14). ‘Flee from the wrath to come’. Choose Christ. Choose life. ‘He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him’ (Matthew 3:7; John 3:36).Choose Him now. ‘Now is the day of salvation’ (2 Corinthians 6:2).

10:23-11:11 - ‘With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbour’ (9) - This kind of thing is going on all the time! There is no respect for the ‘neighbour’. An easy target, he is treated with contempt. He is slandered without mercy. It is not without reason that God’s Word says to us, ‘The tongue is a fire… With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men… My brethren, this ought not to be so’ (James 3:6-10). God knows what we are like. We ‘destroy’ people with ‘the tongue’. It is character assassination. What drastic effects this kind of thing can have: ‘a city… is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked’! Can the blessing return again? God’s Word is clear - ‘By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted’ - , but we must learn to speak and live as ‘the upright’ and not as ‘the wicked’ (11).

11:12-31 - ‘He who wins souls is wise’ (30). ‘He who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward’ (18). Righteousness is not purely a private matter. God’s Word tells us that ‘those who turn many to righteousness shall shine like stars for ever and ever’ (Daniel 12:3). Winning others for Jesus Christ is not easy. To those who commit themselves to this great work, God gives His precious promise: ‘He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him’ (Psalm 126:6). In this work, we must remember: It is not what we do that makes the real difference. It is the Lord working through us. Never forget: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain’ (Psalm 127:1). Always remember: When our work is done ‘in the Lord’, it is never ‘in vain’ (1 Corinthians 15:58).

12:1-14 - The Word of God shows us the way we are not to go as well as the way we are to go. We are told that ‘the root of the righteous stands firm’ (12). We are warned: ‘he who follows worthless pursuits has no sense’ (11). Do you have any sense? Here’s the most sensible thing you could ever do: Let ‘Christ dwell in your heart through faith’. Be ‘rooted and grounded in love… the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge’. Does it make any sense to live a life of emptiness - ‘worthless pursuits’ - when you can be filled with all the fullness of God’? What sense is there in living a life that amounts to nothing - ‘worthless pursuits’ - when you can have ‘His power at work within you’? There are two ways: the way of giving ‘glory to God’ and the way of ‘no sense’ (Ephesians 3:17-21). Only one ‘Way’ makes sense - Christ (John 14:6).

12:15-28 - What harm can be done by ‘reckless words’ (18). We need to take care how we speak. As those who belong to Christ, we have a special responsibility. We are to ‘witness’ for Him. We are to give our ‘testimony’, declaring what He has done for us. We are to speak of the ‘one thing’ that is more important than anything else - what the Lord has done for us: ‘I used to be blind, but now I can see’ (John 9:25). This is what the Lord has done for us - ‘He has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (1 Peter 2:9). There is a better way than the way of ‘lying lips’ (22). When the ‘lying tongue’ has no more to say for itself, there will be one confession of faith which will remain forevermore: ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’. This confession brings ‘glory’ to ‘God the Father’. Let it be your confession of faith: ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ (19; Philippians 2:11).

13:1-11 - ‘The light of the righteous rejoices’ (9). Jesus is our Light. He is ‘the Light of the world’. In Him we rejoice. Through Him, ‘we have now received reconciliation’. We are no longer walking in darkness. We are walking in the light with Him, giving thanks to God that ‘the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin’ (John 8:12; Romans 5:11; 1 John 1:7). What a wonderful thing God has done for us in Christ. He has ‘called us out of darkness into His marvellous light’. Let us ‘declare His praises’, rejoicing in His great love, His rich mercy and His saving grace (1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 2:4-5). Keep on rejoicing! There is light at the end of the tunnel - even when you have ‘to suffer grief in all kinds of trials’. Don`t lose sight of ‘the goal of your faith’ - ‘the salvation of your souls’ (1 Peter 1:6-9).

13:12-25 - What do you do with the Word of God? How do you respond to the Word of God? What a difference there is between those who respect God’s Word and those who despise His Word. We have here a word of warning - ‘He who despises the Word brings destruction on himself’ and a word of promise - ‘he who respects the commandment will be rewarded’ (13). Those who keep on ignoring God’s Word are putting themselves in great danger - ‘He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck will suddenly be broken beyond healing’ (29:1). Those who take God’s Word seriously will find ‘great reward’ - God’s Word ‘revives the soul’, ‘makes wise the simple’, ‘rejoices the heart’ and ‘enlightens the eyes’. May your heart often meditate on His Word. May your mouth often speak His Word (Psalm 19:11,7-8,14).

14:1-19 - ‘A perverse man will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man with the fruit of his deeds’ (14). Jesus speaks to us about ‘good fruit’ and ‘bad fruit’. He warns us not to be deceived by those who have no real love for Him: ‘You will know them by their fruits’ (Matthew 7:15-20). How does good fruit grow in the ‘tree’ of our lives? - ‘Blessed is the man... whose delight is in the law of the Lord... He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season’ (Psalm 1:1-3). There is good fruit to be enjoyed when we take delight in the Word of the Lord. There is bad fruit to be thrown away. Let’s throw away the bad fruit - ‘...strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness...’ - and enjoy the good fruit - ‘love, joy, peace...’. Let ‘the fruit of the Spirit’grow in you - ‘be filled with the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:19-24; Ephesians 5:18).

14:20-35 - ‘Righteousness lifts up a nation, but sin is a disgrace in any society’ (34). Our nation can flourish again - by the preaching of God’s Word and the praising of God’s Name. Times of blessing can come again - if we will listen to God’s Word and sing His praise. Times of blessing will not come if we refuse to listen to the Lord, if we will not worship Him. We are living in difficult times - ‘dark powers are poised to flood our streets with hate and fear’. We must learn to see things as God sees them - ‘You stand appalled to see Your laws of love so scorned and lives so broken. Pray for mercy - ‘Have mercy, Lord’. Pray for revival - ‘Revive Your Church again’. Pray that Christ’s ‘glorious Cross shall tower triumphant in this land’. Pray that ‘righteousness’ will flow ‘like a never-failing stream’ (Mission Praise, 509).

15:1-33 - ‘The path of life leads upward for the wise’ (24). The wisdom which leads upward is centred on Christ. He is the Way to the ‘Father’s House’ (John 14:2-3,6). ‘Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it’ (17). Jesus teaches us the way to live wisely: ‘lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven’ (Matthew 6:20) - ‘I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold, I’d rather be His than have riches untold...’ (Mission Praise, 319). ‘The lips of the wise spread knowledge’ (7). Christ is our Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). We must not keep Him to ourselves. Share Him with others. Let people know that Jesus is your Saviour. Let them know that He is your Lord. Don’t just ‘believe in your heart’. ‘Confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord’ (Romans 10:9). Your words will help others to find Him.

16:1-17 - ‘Wisdom is better than gold... understanding is to be chosen rather than silver’ (16). What is wisdom? In 1 Corinthians 1:30, we learn that Jesus Christ is Wisdom. To find Jesus Christ is to find Wisdom. How do we find Jesus Christ? How do we find Wisdom? Jesus tells us - ‘Seek and you will find’ (Matthew 7:7). For so many of us, the most important thing is getting on in the world. Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth... lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven’ (Matthew 6:19-20). Which world is more important to you - this world or the world to come? Jesus puts this question to every one of us. This is the question we must answer. May God help us to give this answer - ‘I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold... I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today’ (Mission Praise, 319).

16:18-33 - What a difference there is between a self-centred life and a God-centred life. Where does the self-centred life lead us? - ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death’ (25). Is there a better way, a way that leads to true happiness? Yes! There is the God-centred way: ‘He who gives heed to the Word will prosper, and happy is he who trusts in the Lord’ (20). True happiness does not come to those who seek it in the things of this world. It comes to those who seek the Lord. ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey’ (Mission Praise, 760). God invites us to choose between two very different ways - our own way and His way: ‘the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23). Choose Christ!

17:1-12 - What kind of people are we to be? What kind of life are we to live? We are to be God’s people - people who are learning to live a life of ‘love’ (9). How do we learn what love is like? We learn from God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father loves us - ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son...’ (John 3:16). In the Son, we see perfect love - ‘The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). Through the Spirit, our lives are filled with love - ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love’ (Galatians 5:22). We can only be an influence for love if we are learning to be influenced by love. We are to be people ‘under the Influence’. We are to live our lives under the influence of God’s love. This is the Godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled life - the life of love.

17:13-28 - ‘A friend loves at all times’ (17). Jesus speaks of His love for us - ‘Greater love has no man than thia, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ - and our love for Him - ‘You are My friends if you do what I command you’ (John 15:13-14). His love comes first. Our love is a response to His love: ‘We love, because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). Jesus didn’t wait until we obeyed His Word perfectly before He laid down His life for us: ‘God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). He didn’t start loving us because we started loving Him. He loved us long before we ever thought of loving Him. He loves us. He died for us. We are to love Him. We are to live for Him. His love is a perfect love. Our love is to be a growing love.

18:1-24 - ‘The fountain of wisdom is an overflowing stream’ (4). ‘The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 1:14). This is the ‘wisdom’ we must seek - the wisdom which receives ‘salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Timothy 3:15). True wisdom finds its overflowing joy in the Saviour: ‘The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe’ (10). We rejoice in Jesus. He is God’s Son - ‘You shall call His Name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High’ (Luke 1:31-32). He is our Saviour - ‘You shall call His Name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21). He is ‘the Friend who sticks closer than a brother’ (24). Jesus is God’s Son. Be wise. Let Him be your Saviour and Friend.

19:1-29 - ‘The fear of the Lord leads to life’ (23). ‘The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him’ (Psalm 25:14). What a strange combination - friendship and fear! We ask, ‘How can there be friendship where there is fear?’. Here, we have a special kind of friendship - ‘the friendship of the Lord’ - and a special kind of fear - ‘the fear of the Lord’. Why is this friendship and fear so special? It’s because the Lord is special! He is the God of perfect holiness - ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty’. We must come before Him in ‘the fear of the Lord’ - ‘Woe is me! I am undone; I am a man of unclean lips...’. He is the God of perfect love. He calls us into friendship with Himself - ‘Your guilt is taken away and your sin forgiven’ (Isaiah 6:3,5,7). We rejoice in ‘the friendship of the Lord’. Let us respect Him with ‘the fear of the Lord’.

20:1-30 - ‘Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; whoever is led astray by it is not wise’ (1). We need to learn the truth of these words - before it’s too late! There is a better way than the way of drunkenness. It is the way of being filled with the Holy Spirit: ‘Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18). We must not ‘live according to the flesh’. God calls us to ‘live according to the Spirit’. He warns us against making the wrong choice: ‘To set the mind on the flesh is death’. He shows us the way of blessing: ‘To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace’. ‘Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth’. May God help us to turn from ‘the works of the flesh’ and seek ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (Romans 8:5-6; Colossians 3:2; Galatians 5:19-23).

21:1-31 - ‘The victory belongs to the Lord’ (31). When defeat seems inevitable, God comes to us with His Word of encouragement: ‘The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save, a Warrior who gives victory. He will take great delight in you. He will renew you in His love. He will rejoice over you with singing’ (Zephaniah 3:17). God’s Word shows us the way of victory. It is the way of faith in our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?’ (1 John 5:4). God ‘gives victory’ to us. We must receive His victory by ‘faith’. Living for Christ is never easy - ‘In this world you will have trouble’. Don’t let this get you down. Jesus says, ‘Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).

22:1-29 - ‘So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you’ (19). Many people say, ‘It’s not for me’. They know that others have been greatly blessed through reading God’s Word. Still, they do not take the trouble to read God’s Word for themselves. They can’t be bothered. Receiving God’s blessing doesn’t really matter that much to them. Don’t miss out on God’s blessing. God’s Word is for ‘you’. It’s not just for somebody else. It’s for you - ‘even you’. Some people say, ‘I’ll read God’s Word tomorrow’. When ‘tomorrow’ comes around, they’re still saying the same thing - ‘I’ll read God’s Word tomorrow’! Sadly, their ‘tomorrow’ never comes. They never get round to reading God’s Word. They’re missing out on so much. Don’t say, ‘I’ll leave it till tomorrow’. Read God’s Word ‘today’.

23:1-18 - ‘Continue in the fear of the Lord all day long. Let reverence for the Lord be the concern of your life’. To those who put Him first in their lives, God gives His great promise of blessing, ‘There is surely a future hope for you. You have a bright future. Surely you have a wonderful future ahead of you’ (17-18). What a glorious future lies ahead of those who love the Lord: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9)! We must not become ‘short-sighted’. We must look ahead to ‘the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’. God has given us ‘His very great and precious promises’. Let us press on in ‘faith’, becoming more and more ‘active and effective in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 1:3-11).

23:19-35 - ‘Keep your heart on the right path’ (19). How are we to do this? We must seek ‘truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding’ (23). We must give our hearts to Christ. He is ‘the Truth’ (John 14:6). We must open our hearts to Christ. He is ‘our Wisdom’ (1 Corinthians 1:30). Opening our hearts will mean opening our Bibles. Giving our hearts to Christ will mean giving time to reading God’s Word. As we read ‘the Scriptures’, we will receive ‘instruction’. We will learn about ‘salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’. We will receive ‘instruction for right living’ (2 Timothy 3:14-17). As we read God’s Word, we must pray that the Holy Spirit will give us ‘understanding’ (1 Corinthians 2:9-13). ‘Be filled with the Spirit’. ‘Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly’ (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16).

24:1-14 - ‘Wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, there is a future hope for you’ (14). How do we find wisdom? We read the written Word of God, seeking God’s promised blessing: ‘The law of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul. The Lord’s instruction never fails. and makes the simple wise’. As we read God’s written Word, keeping our eyes fixed on Christ, the living ‘Word’ of God’, we discover that He is the ‘Wisdom’ which is ‘sweeter than honey’and we rejoice in Him, our ‘Hope of glory’ - ‘You believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls’ (John 1:1-2,14; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Psalm 19:7,10; Colossians 1:27; 1 Peter 1:8). ‘Ask God’ for ‘wisdom’.‘Seek and you will find’ (James 1:5-8; Matthew 7:7).

24:15-34 - ‘Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again’ (15). We are ‘kept by the power of God’. We do not raise ourselves. It is the Lord who is ‘able to keep us from falling’. He ‘knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations’ (1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24; 2 Peter 2:9). When our ‘faith’ is ‘tested by fire’, we must pray that God will give us His victory: ‘Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace’ (1 Peter 1:6-7;Daniel 3:17). When our strength is almost gone, the Lord comes with His Word: ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9), ‘Amazing grace!... Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home’ (Mission Praise, 31).

25:1-28 - ‘The Lord will reward you’ (22). The work done by God’s servants is tested by fire: ‘the fire will test what sort of work each one has done’. There is work of real ‘quality’ - ‘gold, silver, precious stones’. There is work which has no real value - ‘wood, hay, straw’. God wants us to think about the work we do in His Name. We are to ‘remove the dross from the silver’ (4). We are not to be content with superficial work which does not lead to changed lives. Our words are to be ‘apples of gold in a setting of silver’. They are to be words of wisdom, words which are ‘better than fine gold’, words which ‘surpass choice silver’ (11; 8:19). We are to bring God’s Word -‘good news’ - and God’s Spirit -‘rivers of living water’ - to our hearers (25; 1 Peter 1:12,23-25; John 7:37-39).

26:1-28 - ‘There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!’ (13). This is the voice of fear speaking. We need to speak with the voice of faith - ‘I believed, and so I spoke’ (2 Corinthians 4:13). We know that ‘the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour’. The devil can fill us with fear. We must not let him do this. We must face him with faith - ‘Resist him, standing firm in the faith’ (1 Peter 5:8-9). When we ‘resist the devil’, standing firm in the faith, ‘he will flee from us’ (James 4:7). Let us face the ‘roaring lion’ with faith in an even more powerful ‘Lion’. Jesus Christ - ‘the Lion of Judah’ - ‘has conquered’ Satan. He ‘has triumphed’ over him (Revelation 5:5). May Christ’s ‘perfect love drive out our fear’ (1 John 4:18).

27:1-27 - ‘Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring’ (1). God speaks to us about today. He says, ‘Now is the day of salvation’. Today, we are in ‘the valley of decision’. We must make up our mind about Jesus Christ. Today may be your last opportunity to act on God’s precious promise: ‘Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved’ (Joel 3:14; 2:32; Acts 2:21). Tomorrow may be too late. Your life may be over before tomorrow comes. Tomorrow, you may hear God’s Word of judgment: ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you evildoers!’. Tomorrow, you may face ‘eternal punishment’ (Matthew 7:23; 25:46). Tomorrow need not be a day of judgment. Choose Christ today. Let today be your ‘day of salvation’.

28:1-28 - ‘Blessed is the one who always fears the Lord. If you harden your heart, you will be ruined’ (14). The blessing of God comes to us through the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Saviour: ‘The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes’. To those who refuse to come to Christ and receive His salvation, God issues His solemn warning: ‘Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the Day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed’ (Romans 1:16; 2:5). We receive ‘salvation’ through faith in Christ, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’. Those who reject Christ and His salvation must face ‘the wrath of the Lamb’ (John 1:29; Revelation 7:10; 6:16).

29:1-27 - ‘The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern’. So many people have a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude. They have stopped listening to God’s Word and they have lost interest in living God’s way - ‘Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint’. For those who are ignoring God, refusing to listen to His Word and turning away from the pathway of obedience, God has a stern Word of warning: ‘If you get more stubborn every time you are corrected, one day you will be crushed and never recover’. God is calling us to leave the pathway of disobedience and disaster and walk in the way of obedience and blessing: ‘Blessed is he who keeps the law’ (7,1,18).

30:1-33 - In verse 5, we learn about God’s Word. His Word is ‘true’. His Word is ‘pure’. His Word is full of blessing for those who ‘put their trust in Him’. Trusting in Him , we learn that ‘His Word is truth’. God’s Word is full of blessing for those who ‘live according to His Word’. Living in obedience to His Word, we find that His Word makes us ‘pure’. Through His Word of truth, God leads us in the pathway of holiness, Jesus prays for us: ‘Make them pure and holy through teaching them Your Words of truth’. God’s Word is ‘more precious than gold’. May God help us to ‘hide His Word in our hearts that we might not sin against Him’ (John 17:17; Psalms 19:10; 119:9,11).

31:1-31 - ‘A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies... Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised’ (10,30). We are to seek ‘treasures in heaven’ rather than ‘treasures on earth’ (Matthew 6:19-21). The riches of this world will not last for ever: ‘All your riches and splendour have vanished, never to be recovered... “Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!”’. There is one treasure which lasts forever - the treasure of salvation. Let us praise our Saviour: ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and power and glory belong to our God’ (Revelation 18:14-17; 19:1).

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