Lucia's Blog: July 2017
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

ABIGAIL'S INSIGHT SAVED THE DAY

"Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.  Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.  The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight."  
Proverbs 4:5-7


Abigail was a beautiful woman, but we do not remember her for her beauty. We remember her for the grace and wisdom of her words that saved the lives of her loved ones and blessed the future king of Israel.  Let us take another look at the lessons that Abigail teaches us.

As I study the Proverbs, I see that wisdom, understanding, and strength are vital character traits. As I read them, Abigail's godly example of wisdom and strength come to mind.  Abigail's great insight will be my focal point in this study.  Although the Bible gives us little background about this great woman of God, we can conclude from reading her story that she was a woman of strength, courage, intelligence, integrity, and insight.  Her story reveals a woman who understood her place, acted with decisiveness and integrity.  The Scriptures present her as a beautiful and intelligent woman, whose lot in life was to be married to a rich fool. Abigail manifests her wisdom and determination to save others from disaster.  Wisdom acts immediately when there is danger.  Lady Wisdom cannot afford to stand by and watch destruction that can be avoided.  Abigail's example shows the importance of choosing the right words, wise words, that are necessary when speaking in tense situations. Harsh, loud words are catalysts that produce an unnecessary explosion. They drive many to actions that they will later have to regret.  In contrast, calm, gentle, carefully calculated words can lead to a peaceful resolution of the crisis. This lesson's golden message deserves careful attention:
"A gentle (soft) answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger."  (Proverbs 15:1)

As we read through the few pages of this beautiful story, it is easy to capture the attitudes and actions of three persons. One doesn't hesitate to spout inflammatory words without any regard to potential consequences. Another hears the words and, in haste, chooses to retaliate with far-reaching implications.  But standing between them, there is a woman who immediately grasps the entire setting. Therefore, she hastens to bring a peaceful end which, in the long run, will bring blessings to her and those around her.  There is much to learn from Abigal's story.  Our attitude of heart is critical when evil assails us.  And though our personalities and emotional levels may differ, we must strive to be calm, peaceful and collected.  Thus, it is wise to think twice before speaking.  Abigail's insight protected both her current husband and the man who later became her husband. Abigail seized the information given, understood what needed to be done, and then did it.

 "WISDOM" is mentioned at least 45 times in the Book of Proverbs.  Have you ever wondered why some teeth are called "wisdom teeth?"  We call them "wisdom teeth" because we get them at the onset of maturity.  Throughout the Bible, wisdom, and understanding are always found hand in hand.  "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of both wisdom and understanding."  (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10).  Although the two words seem to be used interchangeably, wisdom more often refers to the practical application of understanding.


I.  DETERMINED ACTION:   (1 Samuel 25:2-19)

  • David's Request:
"Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And it came about while he was shearing his sheep in Carmel 3 (now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite), 4 that David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 5 So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, 'Go up to Carmel, visit Nabal and greet him in my name; 6 and thus you shall say, ‘Have a long life, peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 7 Now I have heard that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us and we have not insulted them, nor have they missed anything all the days they were in Carmel. 8 Ask your young men and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we have come on a festive day. Please give whatever you find at hand to your servants and to your son David.’  9 When David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in David’s name; then they waited.'"  (1 Samuel 25:2-9)

The story of Abigail takes place during David's "outlaw" years when he and his men were fugitives from King Saul. David had to run from King Saul's madness.  Samuel the prophet had just died, leaving his country to mourn his death.  David and his six hundred men took refuge in the wilderness of Paran near Carmel.  Saul's forces pursued David, but he successfully escaped them despite Saul's spies located in various parts of the country.  In Carmel, there was a wealthy man named Nabal who raised sheep and goats.  Nabal was Abigail's rude, impolite, and stubborn husband.  He lacked wisdom, the wisdom that his wife Abigail possessed.  Having many sheep and goats required many shepherds to provide them with proper care. Thanks to David and his men, Nabal's flocks and herds were well protected from the Ishmaelites who wanted to steal and cause harm. David and his men were on the run and could have simply taken the herds to supply their needs or perhaps demand payment for their services.  Yet, they chose to be valiant and noble.  They instead cared for and protected the flocks that camped nearby.  Imagine the effort to shear the sheep and then care for the wool.  The shearing time is a time for festivity. Since shearing is similar in importance to harvest for a farmer, he is there for this significant shearing event.  I wonder if his parents gave him the name Nabal"fool," or if it was conferred on him later in life?

The differences in personality between Nabal and his wife are pronounced. She is both beautiful and intelligent. Her name means "whose father is joy." On the other hand, there is her husband. He is "harsh and evil" (v. 3).   He lived up to his name, "fool."  Knowing that Nabal is in the area, David sends ten men to greet him and request provisions at this time of festivity.  They approached him with wishes of health and long life.  They point out their treatment of his shepherds and that no animals were missing. It means David and his men did not simply take animals for their personal use like some fugitives would have.  Notice that David made no specific request other than what Nabal could have spared at this celebration time.

  • Nabal's Response: 
"But Nabal answered David’s servants and said, 'Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master. 11 Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?' 12 So David’s young men retraced their way and went back; and they came and told him according to all these words. 13 David said to his men, 'Each of you gird on his sword.' So each man girded on his sword. And David also girded on his sword, and about four hundred men went up behind David while two hundred stayed with the baggage.'"  (1 Samuel 25:10-13)

Nabal not only refused David's request but also mocked, ridiculed and insulted David.  He likewise questioned David's character and anointing as future king.  Nabal harshly dismissed David's request. He phrased his insult as a question, "Who is David?" Who wouldn't know of the hero who brought victory to Israel by defeating Goliath? How could Nabal even pretend not to know the one whom the women praised in song (1 Samuel 18:7)? Nabal's response suggests David was merely a traitor to the king of Israel, a rebel. What a slap in the face to the messengers and their leader!

The wealthy Nabal would not have any problem complying with David’s request for provisions. Nevertheless, he chose to be foolish, even insulting and certainly lacking in generosity.   Nabal expresses no appreciation for the services rendered to his men and property. He wants to serve only himself.  His behavior infuriates David.  In a fit of rage, David ordered two-thirds of his army (400 men) to strap on their swords and prepare for battle.  Here we see an angry David who let his bruised ego overcome his wise and righteous judgment.  Meanwhile one of Nabal's servants approached Abigail for help.  Here is where we begin to see Abigail's strength and character shine through.   Had it not been for Abigail's wisdom, David would have accomplished his plan of destruction.

  • Abigail's Efforts:
"But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, 'Behold, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, and he scorned them. 15 Yet the men were very good to us, and we were not insulted, nor did we miss anything as long as we went about with them, while we were in the fields. 16 They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the time we were with them tending the sheep. 17 Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.' 18 Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread and two jugs of wine and five sheep already prepared and five measures of roasted grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 She said to her young men, 'Go on before me; behold, I am coming after you.' But she did not tell her husband Nabal.'"  (1 Samuel 25:14-19)

When one of the young men, servants, informed Abigail of the events, she understands this is a crisisShe immediately acts to avoid an unnecessary catastrophe. Abigail becomes the source of wisdom and reason for her household.  She knew, understood her place as the wife and protector of her home.  Nabal was a thoughtless, self-absorbed and arrogant man. Abigail was reasonable, wise and prudent both in word and actions.  What a contrast!

Abigail did not waste time worrying about what to do next.  She went to work, trying to rectify this ugly situation.  Indeed, she was a smart woman who didn't have to mull over possible options.  She understood the gravity of the situation and potential impact instantly.  Time was of the essence. Therefore, she went to work rapidly, putting a plan into action to save her household.  She knew that it was not profitable to scold her husband, Nabal for being such a fool.  She acknowledged she needed to act decisively with the hope of saving her husband's life.  The future was in Abigail's hands. Disaster was coming on them. Perhaps, some tried to speak to Nabal about the situation.  I can assure you it would have accomplished nothing. Stubborn, obstinate, egotistical men do not change their minds! Or, if they do, it is under considerable pressure of the more powerful.

So, what does Abigail do?  She quickly gathers food supplies as a gift for David and his men. Once the donkeys are loaded, she sends them on ahead. Possibly she needed some extra time to be prepared adequately for the meeting. All this takes place without Nabal's knowledge. More than likely he is out supervising or observing the shearing.


II.   WISE COUNSEL:   (1 Samuel 25:20-31)

  • David's Intent:
"It came about as she was riding on her donkey and coming down by the hidden part of the mountain, that behold, David and his men were coming down toward her; so she met them. 21 Now David had said, 'Surely in vain I have guarded all that this man has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; and he has returned me evil for good. 22 May God do so to the enemies of David, and more also, if by morning I leave as much as one male of any who belong to him.'"  (1 Samuel 25:20-22)

According to this passage, David's thoughts are very evident. He realizes the worthlessness of all his good deeds toward Nabal.  His care for Nabal's property and flocks brought nothing more than railing insults.  Evidently, Nabal was a wealthy, self-centered person.  In David's mind, this kind of evil answer deserves the most severe retribution.   So, he decides to attack Nabal's encampment and kill all the males. Then, David and his men could take all the needed supplies.  Abigail meets David in this vengeful environment.  It is interesting how the  Scriptures describe the exact location of their meeting. The mountain ravine provides a narrow place guaranteeing their coming face-to-face.

  • Abigail's Intercession: 
"When Abigail saw David, she hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David and bowed herself to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said, 'On me alone, my lord, be the blame. And please let your maidservant speak to you, and listen to the words of your maidservant. 25 Please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him; but I your maidservant did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.'"  (1 Samuel 25:23-25)

Abigail's action proved her wisdom and determination.  This is a make-or-break situation.   She acknowledged that to stop the shedding of innocent blood, she would have to intercept and persuade David from his intended purpose.  I'm sure Nabal deserved David's wrath.  Abigail recognized who David was; a servant of the LORD.  She immediately set out to intercept David carrying generous gifts and provisions.  When she approached David, Abigail dismounts from her donkey and offers the bow of greatest humility. Instead of remaining on her feet,  she prostrates herself at David's feet. She bowed down to the ground pleading for the life of her husband.  She acknowledged to David her husband's rude behavior and sought grace on his behalf.  Notice her intercession. In an attempt to ward off the bloodshed and save innocent lives, she asks for the blame to be hers. Though having nothing to do with what took place, she willingly offered herself as the culprit.  Only after setting the stage does she ask David to disregard the words and actions of her husband. What a contrast between Abigail's wise humility and Nabal's foolish pride and arrogance!  Abigail's words in verse 25 indicate her husband is a person, who is worthless or without profit. She points out how his name fulfills his actions. A fool makes foolish decisions and choices.  Working as the intercessor and mediator, Abigail says she is different from her husband, and that things would have been different.

  • Abigail's Counsel:   
"Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, since the Lord has restrained you from shedding blood, and from avenging yourself by your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek evil against my lord, be as Nabal. 27 Now let this gift which your maidservant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who accompany my lord. 28 Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant; for the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil will not be found in you all your days. 29 Should anyone rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, then the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; but the lives of your enemies He will sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30 And when the Lord does for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and appoints you ruler over Israel, 31 this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my lord, both by having shed blood without cause and by my lord having avenged himself. When the Lord deals well with my lord, then remember your maidservant."  (1 Samuel 25:26-31)

Now, a significant shift comes into the conversation. Abigail goes beyond a wife and intercedes for her husband and household. She becomes a messenger of the Lord.  She shares an understanding of God's purpose and David's future status as king.  In verse 26 she points out to David how the Lord wants to keep him from bloodshed.  It is an example of God's care and protection in David's life. For this reason, the future king should be thankful.  Then she proceeds with a blessing on David (a condemnation of all his enemies in the future).  It did happen during David's reign when he defeated all enemies everywhere.  There was indeed peace when Solomon (David's son) took his place as his successor.   Isn't it something that the people that you associate with make a difference in life?! In this instance, Abigail wants David's blessing to extend to David's men, (v. 27). They too have been saved from killing the innocent. She desires David's future success to be poured out on them.

In verse 28 she identifies herself once again with the actions of her husband as though they were hers. Then she assures David he will become Israel's king. The anointing of at least a decade earlier will be fulfilled. The phrase "an enduring house" speaks of a dynasty. Several years into David's reign, God assures him of an everlasting family member being on the throne, (2 Samuel 7).  The Lord was going to partner with David and help him fight his battles. This didn't take away David's involvement and efforts. David can be assured of  Saul's inability ("29 Should anyone rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, then the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; but the lives of your enemies He will sling out as from the hollow of a sling") to thwart his rise to the throne.  In verse 31, she urges David not to engage in vengeful actions, which in the future, would bring considerable grief. David would bear the stain of the blood of innocent victims on his hands. Now, thanks to the intervention of Abigail, he can face the future with a clean heart.  She concludes her words requesting David to remember her when he was on his throne.


III.   COURAGE REWARDED:   (1 Samuel 25:32-42)

  • David's Acceptance:
"Then David said to Abigail, 'Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, 33 and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand. 34 Nevertheless, as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from harming you, unless you had come quickly to meet me, surely there would not have been left to Nabal until the morning light as much as one male.' 35 So David received from her hand what she had brought him and said to her, “Go up to your house in peace. See, I have listened to you and granted your request.'"  (1 Samuel 25:32-35)

David responds with an immediate and positive answer to Abigail's plea.  We see a grateful David toward God and then to Abigail.  David recognizes the hand of God in this situation. He praises this wise and godly woman for taking immediate action and for wanting to stop the bloodshed of innocent lives.  If it had not been for Abigal's wise and prudent interventionDavid would have destroyed Nabal and all his household. She stood in the gap, protecting both parties. Her decisive, wise and prudent action makes it possible for others to continue living.  What a remarkable woman of God!  In verse 35, David accepts the provisions brought from Abigail and instructs her to go home in peace. There was nothing to fear. David humbly heeds her words and request.

  • Nabal's Death:
"Then Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; so she did not tell him anything at all until the morning light. 37 But in the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him so that he became as a stone. 38 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died."  (1 Samuel 25:36-38)

Upon arriving home from intercepting David, Abigail finds it hard to speak to Nabal concerning her actions and David's intent. Nabal is in the middle of a feast celebrating as though he were a king. Perhaps he is celebrating another successful sheep-shearing with the resulting profit. Or he may be thinking himself to be some special person for insulting and dismissing David's messengers. Whatever his reasons, his celebration becomes his last.  The next morning, when he regained his sobriety, Abigail recounts the events of the previous day. In verse 37 she tells him the story in detail and most likely recounts the exact words.  Apparently, the stress of his foolishness caused his heart to die within him, and he was left as a stone. Perhaps he had a heart attack or stroke. He lingers for ten days and then dies. Verse 38 puts Nabal's death in perspective where God strikes him and takes his life. Nabal's failure was not just his rudeness and greed, but his insulting and dismissing of David, who was God's anointed king of Israel.

  • Abigail's Future:
"When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, 'Blessed be the Lord, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal and has kept back His servant from evil. The Lord has also returned the evildoing of Nabal on his own head.' Then David sent a proposal to Abigail, to take her as his wife. 40 When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her, saying, 'David has sent us to you to take you as his wife' 41 She arose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, 'Behold, your maidservant is a maid to wash the feet of my lord’s servants.' 42 Then Abigail quickly arose, and rode on a donkey, with her five maidens who attended her; and she followed the messengers of David and became his wife.'"  (1 Samuel 25:39-42)

When David heard the news of Nabal's death,  he offers praise and thanksgiving for God's intervention. He recognizes that Nabal's contempt and insult deserved retaliation, but not in the way he was going to accomplish it. Instead, God allowed Nabal's hasty temper to be the cause of his death.  Wasting no time and without any hesitancy, David begins the negotiations for Abigail to become his wife. Following the custom of sending an intermediary, David sends his servants. However, they aren't really asking, for she is expected to accept. She accepts with great humility. Her bowing and offering to wash the servants' feet show her remarkable character (v. 41). It also shows her willingness to become David's wife.  So Abigail doesn't delay in going to David. She and her five maids immediately joined David (v. 42).  Abigail now becomes part of a group who move from place to place avoiding the forces of Saul. She will not only be the wife of David, but the woman who stopped David from making a disastrous choice is now placed under his loving care. What a beautiful love story!!


CONCLUSION:

Abigail was courageous and a woman of insight.  She was indeed a contrast to the foolish man. She portrays the virtuous wife.  She saved her husband's life and her household.  She met her problems face on and did not delay or worry about them.  In this story, we see hasty anger in full bloom. Anger (especially quick anger) is the root of many grievous sins.  It is dangerous to let this kind of anger linger, (Eph. 4:26).  Unchecked anger builds up and corrupts the angry one.  Delaying anger does not make things better. Hasty anger wants to argue and humiliate, (Proverbs 25:8).  Arguing leads to strife and quarreling.  It is like a flood of water that breaks the dam.   Therefore, stop your anger before it is too late,  (Prov. 17:14).  Remember that humble pleading is the only wise solution.

You see Abigail kept a righteous man, David, from making a grave mistake.  Her insight rescued David and those around her.  She understood that her husband's life and the lives of every person in her household was at stake.  She could have run.  Who would have blamed her?  But she was no quitter.  She graciously faced the imminent disaster with determination and godly fear.  Indeed, it took courage and wisdom.  You see courage moves us forward.  It forces us to see what needs to be done and move ahead regardless of the cost and consequences.  It is a trait that is desperately needed and rarely valued.  Abigail's insight shines through over and over again in this beautiful story.  Her decision to wait for the right moment to act demonstrates wisdom and great restraint.  True wisdom is rare these days.  James defines wisdom as,
"Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."  (James 3:13-18).

Indeed, Abigail showed this kind of wisdom with her words and actions.  She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, (1 Samuel 25:3).  Proverbs 31 reveals the source of Abigail's true beauty, "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised."  (Proverbs 31:30).  Her example teaches and inspires us to be women of true beauty, godliness, wisdom, intelligence, and understanding.  She is rewarded for her godly character and integrity as David recognizes not only her beauty but her wise counsel.  She is humble not allowing herself to be arrogant.  She is a woman of sweet submissive spirit.  A woman who fears and submits to God's ways will be exalted, (James 4:10).


So, let us consider Abigail's cycle and example of WISDOM, INSIGHT:
  • Abigail realized and acknowledged that David was a godly man.  She also acknowledged what her God Jehovah was capable of doing.  "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."  Proverbs 9:10
  • Abigail avoided conflict.  "A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless."  Proverbs 14:16
  • Abigail purposed in her heart to go secretly or quietly about resolving the problem or crisis.  That is, she resolved the conflict wisely.  "A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back ."  Proverbs 29:11
  • She put her wisdom and understanding into action and offered generous gifts to David.  "He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully."   Proverbs 10:5
  • She definitely reaped the rewards that come to those who are wise "The wise will inherit honor, but fools display dishonor."  Proverbs 3:35

Abigail's life speaks loudly of her godly conduct and wisdom which impacted the lives of others.  Because of her insight, wisdom, and prudence, she protected the life of her husband Nabal and the man who later became her husband. Abigail seized the information given, understood what needed to be done, and then did it.  
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger."  (Proverbs 15:1).

How do you respond to an angry (full of wrath) person?  Do you respond positively, negatively, pleasantly or bitterly?  Do you respond gently, yielding and peaceably or do you cause more bitterness and anger?

"A soft answer" is not a sign of weakness.  The most compelling and useful answer is offered in the mildest tone. And although the substance might be firm, the tone of speech and spirit are gentle. Such an answer is hard to resent or refute.  Wrath is turned away when we use a soft answer.  Anger is silenced.  Negative emotions and attitudes cannot burn without fuel to feed them.  So, what are the effects of using grievous or bitter words? Only hatred, cruelty, and misery.  Remember that bitterness is stronger than wrath. And while rage thunders, bitterness stabs. It creates more ill will than the angry words that provoke it.  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!

The example of Abigail has moved me to compose the following poem.

A SOFT ANSWER 
By Luci Y. Partain

Words, words, words…
What are words for?
You are what you think about all day long,
And your words “spill the beans!”

For words disclose the hidden man.
The heart filled with jealousy
Drowns in harsh and unkind words 
And drives friends apart!

Soft words quench the raging fire,
Before it grows!
But the seeds of anger stir it up,
And cause a great fall.

Your friend can hear you better,
If you speak with a gentle voice.
For understanding and loving kindness
Are a strain of music,
Worthy of the harps above!

Diamonds and precious jewels
Cannot compare with the soulful beauty
That lights the face with grace and meekness of heart.
Let the words of my mouth be soft, my Lord,
And let them be a balm that heals,
Answers that forgive, instead of swords
That pierce the heart!

Let my words be like honey, my Lord,
Sweet to the hurting heart,
Soothing oil to the boiling anger.
O that my words may be soft, my Lord,
Not harsh, bruising the wounded soul.

For to speak gently, is far better, 
And to rule by love, than humiliation. 
 For harsh words may mar
The good I might do here!

Love doth whisper low
The vows that bind true friendship;
The voice of affection is kind.
So let me speak gently to both young and old,
For they have enough to bear --
As they walk their anxious path
Doing the best they can!

Let me speak gently and grieve not 
The care-worn heart;
For the sands of life are nearly spent,
Let me speak gently to the poor, 
And silence the harsh tone;
For their burden is already heavy, 
With few kind words to comfort them!

Let me speak gently to the erring, for we know
Perchance unkindness made them so;
O that I may win them back again!

Let me speak gently! 
For He who gave His life
Brought healing to my stubborn heart,
And said to me, 'Peace, be still.'

Let me speak gently! -- 'tis a little thing
Discarded in the heart's deep well;
For the good, the joy may bring,
Eternity shall tell. 

Oh, may you gently speak soft words
With all the ones you meet?
May Jesus' kind and gentle words,
Calm and rule the angry heart.
For anger will only break the heart,
But the fragrance of our words  
Will spread as the sweetness of a rose!


May the LORD help us to have Abigail's insight that we may avoid conflict among ourselves and others and sow blessings instead.

Luci

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

KEEP YOUR HEART WITH ALL DILIGENCE

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life."
Proverbs 4:23


The great love of God our Creator is a tough love. Because He loves us, He tells us what we need to hear instead of what we want to hear. The Old Testament books of wisdom such as the Proverbs are filled with seemingly ironic statements that tell us that the painful or unpleasant corrections of our behavior are good and pleasant, even bringing joy in the end. Let us ponder afresh some of the jewels that God has placed in the Book of Proverbs.

The central theme of the Book of Proverbs is "the Fear of the LORD."   It is mentioned fourteen times. The book focuses heavily on the consequences of our choices in life. The Proverbs reveal the grave consequences of rejecting wisdom.  "Good understanding giveth favor; But the way of the transgressor is hard." (Proverbs 13:15).  Moreover, the Book of Proverbs paints a picture of the huge contrast between the life of the wicked and that of the wise.  He who pursues wisdom will preserve his soul, (Prov. 16:17); longevity of life, (Proverbs 9:11); happiness, (Proverbs 17:22; 28:14; 29:18); satisfaction, (Proverbs 19:23); riches, honor, and life, (Proverbs 22:4, 29); he is less likely to experience troubles,  (Proverbs 19:23; 21:23). The wise will avoid worldliness and lawlessness at all cost.  
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23). 
"As a troubled fountain, and a corrupted spring, So is a righteous man that giveth way before the wicked."  (Proverbs 25:26)
Likewise, one of the focal points of this precious book is:
  1. To make us wise,"To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding.” 
  2. To teach us how to conduct ourselves wisely and righteously.
  3. “To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity."  
  4.  To learn how to treat others with equity and fairness.
  5.  To give to the ignorant, common sense and understanding.
  6. To the simple (naive), “prudence.”   
  7. To the young man sound advice,“knowledge and discretion.”  
  8. Wise men more wisdom,“ increase learning.”   
  9. And men of understanding, "wise counsel."  
The Book of Proverbs is one of my favorite books in the Bible because it is a treasure of practical wisdom, inspired by our Creator God. As I read each proverb, I have to pause, read it again slowly and reflect on its beautiful words of wisdom.  This precious book is like medicine that cures my soul. God's Words guide us to the remedies for a better life and spiritual health forever.  His Words bring life and healing to my soul!  Proverbs is like a medicine, in that it teaches us the general health and value of a pleasant outlook and attitude toward life.  Joy is a command for Christians, (Phil. 4:4; I Thess. 5:16), but sin is the laughter of fools, (Eph. 5:4; Eccl. 7:6).   Folly is not medicine; jesting is no balm. Both are perverse and destructive. Solomon called them madness, (Eccl. 2:2; 10:13). Proverbs do not teach us a foolish or na├»ve approach to life. It promises blessings for joy, which are both a spiritual fruit and a commandment.  It condemns the negative, critical, and ungrateful heart. Sin destroys a merry heart, for a child of God can never be happy when he is not in fellowship with His Father.  Discontent ruins one's  health, for all one thinks about is what he does not have.  Envy, bitterness, lust, resentment, or anger in one's life, brings the judgment of God and will cause serious health problems to our souls.  On the other hand a joyful, thankful, forgiving and praising heart will find God's blessings and a therapeutic (healing) balm for our souls. 

Our God is the Great Physician who prescribes what we so desperately need to renew our minds and be cured, (Romans 12:2).  Therefore, I am resolved not to neglect His healing prescription for me. His prescription gives me the keys to a better and more righteous life now and forever!  Healing depends greatly on heeding God's Word and standing firm in His principles of righteousness.  But we need to keep our tongue in line with what God says about our healing.  The purpose of my study is to help you, as well as myself, to stay in line with the great final Message that heals us.  I have selected a few Proverbs for us to consider and meditate on, that we may keep our hearts with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life.

I.   “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”   (Proverbs 10:19)
A straightforward and useful rule of wisdom is to cut our words in half. In many words and much speaking, there is a great danger of sinning with our lips. God's wisdom instructs us to abate our words and keep silent as much as possible. He who is wise reflects soberly before he utters any words. He is conscious of the warning that we restrain our words wisely. He knows it is easy to sin when words are many, and transgression is not lacking. A fool never learns this, (Eccl. 5:3). You see silence is very golden. Our God, the God of wisdom, advises us to be quick to hear, and slow to speak, (Jas 1:19). When one exercises his listening skills, he talks little. The wise man has learned to restrain his words to acquire knowledge. Thus, he is a man of gentle spirit and understanding. So why not be wise and consider your words before you speak? You will regret what came out of your lips, sooner or later. Review your words before they're spoken!

Remember, that once words are spoken, you can never take them back. The fool often says, “I wish I’d never said that,” or, “Why did I say that?” Do you know that you can save yourself from such misery? Then learn to limit your words and refrain your lips from idle and foolish speech. Hold your tongue! You won't have to regret or worry about the words that escaped your mouth. Learn prudence and wisdom. Cut your words in half. Talk less and don't sin. Remember, the tongue is a deadly fire, (Jas 3:1-12). Therefore, be slow to speak and when you speak, speak wisely, (Prov. 18:21). Words and sin are not simple math; they are a geometric phenomenon. In too much talk, there is folly, and in the end, there is wicked madness, (Eccl 10:13). You may stop many sins when you cut out the unnecessary words (half of your words). Reducing your words by 50% can help reduce your sins of speech by 90%! Wisdom is easy! Bridle your tongue, and put a muzzle on your mouth, (Ps. 39:1)! If angry, bitter, and cruel people cut their words, there would be much less bleeding of wounded souls. When fools do it, they are esteemed wise. Remember gracious words are a tree of life to others. "The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of understanding." (Prov. 10:21). Therefore, hold back, mind your words, restrain your impulse from speaking your mind. It is a wise reminder for all of us, that we not be rash in our speech.

II.   “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”  (Proverbs 11:2)
The arrogant, conceited or haughty man makes costly mistakes that bring him shame.  His pride distorts his ability to think wisely. But a humble and prudent man can clearly see right and wrong, truth and error, wisdom and folly.  He knows that greatness depends on getting rid of all pride.  He who is lowly and meek in heart makes wise choices.  Pride is a terrible thing!  It will cost more than any other character fault. Conceit deceives one into folly, bringing shame upon himself.  But humility leads to wisdom, which protects him from folly and disgrace.  Pride destroys one's soul disgracefully and shamefully before all men. Humility and meekness lift us before God and men.

There is nothing worse than a proud fool.  There is little hope for a fool, but there is no hope for an arrogant fool. In his arrogance, he will refuse any instruction or correction.  Pride blinds men. They will reject wisdom to avoid trouble and shame. They resent being taught or corrected by others. They are overconfident. They rush onward with an inflated opinion of their own thoughts and ideas. Pride brings folly, which brings shame.  Why not hate pride and arrogance and listen to wise counsel?!   Fearing God requires one to hate pride and arrogance.  Pride causes you to think you are important and makes you believe that your own thoughts and opinions are always right. Pride resents correction and instruction. Pride envies the advantages, abilities, or honors of others. Pride ignores the wise counsel of others. Pride looks down on others.   Some think that their opinions deserve an audience with everybody and that they can speak on any issue without a second thought.  Pride and disgrace are present here.   In God’s sight, you are nothing, and less than nothing, (Ps. 39:5; 62:9; 113:6; Isa. 40:17). You are a worm before Him, (Job 25:6). You are a mere creature whose breath is in your nostrils (Isa. 2:22).  God hates the proud, and He will crush them like a moth and melt them like wax, (Pr. 6:16-17; Ps. 39:11; 68:2). Wisdom learns to love God's Truths.  

In today's culture pride is exalted and promoted by calling it self-esteem or self-confidence.  It is taught as the cure for man’s problems. Books and songs are sold about looking out for number one, about self-love as the greatest love of all. Social media is considered nearly necessary and vital for life, though it is little more than narcissistic conceit.  You must root pride out of your own soul. Pride causes strife because proud men will fight to defend their ideas, (Pr. 13:10; 21:24; 28:25). They cannot stoop to serve others unless it serves them best. And they will not admit mistakes to God or men. Such a path will lead man to foolish decisions and stubborn rebellion with horrible consequences, destruction, and shame. Lowliness is wisdom. The humble man does not trust his knowledge or motives, for he trembles before God and His Word.  He appreciates and esteems the advice or counsel of others; takes correction cheerfully, quickly confesses mistakes, and changes his life accordingly. He will be blessed. Humility is the only road to wisdom, which saves a man from trouble and shame, but only the lowly ever find it. The proud are blind to true wisdom because of their conceit, and the jealous God of heaven will keep them blind.   He will only bless His humble children with wisdom, (Matt. 11:25-27). God will never bless a man who has a proud spirit, (Pr. 16:5). He draws near to men who have a humble spirit, (Isa. 57:15; 66:2; I Pet. 5:5-6). If you choose pride, God will resist you and humble you painfully, (Pr. 16:18; 18:12). If you choose humility cheerfully, God will raise you up gloriously, (Luke 14:11).  Jesus is our greatest example of humility and wisdom. He despised the shame of His humility, (Heb 12:2). But God has now highly exalted Him far above all principalities and powers, (Phil. 2:9-11; Eph. 1:20-23).  He is worthy of all your praise and adoration. Let Him be your glory and worship. Do not glory in yourself!!  

III.   “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”  (Proverbs 11:12)

The way one talks about others reveals his character and heart.  Many fall into sin quickly with their words when they despise those around them.  They cannot hold their peace from critical and negative criticism, judgment, remarks, opinions and comments about others.  A wise and righteous man is moved by compassion, mercy, and kindness along with prayer toward his neighbor even when he is mistreated. He does not despise or scorn his neighbor.   God's counsel warns us against backbiting or insulting our neighbor.  He who is wise and righteous does not belittle others.  He restrains the sneering words that only fools (wicked men) are hasty to utter.  Nothing can justify contempt of one toward another.  Period!  God condemns talebearing (a verbal sin, Prov. 11:13).  Talebearing is telling everything or anything about another person that will hurt his name.  Although it might be true, it is not helpful to their reputation.  It is a sin!

Indeed, speech reflects one's wisdom or lack of it.  A man's mouth reveals his inner heart, (Luke 6:45).  One's words show wisdom or folly, (Eccl 5:3). Cut your words in half, the evil half. Speak less, even if it hurts!  God abhors evil speech about others.  He likewise, condemns backbiting, contempt, disputes, hatred, malice, malignity, railing, reviling, slandering, swelling, talebearing, whispering and other related sins. God will not accept unkind or hateful speech about another. Period! Loving our neighbor is the second greatest commandment, (Matt 22:39).  Loving our enemies is a similar commandment, (Matt. 5:43-48). So, you have no right to hate or speak evil of others.  It is said, “If you cannot say anything nice about them, then do not say anything at all.” That is wisdom!   A cure for this evil habit is to avoid despising others in your heart, “Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber.” (Eccl 10:20). Even if you must correct another overtaken in a fault, you should do it meekly and fearfully, (Gal. 6:1; II Tim. 2:25; Jas 3:13; I Pet. 3:15). Neither authority nor truth justifies cruelty.  Show yourself a child of the King and Lord!!  Why not have mercy and overlook the faults of others?  Remember God has forgiven you when you didn't deserve it.  He has been very patient with you.  He has pitied you like a good father pities his children, (Ps. 103:13-14).  So, why think so highly of yourself?!  Are you able to pity others, overlook their faults, and remember that God has forgiven you?  

Wicked pride and haughty conceit causes one to despise others, (Rom. 12:16). It is a shame and disgrace that those who love to despise others because of the “motes in their eyes,” are never wise enough to see the beams in their own eyes! (Matt. 7:1-5).  Take heed!

Truly there are those who provoke us until we despise them, but still, we must love them.  When Jesus was reviled and abused at His trial, He neither reviled nor threatened back, even when He could have easily and justifiably done so.  We must follow His steps, His example of kindness and mercy even when we are suffering wrongfully at the hands of others,  (I Pet. 2:18-24).  Those who lack sense will belittle others.  Who is the one that shows understanding? It is he who is silent. So simple, yet so difficult!

IV.   “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  (Proverbs 12:18)

This is a powerful verse!  It points out how one might be a great danger or a blessing to others.  Our speech can cause trouble, pain or healing to others.  He who is wise has learned to rule his tongue and is a blessing to others. When you end a conversation, do others bleed or grow? Do others love talking with you because it is pleasant and profitable? Or do they avoid you, because they fear harsh and painful words? Do others leave you bleeding? Do some of them encourage and help you? A man’s words reveal his heart, (Pr. 10:20; Matt. 12:34-37). Wise and righteous men instruct and train their mouths, adding learning to their lips, (Pr. 16:23).  They avoid the swords of others, (Pr. 9:7-8; 16:27; 21:19; 23:9).

You see death and life are in the power of the tongue, (Pr. 18:21). You can cut a person with your words, like the slash of a sword, or you can heal and nurture him with kind and pleasant words. Which are you best at? Which are you known for? Is your speech death or life to others?  The tongue is an unruly evil; it is a world of iniquity; it defiles the whole body; it sets on fire the course of nature; it is a fire from hell; it is full of deadly poison. Wild animals can be tamed and trained, but the tongue can never be tamed. The man who tames his tongue is a perfect man, mature and complete. God ignores modern self-esteem and condemns the unbridled tongue, (James 3:1-12). There are two kinds of persons and speech.  Those who only know harsh, hateful and mean words, and others who are always gracious.  Cutting and unkind speech reflect a bitter and hateful heart. Gentle and kind words reveal a happy and loving heart.  Your speech can either be destructive or healthful. There are no other options. Your words identify you!!  

Christians ought to speak with grace, seasoned with salt, that they may know how they ought to answer another, (Col. 4:6). Biting criticism, harshness, and sarcasm are wrong and sinful, (Eph. 4:31-32).  Christians ought to speak to others, as they want God to speak to them.  Our speech must be a tree of life to others, (Pr. 15:4), and it must reflect sweetness and health, (Pr. 16:24) and beauty, (Pr. 25:11).  Therefore, examine your speech.  Backbiting, slandering, whispering, and talebearing, produce deep, profound piercing wounds.  They must never be part of a Christians' speech, for they reflect an unfaithful heart, (Pr. 18:8; 26:22).  So if you hear someone who has the tendency to criticize others, assume he will criticize you to others.  Under no circumstances allow yourself to be the object of gossip, so avoid it.  Start saying good, kind, and appreciative things about others.  You will find many who would like to be your friends. Jesus declared harsh speech as murder, (Matt. 5:21-22). Anger and name calling without any valid reasons or holy purposes are violations of God's Word.  Foolish and unlearned questions, debate, railing, reviling, and answering back are all sins, (II Tim. 2:23; Rom. 1:29; I Pet. 3:9; Titus 2:9).  God demands that all Christians always speak with respect and honor to others, (I Tim. 6:1-2; I Pet. 3:7).  Be thoughtful when speaking, (Jas 1:19), examine your words carefully, (Pr. 15:28), and say them carefully, (Pr. 17:27-28). Be quick to hear and slower to speak to reduce your words, (Pr. 10:19).  So, if you want to be wise, speak as our Lord and Savior spoke.  Do not be rash, thoughtless or inconsiderate with your words!  Think before you speak and do not ignore godly behavior.

V.   “A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.”  (Proverbs 12:23)

A wise man keeps his mouth shut, even when he knows more than anyone around him. A fool cannot keep his mouth shut, even when he basically knows nothing, for his heart demands that he keep spewing foolishness. The tongue, the bodily member by which one speaks, is a great source of evil and trouble.  Our words can hurt and harm another.  Our Ungodly speech defames our Lord.

A prudent man is wise. He knows when and how to be careful or cautious.  Although he has understanding and wisdom, he does not easily share it, for he keeps humility,  (Pr. 29:11).  He does not spread other's failures, for his love keeps him from doing it, (Pr. 11:13). He removes the beam from his own eye before he sees a mote in another's eye, (Matt. 7:5).  When he is faced with scorners, he does not waste his pearls, (Pr. 9:8; 23:9; Matt. 7:6).  A prudent man is mostly a reserved man, for he knows when to speak,  (Pr. 17:27-28). He does not impose his opinions here and yonder without others asking him for it. He is aware that there is sin in a multitude of words, so he cuts his words in half, (Pr. 10:19). He knows that it is better to listen than to speak, (James 1:19-20). This kind of prudent person is easy to spot in a crowd, for he will be carefully listening more than quickly talking.  On the other hand, a fool has a fire in his heart that sets his tongue ablaze! This fire comes from hell, (Jas 3:1-12).  A fool’s tongue is a world of iniquity.  He is also easy to spot in a crowd, for he cannot stop talking, and his words are obnoxious chattering of folly, (Eccl. 10:3,12-14). Jesus said that out of the heart come all of our words, (Luke 6:45).  A fool is always giving his opinion, though the hearers quickly realize he does not know what he is talking about, (Pr. 15:28). He must talk, so he continues to the confirmation of his vast ignorance. A fool will proclaim the failures of others, for he has no power to restrain his words. He must tattle and whisper. He is happy to tell anyone about the motes in their eyes and the eyes of others, even while the barn beams seriously clutter his face.  Jesus is our greatest example of prudence, (Isa. 52:13). He was, in no sense, a self-promoter, (Matt. 8:4; 16:20; 11:29; 12:18-21). He knew when to speak, and when not to speak, though knowing all things, (Isa. 50:4; John 2:24-25).  His perfect character was demonstrated by His wisdom and reservation.  Why not follow His godly example?!  I am grieved every time I see this ungodly behavior in social media like Facebook.  Many imprudent hearts reveal a lack of knowledge and wisdom. Thus they utter or say what they ought not to, rather than holding back.

VI.   “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”  (Proverbs 14:29)

I've noticed many are hot tempered and quick to get angry.  These are the marks of a fool.  A wise man gets his spirit under control and rules it.  A fool destroys his life along with his soul.  He who is wise has the self-control to rule his spirit, his mind.  He who cannot control his anger, says many foolish things he later regrets.   Why not be wise and slow down your anger?  Anger is not always wrong. God is angry at those who do lawlessness, (Ps. 7:11). The LORD was angry at Moses, (Deut. 1:37; 4:21), Solomon (I Kgs 11:9), and Israel (II Kgs 17:18).  It is not wrong to get angry at those who backbite others, (Pr. 25:23). But God is slow to anger, and He is our example and pattern, (Ps. 103:8; 145:8).

Paul told the Ephesian brethren to get angry without sinning and to get rid of anger before nightfall, (Eph. 4:26).  Anger that's held longer will indeed turn into bitterness.  It also opens the door to Satan, (Eph. 4:27). Jesus condemned anger “without a cause” as comparable to murder, (Matt. 5:21-22). Moses was angry at Israel for worshipping a golden calf with dancing,  (Ex 32:19-29). Our Lord Jesus Christ became angry at a crowd that did not want Him to heal a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath day, (Mark 3:1-5). Anger against sin is good, and when directed by godliness can be an asset, (Neh. 13:23-28).

Anger is rarely profitable for any soul.  It usually causes overreaction, misreading circumstances, misjudging motives, actions without proper thought, responding more severely than needed, speaking with excessive harshness, rejecting counsel, and getting priorities out of line. Therefore, a wise man will not let his anger rule over him.  Wisdom has the power to judge righteously and with understanding.  Wisdom produces right judgment.  Understanding is correct knowledge. Both can be compromised relatively according to the intensity of anger.  The faster one gets angry, the less wisdom he possesses under the influence of that passion. The greater the intensity of anger, the less understanding one has under such consuming anger.   Hasty temper causes unnecessary fights and leads to many devastating sins, (Pr. 21:24; 26:21; 29:22; 30:33).  Quick anger is a common sin among many, (Pr. 14:17; 15:18; 16:32; 25:8,28; Eccl 7:8-9).   Hasty temper does not please God, (Jas 1:19-20). Christians are to be slow to anger, (Titus 1:7). A wise man will defer anger.  He will overlook personal offenses against him, (Pr. 19:11; Matt. 5:38-42).  Ruling one's spirit is vital to wisdom and success, (Pr. 16:32). Anger begins in the heart, which must be kept with all diligence, (Pr. 4:23). Kindness, longsuffering, and patience are essential to overcoming quick anger or hasty temper.  One must avoid angry men, for they will tempt you to be like them, (Pr. 14:7; 22:24; I Cor. 15:33).  So, are you hot tempered? Quick to get angry? These are marks of a fool. Get your spirit under control and keep it ruled, or you will destroy your life!  Great wisdom includes the self-control to rule your mind. If you cannot control your anger, you will say and do many foolish things.  Jesus, our Lord, is the perfect example.  He is the fullness of God in a human body, (Col. 2:9). His enemies could not provoke Him to anger.  Although they tried desperately to do so, He chose to be as a lamb at shearing, (Luke 11:53-54; 23:10; Isaiah 53:7; I Pet. 2:23).   Alas, I have seen this bad behavior in social media when people respond to a post right away (especially when they're angry), when they shouldn't!   It would be better to sleep on it and consider your words with more care.    

VII.   “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”   (Proverbs 15:1)

God loves and blesses peacemakers, (Matt. 5:9; Jas 3:17-18; II Cor. 13:11). It is such a blessing to be around peacemakers.  They end fights, grudges, and anger.  They are gentle in speech and calm the angry one.  The person who is wise is a peacemaker.  He uses calming words to end conflict and fighting.  He avoids foolish and destructive words that fuel the fire of anger.   He turns the other cheek, (Matt 5:38-42).  He loves his enemies, prays for them and does good to them,  (Matt. 5:39-43).  Anyone who puts this rule into practice (the golden rule) will be a peacemaker.  What a blessed rule, from the Prince of Peace!!

Indeed, it takes two to fight.  But when either party shows kindness, he can stop the fighting.  Peacemakers don't use provocative and offensive words when angry.  They know when to bring anger and contention to an end, (Pr. 17:14; 26:21).  The wise man ends peaceably any matter that causes anger by responding gently and kindly rather than with angry words in defense, (Pr. 12:16; 15:18; 29:22). He crushes his pride so that he may end peaceably, (Pr. 13:10; 21:24; 28:25).  So, why not apply this rule to all men?   Don't let your pride win over wisdom!   He who is wise and discreet is slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression, (Pr. 19:11).  Why not measure yourself by this rule of self-discipline and peacemaking?  Do you get irritated by others’ provocation? Must you respond to everything that is said about you? Do you have to get the last word always? Are you prone to self-justification rather than self-deprecation?  Remember that soft words are your most powerful weapon against any offense, (Pr. 25:15). Learn this wise habit! God loves peacemakers, (Matt. 5:9).  Jesus taught us to reconcile with those who offend us, (Matt. 5:23-26).  He also taught us to agree quickly with our adversary for peace. God’s Spirit is peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, (Jas 3:17-18).  Jesus even rebuked James and John for their ungodly spirit toward some Samaritans, (Luke 9:51-56). To please God, one must be a peacemaker, (Jas 3:13-18).  Kind and soft words can only come from a pure and gentle heart, (Pr. 22:11; Luke 6:45). Your gracious speech must be seasoned with salt like that of Jesus, (Col. 4:6; II Cor. 10:1).  So, why respond when you're angry?  Why not wait until you're calm and your mind is clearer, that you might respond with a softer answer?  

VIII.  “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”  (Proverbs 19:11)

The glorious person uses discretion from God's wisdom.  He defers and ignores any transgression committed against him.  He turns the other cheek, overlooks provocation, and chooses mercy over wrath. Discretion is the ability to know the right action for any occasion. Deferring is putting off, delaying, or postponing something. Godly discretion chooses to delay and postpone getting angry when someone offends us. It is the mark of a wise man, a gracious and gentle spirit. It is also the mark of Christian maturity, for only fools quickly strike back.  Those who have no discretion often use hostility, hurt others, get indignant, bite back, and plot revenge against those who offend them. They have no discretion since their feelings rule their hearts. They do not know deferment, for they react first, then think about it later. This is the mark of a proud and unyielding spirit, (Pr. 16:28; 28:25).  It is contrary to wisdom and grace. Anger is insanity.  Those who yield to it misjudge an offense and retaliate out of proportion, (Pr. 14:17). Once an offense is turned into warfare and strife, it is hard to end it, (Pr. 17:14; 18:19). Discretion is the wisest choice against any offense.  Anger not released will dissipate; it will soon evaporate. Often by the next day, one can hardly remember any offenses. Remember, two things are required:  deferment and keeping a spirit that rejoices to pass over offenses.  So, why not learn to defer your anger, (Pr 14:29)?  You must choose a spirit that glories in forgiving those who hurt you, by choosing the way of wisdom, peace, and love, (Pr. 17:9; I Cor. 13:4-7; Jas 3:17).

Do you know what’s not glory?  Biting and excoriating.  Therefore, swallow your anger! It tastes bitter, but it is good medicine.  The spirit that glories in quick retaliation or retribution is demonic, (Jas 3:14-16), and you should reject and despise it. Choose mercy, peace, and love instead. The transgressions here are personal offenses against you. It does not mean that one must compromise with sin.  The offenses here are the relatively minor transgressions of others that irritate and provoke us. This is true love and friendship.  Marriages observing this rule will be glorious. Churches practicing this rule will be mature in Christ.  Pride keeps a man from deferring anger. He thinks he must strike back in quick revenge to protect his hurt feelings. A proud fool speaks sharp words, criticizes without a cause, and throws blows.  God’s wisdom never changes.  The world does not know the wisdom of God.  It honors men who strike back quickly and harder.  It glorifies those who retaliate, retort and throw blows.  But God’s godly and wise children are those who love mercy and overlook personal offenses, ignoring their own hurt or loss, (Mic. 6:8; I Cor. 6:1-8). God will show mercy toward them and make them great like He did David for his treatment of Saul, (Ps. 18:19-26).  The Gospel teaches people forgiveness and mercy, for it is the cornerstone of our relationship with God and others, (Matt. 6:14-15; Eph, 4:31-32; Col. 3:12-13).  Indeed, it will require grace and godly character to overlook a personal offense instead of striking back in anger. Godly wisdom rules a hasty spirit, (Pr. 16:32; Jas 1:19-20). Fools think that passing over offenses is weakness, fear, and compromise.  God's glory constitutes mercy, grace, longsuffering, goodness, and Truth! So, how godly are you?  Do you get easily offended by how others treat you?  Do you show God's grace, Christ in you or do you defer anger or resentment?  Why not overcome evil with good?!  May the world see your good works of mercy and forgiveness that others may glorify our Father in heaven by your good works.

IX.   “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man.”  (Proverbs 22:24)

Angry people are fools full of wrath. It is not godly, noble, or manly, no matter how hard they try to justify their anger.   Angry men are fools. Wise people avoid them at all costs.  They are aware of the risk of learning their wrong, hateful ways, for they will lead them to their souls' destruction, (Pr. 22:25; 13:20).  To have a peaceful life one must avoid them, for they will bring unceasing conflict, (Pr. 15:18; 19:19; 29:22). Angry people are slaves to their emotions.  The wise appreciate God's wisdom and are careful in choosing their friends.  The wise do not deceive themselves, for they know that evil communications corrupt good manners, (I Cor. 15:33). Angry men (people) will tempt you to learn angry habits and will cause you a lot of trouble.  Anger is in the bosoms of fools, (Eccl 7:9). Wise men defer anger, (Pr. 19:11).  They rule their spirits and are slow to anger, (Pr. 14:29). Why? Because they know that great men of God know how to rule their spirits and avoid anger, (Pr. 16:32).  They know that anger never helps them be righteous, or work the righteousness of God, (Jas 1:19). They know that angry haste will bring them shame, (Pr. 25:8).

Angry men often glory in their quick temper as a sign of manliness or toughness.  They are slaves to their passions, (Pr. 14:17,29). Since they cannot rule their spirits, they are like defenseless cities without walls – any slight event will trigger their total collapse and ruin, (Pr. 25:28).  Therefore, avoid angry men.  Jesus taught that anger without cause is murder in the sight of God,  (Matt. 5:21-22).  However, it is possible to be angry and not sin, (Eph. 4:26-27).  Fools sin every time they get angry, for they will not resolve their anger before the sun sets, (Eph. 4:26-27). By holding wrath and being angry often, they give place to the devil to enter their hearts and minds.  Their refusal to forgive others is one of Satan’s devices that allow him to take advantage of them, (II Cor. 2:7-11).  Full forgiveness will save one's soul, (Matt. 18:21-35). 

Rather than choosing angry men for friends or going places with furious, angry men, choose godly companions as your friends. True children of God do not get angry or furious. They are filled with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, (Gal. 5:22-23). Do these nine traits describe you? Do they describe your friends?  They should!!   

X.   “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.”  (Proverbs 23:9)

Truth and wisdom are precious privileges.  Fools do not deserve either (Wisdom or Truth), for they believe their own imagination, irrationalities, and lies.  Wisdom and Truth do not expose themselves to be ridiculed by fools.  Fools are often left to confusion in their folly because of their bad choices. Do you suppose my words are too harsh?  I don't think so!  Jesus, our Lord, did not think so. Why? Because Jesus told His disciples, "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."  He told the disciples this when they said He had offended the Pharisees, (Matt. 15:13-14). Amen to that!

God's wise children do not waste precious pearls of Truth and God's wisdom on fools, for they will despise their incredible value and profit. Truth and wisdom are precious gifts, and to neglect or reject them brings judgment upon themselves. Just ask Lady Wisdom (Pr. 1:20-33)! The wise also avoid fools because of their wicked, lawless influence, (Pr. 9:6; 13:20; 14:7; 19:27).  Jesus also gave this rule or command in His Sermon on the Mount: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matt. 7:6).  So, are you wise?  Are you aware of the danger of talking to a fool? You cannot win with words, for he will not listen or change, (Pr. 27:22). If you engage in debate (with a fool), you become a fool yourself, (Pr. 26:4). His foolish and unlearned questions will only cause fights (II Tim. 2:23). If you give him the Truth, he will despise it and trample it under his feet,  (Matt. 7:6).   Moreover, he will dishonor you when you correct him or reprove him.  He will insult and hate you. On the other hand, a wise person will love you for correcting him with the Truth, (Pr. 9:7-8; Matt 7:6). Be wise! Stay away from fools! Do not waste the Truth on them.  Choose the wise and godly for friends; those who fear God and keep His precepts, (Ps. 119:63).

So, what is a fool?  Foolishness overcomes a fool. He has his own ideas, misconceptions, prejudices, etc.  He trusts in them; he is past learning. He would rather talk than listen; he does what he wants regardless of instruction or warning. He does not show the noble spirit of the Bereans to eagerly hear and learn the Truth, searching the Scriptures to confirm it, (Acts 17:11; Tit. 3:10-11).   Thus, he will fall in his own ditch and wallow there.  A fool is one who does not want to hear, learn, and change.  Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge, (Pr. 14:7).  Answer a fool according to his folly lest he be wise in his own eyes and you be like him.  Say enough to shut his haughty mouth and condemn his folly, (Pr. 26:5), but do not expose God's precious Truth or yourself to his folly and malicious debating, (Pr. 26:4).  You will end up stooping to his level and honor his arrogance, risk your own soul, and dishonor the Truth.  Take heed!  The wise person heeds the rules of wisdom and forsakes the foolish ways that he might live, (Pr. 9:6; 19:27). Cast out the scorner, and enjoy the peaceful relief, for strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease, (Pr. 22:10). Prune away fools, and your life will blossom. They are evil nuisances that devour the spirit of the wise and degrade the integrity of God's Truth and Wisdom. Protect your soul by avoiding fools and their evil communications, (I Cor. 15:33)!

Unconditional friendship is unknown in the Bible. The Psalmist says, "I am a friend to all who fear You, to those who keep Your precepts." (Ps. 119:63) The modern man imagines that truly righteous people will not raise their voice against any sin no matter how vile. All "values" are equal in their eyes. But in the Bible, all men (mankind) are to be judged by their actions and character, not just their existence or natural relationships. Paul commands Titus to love what is good, (Titus 1:8). Even God does not accept His children unconditionally.  He has set conditions, rules.  He loves us because we are in Christ. "In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, ... grace that he favored us with in the Beloved."  (Eph. 1:4-6). "Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her..."  (Eph. 5:25-27). David took drastic measures to get fools out of his house, (Ps. 101:1-8; I Kgs 2:5-6).  

Jesus is not like men today.   Why?  Because a compromising generation assumes that all men have a right to make the Truth what they want it to be.  Fools today compromise the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus by sugar coating the whole counsel of God and using carnal tactics to make the church grow in number. The wise and faithful  men of God preach the Truth at full volume.  Many don't want to preach the whole counsel of God for it condemns their philosophical versions of the Gospel Message. They do not love the pure Gospel of Christ.  They alter its content by using new psychology, programs, that entice men as false teachers do today.  Jesus said, shake the dust off of your feet against those people, and I will judge them on the last day, (Matt. 10:14-15).  Jesus did not make the Truth to look easy to follow.  Instead, He said there is a high cost to discipleship, (Luke 14:25-33).

Many misuse Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”  They assume it condemns any judgment. But Jesus in context said to judge some men as dogs and pigs and keep the Truth from them, (Matt. 7:6). He wants us to judge righteous judgment, (John 7:24). "Judge not, that ye be not judged," pertains to private judgment for personal offenses, not sins against God. The sense is this: do not judge personal offenses harshly or hypocritically. Jesus explained this in the next four verses (Matt. 7:2-5). This verse, Matt. 7:1 does not at all condemn judging fools.

The Truth is available in many places. All of God's creation speaks of His eternal power and Godhead. Men are without excuse! But when they reject the Truth He offers, He darkens their minds and turns them over to perverse thinking and actions, like sodomy and other abominations, (Rom. 1:18-32). When men do not love the Truth, God sends strong delusion to cause them to believe a lie and be damned for eternity, (II Thess. 2:10-12).  Alas, many churches today have rejected the Truth of the Scriptures for fables!!  Therefore, God removes their understanding and gives them over to the emotional or sentimental smog of their own imaginations. Truth in today's culture is every man’s opinion rather than the Word of God, (II Tim. 4:3-4).  There is a significant famine of God’s Word, (Amos 8:11-12). Paul prayed to cure the ignorance of some, (Rom. 10:1-3), but he told others they could stay ignorant, (I Cor. 14:38).

Indeed, Lady Wisdom allows a window of time to show your love for Truth and wisdom. If you neglect or reject her offer, she will withdraw, neglect or deny you in your great hour of need, when you call upon her for help, (Pr. 1:20-32). Truth and wisdom are pressing matters. Lady Wisdom wants you to love her. If you do not, you must love death, (Pr. 8:17,32-36).  Do you wish to promote Truth and wisdom here on earth? Then love it with all your being, and promote it among those that are wise, (I Cor. 2:6; I Thess. 5:14; Jas 5:19-20). Then live a holy life of Truth and wisdom and wait for men to ask you for the reason of your hope that makes you different from the world, (Pr. 22:20-21; I Pet. 3:15). Show the world a godly and holy life, and wait for the Truth to enlighten their hearts.  Any conversion without God’s regeneration in your life is but a mere illusion.  Have you sought the old paths and the right way, (Jer 6:16)? Have you forsaken all fools, including those who use pulpits on Sundays? Do you worship the Jesus Christ of the Bible? The mystery of godliness in Christ Jesus is great, (I Tim. 3:16), but it is only for those who have a holy desire for it, (Rom. 1:8-15; 15:31).

XI.   “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.”  (Proverbs 26:4)

Fools do not deserve answers. Save yourself the pain, trouble, and waste of time dealing with them by ignoring their disrespectful, foolish and scornful questions. Take the high road of Truth and wisdom, and do not stoop to their haughty insolence or lazy ignorance. Not everyone has a right to an answer to his question. Answers are a privilege only for those meeting conditions for Truth. Debating with fools is wrong! They do not deserve knowledge or Truth. Wisdom is too precious to waste on them. Wise men will love and accept the Truth.  Arguing is of the flesh.  For these reasons, it is wrong to debate with people who do not display godly character and conduct.  When one debates them, he is honoring their foolish ignorance.  Say what is necessary to shut their mouths, knowing that anything more is folly and sin, (Pr. 26:5). The foolish of heart deserve no honor, (Pr. 26:1), but rather a rod for their backs to help them, (Pr. 26:3).  When one debates Truth with a fool, the fool will first despise the wise words and then ridicule the precious things he hears, (Pr. 23:9). The Truth will be degraded when one allows the fool to mock and reproach it. A fool twists one's words and uses them against him because his heart is corrupt with hate and violence, (Isa. 29:20-21). Leave him alone, and let him rot.

Jesus declared, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matt. 7:6).  Jesus often rebuked the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, lawyers, and scribes of His day for their foolishness.  He strictly avoided any foolish wrangling with them. Jesus called them dogs and pigs – vile animals and perpetual examples of beastly cruelty and selfish greed, among other despicable traits.  Do you think those are harsh words?  When His disciples told Him that He had offended the Pharisees, Jesus said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matt. 15:14). How do you spot a fool? Easy! Listen to him talk, (Pr. 14:7), and measure his walk, (Pr. 20:11). A fool talks a lot, likes his own ideas, gets angry quickly, always justifies his worldly and ungodly conduct, belittles others, prefers teaching over being taught, wants to debate most anything, resents authority, disdains convention, and talks profanely, vulgar. A fool also does not live by the Word of God.  He bears no spiritual fruit, which is the true measure of real wisdom.  His flesh wants to get the last word.

There is danger.  Paul warned against the foolish questions or vain babblings of foolish men, (I Tim. 1:3-7; 4:7; 6:20; II Tim. 2:14-16,23; Titus 1:14; 3:9).  Fools often try to shame us for not debating them, for they are just another class of fools themselves. Answers and truth are not a right. They are a privilege only for those meeting the conditions of righteousness. When men do not have the right spirit and response to the Truths of God, God sends them strong delusion to believe a lie that they might be damned, (II Thess. 2:9-12).  May we all thank God for choosing to be wise and believe His Truth rather than rejecting it like fools do, (2 Thess. 2:13).  Keep in mind that arguing with a fool makes you one too!  

XII.   “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.”  (Proverbs 26:17)

Think of that dog as a pit bull, with foam coming out of its mouth, with its leash dragging behind. That’s right; mind your own business!!  Even a friendly dog will bite when one grabs and pulls its ears.  So it is with the busybody who gets involved in the strife of others.  Both parties will soon bite him!  God's wisdom teaches us to avoid the conflict of others.  Peacemakers are wonderful, (Matt. 5:9), for their greatest work involves making peace when there is fighting. Peacemakers overlook others' offenses to make peace with them, (Matt. 5:23-26).  As Christians, we are to make peace with those who offend us, (Matt. 18:15-22).  Under no circumstances, is it wise to get involved in others' conflicts, trying to make peace for them.  Why?  Because even our own conflicts (which we know well) must be resolved with caution, (Pr. 25:8).   He who is wise makes sure that his words are edifying and well-spoken in due season, (Pr. 15:23; 16:20).  Godly and wise men try to help others with their conflicts and problems (fighting and strife), (Rom. 15:1-3; Gal. 6:1-3).  As Christians, we are to be our brethren's keepers in such things, (Lev. 19:17; I Thess. 5:14). Those in authority (for example parents and elders) have the honorable right and obligation to search out problems and make peace, (Pr. 25:2).  Unfortunately, many are busybodies. They love to be busy in other men’s affairs, (I Pet. 4:15; I Tim. 5:13). This is a sin, and it is to be avoided and repented of.  The Word of God associates this sin with murder, theft, and evil deeds. So, stay busy with your own things, for when one is fulfilling his own duties as he should, he will not have time for the things of others.  Take heed!

Meddlers love to get involved in other people’s disputes and troubles.  They crave the inside information of private controversies. They find satisfaction in doing this.  It makes them feel important to be involved in the problems of their neighbors, though they are usually terrible about solving their own problems. Every man has enough problems of his own.

The brethren at Thessalonica were so prone to be busybodies that they even stopped working. Paul exhorted them saying, “For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” (II Thess. 3:11-12). He likewise instructed them saying, "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.” (I Thess. 4:11).  Women have a great temptation to be meddlers, or busybodies, getting involved in strife that does not belong to them. So, Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit, commanded the young widows to marry and have children to keep them from idleness and the temptation of such folly, (I Tim. 5:12-15). A busy woman who is conscientious about her daily duties will not have time or interest in such dangerous things. Idleness is a curse on any people, as it was in Sodom of old, (Ezek 16:49).  Remember that "an idle mind is the devil’s workshop."  Stay busy, and do not meddle in the affairs of your neighbors!  

Jesus taught that each man has sufficient evil threatening his own life each day to keep him fully occupied, (Matt. 6:34). He called it hypocrisy to worry and judge another person about a mote of dust in his eye when he should be fully occupied with getting the beam out of his own eye, (Matt. 7:3-5).   So, keep away from others’ squabbles. Leave the dog’s ears alone!!

Our Lord Jesus Christ also set a perfect example in this matter.And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you.” (Luke 12:13-14)?  So, can you follow this holy example of Jesus today?  There is a great difference between suffering as a busybody and suffering as a Christian, (I Pet. 4:14-16).  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!  

XIII.   “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.”  (Proverbs 26:20)

The wood here is a house fire, already raging which needs to be put out rather than pouring more gasoline on it. When wicked men stop spreading innuendos, rumors, and negative information that may harm another, disputes, fights, and bad blood end quickly.  A fire goes out as soon as there is nothing more to burn.  Conflicts end as soon as there is no more irritation made (no more fuel added to the fire).   We have two obligations:  never to bear tales about others and to stop those who do it aggressively.  You see, talebearing (gossip, whispering, tattling, blabbing) is a forgotten sin. It is neither understood nor condemned today. Talebearing is spreading injurious or malicious reports about another person. A talebearer is one who officiously spreads reports of private matters to gratify malice or idle curiosity, (Pr. 20:19). It is commonly called gossip and slander.  The Bible synonyms are backbiting, tattling, and whispering, which are sins condemned by God, (Pr. 16:28; 25:23; Rom. 1:29-30; II Cor. 12:20; I Tim. 5:13).  Talebearing is telling negative information about someone to either hurt him or impress a hearer with the news. He doesn't care about whether the information is true. Slander is spreading false information about another person. Backbiting, talebearing, tattling, and whispering are spreading rumors about another person to harm their reputation and integrity.

Malicious talkers, who keep resurrecting and spreading news about their enemies, keep conflict alive, when it ought to die otherwise. These evil persons have no love for peace, for they love to stir up trouble and harm, (Pr. 15:18; 16:27-28; 26:21; 29:22). Godly and wise men cover all offenses and bury them, (Pr. 10:12; 17:9; I Pet. 4:8). They seek to make peace at all times, (Jas 3:17-18).  God hates talebearing, (Pr. 6:12-19; Ps. 15:3), which is to assault another's character and reputation verbally. Talebearing is a violation of God's Word, (Matt. 5:21-26). Talebearing causes great pain deep in the soul and harms the relationships of men without a way to mend them, (Pr. 16:28; 17:9; 18:8; 26:22).  So why not hate this sin?  Why not guard your lips lest anything negative about another person slips out in the heat of passion or during light chitchat? Why not love others enough to keep from saying things about them that would be derogatory or damaging?  Stop talking too much, for you will likely commit this sin!  Cut your words in half. Make a solemn resolution only to say good things that are gracious and edifying about others, (Col. 4:6; Eph. 4:29). Avoid those at all costs who love to spill others' private matters in your presence, (Prov. 25:23; 22:10).  In doing this, you will end all contention, strife, and reproach and will bring all to an end. Be wise and don't condemn yourself!  Rebuke such people and if they don't repent, walk away from them! (Ps. 101:4-5). Let all your speech be gracious, (Col. 4:6). 

XIV.   “If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.”  (Proverbs 29:9)

Indisputably, fools are hopeless. No matter how much one tries to help them understand wisdom and understanding, they still cannot and will not learn. They are incorrigibly foolish, stubbornly conceited, and rebelliously wicked. Nothing will change their foolish hearts. There is only one Physician for this disease, only one Counselor for these fools.  What is a fool? A fool denies God’s authority, in words and actions, (Ps. 14:1). A fool trusts his own heart and rejects instruction, wisdom, (Pr. 28:26; 15:5). He loves himself. He hates wisdom and loves folly, though he does not admit it. He is not merely foolish, for he has been given over to folly. He thinks, speaks, and acts contrary to wisdom and conduct.  When one fails to let the Lord change and transform his heart, he will eventually die as fools, (Pr. 20:12; II Tim. 2:24-26).  It's hard to reason with fools, for they are unreasonable; they have no faith because they reject it,  (II Thess. 3:2). They do not seek the living God to save them from their foolishness, (Heb. 11:6). They are incorrigible, hopeless, (Pr. 27:22). They may know and recite the Scriptures and doctrine well, but it means nothing because of their folly. The Lord of glory will reject many accomplished Pharisees and preachers in the Day of Judgment, (Matt. 7:21-23).

Intimidation and threats will not teach a fool, neither will friendship and humor. You will be frustrated. There is no rest. Fools love being fools for they love their folly and one cannot change them. There is no ambition or desire in their hearts to change their lives of lawlessness into lives of righteousness.  Can God's Truth save a fool? What approach can win him from his love of sin to love Jesus Christ and His righteousness?  Nothing will work, for he is dead in his sins with a heart at war against God's Truth, and Wisdom, (Col. 2:13; Rom. 3:10-18).   There is only one truth, and it is that fools must be born again, (John 3:3), resurrected from spiritual death (John 5:24-25; Romans 6:1-12), and quickened into life by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5) by the blood of the Son of God.  To receive salvation and save one from folly, he must love God's wisdom and Truth and dedicate his life to God in faithful service to Him.  

 XV.   “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”  (Proverbs 29:11)

Wisdom is to hold back speech.  There is a time to hold back speech to yourself.  Likewise, there is a time to talk and say it all. Wise and righteous people know what to do before speaking and when to speak, but fools spill everything without preparation, examination and thought.  Indeed, fools talk a lot! They cannot keep their mouths shut.  They give in to their desires to let everything rush out of their mouths, (any little thought, no matter how frivolous, no matter how unstudied, no matter how inappropriate).   A wise person speaks with caution.  He does not speak hastily, without examination, or offers his opinions as truth.  He rules his mouth, so as to choose wise words and wait for the right timing.  A talker is a fool, for he talks arrogantly, hastily, and loudly.  He confirms his folly.  A fool loves the sound of his own voice, and he thinks others should love it also. He thinks he has wisdom to share, and he believes others are blessed to hear him. So he gets angry when he is eventually isolated due to his ignorant and obnoxious speech and thinking.

There is "a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” (Eccl. 3:7). But knowing when to speak and when to keep silent requires discretion and prudence, two branches of wisdom the fool has never considered. As long as he has air to breathe (and a full belly helps), he will vent his pea-sized brain through his lips, (Pr. 30:22; Eccl. 10:12-14).  It will be better for a fool to keep his mouth shut, for he might be thought wise, (Pr. 17:27-28). But he cannot do it, for he has never held back his words in his life: he has no will nor power to do so. He must pour out his foolish heart and ideas in the hope of satisfying his agitated conceit, but it will never happen.  Even when he runs out of things to say, he still keeps talking, (Pr. 15:2).  There is no godly virtue in being "outspoken." It is merely another word for a fool! It would be much better to keep those words in and let them dissolve in the bile of his liver and go into the draught. It would be much better to ask the Lord to set a watch before his mouth and to keep the door of his lips, (Ps. 141:3). Do not speak out!!

Be wise, for there are many things (idle words, filthiness, foolish talking, jesting, backbiting, talebearing, and slander) that ought not to be spoken, (Pr. 10:18; 11:13; 25:23; Matt. 12:36; Eph. 5:3-5). In many words, there is the danger of sin, (Pr. 10:19; Eccl. 5:3). Reflect on how much damage and pain could have been avoided by reducing our words, (Pr. 12:18). Therefore, the fewer, more carefully, and more slowly our words are spoken, the better it is for our hearers and us, (Jas 1:19).  Take heed!  A fool’s wrath is quickly known, for he cannot keep his angry words in place, (Pr. 12:16). A fool pours out unexamined nonsense, and worse yet, his personal opinions.  But a righteous and God-fearing man studies his words before answering anything, (Pr. 12:23; 13:16; 15:28). A fool shows his folly and shame by responding to a matter even before hearing it fully presented, (Pr. 18:13). He cannot rule his spirit, and thus proves himself a failure and loser among men, (Pr. 16:32; 25:28).

Wise men, people restrain their speech, (Pr. 17:27-28). They study before answering, (Pr. 15:28). They are slow to speak, (Jas 1:19). They choose their words carefully and wait for the right time to say them, (Pr. 15:23; 24:26; 25:11). Discretion and Prudence are the guardians of wisdom.  They restrain words and actions until they grasp a situation clearly and wisely choose a godly response, (Pr. 12:23; 13:16; 14:8; 16:21; 19:11; 22:3).  Wise and godly people keep words in “till afterward”!  After what? After they let passion, wrath dissipate and can speak prudently, (Pr. 19:11; Jas 1:19). After they apply the Scriptures to the situation and find a godly, and loving answer, (Ps. 119:11; I Cor. 13:4-7).  That is after they have studied and examined each answer with Words of Truth, (Pr. 15:28; 22:17-21). After they have sanctified the Lord God in their hearts, (I Pet. 3:15). After they have heard a matter in its entirety, and have been asked for their insight, (Pr. 18:13; 25:6-7).  So, Christians, to be wise and avoid folly, you must be cautious, discreet in your conduct; inspecting all circumstances in every direction,  (Eph. 5:15).  Your words are to be predominantly gracious, seasoned with salt, and with the sole purpose of edifying one another, (Eph. 4:29; Col. 4:6). Can you keep from uttering all your mind today? Can you wait until you have the right words and the right opportunity to say them? Be wise and let your light shine before all men!! 


CONCLUSION:

The central theme of the Book of Proverbs is the fear of the LORD. The book focuses heavily on the consequences of rejecting God's wisdom and man's choices in life.  "Good understanding giveth favor; But the way of the transgressor is hard" (Proverbs 13:15).  The wise will avoid worldliness and lawlessness at all cost.  "Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23 see also 25:26).

Everything that God does reveals His wisdom.  The book of Proverbs is full of God’s practical wisdom for our lives.  One of the most loving things anyone can do for you is to tell you when you’re wrong.  You might want to call it correction, reproof, or rebuke.  Paul uses all three terms in just four verses in 2 Timothy 3:16–4:2.  The kind of rebuke that the Scriptures commend is the kind that is intended to stop us from continuing on a destructive path.  One of the greatest points made in the Proverbs is that we embrace rebuke as a wise path of life.  Those who despise reproof and correction are fools careening toward death.  Often, the one who rejects reproof, correction leads others astray, (Proverbs 10:17), is stupid (Proverbs 12:1) a fool (Proverbs 15:5), and despises himself, (Proverbs 15:32). “Whoever hates reproof will die.” (Proverbs 15:10), and “Poverty and disgrace come to him.” (Proverbs 13:18).  But those who embrace rebuke are honored, (Proverbs 13:18) and prudent (Proverbs 15:5). “He who listens to reproof gains intelligence.” (Proverbs 15:32), loves knowledge (Proverbs 12:1), and dwells among the wise, (Proverbs 15:31).  He is on the right path of life, (Proverbs 10:17), because “the rod and reproof give wisdom.” (Proverbs 29:15) and “the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:23).

He who embraces rebuke, God says,I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. (Proverbs 1:23), but to the one who despises it,  He says, “I will laugh at your calamity.” (Proverbs 1:25–26).  Those who reject correction, will "eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.” (Proverbs 1:30–31), and it will be only a matter of time until they themselves will say, “I am at the brink of utter ruin.” (Proverbs 5:12–14). When ruin, destruction comes for the fool who resists reproof, correction it will be sudden and devastating: “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.” (Proverbs 29:1).  The wise and godly recognize rebuke as a gift of gold, (Proverbs 25:12). It is kindness and a token of love. “Let a righteous man strike me — it is a kindness; let him rebuke me.  — it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” (Psalm 141:5).  Reproof, correction is an act of love, a willingness to accept an awkward moment, and perhaps having your counsel thrown back in your face, for the risk of doing someone good. When one rises to the level of such love, he should be profoundly thankful!

In Christ, we have “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3).  Without Jesus Christ in our lives, there is no way to be wise and righteous. Those who love righteousness and wisdom will listen to advice and accept instruction, that [we] may gain wisdom in the future.” (Proverbs 19:20).   It is such a blessing when others embrace instruction, wisdom, and correction. Even when it’s poorly delivered.

In today's society, there is a great need for wisdom.  The lack of wisdom is destroying the lives of many, both young and old, making fools of them.  We see a vast number of marriages destroyed, friendships lost, souls doomed for lack of wisdom.  Likewise, there is contentiousness, anger, greed, sexual promiscuity, fraud, despicable parents, disrespectful children, envy, deceit and many more sins like these.   Although, our society has advanced exceedingly, and the explosion of knowledge is amazing, there are still many underlying problems that have changed very little.  There is a giant crop of brilliant failures.  There are more fools than ever.  You see knowledge is not enough for mankind, because we need true wisdom, God's wisdom.  The book of Proverbs provides us with practical answers to many of today's rampant problems.  It places godliness into the working clothes of righteousness. The Word of God equips all men unto every good work, (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  It also provides us with sound counsel concerning our daily living.

When we heed God's Word, His inspired counsel, we enjoy life, (Eccl. 9:7-10).  Our Lord Jesus came to bind up the broken-hearted, (Isa. 61:1-3). What more must He do to bring joy to your heart, a bounce to your step, a glow to your face, and health to your bones?!  He is our glorious Savior and Friend.  The upright in heart are glad in the Lord and rejoice forever, (Ps. 32:11; 68:3; Hab. 3:17-19).  Why not start taking His medicine to give life and health to your soul?  True fulfillment is found in fearing God and keeping His commands. Those who do not fear God will not keep His commands, (cf. John 14:15; I John 5:3).  Those who fear Him recognize His power and authority and revere Him.

May we always remember that we as Christians represent our King Jesus and His church.  May we all speak wisely, reflecting the priorities and character of our Lord and His kingdom.  May we always consider the words we speak in person and online.  May we deny self and remain silent about matters that are likely to hurt our influence or cause an unnecessary division between us and those who desperately need the Gospel.

Luci