Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of Proverbs which was written by Solomon the son of David, the king of Israel. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters ten through thirteen of this Old Testament book. THE PROVERBS OF SOLOMON! THE CONTRAST BETWEEN WISDOM AND FOOLISHNESS! THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE WISE SON AND THE FOOLISH SON! THE CONTRAST BETWEEN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND WICKEDNESS! THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE RICH AND THE POOR! THE TONGUE, THE MOUTH, THE LIPS! THE WORDS THE WISE, THE FOOL! THE CHOICE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH!
THE RIGHTEOUS! “The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish” (Proverbs 10:3). “The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life” (Proverbs 10:11). “The labour of the righteous tendeth to life” (Proverbs 10:16). “The lips of the righteous feed many” (Proverbs 10:21). “But the desire of the righteous shall be granted” (Proverbs 10:24). “But the righteous is an everlasting foundation” (Proverbs 10:25). “The hope of the righteous shall be gladness” (Proverbs 10:28). “The righteous shall never be removed” (Proverbs 10:30). “The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable” (Proverbs 10:32). “The righteous is delivered out of trouble” (Proverbs 11:8). “When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth” (Proverbs 11:10). “But the seed of the righteous shall be delivered” (Proverbs 11:21). “The desire of the righteous is only good” (Proverbs 11:23). “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life” (Proverbs 11:30). “Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth” (Proverbs 11:31). “But the root of the righteous shall not be moved” (Proverbs 12:3). “The thoughts of the righteous are right” (proverbs 12:5). “But the house of the righteous shall stand” (Proverbs 12:7). “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast” (Proverbs 12:10). “But the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit” (Proverbs 12:12). “The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour” (Proverbs 12:26). “A righteous man hateth lying” (Proverbs 13:5). “The light of the righteous rejoiceth” (Proverbs 13:9). “But to the righteous good shall be replayed” (Proverbs 13:21). “The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul” (Proverbs 13:25).
THE UPRIGHT! “He that walketh uprightly walketh surely” (Proverbs 10:9). “The integrity of the upright shall guide them” (Proverbs 11:3). “But such as are upright in their way are his delight” (Proverbs 11:20). “But the mouth of the upright shall deliver them” (Proverbs 12:6).
RIGHTEOUSNESS! “But righteousness delivereth from death” (Proverbs 10:2). “But righteousness delivereth from death” (Proverbs 11:4). “The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way” (Proverbs 11:5). “The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them” (Proverbs 11:6). “As righteousness tendeth to life” (Proverbs 11:19). “In the way of righteousness is life” (Proverbs 12:28). “Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way” (Proverbs 13:6). “He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness” (Proverbs 13:17).
THE JUST! “Blessings are upon the head of the just” (Proverbs 10:6). “The memory of the just is blessed” (Proverbs 13:7). “The tongue of the just is as choice silver” (Proverbs 10:20). “The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom” (Proverbs 10:31). “There shall no evil happen to the just” (Proverbs 12:21). “The wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just” (Proverbs 13:22).
THE WICKED! “But he casteth away the substance of the wicked” (Proverbs 10:3) “But violence covereth the mouth of the wicked” (Proverbs 10:6) “But the name of the wicked shall rot” (Proverbs 10:7). “But violence covereth the mouth of the wicked” (Proverbs 10:11). “The fruit of the wicked to sin” (Proverbs 10:16). “The heart of the wicked is little worth” (Proverbs 10:20). “The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him” (Proverbs 10:24). “As the whirlwind passeth, so the wicked is no more” (Proverbs 10:25). “But the years of the wicked shall be shortened” (Proverbs 10:27). “But the expectation of the wicked shall perish” (Proverbs 10:28). “But the wicked shall not inhabit the earth” (Proverbs 10:30). “But the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness” (Proverbs 10:32). “But the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness” (Proverbs 11:4). “When a wicked man dieth, his expectations shall perish” (Proverbs 11:7). “And the wicked cometh in his stead” (Proverbs 11:8). “And when the wicked perish, there is shouting” (Proverbs 11:10). “But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked” (Proverbs 11:11). “The wicked worketh a deceitful work” (Proverbs 11:18). “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished” (Proverbs 11:21). “But the expectation of the wicked is wrath” (Proverbs 11:23). “Much more the wicked and the sinner” (Proverbs 11:31). “But a man of wicked devices will he condemn” (Proverbs 12:2). “But the counsels of the wicked are deceit” (Proverbs 12:5). “The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood” (Proverbs 12:6). “The wicked are overthrown, and are not” (Proverbs 12:7). “But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Proverbs 12:10). “The wicked desireth the net of evil men” (Proverbs 12:12). “The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips” (Proverbs 12:13). “But the wicked shall be filled with mischief” (Proverbs 12:21). “But the way of the wicked seduceth them” (Proverbs 12:26). “But a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame” (Proverbs 13:5). “But the lamp of the wicked shall be put out” (Proverbs 13:9). “A wicked messenger falleth to mischief” (Proverbs 13:17).
WICKEDNESS! “A man shall not be established by wickedness” (Proverbs 12:3). “But wickedness overthroweth the sinner” (Proverbs 13:6).
TONGUE! MOUTH! LIPS! SPEECH! “The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked” (Proverbs 10:11). “In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found” (Proverbs 10:13). “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth slander, is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18). “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). “The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth” (Proverbs 10:20). “The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom” (Proverbs 10:21). “The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out” (Proverbs 10:31). “The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness” (Proverbs 10:32). “An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered” (Proverbs 11:9). “The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them” (Proverbs 12:6). “The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips: but the just shall come out of trouble” (Proverbs 12:13). “A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompense of man’s hands shall be rendered unto him” (Proverbs 12:14). “There is that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness; but a false witness is deceit” (Proverbs 12:18). “The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment” (Proverbs 12:19). “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight” (Proverbs 12:22). “A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of transgressors shall eat violence” (Proverbs 13:2). “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction” (Proverbs 13:3).
A TALE OF TWO SONS! “A wise son maketh glad his father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother” (Proverbs 10:1). “He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causethh shame” (Proverbs 10:5). “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1).
FOOL! FOOLS! FOOLISH! “The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall” (Proverbs 10:8). “Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction” (Proverbs 10:14). “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth slander, is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18). “It is a sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom” (Proverbs 10:23). “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be a servant to the wise of heart” (Proverbs 11:29). “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15). “A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame” (Proverbs 12:16). “A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness” (Proverbs 12:23). “Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly” (Proverbs 13:16). “The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil” (Proverbs 13:19). “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture found and contained within the Old Testament poetic book of the Proverbs you will find the shape and nature of the book shifting from what was found in the opening chapters of the book. If and as you read the words found within the first nine chapters of this book you will encounter and come face to face with the instruction of a father that was geared specifically and directly to a son. You cannot read the words which are found in the opening nine chapters of the book of Proverbs and not find a father desperate to speak unto his son that he might impart unto him wisdom, knowledge, understanding, discretion, discernment, and so much more. With that being said, however, it’s important that we recognize that the wisdom which Solomon sought to impart unto his son was not only derived from the wisdom which the LORD had given him, but it was also derived from the Law of the LORD with all its statutes, its decrees, its commands, its precepts, and the like. I would dare say that Solomon’s ultimate goal in writing the book of Proverbs—at least the opening chapters of the book was to impart wisdom unto his son that his son might not walk in the same steps and path he himself walked in. We must make absolutely no mistake about it when reading the words which are found within the opening nine chapters that Solomon sought to speak directly unto his son, and to impart wisdom which he had received from the LORD, as well as wisdom which he had gleaned over the years through experience. If there is one thing I can’t help but consider when thinking about the life of Solomon—as well as the book of Proverbs itself—it’s that wisdom was definitely a critical and vital part of that which Solomon sought to pass on to his son, however, it was not the only thing which would be imparted unto him. As you read the words which are found within this Old Testament book you will find that there was also the element of experience which worked in direct relation and conjunction with wisdom, and it wasn’t merely wisdom Solomon sought to pass on and pass down to his son. I firmly believe Solomon also sought to impart unto his son his own experiences which worked in direct connection with the wisdom God had given him. With this being said I would dare say that wisdom is indeed a necessity within our lives, however, we would be incredibly naïve to think and even consider that wisdom itself must not be tempted with and by experience. We would do ourselves and others a great disservice thinking and believing that wisdom does not also require experience, and that experience itself can somehow be the means whereby wisdom is meted out.
As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about the fact that wisdom in and of itself can be received directly from and directly by God, however, wisdom is also something that can be learned and obtained through personal experience within this life. There is a wisdom which comes directly from the living and eternal God, and even James the half-brother of Jesus makes this point abundantly clear when he invites his rafters and his audience to ask of God if they lack wisdom. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the first and opening chapter of the epistle written by James, as well as the words we find concerning Solomon’s request of the LORD for wisdom that he might effectively rule and govern the people of God within the nation and kingdom of Israel:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the LORD. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8).
“In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor has asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants” (1 Kings 3:1-15).
“In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said unto God, Thou hast shewed great mercy unto David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead. Now, O LORD God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great? And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like” (2 Chronicles 1:7-12).
Within the epistle written by James the half-brother of Jesus we find him declaring that those who lack wisdom need only ask of God who gives unto all men liberally and freely, and it would be given unto him. What’s actually quite interesting is when you examine the passages found in the Old Testament books of First Kings and Second Chronicles, for within those two passages we are presented with a truly wonderful and powerful picture of what it looks like to ask God for wisdom—and not only wisdom, but a wise and discerning heart of understanding, discretion and discernment. Solomon realized and recognized that the task and assignment before and ahead of him was too great and too monumental that he could not do it without help from the LORD. Solomon realized that the only way he would be able to effectively govern the people of God is with the LORD’s help, and with the LORD Himself granting unto him a wise and discerning heart. Through the narrative and examine of Solomon we encounter and come face to face with the truly astonishing reality of one man whom the LORD appeared to and offered him the ability to ask of him anything he would, and Solomon thought to ask the LORD for wisdom. We dare not and must not miss the absolute and incredible significance and importance of this request by Solomon the son of David and king of Israel, for Solomon is a perfect example of that which James the half-brother of Jesus wrote and spoke of in his epistle concerning those who lack wisdom asking God that He might grant and give unto them wisdom. Solomon realized the greatest necessity in ruling and reigning as king over the nation and kingdom of Israel was wisdom and a heart that was able to discern between wisdom and foolishness, between good and evil, between righteousness and wickedness, and between that which pleased and honored the LORD, and that which did not. It is truly something worth pointing out that Solomon’s request of the LORD for wisdom is actually a unique spin on the instruction and command the LORD gave unto Adam when He placed him in the garden of Eden. You will recall in the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis the LORD gave Adam a very specific command concerning the trees in the garden—all of which he might freely eat, except one which he was commanded not to eat of, nor partake of its fruit. Consider if you will the words which are found in the second and third chapters of the Old Testament book of Genesis beginning with the fifteenth verse of the second chapter:
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:15-17).
“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the yes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the yes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I hear thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:1-13).
In order to understand the scope of Solomon’s request of the LORD it is necessary that we recognize and understand what took place in the garden, for there was a specific tree within the garden which was known as and referred to as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was of this tree the LORD specifically gave Adam a command not to eat of, and also gave him a warning that in the day he ate of the tree and its fruit he would surely die. When you read the narrative of the serpent beguiling Eve you will find him speaking unto Eve and contradicting the LORD’s statement of death, and went even further to declare unto her that in the day she ate of the fruit her eyes would be opened, and they would be as gods, knowing good and evil. As you progress within this narrative you will find that when Eve saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit and ate, and gave unto her husband with her who also ate. Focus on the title of the tree as it being the tree of “the knowledge of good and evil,” the words of the serpent unto Eve declaring that they would “know good and evil,” and Moses’ words concerning Eve seeing that tree was to be desired to make one wise. At the very heart of man’s rebellion and disobedience in the garden of Eden was this pursuit of knowledge and this pursuit of wisdom—and not only a pursuit of wisdom and knowledge, but a pursuit in direct relation and connection to the knowledge of good and evil. Ever since man ate of the fruit of that tree they have had a knowledge of good and evil that has been inherent within themselves, and they have been their own guide to what is good and what is evil. This is precisely why the Law was given—specifically the Ten Commandments—for through the Law of Moses the LORD would provide unto His people His commands, His statutes, His precepts and His decrees to show and demonstrate how His people could walk in a manner which pleased Him. What makes Solomon’s request so incredibly powerful is Solomon wasn’t willing to rely on his own knowledge—perhaps even his own knowledge of good and evil—to rightly and properly govern the nation and kingdom of Israel. As a direct result of this realization within his heart and mind Solomon recognized that he would need something and someone greater than himself to be able to properly govern the people of Israel which were as the dust of the shore.
Solomon asked the LORD for a wise and discerning heart, and Solomon asked the LORD to able to judge between good and evil—not according to his own wisdom or his own understanding, but according to that which the LORD had given unto him. Perhaps this is why he was able to write in this poetic book and instruct others to trust in the LORD with all their heart, and to lean not on their own understanding, but to acknowledge the LORD in all their ways, and he would direct their paths. Solomon knew what it was like and what it meant to trust in the LORD with all his heart, and to lean not on his own understanding, which is why he thought and sought to ask the LORD for a wise and discerning heart. Solomon was unwilling to rely on his own understanding and was unwilling to rely on his own knowledge, and sought to rely solely on the LORD alone for the ability to discern between good and evil. There is not a doubt in my mind that Solomon’s request flies directly in the face of what the serpent sought to beguile Eve with at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for Solomon wanted the wisdom of the LORD to discern between good and evil. Solomon sought to trust in the LORD for the ability to discern good and evil and between righteousness and wickedness. Solomon asked the LORD for a wise and discerning heart that he might be able to truly and properly judge the LORD’s people, for he knew there was no one better to judge the people of the LORD than the LORD Himself. Solomon asked for a wise and discerning heart, thus acknowledging that he wasn’t willing to be a judge within and a judge unto himself, but rather allow the LORD to be judge. Solomon’s request for wisdom is truly and absolutely astounding, for not only would he use that wisdom to rule and govern the people of God, but he would use that wisdom to speak directly unto his son that his son might be instructed in the ways of the LORD. We must recognize and understand that it is wisdom to instruct others, and to instruct the next generation in the ways of the LORD. It is wisdom to be able to instruct the next generation and to teach and train them in the way in which they should go, and to teach them the Law of the LORD with all its statutes, decrees, precepts, commands, etc. When you come to the Old Testament book of Proverbs you will find Solomon writing and speaking directly unto his son as he sought to instruct him in the ways of the LORD, and instruct him concerning the way in which he should go. Solomon did in fact seek to impart unto his son wisdom which he had received directly from the LORD, but also the experience(s) he had within and during his life as king over the nation and kingdom of Israel.
With all of that being said it’s necessary to consider the words which are found in the chapters before us, for the words found within these chapters provide us with a shift from the structure and layout of the opening nine chapters. It might very well e said that the opening nine chapters of this poetic book were directed to Solomon’s son to provide him with instruction, wisdom, discernment, knowledge, understanding, and the way of the LORD in which he should walk in and follow. When, however, you come to the words which are found within chapters ten and all those which are present thereafter you will find the book taking on an entirely different tone, layout and structure. It’s as you read the words which are found within these chapters where you seem to notice a certain pattern of subjects and topics that emerge within the psalms. At the very outset of this particular writing I presented you with a vast majority of these topics and subjects as they were presented within this poetic book written by Solomon king of Israel. You cannot read the book of Proverbs without encountering and coming face to face with certain words, certain phrases, certain subjects and topics which are mentioned repeatedly within the book. One such topic and subject is that of the words which proceed forth from out mouths, and that which proceeds from our lips and tongue. Reading the Old Testament book of Proverbs you will quickly notice that Solomon had a great deal to say concerning the words which come forth out of our mouths, and the speech which we utter before the LORD. You cannot read the Old Testament book of Proverbs without coming face to face with the tremendous reality that Solomon sought to caution his readers and his audience concerning the words which they so casually allowed to come forth. Solomon recognized the danger and pitfall of a loose tongue and loose lips, and the old adage is actually quite telling when consider Solomon’s words—“Loose lips sink ships.” Many a ship of someone’s life has been shipwrecked and damaged given the fact that they have chosen to be loose and free with the words which proceed from their mouths. What’s worth noting and pointing out is the words which our Lord Jesus had to say concerning the words which proceed forth out of our mouths, as well as the words which James His half-brother had to write on the subject. I am convinced that in order to get a truer understanding of the words which Solomon wrote in the Old Testament book of Proverbs it is necessary to turn and direct our attention to the synoptic gospels and the words Jesus spoke concerning our speech, as well as the words which James wrote in his epistle:
“And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But He answered and 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. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast into the drought? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands defileth not a man” (Matthew 15:10-20).
“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:34-37).
“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, ,that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (James 3:1-12).
It is quite clear and quite obvious from the words which Jesus spoke—as well as the words which James his half brother spoke—that there is a great need for us as the people of God to guard very carefully the words which come forth from our mouth. Jesus when speaking unto the Pharisees declared that it wasn’t that which went into the mouth which defiled a person, but rather that which came out of a person’s mouth that defiled them. Moreover, Jesus would go on to declare that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, which confirms the tremendous reality that a mouth issue is and has always been a heart issue. We cannot seek to address the words which come out of our mouth without first being willing to address the words which are found within our heart. I have always believed that the truest litmus test of any individual is the words which proceed forth from their mouth, for if you want to truly understand the nature and condition of the heart of another you need only listen to the words which proceed forth out of their mouths. We cannot miss the awesome and challenging reality that the words which proceed forth from our lips, and the words which proceed forth from out mouth are not a direct reflection of our heart that is found within us. We cannot lose sight of the fact that the words which come forth out of our mouth are a direct reflection of the nature and condition of our heart, and that our mouths are essentially a mirror of the heart. It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, however, I would dare say that the mouth is the window to the heart. Moreover, I would dare state that the mouth is the mirror and window to the heart and reveals everything in it. I would suggest and present to you that it is quite impossible to conceal the true nature and condition of your heart while the words which proceed forth from your lips tell and reveal all. Have you ever stopped to truly listen to someone—I mean truly and fully listen to them? Have you ever stopped to truly listen to the words which proceed forth out of the mouth of another, and as a direct result of hearing the words which came out of their mouths had a direct line into their heart? It is incredibly naïve of us to think and consider—even for a brief moment—that our mouths don’t reveal the true condition of our heart, and that more often than not our mouths betray our hearts. Please note and understand that when I speak of our mouths betraying our hearts I am referencing the fact that we would like to conceal much of what is present within our heart, and yet the words which proceed from our lips and from our mouth paint a picture we might not want to be seen by others.
As you read the words which were found in the Old Testament book of Proverbs you will find that Solomon had a great deal to say about the mouth, the tongue, the lips and the speech of men. You cannot read the words found in the Old Testament book of the Proverbs and not encounter and come face to face with the reality that Solomon recognized the great trouble that surrounded the speech which proceeds forth from our lips and proceeds forth from our mouths. In the tenth chapter of the book of Proverbs Solomon reveals that the mouth of a righteous man is a well of life, but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. Also in the tenth chapter Solomon writes how in the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found, and how he who hides hatred with lying lips, and he which utters slander is a fool. Solomon would go on to write how those who refrain their lips is wise, and how the tongue of the just is as choice silver. What’s more, Solomon goes on to declare that the lips of the righteous feed many, and how the mouth of the just brings forth wisdom. We cannot afford to miss the words and language which are found within the words Solomon spoke, for Solomon recognized and understood that the words of a man or woman can either produce life or they can produce death. This is precisely what James wrote when he said that the tongue has the power of life and death. Permit me to ask you very candidly and very pointedly if your words feed and nourish others, or if your words starve and destroy others? When you speak, do the words which you speak bring forth life, or do the words you speak produce only death? When was the last time you stopped to truly listen to the words which proceeded forth from your lips? When was the last time you asked yourself whether or not your words strengthened, edified, encouraged and uplifted others, or whether or not your words essentially tore down those whom you came in contact with, and those who you interacted with? Solomon recognized and understood that the words of a side man are like choice silver and that they can in all reality be a pleasant treasure and delight to those whom we interact with. The underlying question, however, is whether or not our words can in fact be treasured by others, or whether or words are deadly poison which pollute and corrupt those whom we interact with. Those who are wise and those who give great thought and consideration to the words they speak are those who truly walk in a manner that not only pleases the LORD, but also exhorts and encourages others.
Within the Old Testament book of Proverbs we encounter the tremendous reality that our lips, our tongues, our mouths, and the words and speech which proceed forth from them can either be a great blessing to others, or they can be a cursing. Moreover, Solomon recognized that in many words, and in the multitude and multiplying of words there is great confusion and there is great evil. Solomon wrote how those who refrained their lips were wise, and the question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we weigh our words carefully. Do you stop and pause to think about the words you are about to speak, or do you simply allow any word to proceed forth? Do you have a filter upon your lips and a filter upon your tongue, and truly weight the words which proceed forth from you lips in the balance? I am convinced that one of the greatest necessities within our lives is not only a filter for the words which proceed out of our mouths, but also a system of checks and balances where we weigh the words we about to speak carefully and cautiously. Would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider the fact that not everything that comes of your mouth needs to be said? Would it surprise you to hear that not everything you say, and not everything you’ve been saying has needed to be said? I wonder what would happen if the LORD weighed all of our words in a balance and showed us how much of what we have spoken truly needed to be spoken, and how much shouldn’t have been spoken at all. Would we be completely and utterly shocked to consider and ponder the fact that much of what we are saying might not even need to be said, and that we are essentially spewing out words and speech which have no inherent or eternal value? When was the last time you stopped and asked yourself whether or not the words which proceeded forth out of your mouth possessed an eternal value and an eternal quality. I am convinced that we would do ourselves a great service if we began evaluating the words which proceeded forth from our lips, and truly began asking whether or not our words are speaking truth and righteousness, or whether or not our mouths are spewing forth lies, hypocrisy, slander, malice, and the like. Do our words bring forth wisdom, knowledge, discretion and understanding, or do our words breed confusion, wickedness, chaos, transgression, violence, and so much more. Jesus made it abundantly clear what proceeds forth out of the mouth and we must be willing to ask ourselves whether or not our mouths are springs of living water or whether they are broken and empty cisterns that offer no life, no hope, no peace, no encouragement, nor joy, no comfort to those before and around us.
As you continue reading the words which are found within these four chapters you will encounter a tremendous contrast between the righteous and the wicked—and not only the nature and character of the righteous and the wicked, but ultimately their end game within this life. Solomon spent a great deal of time contemplating the righteous and the wicked, and there are a number of proverbs that set forth a clear and present distinction between these two groups of people. We cannot read the Old Testament book of Proverbs and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous reality that there are essentially two sides we can choose to walk—the way of the righteous, or the way of the wicked. The words which are presented before us within these chapters—as well as the words which are found within the rest of the Old Testament book of Proverbs present a clear picture of just who the righteous are and what their lives look like in this life. The book of Proverbs holds no punches and leaves nothing left to wonder or consider, for within the proverbs of Solomon we find him charting a clear and present path that is before the righteous, as the lives of the righteous are carefully guarded and watched over by the LORD. Solomon writes how the LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish, how the righteous shall never be removed, how the righteous is delivered out of their trouble, how the root of the righteous shall not be moved, and how the house of the righteous shall stand. In all reality, Solomon presented and painted a very clear picture of the safety and security the righteous would experience within their lives, and how the righteous will dwell in safety and security. Within and throughout their lives. Essentially the righteous can be likened unto those whom Jesus spoke of who built their house upon the rock, and when the storm came, the rains fell, the winds blew and the waves crashed against the house, and yet the house stood firm because of the foundation upon which it is built. Within the Old Testament book of Solomon we discover—not only the security of the righteous, but also the foundation upon which the righteous stand. We can and must make no mistake about considering the righteous in the midst of the land, for the righteous will dwell in safety and security because the LORD is their foundation, and because the LORD watches over and carefully guards their path. This isn’t to say that the righteous cannot and will not experience trouble, adversity, trial, suffering and affliction, but that the LORD can and will deliver them out of it all. Whether in this life or the next the LORD will deliver His righteous servants out of the trouble and trials they face in the midst this life. Ultimately, Solomon emphatically and boldly declares that the house of the righteous shall stand, and the question we must ask ourselves is whether or not our house is built upon the proper foundation, and whether or not our house can and will stand in the midst of this life, or whether it will crumble. Consider if you will the words which our Lord Jesus spoke at the conclusion and end of His famous Sermon on the mount concerning the contrast between the wise man and the foolish man:
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:4-27).
If you continue building upon this present reality you will find that Solomon would go on to not only speak about the righteous, but Solomon would also go on to speak about the just. In all reality, it might very well be said that the word “righteous” and the phrase “the just” can be used interchangeably, as both refer to the same quality and type of person within this life. Upon reading these chapters even further you will find Solomon not only speaking about “the just,” but you will also find Solomon speaking about the joy and the benefit of righteousness. In the tenth chapter of this Old Testament book we find Solomon declaring that those who walk uprightly will walk surely, and how the integrity of the upright shall guide them. Moreover, Solomon would go on to write how such as are upright in their way are the delight of the LORD, and how the mouth of the upright shall deliver them. Oh dear reader there is a tremendous safety, there is a tremendous security, there is a tremendous surety that is found within and among the righteous, which we must understand and must recognize. Solomon made it very clear when writing concerning the righteous, concerning the upright, and concerning the just, as he painted a clear and vivid picture concerning the life of such men and women. Moving further along within this passage of Scripture you will find Solomon speaking of the just and describing the just as having blessings upon their heads, and how their memories are blessed. Furthermore, Solomon would write how the tongue of the just is as choice silver, and how the mouth of the just brings forth wisdom. We cannot miss and lose sight of this absolutely tremendous and remarkable reality. What’s more, is that at the very heart and soul of the righteous, the just and the upright is righteousness—righteousness which is clearly distinguished from wickedness. You cannot read the Old Testament book of Solomon and not encounter a clear distinction between righteousness and wickedness, as well as between wisdom and foolishness. The upright, the righteous, the just all have at the very heart and core of their beings wisdom and righteousness. What’s more, is that Solomon clearly sets forth that righteousness works and is at work within the hearts and lives of the righteous, as he emphatically declared that righteousness not only delivers from death, but righteousness delivers the righteous from that which would seek to destroy them. Solomon writes how righteousness keeps him that is upright in the way, and that righteousness tends and leads to life. We must conclude and decide whether or not we are going to live our lives as righteous men and women, and be characterized by righteousness, or whether or not we going to allow our lives to be governed by wickedness.
One thing we must realize and recognize when reading the proverbs of Solomon is that he had a very clear understanding of the righteous and the wicked, and continually and repeatedly warned his son concerning the wicked. In the wisdom which the LORD had given unto Solomon he had a very clear and present understanding of the very stark contrast which existed between righteousness and wickedness, as well as between the righteous and the wicked. In all reality, I would dare say that the LORD endowed Solomon with such wisdom to know the difference between wickedness and righteousness, and gave him with a discerning heart to distinguish between the righteous and the wicked. Undoubtedly the wisdom which Solomon possessed allowed him to have and afforded him a unique insight concerning the righteous and the wicked in the land. You cannot read the proverbs of Solomon and not encounter the tremendous distinction Solomon places between the righteous and the wicked, as he clearly sought to draw a line in the sand concerning the two realities. When you read the words found within the proverbs of Solomon you will find that Solomon’s heart was governed by this discernment and wisdom concerning righteousness and wickedness, and he was able to distinguish between the two in the midst of the nation of Israel. As you read the proverbs of Solomon found within these four chapters you will find that he had a great deal to say about the wicked—in fact, he had more to say about the wicked than he did about the righteous. The words which are found within these chapters bring us face to face with the awesome reality that Solomon sought to clearly reveal and paint a clear picture concerning the wicked within the land, and sought to not only reveal the nature and character of the wicked, but also the end game of the wicked. Solomon wasted no time and held nothing back when seeking to demonstrate the tremendous plight of the wicked in the midst of the land, and sought to provide a detailed description of the wicked. Solomon sought to clearly define and describe the wicked in the midst of the land, and sought to bring his readers face to face with how to discern the wicked in the midst of the land. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the proverbs which Solomon wrote were to provide his son, his readers, and his audience with a clear and present picture concerning the wicked in the midst of the land that they might be able to discern their presence and company, and essentially guard themselves from being defiled and polluted in their way.
The more you read the words which are found in the proverbs of Solomon the more you will come to know and understand the ultimate end and demise of the wicked—a reality which Asaph himself came to realize when he entered into the house of the LORD. It’s incredibly intriguing to read and consider the words which are found in the Old Testament book of the Psalms, for within this book—specifically within the psalms of Asaph—you will find the wicked initially being envied because of their apparent and so-called ease and comfort within this life. Asaph admitted to envying the wicked because of their ease, because of their comfort, because of their prosperity, and because of their seeming lack of concern in this life. What’s more, is Asaph even went so far as to thinking that he cleansed his heart in vain, and walked in uprightness to no avail. All of this was until he entered and went into the house of the LORD and discerned in the presence of the LORD the ultimate end and demise of the wicked. I am convinced that the words which Asaph wrote in the Old Testament book of Psalms must be carefully considered in direct conjunction with the words we find in the book of the Proverbs, for Solomon was very clear concerning the end of the wicked, and the fate and destiny that awaits them. Consider if you will the words which Asaph wrote concerning his envy of the wicked before entering into the house of the LORD and realizing the error of his way:
“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clear heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. And they say, How doth God know? And is there knowledge in the most High? Behold, these are ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; Behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into desctruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh ; So, O LORD, when thou awake sit, thou shalt despise their image. Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the LORD God, that I may declare all thy works” (Psalm 73:1-28).
Within these words which were written by Asaph you will find him initially being envious of the wicked and their apparent lack of concern within this life. Asaph looked upon the wicked and saw their relative ease, comfort and security in this life, and was envious of such realities within their lives. Asaph felt that the wicked might have been in a better place with their boasting, their pride, their arrogance, and the words and language which they spoke. This all was until he entered into the house of the LORD and stood before the presence of the LORD and came face to face with the reality that the wicked have a very slippery end, and have an end that is characterized by destruction and devastation. Asaph entered into the house of the LORD and after standing in the presence of the LORD realized and recognized the devastating end the wicked faced within this life—a reality which Solomon himself understood and presented within the book of the Proverbs. If and as you read the words found within these chapters you will find Solomon speaking of the great devastation and destruction of the wicked in the midst of the earth, and clearly set forth their determined end from the LORD. In these verses you will find that the LORD casts away the substance of the wicked, and how the name of the wicked shall rot. What’s more, the LORD declares that the fear of the wicked shall come upon them, and as a whirlwind passes, so the wicked are no more. Solomon would go on to write how the years of the wicked shall be shortened, and how the expectation of the wicked shall perish. Moreover, Solomon would write how the wicked shall not inhabit the earth, and how they shall fall by their own wickedness. When a wicked man dies, his expectations perish, and when the wicked perish there is much shouting. What’s more, Solomon writes how the wicked are overthrown, and are not and how their lamp shall be put out. Each of these declarations clearly presents us with the reality of the wicked in the midst of the land, and truly demonstrates and reveals the demise and destruction that would indeed and would in fact come upon the wicked because of their wickedness and because of their foolishness. Solomon made it very clear that the end of the wicked was devastation and destruction, and how the end of the wicked is death. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely tremendous reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the sheer and utter destruction of the wicked.
As I bring this writing to a close it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we truly read the words which are found and contained within the book of Proverbs and truly encounter the dramatic distinction that exists between the righteous and the wicked. It is absolutely necessary that we truly understand and can discern between wickedness and righteousness, and that we ask ourselves which of these realities characterize our lives. We must read the words which are found within the book of the Proverbs and truly examine our own hearts and lives—and not only our hearts, but also the words which proceed forth from our lips. There is a great amount of language found within the proverbs of Solomon concerning the fruit of our lips, and we must ask ourselves whether or not the fruit of our lips is rotten and spoiled fruit, or whether the fruit of our lips is desirous and a delight to those around us. We must ask ourselves whether or not we are walking in wisdom, in discretion, in knowledge and in understanding, or whether we are choosing to walk in folly and foolishness. I love the proverbs of Solomon because at the very heart and soul of these sayings is a call to self-examination as we take a good, long, hard and careful look at ourselves, and truly ask ourselves if we are walking in righteousness before and in the sight of the living God. We must be willing to ask ourselves hard questions, and truly allow ourselves to be open, honest, vulnerable and transparent before and in the sight of the LORD. We dare not, we cannot and must shy away from this great responsibility, for to do so would be to miss out on that which the living and eternal God has for us, and the path he wants us to walk. We must read the book of the Proverbs and truly come face to face with whether or not we are among the righteous in the land, or whether or not we are among the wicked in the land. We must ask ourselves if we are pursuing righteousness with all our heart, or whether or not we are pursuing wickedness. We must ask ourselves whether or not we are truly walking in wisdom, or whether or not we are walking in foolishness before and in the sight of the living God. Oh that we would be a people who are truly willing to examine our hearts and our lives, and that we would truly be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to shine His light within and upon our hearts, our souls, our minds, and every area of our lives that we might be a people who walk in a manner that is pleasing and acceptable in the sight of the living God.