Daniel in the Den (Daniel 6:16-18)

We have been studying our way through the sixth chapter of Daniel in a short series of posts.

In the first one – An Excellent Man – we thought about how Daniel conducted himself, and what lessons there are for us in our modern world. In part two – No Compromise – we saw another aspect of Daniel’s excellence, in that he absolutely refused to compromise his faith irrespective of the consequences. He was prepared to die in the Lion’s Den rather than deny his God. In our third instalment – No Way Out – we see that King Darius is tied up in his own words, and finds no escape.

Seeing no way out, King Darius is forced to have Daniel arrested.

Then the king gave a command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you constantly serve, rescue you Himself!” 17 A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing would be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no music or entertainment was brought before him, and he remained unable to sleep.

Daniel 6:16-18 Amp

Verse 16 is somewhat matter of fact. It simply says the king commanded, Daniel is arrest and then thrown into the den. I think it is interesting that we have yet to hear Daniel utter a single word. Even now, as he is taken by force, the Bible does not record him protesting or arguing or begging at all. Now I am not saying Daniel remained silent throughout the whole affair, simply that the Bible does not record him saying anything. Is that relevant? Is there some hidden gem here? Perhaps, or perhaps not. One point I do draw out is that we have not the merest hint of Daniel speaking foolish or idle words, and this is in stark contrast to King Darius who regretted his commands.

The king says to Daniel, “May your God, whom you constantly serve, rescue you Himself!” I emphasise the words “your” and “constantly.”

The king recognises that this God is Daniel’s God. Darius sees that there is a personal relationship between Daniel and his God. This will be important later on when we close out the chapter – so keep it in mind.

I also note that Daniel did not just serve God, but constantly served Him. It implies that Daniel has no apparent lapses or displays half-hearted worship. Instead, Daniel is steady and unshakeable in his walk with God. Indeed, that very commitment is what has landed him in the den of lions. We noted from verse 10 of this chapter that when Daniel hears that the law forbidding prayer to anyone but King Darius has been signed, he goes straight home and prays – three times a day – just as he always had. Daniel is steadfast in prayer, and everyone knew it. What a lesson for us! Are we so dedicated? Are we so unshakeably steady? Do people look at us in church on a Sunday and wonder if we’ll still be following Christ in a week’s time? I pray not!

So, Daniel is lowered into the pit, and as I said above, no mention is made of him having said a word. Yet this passage is not dissimilar to another situation we find earlier on in the book of Daniel. Earlier on in Daniel 3, we read the account of his three friends and they are commanded to worship an idol in the form of a giant golden statue. They refuse. Like Daniel, they now faced death – not from lions, but from a raging furnace turned up seven times hotter than normal. As they are arrested and thrown in, they tell the king of the day (Nebuchadnezzar) “Our God is able to rescue us, and even if He does not, we will still not bow down and worship this idol.”

Daniel was seemingly not present at the fiery furnace, or at least no mention is made of him. I wonder if he was familiar with the account though, and if he knew the words that his friends had spoken. If so, perhaps he would have been saying to the king, “My God is able to rescue me from the mouths of these hungry lions, but even if he does not, I will not pray to you Darius.”

Whatever you are going through right now, you can take these words as your own. “Jesus is well able to rescue me from this [death, illness, job loss, persecution, insert your own situation here] but even if He does not, I will still follow Him with all my heart.”

A stone is placed over the mouth of the den, and it is sealed with the king’s seal so that no one can interfere. This should remind us of another den/tomb, sealed with another stone, which was also sealed/guarded so that no one could interfere…. And look how that turned out!

So Darius returned to his palace, refuses food and entertainment, and spends the entire night worrying about Daniel. Daniel meanwhile, is in the den, and we know not what is happening to him. As I close this post, I wonder who of the two had the better night’s sleep? The king, by worrying, could not change the outcome. Neither could Daniel. Perhaps as he rested and trusted in his God, Daniel was able to curl up and sleep right next to the lions.

You know doubt know how the story ends, and if not, we will find out next time. The important question for me is why? And what, if anything, is the lesson for us as the church? I will try to draw this out next time, and bring this series to an end. If you have enjoyed it, do share with someone else. And as ever, thanks for reading.

No Way Out (Daniel 6:11-15)

Continuing on with our look at Daniel 6 and his experience in the Lion’s Den, we pick up the passage at verse 11.

11 Then, by agreement, these men came [together] and found Daniel praying and making requests before his God. 12 Then they approached and spoke before the king regarding his injunction, “Have you not signed an injunction that anyone who petitions (prays to) any god or man except you, O king, within the designated thirty days, is to be thrown into the den of lions?” The king answered, “The statement is true, in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be altered or revoked.” 13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, does not pay any attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you have signed, but keeps praying [to his God] three times a day.”

14 Then, as soon as the king heard these words, he was deeply distressed [over what he had done] and set his mind on rescuing Daniel; and he struggled until the sun went down [trying to work out a way] to save him. 15 Then, by agreement, these same men came to the king and said, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be altered or revoked.”

Daniel 6:11-15 (AMP)

As a reminder, the governors and commissioners were jealous of this successful man – Daniel. He is rising to the top because of his faithfulness to God. They cannot find fault with him, so lay a trap for him by asking the King to sign a law that states no one can pray to any god or man except to King Darius himself. Daniel, not willing to compromise, goes home and prays to God just as he always did. The governors catch him in the act.

These wicked men approach the king and ask him, “O King, did you not sign some kind of law about praying to any God or man except you? Didn’t you say anyone caught doing this would be thrown into the lion’s den?” The king replies in the affirmative, and confirms he did indeed sign such a law. The governors are quick to point out that Daniel has broken the law.

I imagine the look on King Darius’ face as realisation dawns. Verse 14 tells us he was deeply distressed. Why? I would like to think he is particularly fond of Daniel, and the thought of losing his friendship was a very sad one. However, I suspect another reason may lie behind the king’s distress. We learned from earlier on in the chapter that the governors and commissioners were there to protect the king’s interests. No one did that better than Daniel. The king knows that to lose Daniel to the lions is to lose a valuable asset, and leaves him with only corrupt officials unlikely to act with integrity toward him.

Verse 14 may seem a little odd to our ears. If he is the king, why not just change the laws or pardon Daniel to save him from the lions? You will notice the phrase, repeated more than once in this chapter, “in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be altered or revoked.” Once a law was made in Persia, that was it. No take-backs, no changes. Not even the king could undo a law that he had signed.

We see this at work in the book of Esther. King Artaxerxes, under the influence of the wicked Haman, signs a law that will mean the Jewish people will be killed on a certain day. The actions of Queen Esther exposes the plot, but the king cannot revoke the law. Instead, he puts in place a second law that means the Jewish people can gather together, arm and protect themselves from harm.

King Darius spends the entire day trying to figure out a way out of the predicament. He finds none. There are a number of lessons for us here, but I want to point out the importance of our words. We must not make a commitment we cannot fulfil. We see the impact of hasty words in Judges 11 when Jephthah makes a vow that he will sacrifice the first thing that comes out of his house. Sadly, it was his daughter who came to greet him. Jesus, likewise, urges us to count the cost before we begin (see Luke 14). King Darius here has been flattered by the governors and they have taken full advantage. He no doubt regrets his words, and can find no way out.

We ought to be very careful about what we commit to. When we talked about Daniel being an excellent man, I am certain that part of his excellence lie in the fact that he meant what he said. Too few of us are bound by our words. If we say we are going to be there at a certain time, then we should make sure we are. If we are not sure, then neither should we commit.

Too few of us are bound by our #words – #Bible #Jesus

There is no recourse for the king. He finds no way out. Daniel is surely doomed! We will find out what happens when we look at the rest of this chapter another time.

Catch up on previous posts in this series:

Thanks for reading!

Turn Your Ear & Fix Your Eyes (Proverbs 4:20-27)

My son, attend to my words.

    Turn your ear to my sayings.

21 Let them not depart from your eyes.

    Keep them in the center of your heart.

22 For they are life to those who find them,

    and health to their whole body.

23 Keep your heart with all diligence,

    for out of it is the wellspring of life.

24 Put away from yourself a perverse mouth.

    Put corrupt lips far from you.

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead.

    Fix your gaze directly before you.

26 Make the path of your feet level.

    Let all of your ways be established.

27 Don’t turn to the right hand nor to the left.

    Remove your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:20-27 (WEB)

The other day my wife was talking to me, and like a dutiful husband, I was nodding and saying “Uh-huh…” in all the right places. My mind however, was somewhere else! I had to hold my hands up and admit that although I was hearing the words, I wasn’t really listening.

Verse 20 of Proverbs 4 is a rather eloquent way of saying “Listen up!” Attending to someone’s words is not simply to hear them, but rather to engage with them. Likewise, turning one’s head in the right direction (so that the ear is pointed at the speaker) is not nearly enough to ensure the instruction hits home.

Solomon is again entreating us to listen, to take on board and to respond to the wisdom of his teaching.

In a similar way, verse 21 encourages us to keep Wisdom’s teachings before our eyes and thus planted in our hearts. This idea of God’s Word and wisdom not departing from our eyes is an exhortation to be both regular and consistently reading and studying the Scripture.

A 30-minute sermon on a Sunday is not enough. A 5-minute devotional each morning may be encouraging, but it may be insufficient to receive the full counsel of God’s Word.

For me at least, little and often may be the key. I have followed “Bible in a year” plans before, and while useful in some cases, it can become a burden or even chore as we wade through six or more chapters each morning.

Better to read and meditate on a few Bible verses regularly, than read a dozen pages without taking it in.

Better to read and #meditate on a few #Bible verses regularly, than read a dozen pages without taking it in.

That is not to take Scripture out of context, I hasten to add. There is just as much danger in reading your favourite few verses all the time, and not engaging with the wider text or understand its place in the big picture.

Verse 22 says:

For they are life to those who find them,

    and health to their whole body.

Proverbs 4:22 (WEB)

Verse 22 has always been a verse which fascinates me. It says that God’s word, or the instruction of wisdom, provides life to those who find them and even health to our physical bodies. We touched on this in previous posts on the book of Proverbs, and clearly living wisely will lengthen your life. Smoking, drinking or eating to excess, or not looking after oneself is not wise, and as a consequence will of course reduce one’s lifespan.

The word translated as “health” here is the Hebrew word marpe’ and is most often translated as “health” (as above) or “healing.” It can also be rendered as “cure” or “remedy” also.

Could it be that the very studying of God’s Word can bring health to us, and I mean in some supernatural way rather than as a natural consequence of living right? While some would give a definite yes to that question, others would dispute it. I would encourage you to study its meaning for yourself.

The WEB translation of verse 23 is a little confusing, to me at least! Here it is from the NLT:

Guard your heart above all else,

    for it determines the course of your life.

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Despite talking of the health of the body in the last verse, this one is not referring to our blood pump, but rather our inner self. Guarding our heart is very much in line with what this passage has been talking about. Too few of us take seriously what we allow into our hearts and minds. Instead of keeping the Word of God before us constantly, we fill ourselves with ungodly entertainment or gossip. We are foolish if we think our hearts can go unscathed by such continual battering.

Your heart, that is, your inner self, will determine how your life goes. It is like a child who is constantly criticised or put down, they will struggle in life to overcome such negativity. Our hearts, in a similar way, cannot be soaked in negativity and produce positive results.

Verse 24 deals not with what we put into ourselves, but rather what comes out of us. It strongly advises us to be careful about how we speak, and I cannot emphasise enough the power of our words.

Paul also instructs us to:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

What a challenging verse this is! I say a lot of things in a day, but can hardly confess to all of it being helpful for building others up. I try to add value with my words, always having in the back of my mind that one day I will give account for them to the Lord. Yet too frequently I find my words are not wholesome, but instead are negative, critical or just wasteful. How about you?

Verse 25 to 27 all echo the same sentiment. Keep your eyes fixed ahead, and your feet on level ground. This is clearly not to advise us against turning our heads nor to ascend inclined ground in our hometowns! Instead, the Proverbs are warning us to keep fixed on what is right, and not to turn aside to evil.

If we do not do this, if we just wander along aimlessly, then we will find ourselves in trouble. Our focus and our determined purpose must be to seek after what is right and good. Our sinful nature has been programmed into us since birth, and despite the new life Christ brings, we do tend towards selfishness and evil unless we are set against it.

What are your eyes fixed on? Are locked ahead, gazing upon God’s Word, or do they wander and lead you astray? How about those feet? Are they shod with the Gospel, and following after Jesus, or do they stumble or meander away?

Make a decision right here and now that you will seek after wisdom all day long. Fix those eyes and discipline those feet, and you will life in God’s Word.

Psalm 32 – Sermon

A few years ago I gave a sermon on Psalm 32, and was reviewing my notes from it this morning.

It is one of the penitential Psalms, or Psalms of repentance. It is a wonderful set of verses, and I share below the audio message I gave at the time.

Do have a read of the whole Psalm before listening, as it is not included in the recording.

Get Wisdom (Proverbs 4:1-9)

Returning to the pages of Proverbs today, we pick up where we left off at chapter 4.

Listen, sons, to a father’s instruction.

    Pay attention and know understanding;

2 for I give you sound learning.

    Don’t forsake my law.

3 For I was a son to my father,

    tender and an only child in the sight of my mother.

4 He taught me, and said to me:

    “Let your heart retain my words.

    Keep my commandments, and live.

5 Get wisdom.

    Get understanding.

    Don’t forget, and don’t deviate from the words of my mouth.

6 Don’t forsake her, and she will preserve you.

    Love her, and she will keep you.

7 Wisdom is supreme.

    Get wisdom.

    Yes, though it costs all your possessions, get understanding.

8 Esteem her, and she will exalt you.

    She will bring you to honor when you embrace her.

9 She will give to your head a garland of grace.

    She will deliver a crown of splendor to you.”

Proverbs 4:1-9 (WEB)

This chapter opens with Solomon addressing his sons. It will read rather familiar to you, if you remember much of what we have covered previously.

Proverbs, and especially these early chapters, can feel a little repetitive. Repetition is required because, quite simply, it takes us a long time to learn things. Take your exams from school, how much of what you learned do you remember now? Chances are, not a great deal! Why? Did you not learn it at the time? You might have stored the information in your memory banks for a while, but without constant and regular review, the information will fade over time.

We do not read the book of Proverbs once, and then “get it!” It will take review and revision time and time again.

We do not read the book of #Proverbs once, and then “get it!” It will take review and revision time and time again.  #Bible #Jesus #Christianity #Wisdom

The danger of repetition is that we assume we already know it. Do not skim over the words above and think, “Heard this before…” Instead, engage with the text and see what is different or what you missed last time.

At verse 4, Solomon begins to tell us what his father – King David – taught him. For me, this is a fascinating insight. What would this great king teach his son, who would one day become another great king?

He tells Solomon to retain his words. This reminds us that our memories are powerful, and should be used to store up the commands of God. And yet, he says retain the words “in your heart.” Your heart is not where your memory is, so how do we retain anything in it?

Clearly he is referring to our inner self, as opposed to our “blood pump.” So how do we retain anything on the inside? I refer back to my points about repetition above. Our hearts do not change from a single reading of Scripture. Instead, we must soak in it, reviewing it over and over and allowing it to alter us little by little. With the Spirit’s help, God’s Word is slowly engraved in our hearts.

I particularly love the straightforwardness of verse 5! Get wisdom! Get understanding! And he repeats the demand in verse 7 also. Get wisdom! Go after it with all you can. It will save your life!

Verse 6 asks us to “love” her – wisdom. This, I think, is the first reference to this. It makes sense, having studied all the benefits that wisdom provides, that we should indeed love her. We throw the word “love” around fairly freely at times; we love coffee, we love ice cream, we love meeting up with our friends… and none of that is necessarily wrong. Let us not be casual about our love for either God, or the wisdom He offers us. Let the love we have for both be deep and strong.

Verse 7 adds a new dimension also, pointing out to us the cost of seeking wisdom. It tells us that even though obtaining it may cost us all our possessions, we should still go after it. Why would wisdom have a cost? Anything of value surely does! To obtain wisdom, it may require us to do certain things, such as study, pray, meditate and read. All these things require time, and time we might have wanted to give to other things. Likewise, it may take money to buy resources or cause us to give up certain possessions which distract. Wisdom is offered freely, but may cost us something. We cannot have all that the world offers, and fully seek after God and His wisdom also.

Jesus taught:

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Matthew 6:24 (NIV)

While the Proverbs speak of wisdom versus possessions, and Jesus of “God rather than money”, the two are closely connected. I think it hard to separate God from His wisdom, and so we cannot chase money and expect to be able to serve God and receive wisdom. We must choose where our life is focussed.

The thing is, if you seek after wisdom, and if you seek after God’s kingdom (Matthew 6:33), you will find all these other things as well.

So… get wisdom!

Don’t Be Wise (Proverbs 3:7-10)

There is sufficient wisdom in Proverbs 3:7 alone to keep us going for a lifetime! As you probably do not want to spend the rest of your life reading my blog, I will try to be concise!

7 Don’t be wise in your own eyes.

Fear Yahweh, and depart from evil.

8 It will be health to your body,

and nourishment to your bones.

9 Honor Yahweh with your substance,

with the first fruits of all your increase:

10 so your barns will be filled with plenty,

and your vats will overflow with new wine.

Proverbs 3:7-10 WEB)

Taken out of context, the phrase “Don’t be wise…” does not appear too often in Proverbs! This is heavily qualified though by adding “in your own eyes.”

Our own eyes, when used to look on ourselves, are rarely a good judge. Few people would admit to being unwise, and only by looking at ourselves soberly can we obtain a truer estimate.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, says this:

For I say through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith.

Romans 12:3 (WEB)

Too often we give ourselves miles of leeway, while giving others none whatsoever. We judge our own intentions, while we criticise others’ performance (irrespective of their intent).

Too often we give ourselves miles of leeway, while giving others none whatsoever. #Bible #Wisdom #Christianity

When we think we are wise, we can be overinflated and that makes us careless and prone to mistakes. Rather, we should know that wisdom comes from dependence on God and on His ways. Each and every moment we must surrender to Him, seeking His guidance and obeying His commands.

Verse 7 ends by telling us to fear God and depart from evil. That is something we must live our lives by!

Verse 8 links the fear of the Lord to our physical health. We have touched on this point before, earlier on in Proverbs 3, and will do so again later on. Being a Christian does not guarantee good health, neither does avoiding evil prevent all and every sickness. The principle here is that if we make wisdom our guide, following Jesus and steering well clear of evil, then we reduce our likelihood of ill-health. As we noted before, this is a natural consequence. It is wise to eat healthily, exercise regularly and avoid excessive stress. I do not think anyone would argue that such things will indeed bring health to our bodies.

Verse 9 and 10 instruct us to honour God with our money and possessions. This is quite right to do, and is essentially an act of our worship. We may pray, sing songs, study the Bible and attend church; all of which are acts of praise. Giving of our money and possessions is every bit as important though.

How so? Because we humans are rather attached to our money and “things.” By offering them freely to the Lord, we are rightly putting Him above all such material items. We invest much of our life trying to earn money, and so, by giving it to God, we are reminding ourselves of His rightful place in our life.

God has given us so very much! And by offering back to Him a portion of our income, we are honouring Him. Notice it uses the phrase “first fruits” indicating that we do not give God whatever we have left at the end of the month, rather we give Him the first part of our income because He is first in our lives.

Verse 10 begins with the word “So” indicating that what it says is the result of our giving in verse 9. Because we have given God first place in our lives, even with our income (verse 9), we will have barns filled with plenty and vats overflowing with wine (verse 10).

I want to tread carefully here, as many who buy into the prosperity gospel might teach this rather simply as “Give to God, and He’ll give back to you.” God is not an ATM or better still, fruit machine. We do not simply throw in a coin, crank the handle and out comes a jackpot. God is not a machine, nor a set of rules for us to decipher and “crack the code.” He is a Person, and a Father, and He is keen for us to learn a healthy relationship to money.

Like any good Father does, God wants us to use money wisely; He was us to have possessions, but does not want them to have us! By putting Him first in our finances, and indeed in every area, we are ensuring that God is number one and that nothing is competing for His place.

So do not be wise in your own eyes. Do not think you can get away with evil, ignore God and live a healthy and abundant life. God wants us to be healthy, and I believe He wants us to have good things too, but more than either of those, He wants us to be devoted to Him and His glory. We do not seek after money, nor do we consider ourselves to be God’s gift to humanity.

Rather, we should be sober minded, honest about our own wisdom, and utterly dependant on God for our physical and financial needs.

Thanks for reading!

If Wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-4)

As we begin chapter two of Proverbs, we note that once again the author is addressing their child. Chapter one ended with words from Wisdom herself, challenging us to heed her call. Chapter two begins to point out some more of the benefits of finding wisdom, and we would do well to build this foundation in our hearts prior to tackling the more familiar short and punchy proverbs.

If…

My son, if you accept my words

    and store up my commands within you,

2 turning your ear to wisdom

    and applying your heart to understanding—

3 indeed, if you call out for insight

    and cry aloud for understanding,

4 and if you look for it as for silver

    and search for it as for hidden treasure,

Proverbs 2:1-4 (NIV)

Count how many times “if” appears in those four verses… go on, go ahead…

Three times. And three times does it suggest that we have a choice about whether we take on wisdom or not.

I mentioned in my post on Saturday – Is it worth it? – that in my day job I am a statistician. Part of my work involves computer programming, and anyone familiar with that will be aware of the “If statement.” This is a way of telling a computer that if this happens, then do that. It is a basic building block of many programs.

In a similar way, these verses tell us that if we do certain things, we will get particular results.

We are to accept the words of the teacher of wisdom, and that extends to all the Word of God in my view. We must accept what we are taught from Scripture, taking it on board and making definite decisions to put it into practice in our lives.

Having accepted the words of wisdom, we must then store them up in our hearts. This is more than just remembering, although that is certainly part of it. To store God’s Word in our hearts is to be so saturated in it, that it becomes our true nature.

For example, when Christ was nailed to the cross, He did not say a great deal. Most of what HE said though, cries of anguish and pain, were largely direct quotes from the Scripture. When we find ourselves in times of testing or pain, our true self is revealed. If you hit your thumb with a hammer, what erupts from your mouth is likely what you have stored in your heart. When Jesus was put under the greatest pressure there was, His true self was revealed, and that was the Word of God.

Verse two tells us to turn our ear to wisdom, which is to give it our full attention. Sometimes, when reading my Bible, I guiltily admit that I do not give it my full attention. I read the words, but they do not penetrate my heart. I have not given them my ear, and allowed them into my inner man. Unless I do this, I have little hope of “applying my heart to understanding” as the remainder of the verse says. We first turn our ear to it, then apply our heart by meditating on it.

The next “if” we encounter, in verse three, urges us to call out for wisdom and understanding. In chapter one, we recall wisdom herself shouting out in the streets for us to come to her. Now, we cry in return for her insight. Wisdom is freely given if we diligently seek it.

#Wisdom is freely given if we diligently seek it #Bible #Proverbs #Christianity

What does it mean to cry out or call for wisdom? This is not a literal command of course, but endeavours to urge us to action. We recall James’ letter telling us to ask God for wisdom, and so we do. Let us not ask passively though, just expecting God to do all the work, let us each engage with Him and His teaching to fully obtain understanding.

Hidden Treasure

Closing out this post with verse four, we see the third and final “if.” This is a challenging one too.

We should not seek wisdom half-heartedly, but seek it as if we were looking for “hidden treasure.”

You hear stories of people spending their entire lives searching for some long-lost treasure, giving up their time, money and more to try to find it. They seek the glory of being the one to solve the puzzle, and the wealth that comes from the gems, gold or the rest.

That kind of passion and energy is what we ought to use to seek after wisdom.

I used to say “I want to play the violin…” but I later realised that is not true. I do want to be able to play it, but I do not want to put in the many hours it takes to learn it. The same is true for learning a language; I always said I wanted to learn a language, and yet have never set aside the time or resources to actually fulfil that “want.” If someone would wave a wand over me and it would happen, then great, but I am not actually willing to invest in it to make it so.

We say we want wisdom, and to live in a discerning manner – but do we? Do we mean, like my violin example, I would take wisdom if someone just put it in my heart, or do we instead mean I will put in the time, the prayer, the study and the effort to make it so.

Lastly, when we write an if statement on the computer, we must say what we want the computer to do when it encounters that situation. If we do this, then what will happen? If we seek after wisdom in this wholehearted way, then what will be the result? Find out next time…

Thanks, as ever, for reading!

Don’t Go That Way (Proverbs 1:10-19)

The next part of Proverbs chapter one turns rather dark. The narrator, King Solomon himself, now appears to talk directly to his child/son, and warns them of danger.

 My son, if sinners entice you,

    don’t consent.

11 If they say, “Come with us.

    Let’s lie in wait for blood.

    Let’s lurk secretly for the innocent without cause.

12 Let’s swallow them up alive like Sheol,

    and whole, like those who go down into the pit.

13 We’ll find all valuable wealth.

    We’ll fill our houses with plunder.

14 You shall cast your lot among us.

    We’ll all have one purse.”

15 My son, don’t walk on the path with them.

    Keep your foot from their path,

16 for their feet run to evil.

    They hurry to shed blood.

17 For the net is spread in vain in the sight of any bird;

18 but these lay in wait for their own blood.

    They lurk secretly for their own lives.

19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain.

    It takes away the life of its owners.

Proverbs 1:10-19 (WEB)

We will not go through each verse in turn, as they come together to paint a vivid picture. Verse 10 probably summarises this whole section, and I cannot really add to its wisdom with my own words.

My son, if sinners entice you, don’t consent. Proverbs 1:10 #Bible #Wisdom #Christianity

The thrust of this section is simply this: when you are tempted by sinners, don’t go that way!

Verse 11 and 12 go into some particulars about the kind of words or enticements they may use to trap you. On the face of them, they do not seem that appealing to anyone. Why lie in wait purely for the purposes of “blood”? You might associate this kind of talk with demonic sources, but not your everyday “sinner” right?

While such direct words may not be used, any temptation to lie in wait for an innocent victim boils down to such language. These are robbers who care little for life. The thrill of sin is addictive to them, and we must stay well clear of any such evil.

Verses 13 and 14 tell us the real purpose for their trap – money. They would kill the innocent for the sake of a few coins. They have not, so they take from others, not caring the harm they do in the process. Robbers of the time would prey on the unwary, exacting violence in the process. Are they all that different from modern day burglars? Such thieves break in, ransack people’s homes for financial gain, and do immeasurable harm to those on the receiving end. Heaven forbid the homeowner should run into such a burglar, who is likely to strike out in violence to get away with their crime.

Don’t go that way! Verse 15 echoes this cry. Do not walk on their path, nor even put your foot upon it. They run to evil, instead of away from it. Let us be known for our flight from wickedness, and not towards it.

Verse 17 is a little proverb in the midst of our narrative. Put simply, if the bird can see the net, it won’t fly into it. We might learn to look out for things that might entrap us, and steer well clear.

The end of our passage points out that the trap these evil ones set for the innocent will in fact close upon their own selves. They lay in wait for their own lives – how so? Because we serve a God of justice. While some believe they can escape justice in this life, they can never escape the justice of God. We will all stand before Him one day and give an account for our lives. Such evil people will not be able to justify their actions before our Righteous God.

If you have been mistreated, or were the victim of some wickedness in the past, it will be put right. Even if those who hurt you got away with it, they will never escape God’s judgement. When we stand before Him, we will know that all and every sin will be accounted for – either at the cross of Christ, or as the penalty for the wicked. God has not forgotten what happened to you.

To us all I say again, do not follow the evil path. If you are being enticed into iniquity, or spending time with the wrong crowd, it is time to make a change. It is better to be alone, than to be with those who would lead you into sin.

It is better to be alone, than to be with those who would lead you into #sin. #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

I leave you where we began with verse 10. Spend some time today just meditating on its truth. It may save your life!

My child, if sinners entice you,

    turn your back on them!

Proverbs 1:10 (NLT)

Introduction to Proverbs

The wonderful book of Proverbs begins with its own introduction. The text sets out the purpose and goal of the book, and gives us a flavour of the benefits of reading and studying it.

Proverbs begins as follows:

These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.

2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,

    to help them understand the insights of the wise.

3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,

    to help them do what is right, just, and fair.

4 These proverbs will give insight to the simple,

    knowledge and discernment to the young.

5 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.

    Let those with understanding receive guidance

6 by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,

    the words of the wise and their riddles.

7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,

    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1:1-7 (NLT)

The Author

Verse one tells us that the proverbs are primarily written by King Solomon, son of David. King David is the most famous king of Israel’s history, and his son Solomon is not far behind.

King Solomon was known for his great wisdom, and he acquired it from no worldly source.

Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom.

1 Kings 3:9-10 (NLT)

Rather than ask for gold or silver, or fame and power, Solomon asks for understanding. He does this so that he might rule over God’s people well. God was pleased with this request, and granted it to him.

So the source of Solomon’s wisdom is from God, and therefore we would do well to heed the words we find in the book of Proverbs. Some of it may seem repetitive at times, but that is usually a way of helping us remember the truths contained there.

The Purpose

The purpose of the Proverbs is clearly set out in verse 2. The point of them is to teach wisdom, to help give understanding, and also to improve discipline.

Wisdom and knowledge differ. Knowing something can be helpful, but knowing how to apply it is called wisdom.

Wisdom and knowledge differ. Knowing something can be helpful, but knowing how to apply it is called wisdom.

Do you find yourself making many mistakes in life, or regretting choices you have made? Then there is a chance you lacked wisdom. I once heard it said that wisdom is making choices now, that you will be satisfied with later on.

Verse 3 is interesting to me, and begins by saying a further purpose of the proverbs is to help people live disciplined and successful lives. It then goes on to say that they aim to help one live a just, right and fair life. In the world’s eyes, these two parts of this one verse may seem contradictory. To the world, success means getting what you want, no matter the cost. The world’s way gives little care to what is right or fair, only the goal is important, and not how you get there.

Not so in God’s kingdom. In God’s eyes, success means we do indeed live a just, fair and right life. Even if the results are not fame or fortune, or whatever else the world deems successful, to God, living righteously is the way of wisdom.

Verse 4 gives two categories of people who might benefit from studying the proverbs. These are the “simple” and the “young.” Describing someone as “simple” is not exactly politically correct these days, but the point here is that you do not need to be a genius to succeed. Likewise, you do not need years of experience and be full of years to gain wisdom. If you are young, or have little academic prowess, then you are welcome here!

Verse 5 expands the potential audience from not just the young or simple, but to the wise and the understanding also. Let the wise become even wiser, and those who possess understanding add to it. Whether you consider yourself wise, or not so much, there is great benefit in studying these words.

This is done, as verse 6 tells us, by exploring the meaning of the proverbs. This suggests some effort on our part. We cannot just read the words and expect wisdom to just grow inside of us. Rather, we must apply our minds and stretch our mental muscles.

Many of the proverbs are short, bite-sized chunks which you can mull over throughout the day. Take one or two of these, write them out and ponder them whenever you have the chance. They cover a multitude of subjects, ranging from anger, to finances, to temptation and much more. Verse 6 uses the word riddle, and although it does not mean quite the same as what we might think of as a riddle, there is certainly much to test our brains with.

The final verse in our passage today is perhaps the perfect summation of all you hope to find in the book of Proverbs. Learning this one truth is perhaps the first step in acquiring true wisdom.

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,

    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1:7 (NLT)

Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. This does not mean to be afraid of Him in the sense of terror, but rather to revere and respect Him. To not do so will only ever lead you away from wisdom, and not just because He is the source of all wisdom, but because without the Lord, you are on a path to destruction.

The first step for all of us in gaining wisdom is to give God His rightful place in our lives. He is the Master and Creator of the Universe, and we are mere created beings. The universe works and holds together because of God’s power and insight, and we cannot hope to tap that wisdom without first making sure God is first and foremost in our lives.

Can you say right now that He has that rightful place in your life and heart? If not, now is the time to act. Surrender to the Lord, give Him your life and ask Him to be in charge. He will not only direct your steps, but will save you from all of your sin. God does this through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. By placing your trust in Him and what He did at that cross all those years ago, you are setting yourself on the path to wisdom.

Verse 7 also gives us a glimpse of what will become a familiar format in the Proverbs. The writer contrasts one with another. Here, we see the comparison of the wise and the fool One seeks and fears the Lord, while the other despises understanding. Which will you choose to be?

If you wish to grow in wisdom, then you can ask of the giving God, as James instructs us to:

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

James 1:5 (NLT)

As we dig into the depths of the wisdom in these pages, pray this prayer along with me.

Dear Lord and Father,

We thank You for the wisdom of Your Word. We pray that as we study the Scriptures, You will grant us wisdom, and help us to grow in understanding. May we use that newly gained insight to live fully for You, and to serve You and Your Kingdom on this  Earth.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen!

Preparing for Proverbs – Andy Brown

Just a reminder that from tomorrow we will start to look at the book of Proverbs. I look forward to studying it with you!

This coming Monday, I will be starting a new series on the book of Proverbs. it is an amazing book, with much to wrestle with. Throughout next week I will be sharing my thoughts on the first chapter, and felt I should give you a bit of a heads up in advance! If you have…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2022/01/06/preparing-for-proverbs/

Preparing for Proverbs

This coming Monday, I will be starting a new series on the book of Proverbs. it is an amazing book, with much to wrestle with.

Throughout next week I will be sharing my thoughts on the first chapter, and felt I should give you a bit of a heads up in advance!

If you have the time, do take a read through chapter 1 and note down any thoughts that you have about it. One of the points I will be making is that wisdom is not automatic.

#Wisdom is not automatic! It takes effort on our part. #Bible #Christianity

Pray about what you read, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Pray also for me as I write about this challenging set of Scriptures.

I do hope you enjoy reading the new series, and that it challenges you to seek after wisdom.

If the worlds way has not been working for you, try gods way of doing things… That is true wisdom!

God bless you!

Psalm 150 Poetry

I have been dabbling with a bit of poetry lately. It has never been something I was particularly good at or interested in, but perhaps the Lord is opening up something new. Perhaps not! Time will tell!

This first attempt at a poem is based around Psalm 150, and is perhaps a little trite to the experience poet. Go easy on me however, I beg you! I here post the original words from the WEB Bible.

Praise Yah!

    Praise God in his sanctuary!

    Praise him in his heavens for his acts of power!

2 Praise him for his mighty acts!

    Praise him according to his excellent greatness!

3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet!

    Praise him with harp and lyre!

4 Praise him with tambourine and dancing!

    Praise him with stringed instruments and flute!

5 Praise him with loud cymbals!

    Praise him with resounding cymbals!

6 Let everything that has breath praise Yah!

    Praise Yah!

Psalm 150 (WEB)

And my poetic version…


Praise the Lord in the temple!

Praise the Lord for His might!

Praise the Lord in the heavens!

Cease not by day or by night


Praise the Lord for His acts

Praise the Lord for His deeds

Praise our God for His greatness

Praise Him for meeting our needs


Praise the Lord with the trumpet

Praise our God with the lyre!

Praise God with the harp

And lift your voices higher!


Dance for His glory

And sing for delight

Pluck strings for His praise

To worship God is right


Crash the cymbals together

Let the bells ring out

Play the flute and the ram’s horn

And make a joyful shout!


Let everything that breathes

Worship our wonderous Lord

That all may come to know Him

And He’ll forever be adored.


Do let me know what you think, and grateful for any pointers on how to step into the daunting world of poetry! If you know of any good blogs on the subject, I’d be keen to hear about them.

As ever, thanks for reading.