Day 158 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Proverbs.
Proverbs 16 – The comparison between the plans of a man’s heart and the sovereign direction of the Lord unifies this section. Verses 2–8 focus on the heart-action connection.
This proverb portrays the sacrificial system, by which iniquity is atoned for, as an expression of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness (see Exodus 34:6). The right response is reverence for the Lord, by which one turns away from doing evil (Psalm 34:14). The Bible consistently presents moral behavior as the response to God’s grace.
The remaining sections of ch. 16 illustrate the benefits of wisdom for the well-being of the heart (vv. 16–19, 20–24, 25–32).
The “better” sayings of vv. 16 and 19 value wisdom over gold and humility with the poor over spoil with the proud. The middle verses offer guidance on how to continue in the way of the wise and humble.
Verses 20-24 commend the kind of speech that is typical of those who are wise of heart.
A way that seems right (vv. 25-32) . . . but. People often have the wrong idea about what is good and what is bad. Hunger seems a bad thing, but it forces people to work and keeps them from idleness. Gray hair seems to be a mark of decline but actually is a crown of glory. Finally, a mighty warrior seems to be the strongest man of all, but in reality a man who can control himself is stronger than a conqueror.
How does the wisdom of this chapter impact you?
Proverbs 17 – The tongue. Speaking wicked words is folly, but so is listening to them. Without a willing audience, foolish talk dies. But with listening ears, it spreads. Listening to wicked lips is the behavior of an evildoer. In fact, the listener is himself a liar: “. . . a liar gives ear.” We might tell ourselves that we disapprove of a mischievous tongue, but by listening we get involved. The New Testament echoes these truths, reminding us that the gospel deeply saves us, so that we no longer rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoice with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6).
The words we speak, and the words we accept, reveal the true condition of our hearts (Matthew 12:34). For example, “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels” (Proverbs 18:8). Gossip and controversy can be tasty. When this appetite for negative information spreads, it can separate even close friends (Proverbs 16:28). To safeguard a church, the elders may have to expel, at least temporarily, a person whose tongue is out of control (22:10; Titus 3:10). But the gospel’s positive remedy for gossip is hearts filled, and continually refilled, with the word of Jesus (Colossians 3:16). Then we will turn the tables on gossip, set a new tone, and speak up for people being falsely accused (Proverbs 31:8–9).
A simple way to avoid getting caught up in gossip is…if you’re not part of the problem, nor part of the solution, then you don’t need to be part of the conversation.
How do you allow Jesus to control your tongue (and ears)?
Proverbs 18 – The tongue. Since “death and life are in the power of the tongue,” we must use words carefully. They are easy to say, but hard to take back. Rash words, blurted out on impulse, are “like sword thrusts” (Proverbs 12:18). The outburst itself lasts only a moment, but the pain inflicted remains long after. Therefore, “a fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11). Some things we think and feel are better left unsaid.
But life also is in the power of the tongue. “The tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18). Our words can “give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). The preaching of the gospel is a wonderful power for good (Luke 4:16–22). The Holy Spirit Himself speaks to our hearts with healing assurances of God’s love (Romans 8:16). If deeds are called for, then, of course, mere words will not suffice (Proverbs 14:23). And words can be an excuse for a failure to take action (Proverbs 24:12). But still, the wise carefully guide their words with clear awareness of their potential for giving life.
“If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man” (James 3:2). But who of us is perfect? We regret things we have said and things we have left unsaid. But God never stumbles in His words. By His word He “calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17). The greatest proof that life is in the power of the tongue is God’s promise of grace in the gospel, calling into existence a better future for us, despite what we deserve.
How do you allow Jesus to use your words to bring life to those around you?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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