Breakfast With Solomon: PROVERBS 14:7

Leave the presence of a fool or you will not discern words of knowledge

This proverb is very helpful in that it says to get away from a selfish, impulsive, rebellious person because what they are saying is not knowledge. The selfish person has a way of talking that obscures truth. Even if they have a few facts sprinkled in the vat of reference to themselves, the facts are discussed in such a way as to see them in the wrong way. The proverb just says to get away from this person.

Who among us has not heard the arrogant person at a restaurant or somewhere else spinning out this theory of the world or life that is totally bizarre and loony? Usually there is a captive person who has to listen to this blather. This proverb suggests that one exit the scene. Their bizarre logic may suck you into thinking their way.

A foolish person has woven a whole way of thinking that supports their selfish way of life. It works for them and so it seems self-consistent.

or you will not discern words of knowledge

There is a double use of the word yada in this passage. The word discern is the word yada and the word knowledge is the word yada. The word yada means knowledge. It is experiential knowledge; knowledge that has been tested and proven true. Solomon is saying that if you hang around the selfish person, then you will not hear true, helpful information; you will instead hear their theories and conjectures. The conclusions of a selfish and rebellious person should not be meditated upon, so move away from the conspicuous notice of this type of person.

The proverb is trying to help us recognize types of people and what to do when we encounter them. We cannot just naively move through life accepting everyone at face value. Instead, realize that some people have given into sin in such a way that they need to be handled differently. Some have embraced real wisdom and they need to be embraced and listened to.

The book of Proverbs is really trying to prepare people for successful living in the real world – full of saints and sinners.

*  This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material.   The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.

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Breakfast With Solomon: PROVERBS 13:7

 There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing; another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth

An actual literal rendering of this verse is very instructive. It reads in both the Hebrew and the Septuagint: There is one who enriches himself but holds nothing. And there is one who humbles himself in the midst of many riches. The translators have chosen to translate it in the direction of pretends to be rich, but it actually could mean the person who works hard at becoming rich but never has anything to show for it versus the person who humbles himself while having lots of wealth and riches.

Clearly Solomon is speaking of the virtue of humility and using riches and success as a means to talk about it. It is the person who does not brag about his success but instead remains grounded and grateful in the midst of blessings and wealth that catches the eye of the wise.

Unfortunately we have become a society full of braggarts and show-offs who have a hard time having success without making everyone aware of it. This is not a wise road.

Let’s look at this proverb more deeply…

This is a very interesting proverb on a number of levels. It describes the various forms of riches, and it discusses the various forms of poverty.  Solomon could be describing the person who puts on a show of having great wealth while he is deeply in debt and barely making it. He could also be describing the person who has lots of material wealth but has no real riches in terms of relationships and love. It is clear that most people want to be seen as rich and having become successful. It would seem that one can fake it or have it for real.

there is one who pretends to be rich

In any way of looking at this phrase, it is a bad thing. Our society seems to be drowning in this mistake. Many people live above their means to show off to others that they have made it when they cannot sustain that level of lifestyle. If you are living paycheck to paycheck and falling further behind each month or deeply in debt, then you are pretending to be richer than you are. It would be very helpful for you to sit down with your spouse and look at how much you actually bring in per month and set down a plan to live on 80% of that amount so that you can tithe and have money for emergencies. If you cannot accomplish this by yourself, then seek out the guidance of a financial planner or someone who is good with their finances to help you with the process.

This could also be the person who may have great wealth in terms of finances but has not developed deep lasting relationships. Do not forget that in the Bible and in this particular book, real riches are your relationships. That is why God gives two great commandments – both of them are about relationships. Remember if you get to the end of your life with a pile of money but no people who really love you, you lost at the game of life. But if you are rich in relationships – God and others – then you win no matter how much money you have amassed.  Lots of money can be a lonely experience. It doesn’t have to be, but it can be.

another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth

Remember the literal translation of this Hebrew wording is one who humbles himself or impoverishes himself while having much. The idea here is that the person does not keep self-promoting. There is a willingness to fit in rather than to brag. It may also carry the idea that they are willing to give away significant portions of their wealth.

What is clear is that pride does not come as the necessary partner with riches and blessings. Becoming a braggart about all the good that is happening to you or showing off all you have is not a wise quality.

*  This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material.   The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.

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Breakfast With Solomon: PROVERBS 12:7

The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand

The principle that Solomon is trying to establish is that the wicked are always looking over their shoulder to see if the justice that they are due has arrived. Wickedness is profitable in the short term, but it is not secure.  Wickedness is taking shortcuts outside of God’s moral boundary structure to gain abundance. You steal, you lie, you commit adultery, you covet, and you use violence and intimidation in order to get what you want.  Taking moral shortcuts to the good life may produce some of the prosperity and pleasure that you are looking for, but there is a continuing element of uncertainty. When will “they” find out? When will I be cheated like I cheated others? If there is a God, then I am in big trouble.

Solomon wants us to build our lives on a safe and stable platform and that is righteousness or actions that are within the moral boundaries of the Ten Commandments. Yes, I know that it is not possible for anyone to keep the Ten Commandments perfectly and earn their way into heaven, but the moral boundaries of the Ten Commandments are the basis of righteousness between people. It is this moral high ground that will be safe and stable for the development of a great life without concern that it will all be taken away in an instant.

Solomon is saying that when the wicked are overthrown because of their wickedness, they are no more. There is nothing with which to rebuild.  The obvious case in our day and age is Bernie Madoff, who swindled people out of 50 billion dollars of investments, and when it came crashing down has nothing for his family and his heirs. He said he knew it would happen one day and was just waiting until they came and got him. It took much longer than he expected because others were duplicitous in his wickedness, but his day of reckoning came and it will not be rebuilt.

Don’t be like those whom Jesus says build their life upon the shifting sands of deception, stealing, anger, violence, and pride. Instead be among those who build their life on honesty, love, integrity, and diligence.  Embrace the grace of Christ and your need for His mercy. Start living a life of integrity in which you have nothing to hide.

Who has the responsibility of overthrowing the wicked? Is it God alone or do individuals, institutions, and leaders have the responsibility to echo God’s action in this?

Another principle lying dormant in this verse is the principle of the overthrow of the wicked and who is supposed to do it. There has been a fundamental misunderstanding over how the wicked are to be overthrown in this world. Many people believe that it is God’s job to do it and for man to stand back and watch it happen. But clearly by what God says in Genesis 9:6 Anyone who sheds man’s blood by man shall his blood be shed! is that He has delegated the majority of justice to mankind to police itself. It is when men and women look the other way at evil that wickedness is allowed to flourish.

There are a number of cynics, skeptics, and critics of Christianity and religion in general who ask questions about the goodness of God and the evil in the world.  What they usually mean is the evil that humanity does to itself in various governments and spots around the world. They have the belief that if there was a good and powerful God that He would automatically put a stop to people doing evil to one another. But it escapes their purview that God has delegated much of this function to men themselves. He wants us to seek justice, to love mercy, and to walk in humbleness before our God. He is proving to us that we are not the gods that we think we are. He is proving that our confident superiority is not superior at all. He is giving us the freedom to destroy ourselves.  We are commissioned with taking the blueprints that He has given us and what resides in our conscience to draw moral boundaries for the whole of the society, not just for ourselves.

I can remember when my father helped me see this truth. He was offered an opportunity to get a really good deal on some things that he had been looking for at a swap meet.  He refused. I remember his telling me that he refused because he discovered that the items that were discounted were stolen items. The good deal was because the seller had ripped them off.  He told me that if he had purchased the items, then he would be creating a demand for stolen items.  He was aware that the price was attractive and he would have personally benefitted by this offer, but he would have created another level of demand for stolen merchandise.  He had to look out for not just what was good for him but what was good for the whole of the society.   We face this dilemma regularly. We can personally profit by going outside some moral boundary, but we encourage a consequence that we don’t want in which others we don’t know will be harmed or damaged.

In our day we are seeing a new level of human trafficking for sexual activity. This is universally deplored for the oppression, slavery, violence, emotional damage, and imprisonment involved; but most are unwilling to understand that when we encourage adultery in any of its seven unbiblical forms, we increase the demand for sexual activity which will encourage human trafficking.  The Christian is not just against one form of adultery but all forms because it will end up in the enslavement of women and children for sexual purposes.  It is on us as a society to draw the moral boundaries where they go and where a society is sustainable. If we encourage stealing, adultery, and lying, then we should not be surprised that we have a significant level of wickedness living all around us.  We must seek good government that will move in the direction of justice for the poor, oppressed, and afflicted – not just the wealthy and influential.

*  This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material.   The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.

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Breakfast With Solomon: PROVERBS 11:7

When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, and the hope of strong men perishes

This is a very interesting proverb speaking to the temporariness of the desires of those who live outside of God’s moral boundaries. They may get what they want, but what they want is so fleeting. It never outlives them. And in many cases, it does not even last till they themselves die.

The word wicked is the word in the Old Testament for the person – man or woman, young or old – that lives outside of the Ten Commandments. They don’t just sin and then try and live a moral life. These people continue to practice and engage in sinful acts over and over again. They steal and keep stealing. They commit adultery and keep being adulterous. They blaspheme and keep slandering God. They rebel and continue rebelling from authority. They wound and harm people – even murdering them – and they keep getting what they want that way. They covet other people’s goods and take action to seize them. This is the definition of the wicked person. Our society is making more and more people who live in this way. They refuse to respect God’s boundaries or even their own society’s boundaries.

The word translated expectations in the NASB is really the Hebrew word meaning hope. The rough idea of this phrase is that the person who lives outside of God’s moral boundaries hopes for more selfish things to go their way; and when they die, all they hoped for comes to an end. They don’t hope for good things that live beyond them. They don’t strive for those things that others will carry on after they are gone. Even if others carry on with their traditions, it will be only for their own selfishness and not reflective of honor on the original wicked person.

So, as the proverb says, the wicked person has no enduring hope. What they have here is all they get. There is a strong desire in American culture today to get this kind of live-for-now focus to be the dominant view of everybody. Some do not realize that this is the wicked person’s perspective. They live constantly for the moment with no thought for the future or eternity. It is the righteous person who builds for the future that will outlive them. It is the righteous person who builds for endless time in eternity.

There will be times when you are doing the right thing when there is no payoff right away and, sometimes, even in this life. It is just the right thing to do. If you want to build a lasting legacy, don’t follow the road of wickedness. That is only a temporary stop in a pleasurable place before being herded on the path of loneliness and pain.  If all you live for is yourself and the now, then you will have nothing to show for your life when it is over.

If, however, you are constantly doing good things for others and glorifying God with your words and actions, then you are building up a true reward and a lasting legacy.

I want to stand before Jesus on judgment day having been forgiven by Him for my sins with a whole pile of selfless acts and good works that bring honor to His name. I do not want to be empty-handed with nothing to show for my life except a lot of memories of selfish and sinful pleasures that profited nobody but me.

and the hope of the strong men perishes

The same idea of hope and the future is repeated in another person who will lose what he built his life around. In this case it is the muscled person who built his whole life around being strong and muscular. That is not where your body is going. There will be a time when no matter how strong you were, you will not be very strong.

Think through what the proverb is saying. It is trying to point out the temporariness of what the world says is all important. Notice the two items that Solomon, under God’s inspiration, picks as temporary – the very things that every society highly values: the pleasures of a sinful life and the power of strength and violence. Every young man and woman is taught to value these things. They internally are drawn to and impressed by these things. But the proverb teaches us that we should not be impressed by these actions and qualities.

What is interesting, also, is that this proverb does not say what will last; but it is trying to get you to think about building your life for and on something that will last – by not mentioning them. It gets you to question: What should I aim at with my life? What should I invest my time, energy, and money in? What should I try and get the most of as I live my life? It is interesting that the answers are not in this proverb, but they are throughout the book of Proverbs and the whole Bible.

The answer is given in the two great commandments: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart soul mind and strength and thy neighbor as thyself.

What should we aim at? What should be try and build a whole pile of? What should we invest our time energy and money in? Relationships – especially with God and also with the other people God puts in our lives: parents, mate, children, church members, workmates, community, finances, friends. When we are going through life, it is the quality of our relationships that determine the quality of our life. At the end of our life it is the quality of our relationships that determine the value of our relationships. The hope of the righteous is that those who are important to them would be able to live out their dreams and prosper and that God would receive worship and glory through the world that He created.

How much time are you investing in stuff that doesn’t matter? How much time have you spent investing in the relationships in and around your life? When a person has a near-death experience, they always realize that every day is precious and the people in their lives are the most important.

*  This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material.   The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.

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Breakfast With Solomon: PROVERBS 10:7

The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot

The choices that we make do not just last for our lifetimes, but they create a legacy that in a sense lives forever. We have been trained by our culture that our choices only count for right now, so please yourselves.

The destructive power of wickedness is demonstrated in a thousand lives all around us just as the constructive power of righteousness is demonstrated in lives all around us.

The word wicked means those who live outside the boundaries of the Ten Commandments: those who chose other gods, those who misrepresent God with an idol, those who dishonor parents and authorities, those who commit murder and adultery, those who steal, etc.

When living beyond the boundaries of God’s moral law is the norm in a person’s life, then they are biblically a wicked person.  Our culture has tried to restrict wickedness to rape and murder of children and the like. But God has not changed the standard.

Ask yourself the question: Do you know people who have committed adultery and blown up their marriage and who have permanently altered the course of their children’s lives? I do. Do you know those who have, through stealing from a company or the government or others, brought a plague upon their own family? I do. Do you know families that allow the children to be disrespectful and rebellious to the parents and who, therefore, have little or no reason to hang together as a family? I do.

These and many other examples of condoned wickedness have caused the legacy of a family to become rotten, damaging the potential and insights of the children and themselves.

Conversely, a practical definition of righteousness in the book of Proverbs is living within the boundaries of the Ten Commandments. These people do not purposely or knowingly commit actions that would leave them outside of the moral boundaries of the Ten.

I was just witnessing a graduation of friends and their senior daughter from high school. The positive legacy of this father and mother’s faith is wonderful to behold. The daughter who was graduating was recognized as having an extra measure of Christian joy. I was commenting on how marvelous it must be to be building a legacy of strong Christians in their family. I watched as a legacy of righteousness is being built. Discipline, courage, faith, love, and joy in the Lord – these qualities are a part of the blessing of righteousness.

One of the things that righteous people do is have a prioritized life so that they make sure they have time for their children. In our culture it is common to pursue success so hard that we run right past it when it is available to pursue. Life is relationships.  A righteous person must slow their lives down enough to develop real relationships with family, friends, and others.

The word memory here is the idea of remembrance of that which triggers the memory of an event, person, or place. This proverb states that the righteous cause this type of positive trigger mechanism. Righteousness also brings blessing to the family as an individual and eventually a family and then an extended family learn how to live their life within the confines of the clearly revealed, ethical guidelines.

Do you want to build a lasting memory to the good name that you carry? Then work righteousness. If the answer is that you do not care about leaving a lasting legacy, then commit wickedness with gusto and you will create a lasting trail of wreckage into the future.

the name of the wicked will rot

This means that rottenness or decay will follow the wicked. There is a very true sense that the wicked bring decay and destruction. It is rottenness and parasitic to selfishly pursue wickedness to the exclusion of all else.

We must help parents understand that how they live their lives and how they parent will build a long-term environment in which their children will dwell.  Choose wisely – others will have to live in, with, or down your choices. You are not alone when you make choices. You’re a complex web of relationships that define who you are.

Make good choices to live your life within the boundaries of the Ten Commandments.

*  This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material.   The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.

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Breakfast With Solomon: PROVERBS 9:7

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself

This is the first lesson for those who enter into the house of wisdom. Cynicism and criticalness are not welcomed by anyone and especially those who need it most. Keep your negative comments about others to yourself or those who will listen.

scoffer: This is the Hebrew word lis which means scorning, mocking, derision, put-downs, etc. This is the person who uses the tool of critique to make himself look intelligent and superior. It is very easy to see what we don’t like or what is wrong with a person or their work or their style.  The ability to pick at people is a selfish pursuit. That is why it is labeled a fool’s pursuit. It is selfishness expressed through condemnation, critique, and mocking. Sometimes this is just the tone of voice one uses to describe one’s achievements. Sometimes it is the words that are chosen. But what Solomon is trying to get us to understand is that this type of behavior will not build a great life. It seems like this is an easy way to build one’s reputation – by critiquing others. But even if you are insightful and get paid to do it, it does not build life; it builds alienation and death.

Nobody likes to be corrected or have their flaws pointed out. Everyone wants people to focus on the good points, the helpful or positive aspects of what was being done.

There are some who become scoffers in every area of their life. At home they can point out the one flaw when their children attempt to clean their room. They can point out the one thing at the restaurant that is not right about this meal. They can detail all the mistakes of their boss at work. They are ready at a moment’s notice to tell people what is wrong with their church.  If you are this kind of person, stop. You don’t have to be this way. It will accomplish a shallowing of relationships and distance from others.

I grieve as I watch people adopt this critical attitude about every area of life and then reap a life of bitterness and loneliness with no one to understand.  It seems unnatural for this person not to be critical. But this was a learned behavior and can be changed. Start forcing yourself to list five positives about any person, place, or thing you come in contact with.  You will find that as you would change from noticing the negative to digging for the positive that people will open up to you and a new kind of life will develop.

I know from personal experience a person can change from a scoffer who always sees and points out the negative to a person who enjoys the positives realizing that in a sinful, fallen world there will always be negatives.  I was a scoffer during most of my teen years. Thankfully God brought me to Himself and began to deliver me from this selfish negativism.

Correct = dishonor; reproof = insults

Notice that all the results are negative when critique, correction, and reproof are involved with those who are not wise.  Do not assume that people are wise and want to be corrected. By far, most people don’t want it. This is the great temptation for those who think that they are intelligent – that they can make a critique of other people’s life and work or that they are superior because they can see what is wrong with other people. It is not a sign of advanced intelligence that you can see what is wrong with other people. Any idiot can do that. That is called pride. It is the truly intelligent person who can see the strengths in a person when their negatives are so glaring.

Suppress the impulse to critique. It is not wisdom.

*  This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material.   The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.

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Breakfast With Solomon: PROVERBS 8:7

For my mouth will utter truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips

One of the forgotten things to consider is what wisdom is not capable of being. That is what this proverb tells us. In other words, if we think we are hearing wisdom but what we are hearing is one of these things that wisdom cannot be, then what we are hearing cannot be wisdom.

truth: This is the Hebrew word emet which means firmness, truth, and is a major part of the biblical word faith. It clearly has to do with that which conforms to reality; that which is truly true and not a perspective or only true in certain circumstances. When we embrace the Christian view of the universe and how to be right within it, we are saying that what the Bible says is true. We are putting our trust in the biblical record.

What Solomon is trying to get us to realize is that when a person tells us things that consistently don’t happen, then they are not wise even though they purport to be very wise. Wisdom must actually conform to the truth of reality. There are a number of people who want to be our guides to life but who regularly tell us that this will happen or that will happen, but it does not happen.

I am amazed at the major universities and places of higher learning that make major pronouncements about what they say is true or what is the state of this or that thing, and then what they predict does not occur at all. It has been intellectual parlor games. It is all speculation, and it does not have any level of wisdom in it.

The other aspect that we must be aware of in this idea of wisdom always uttering truth is that one should be able to trace the wise action that is being recommended back to a bedrock truth. If one cannot trace it back to a truth, then it is not wisdom. Let me give you an example: I have heard of women who advise their girlfriends to have an affair – it won’t hurt anyone – in fact, it will probably help your marriage. There is no bedrock truth to this statement. I have heard of teens who tell one another to go ahead and try this pill; it won’t hurt. But there is no truth to the statement and, in fact, the truth is something completely different.

The classic case of this type of trickery was performed by the advocates of evolution in the 1960’s and 70’s. They taught countless children that babies move through their evolutionary stages in the womb based upon drawings from a respected scientist that were not true. They suggested that experiments done by a scientist proved that electricity passing through the atmosphere of the early earth produced the building blocks of life. When they knew that their “atmosphere” was not the early earth’s and the building blocks of life is far from life. These bogus sets of truths – along with trumped up fossil evidence – convinced many that there was no God because life’s existence had been completely explained by science.

When you are moving in a direction wisely, there is some truth that is a fixed compass point from which you can navigate.

It is also clear from this proverb that if you do not know the truth about what you are thinking about doing, then you do not know whether it is wise. I am amazed at the number of people who rush into investments without knowing the truth but just because someone said it was a good investment. If you are willing to do the research to find out the facts, then you can make a wise decision. In fact, it often presents itself as the obvious choice when the facts are clear.

wickedness: This is the Hebrew word resa which means wrong, wickedness, guilt. Remember that in the Proverbs, a quick definition of that which is wicked is that which is outside of the Ten Commandments.

This is an area that our modern world has completely lost track of. We think that we can gain some new insights into life if we will investigate the realms of sin and moral degeneracy. No, you will not find wisdom there. You will find wrecked lives and twisted logic but not wisdom. In certain circles it is fashionable to suggest that you must go beyond traditional moral boundaries to really live a full life. This is not true. It is not wise.

Solomon is here to tell us, in shorthand form, that if someone is advocating an action or a position that requires that we have another God; bow down to an idol; use a spell or charm; swear or curse God; fail to worship God regularly or work hard each week; not honor our authorities instead rejecting authority; commit physical violence; steal another person’s goods; deceive another person, scheme, or plan; lust after the possessions of another, then we are not hearing a wise suggestion. It can’t be wise if it requires that we go outside of God’s moral boundaries.

So think about what you are going to be doing this next week or the decisions that you will be making. Are they based on truth within the moral boundaries? If so, then you are being wise. If not, then you are being foolish no matter how high-sounding what you want to do is.

*  This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material.   The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.

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