Father, tonight as we continue marching through the pages of scripture and now in this Book of Wisdom, the Book of Proverbs, though we are unable to really plum its depths. As we survey at tonight, we pray that as Solomon was given wisdom, we also ask for wisdom in the times in which we live, you said in your word, "If anyone lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives liberally, freely, and without reproach." So we ask in faith that you would give us wisdom, like the men of Issachar to understand their times and to know what to do. We pray Lord that part of our worship in listening to your word tonight would be rewarding, in Jesus name. Amen.
The Book of Proverbs, if you haven't turn there, turn over to chapter one. Somebody estimated that if you were to gauge, measure accumulated knowledge from the beginning of recorded history to 1845 and you measured it by one inch, so that one inch represents all of the knowledge accumulated from the beginning of recorded history to 1845 then the knowledge from 1845 to 1945, a hundred years later that had been learned in that period of time would be three inches. And that the knowledge gained from 1945 to 1975, 30 years later, would be the height of the Washington Monument in Washington DC, because we are exponentially increasing facts and knowledge. So since 1975 to 2008 is somewhere up in space. Isaac Asimov, the scientist, once said, "Based at the rate of knowledge growing today, by the time today's child reaches 50 years of age, 97% of everything known in the world at that time will have been learned since his birth."
Now we have turned to the Book of Proverbs; one of the most frequented books, one of the most read books in the Old Testament. I would say, next to the Book of Psalms, this book ranks right up there with familiarity among Christian believers. In fact, I actually know a guy who used to think, the last book in the New Testament was Proverbs, because you have seen those little New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs, he swore that was the last book in the Bible. That only goes to show that, along with the New Testament, we love to read the Psalms and the Proverbs.
Now the Book of Proverbs is the third of the five poetic books in the Old Testament. So we have Job, Psalms, and now Proverbs and after this, there will be two more. This is also the first book written by Solomon, there is going to be three altogether, two after this but this is the first written by the son of David, King Solomon. Now, King Solomon was quite a guy. We remember him from our studies way back but he penned with his own pen 3,000 proverbs. We only have a sampling in this book, just a little over 500 but he wrote over 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 psalms and we have a just a sampling that is recorded here in this book.
The word 'proverb' in our language, the English word, comes from a Latin word, 'proverbium'. Now let me explain it to you because as we take these two words that have been put together, we understand what a proverb is. Proverbium; 'pro' means 'on behalf of' or 'instead of' and 'verba', verb or words, 'instead of words'. So what you have in a proverb is a short saying instead of a whole lot of words, a pithy saying, we would call it an epigram, or a maxim or an aphorism. That's what a proverb is; it's a short statement that takes the place of long words.
Spanish novelist, Cervantes said, "It's a short saying based on long experience." Now every culture has proverbs. We have our own proverbs and you know them. For instance, "Nothing ventured, nothing gains". Yeah, I knew that you know it. "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water", "Look before you leave", "Don't Make a Mountain Out of a --" and there are many other such proverbs that every culture including ours has.
Now what's different is these proverbs are inspired by God. They are not just good advice; this is God's advice. This is inspired scripture that we look at and I would recommend that you look at them daily. What's great about Proverbs is it's divided up into 31 chapters and every month has about 30 or 31 days and if you were to read a proverb a day, for instance, I read this morning, Proverbs 26 as part of my daily Bible reading because you have these sayings and when you read, visit them every month, they are like little tiny verbal bombs that detonate in your brain. They are able to just make the great impact and they are easy to memorize because of the way that they are written, but these are inspired by God.
Now, to divide the book or outline the book is a little tough. You can do it linguistically but there is really no thread of topic that flows through the book, it's sort of like a mishmash of different things put together. But there are certain divisions that I will just make you aware of and then we will disregard them for our study tonight. But linguistically, you can see how the book is divided because at the beginning of every section, it gives you a little banner statement, "These are the proverbs of Solomon," and that's in Chapter 1, also in Chapter 10, so chapters 1 through 9 sort of form a block together. Chapters 10 through 24 form a second block with another subheading; "These are the proverbs of Solomon," and there are four of those. So I am going to divide it up this way; Chapters 1 through 9 are principles from Solomon, principles from Solomon especially to those who are young.
There is the repeated phrase in this section, "My son, my son," it's a father teaching his son. In fact, Halley in his Bible Handbook says, "This is the best guidebook to success that a young man can follow." Chapters 1 through 9 are these principles from Solomon toward the young. Then Chapters 10 through 24 are proverbs of Solomon and these proverbs of Solomon will contrast the righteous versus the wicked; the wise versus the foolish. And then Chapters 25 through 29 are precepts by Solomon. Now he wrote them but he didn't compile that section and there is little subheading that says that King Hezekiah basically commissioned a literary group to take some of the other proverbs of Solomon and place them in this sections and that's the third section of Proverbs.
Then the last two chapters are written not at all by Solomon but by a guy named Agur, A-G-U-R, and King Lemuel, we have no idea really who that was but their names are given in those last two. Let's look at Chapter 1, Verse 1. We have the mission statement given right off the bat, "The proverbs of Solomon, the son David, the king of Israel, to know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; to receive instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment and equity; to give prudence to the simple," a better translation might be "to the naïve", "to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and increase learning; and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel."
There is something you notice about a wise man or woman, they are always learning, they are never content. They never say, "Don't tell me; I already know these things." They are always open to increase their knowledge, they grow in it. The Talmud said, "He who adds not to his learning only diminishes it." And so here you have the proverb, "A wise man will hear and increase in learning; a man of understanding will attend wise counsel," and then Verse 6, "To understand a proverb and am enigma; the words of the wise and their riddles."
You will notice in proverbs or you already have noticed in reading them that the word 'wise' and 'wisdom' are often repeated in this book. In fact, 1025 times in this book those words appear; either wise or wisdom and that really is the overarching theme of the book, isn't it, to acquire and apply God's wisdom for daily living. So we have an increase in knowledge if you were to look back from 1845 to 1945 to 1975 to 2008, we are exponentially growing in knowledge but where is the wisdom to go along with it. That's really the issue.
Yeah, we have a lot of facts and we can google anything and get instant information but it's the wisdom to deal with the knowledge that we have that is the key, and Proverbs is full of such wisdom. Now just for fun, I looked up wisdom in good-old Webster's dictionary and I found it's a very different definition than the Bible definition. Here is Webster, "Wisdom is accumulated, philosophic, or scientific learning i.e. knowledge." So, one of Webster's definitions is that wisdom and knowledge are tantamount to the same thing; acquired and accumulated, scientific and philosophic knowledge learning.
The Bible has a very different definition. The Bible definition presupposes that God is in the mix. If you take God out of the mix, according to the Bible, you will lose the foundational definition of wisdom. For the Bible says, "It's the fool that has said in his heart, there is no God" or literally no God; there maybe when I just don't want anything to do with him, is the idea. The fool has said in his heart, no God.
In the Hebrew language, the word 'wise' is Hakham and the word 'wisdom' is Hokmah, same root, same difference basically; Hakham and Hokmah. What it literally means is someone who is skilled or someone who is an expert, it originally refer to somebody who was trained up in a discipline and they knew that discipline very well; they were experts in their field, that's wisdom.
When you apply it here and you see it through the lens of the Book of Proverbs, those two terms, 'wise' and 'wisdom' could be defined as this: Having the expertise to live well. It's the skill set to live well and expert at godly living is the idea. Something you discover about wisdom as you go through this book; wisdom is not necessarily directly proportional to your IQ. It's not directly proportional to your SAT scores. Aren't you glad about that? And it's not necessarily directly proportional to your age; you can be an older fool. You can live a long time but not gather the skill set to live well.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote, "In the Church of God, there are children who are 70 years old." Yes, little children displaying all of the infirmities of declining years. One would not like to say of a man of 80 that he has scarcely cut his wisdom teeth and yet, there are such. On the other hand, there are Fathers in the Church of God: wise, stable, instructed, who are comparatively young men. The Lord can cause His people to grow rapidly and to far outstrip their years.
Okay, that's sort of the introduction of the book. That's the purpose statement of the book. But because the book isn't laid out in any kind of systemic form in terms of topic and because we are doing this from 30,000 feet, this is a weekly fly-over of each book. What we are going to do tonight is notice the prominent mountain peaks in the book. There are several themes and sub-themes and we don't have time for all but the ones that loomed the largest, I want to cover four mountain peaks. To do that, we are going to camp on a section of scripture in each four but then because there are all of the truths regarding that mountain peak or topic aren't all in the same section but are scattered throughout. We are going to have to pull those stones of wisdom and put them altogether. So, here's the first mountain peak that we are going to cover and I want you to turn to Chapter 1, right where we are at.
"It's the fear of the Lord versus the fear of man." The fear of the Lord versus the fear of man; this is one of the most prominent themes in this book. In fact, I like to see this as the grid through which we filter everything in life, that's why it's put right upfront. Verse 7, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;" Later on in the same book, it will say, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." "But fools despise wisdom and instruction." So, the fear of the Lord is the beginning, a better translation, the most important part or the chief part or the summit as one old translation puts it. It's the summit of all knowledge. It's the most important component of what you learn in life; the fear of the Lord.
There are 18 references to the fear of the Lord in the Book of Proverbs. 18 separate occasions is referred to, 50 times throughout the Bible, "the fear of the Lord comes up." Well, when God repeats Himself 50 times, I think it's important. So here's a question; what is it exactly? What does it mean the fear of the Lord? We have all heard that, some of us have heard our parents say, "I am going to put the fear of God in you" and so we don't think of that as an endearing term, something that we want to get acquainted with.
Let me tell you what it's not first; it's not a superstitious dread of God as if God is frowning all the time from heaven and just can't wait for you to mess up so he can strike you down. That's not the fear of the Lord. The Hebrew term, fear of the Lord, yirat Yahweh is the Hebrew. It speaks of reverence. It was a term early on applied to how children treat mom and dad. In Leviticus, "children revere," yare is the word. "Revere your father and your mother."
So here is what I think is the best definition of the fear of the Lord as defined in the scripture. It is a reverential awe that produces humble submission to our loving God. Once again, reverential awe that produces humble submission to our loving God. The only dread is that we would displease God. It's built on relationship, not on rules. It's because we love Him, we relate to Him, for what He has done for us, He has redeemed us, we are His children. Because of that relationship, we are fearful; we are in dread of doing something that would displease Him. Why, because we love Him in response to His love for us. So, when we are in that relationship, we have a reverence and awe, a holiness. It's the response that it produces humble submission to our loving God.
Now, when you have it, it does something for you. First of all, it will keep you from evil. Proverbs, Chapter 16, Verse 6, "By the fear of the Lord one departs from evil." That will keep you away from things you shouldn't be involved in. How do I stop doing that habit? Develop a fear of the Lord. That's the beginning, that's the chief part, that's the summit of knowledge and wisdom.
Proverbs, 8:13 says, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, arrogance, and the evil way." I tell you who comes to mind when I think of this. Little Joseph in Egypt, you know the story; he was sold by his brothers as a slave, first to the Midianites then to the Egyptians. When Potiphar's wife, remember the story, try to get him in bed, when nobody was home, Joseph was young, hormones were raging, nobody was looking, he knew God was looking. He knew he wasn't alone in that house and he said to Potiphar's wife when she said, "Come to bed with me." He said. "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?"
You can look this way and you can look that way and nobody is there looking but don't forget to look up, and he got that. It was that reverential awe that produced humble submission to our loving God that kept him from that situation. So it will keep you from evil. Second thing it will do for you, it will increase your quality of life. It will increase. It's what Jesus called an abundant life, "I have come that they may have life and have it to the max." That's my translation of more abundantly. You can live life turned up to ten by the fear of the Lord. You want the quality of life develop the fear of the Lord.
Proverbs 14:27 says, "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death." Then there is Proverbs 14:26, the verse right before that, "In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge."
Think of Abraham bringing his son Isaac to the top of Mt. Moriah, absolutely confident in God. Did you understand the situation? No. Did it make sense that he would take the son that came miraculously, that was the only son of promise up to a mountain and plunge a knife in him? No, but God said, "Do it." So we thought, I will do it, God will resurrect him if he needs to.
But he had strong confidence and when he acted on that obedience by the fear of the Lord, the angel came and stopped him. Do you remember what the angel said? He said, "Don't lay your hand on the lad, for now I know that you fear God." So, it will keep you from evil. It will increase your quality of life. That's the first mountain peak and that theme runs 18 different times through the Book of Proverbs. This is one of the mega themes of the book.
The second mountain top I want to drive your attention to, you can turn over to Proverb 6, "Is the diligent person versus the lazy person." The diligent person versus the lazy person. I heard about one guy who was actually in a cartoon that I read. I think it was a Peanuts cartoon and one of the character said, "I love work. I can sit and watch it for hours." That's the lazy person and you will see what I mean. Look at Proverb 6, Verse 6, "Go to the ant, you sluggard;" you slothful person would be another translation, you hater of work. "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Which having no captain, overseer, or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep; and so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man."
I do think and Proverbs bears this out that as believers, as followers of God, as redeemed ones by Christ, we should be concerned about the quality of the work that we do. We should be able to tell our employer or would be employer, "You hire me and I will be the best worker you got." I actually remember doing that after reading Proverbs, I was looking for a job in radiology that was my discipline in medicine, years ago in California. I went to a perspective hospital and there weren't any job openings and so I said to the Head of the Department, I said, "Look," because he said, "We will call you." I said, "Look, I know a lot of people are vying for this job. If you hire me, I will be the best worker in this department." He looked at me and said, "You got the job."
So now I went home thinking, now I have to produce, now I have to keep my word, now I am going to be scrutinized more than ever before because I told them I am a Christian and I told them I will work harder. But isn't that how we ought to be? Shouldn't we be able to say right upfront, "You hired a child of God, you are going to get the best possible worker you can find for your money." Diligent!
Now something about work I just want to clear out because every now and then I will hear people say, "Well, you know, work is a curse. It's because man fail that God curse us with work." It's not work that's a curse; it's the sweat of the brow created by work, that is the curse. In fact, as soon as God created man, the first thing He did was employ him, He placed him in the garden to tend it and to keep it. One of the Ten Commandments, it says, "Six days you shall labor and do all your work." So, work happened and was assigned to man before the fall not after the fall, the curse was the sweat of the brow but even part of that top ten list of God is that for six days, we are to be workers and to work diligently.
Now, as we compare the diligent versus the lazy person and Proverbs it's very colorful with these comparisons and contrast. A lazy person is someone who doesn't finish things. Listen to this description, this is Proverbs 12, Verse 27, "The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting." Okay there again, there is a proverb, there is a short saying based on long experience. Here is a picture of a guy who finally gets up enough courage and enough strength to get up out of bed and okay, I will go hunting, and he gets out there and he kills his game, and then he says, "I am done now." "But now you got it, all you got to do is cook it." "I don't want to cook it. It's like too much work." But you already killed it. It's yours.
What an apt colorful picture of someone who is lazy! "A lazy man doesn't roast what he took in hunting." Listen to this description. This is Proverbs 19, Verse 24, "A lazy man buries his hand in the bull, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again." Goodness gracious! He has got his cereal in front of him and takes a bite. That's pretty bad. Isn't that? He won't finish things, he start something, doesn't finish it. There is another mark of the lazy person; he refuses to face things. He has always got an excuse. Ever known somebody with a whole list of excuses; it's too cold, it's too hot, it's too far, it's too hard, there is always an excuse.
Proverbs 22, Verse 13, "The lazy man says, there is a lion outside, I shall be slain in the streets." Again, Proverbs 20, Verse 4, "The lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing." So here's a guy who rationalizes his laziness. I can't do it because there is this obstacle. So, he's got an excuse. It was Billy Sunday who said, "An excuse is simply the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie."
Okay, here is another description; Proverbs 26, Verse 14, "As the door turns on its hinges, so the lazy man on his bed." That's in fact hilarious. There is only one kind of movement a door does, it just turns this way and turns that way, stuck by the hinges. That is how lazy guy, the only movement he makes is this side and that side. It's like the kid who said, "I always do my exercises every morning as soon as I wake up; it's up down, up down, up down, and then I say, okay, now for the other eyelid; up down, up down." This is the lazy man who turns on the bed.
So, the Christian worker should be someone not marked for laziness; marked for diligence, excellence. You know that when you hire that person or when you ask that believer to do a task because it's going to get done with integrity and excellence. It is going to get fully done. I have always been intrigued by the Stradivarius violin not because I can play one, not because I know a lot about them but it was the philosophy of Antonio Stradivarius that has always moved me.
He said that he was a believer in God and he said that he was a staunch Christian and he said this. He said, "God needs violins to send His music out into the world. That's why, any violin leaving my shop must be as near perfect as humanly possible." And he sought to instill that mindset in his employees and his workers. Anything that gets released with my name on it, Antonio Stradivarius, must be near perfect as humanly possible because God needs to send His music out into the world and he said, "If my violins are defective then God's music will be spoilt."
It's a good way to live in any product you make and any job you hold. There is a third mountain peak in the Book of Proverbs. We have covered two, there is a third. Stay in Chapter 6, because it's close and there are several others we will refer to, but now is the difference between the good mouth and the bad mouth; a wholesome tongue, and a non-wholesome tongue; good words and bad words. And that is another mega theme throughout this book. In fact, the terms, tongue, lips, mouth, and words appear in the Book of Proverbs 150 times.
Okay, now right about now, everybody here is starting to get a little restless because this is a subject that we all deal with, right? We all deal with this, don't we? This is an issue for every one of us. Even James said, "No one can tame the tongue." And the first time we all read that we said, "Yes and Amen." But it can be given over to the Lord, there can be a spirit controlled life and one of the evidence will be a tongue that is wholesome.
Chapter 6, Verse16, there is a very important anchor text for this. "There are six things the Lord hates." Now stop right there. Any time you read statement like that, that's a huge statement because as children of God, who walk in the fear of the Lord, one of the things we want to do is love what God loves, and hate what god hates. It would only seem that whatever God hates, it's like okay, you give me that list, I will memorize it and I will make sure to stay away from it, because I so love God, and I fear Him, I reverence Him, I want to stay away from that, because this is what god hates.
"Six things god hate, yes seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren." Just notice in that list that three items out of seven on that list, deal with the sins of the tongue, and it says god hates this. That should send up an automatic red flag, something we want to stay away from.
Now fortunately, we know the solution because if these are things God hates, you just reverse it and you will find out what God loves. He would love a wholesome tongue, an honest tongue, one who doesn't sow discord but brings unity, etcetera.
Proverbs 25, Verse11, I think, is a good flipping of the coin of what we just read. In that text, Proverbs 25:11, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Words fitly spoken; how many times have you said something, and when you said you went, shouldn't have said that? I do it a lot. And it goes out and it's like, "Come back, I can't bring it back," but you would love to, right? So it behooves us to carefully choose the manner in which we are going to express something. "Words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in setting of silver."
You know, what we are fond of doing as Americans, is saying anything like, well you know what I mean, right? You know, what I mean. Be careful with that. Listen to what Mark Twain, a great American writer once said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightening and the lightening bug." Words fitly spoken.
When an ambassador represents our nation, or a congressman, the district or the state, they use words to get their point across. They have to be carefully chosen powerful words. When a teacher wants to stretch the mind of a student, he or she must choose the right kind of words. When a lawyer defends a client, and especially, if the client is innocent, words can mean life or death. When I asked my wife to marry me, I used very clumsy words. She didn't understand what I was saying, I rambled on for five, ten minutes until she finally said, "Now stop! Did you just ask me to marry you?"
It was words that grabbed my heart in 1973, when I was watching the Billy Graham Crusade on television. I turned up the sound and I heard his words; the words of truth, the words of life, and I responded to the words that were shared, as he looked into the camera and said, "If you are watching by television, you can know Christ." And it's like, those are words right to my heart, and I responded.
Proverbs 18:21, we are told, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." Death and life, what does it mean? Well here is the sampling; words can effect your emotions. You hear certain words and it causes delight or it causes sadness. You have all heard scathing words; "You idiot", 'You fool", "You empty-headed whatever". Those are just so degrading, they affect your emotions. Proverbs 12:18, "There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword; but the tongue of the wise promotes health." Ever met a sharp's tongue, individual? You know the kind, a verbal terminator? They can dice you and slice you with just a few words, they are so articulate, golden tongued, acid tongued in some regards.
Proverbs 12:25, "Anxiety in the heart of a man causes depression; but a good word makes it glad." Again proverbs 16:24, I can give you -- see what we are doing, we are camping on a core anchor text and then reaching for those other truths in other parts of the book.
Proverb 16:24, "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul. and health to the bones". Think about words being sweet. A soft answer is another one; Chapter 15:1, "A soft answer turns away wrath." There was a pastor who was preaching a sermon, based upon that text we just read, Proverbs 16:24, "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb," and he gave the text, and then he said, "You can always catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar."
There was a wife and a husband listening to the sermon, and so the wife turned over to her husband as soon as the pastor said that. She said, "Honey, I love how your muscles ripple when you take out the garbage." You can see, here is a girl who's been trying to get her husband to take out the trash, take out the trash, he wouldn't do it. So she thought, okay, honey verses vinegar, pull your muscles ripple and I love it when you take out the trash. Alright, I am the sanitary engineer. So words effect emotion.
Second, words affect your relations. How you feel about other people, can be altered based upon reports you hear about other people. "Did you hear --?", "Really! Well, I won't have any integrity to actually check it out for myself, because that sounds so juicy and good, and that's fun to believe in, even more fun to spread." So they can affect your relations.
Proverbs 16:28, "A perverse man sows strife, and a whisper separates the best of friends." Have you ever had this experience, and I bet you have, or somebody you know, you meet after a period of time and you see them and they are cold to you. They are cold towards you, they are unresponsive, they are sort of distant and aloof. You wonder why and you find out they have been listening to words from somebody else, they haven't had the decency to talk to you personally, and get the other side of the story. So now they are disposed to you relationally, and it's aversive.
So words affect your emotions, words affect your relations. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Now we do speak a lot, every human being does. The average person will spend one-fifth of his entire life-time talking. One-fifth of your life will be spent using words. It's estimated that in one day, you will use enough words to fill up 50-page book. In one year, you will develop, if you chose to record them, 132 volumes each containing 400 pages. In a lifetime, the words that you speak, would amount to 3,000 volumes or 1,500,000 pages of words. So this is a mega theme in the Book of Proverbs; how a wise righteous person verses an unwise foolish person uses their speech, a mega theme.
Now we also know too that there is difference in the sexes between male and female as to how much verbiage is used. Some were told that women are more articulate than men are, and so, if you are wondering women, why, when your husband comes home and he just grunts, "Hey" "Well honey, my day has been like -- and what your day has been like?" "Ah?"
You are ready to keep going; he is ready to end it, because he has used up his quota and it's good for men and women to understand, there are differences in the way we communicate. It's just the way it is. It would be hove men to learn that, and to step in and to become a little more talkative and just sort of stretch it. You can spare another five or ten words beyond what you have used that day or another few hundred, whatever. Be gracious. And women, you should also realize that your husbands aren't as good at it as you are and not as articulate perhaps and I know I am painting with the broom, it's just happens to be true.
Okay, let's go to the last one and we will close. The fourth mountain peak seen in the Book of Proverbs, one of the mega themes. I am going to caste it this way. It's the difference between friendship versus isolation, friendship versus isolation. Really, I am speaking about relationships; wholesome relationships with buddies, with children, with husbands and wives, but I am going to put it this way, relationship but it's friendliness versus isolation. Turn to Proverbs Chapter 18 for this. Proverbs Chapter 18, one of the greatest titles you could ever give to another person is the title of friend.
Now I am convinced that a person can only have a few, you could count them on your hand, a few really good friends in life, but what an honor to be called a friend of somebody else. It's not to be used lightly. Verse 1, "A man who isolates himself, seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment." I have met people who have been burnt by relationships, burnt by friendships, hurt because of what people have done in the past and they get to a point in life where they become callused and their attitude is, "Why bother, why should I even do this again? It's better if I just withdraw and be alone. I will go it alone." That's against God's order. First book of the Bible, "It is not good that man should be alone." Your Creator recognized you need people. Even though you need old people, you need people and even though they needle you, they need you as well. It is not good that man should be alone.
"A man who isolates himself, seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment." Unless you form meaningful relationships with people where there is openness, frankness, honesty, and accountability, you become more isolated. You don't grow emotionally, you don't grow personally or spiritually. Other people help you get stretched. They do. You are a wonderful person when you are with yourself. You are never more sweet, you are never more godly. You have just so much fun to be with alone. But where life really gets tested is when your personality rubs up against somebody else's personality and there is against yours.
That's why I have never bought the phrase, mutual incompatibility. You have heard it? We are divorcing on the grounds of mutual incompatibility as if to say, I am going to find someone else out there who is compatible with me. You will never find a person. Every human being is mutually incompatible with every other human being at some level; maybe not the first week, maybe not the first month, maybe not even the first year, but give it time.
We are people and when people rub against other people, they discover flaws in others and certainly, they should be discovering flaws in themselves. That's why you need friendship, meaningful relationship and Proverbs will tell you how to develop that. Back in Chapter 17, Verse17, you are right around that section, look at the value of a friend. "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Then look up again in Chapter 18:24, "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." In Chapter 27:17, one of the most famous ones, Men's Ministry has used it a notoriously so, "As iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." So you get the idea; friends are fortifying and they are strengthening, they influence us when they are around you.
So we need them, we get that, but here is the secret. Go back to Chapter 18 for just a moment, look at Verse 24 and look at just the first part of that. "A man who has friends must" what? "himself be friendly," look at it again. "A man who has friends must himself be friendly." In other words, this is how friendship works. Somebody has got to take the initiative, reach out and say, "Hey! What you doing? Let's get together, let's develop this group. Let's be accountable, let's whatever." Somebody has to do that. You have to be friendly.
This is exactly what Ruth did. Remember when Naomi was at the crossroads and her husband died and her two sons-in-law and she is with her two daughters-in-law and one of them is Ruth and she says, "You go back. I am going back to Bethlehem." Ruth took the initiative and said, "Where you go I will go. Your people will be my people your God will be my God."
Jonathan did this with David. David needed a friend, Jonathan, the king's son, King Saul's son, reached out and developed a fortifying friendship with David. So all of that to say this: no steeping in your own mire and saying, "Nobody likes me. I am just going to go away. Nobody really cares about me, nobody is interested in me." Take the initiative. I can just hear excuses, but I am shy you don't understand, I am different, I am shy. Three quarters of the people around you are also shy. Somebody has got to take the initiative and you will find when you are friendly, it will be get friendliness; when you love and reach out, it will be get love and outreach.
A man who has friends must himself be friendly. Albert Speer was the name of a man who was close to Adolf Hitler. In fact, he wrote a little section and biography of Hitler and Albert Speer said, "If Adolf Hitler had friends, I suppose I would be his best friend. Though he was close to no one really, I was probably the closest to him of anybody on planet Earth." And he said, "Hitler wallowed in his own charisma, but he could not respond to friendship, instinctively he repelled it. He repelled and he became isolated. He isolated himself to his own hurt and to an entire continent's hurt." It's destructive. Well, let's close with the last Chapter, shall we? Proverbs 31 though not written by Solomon but King Lemuel whom some think actually was a pseudonym, another name for King Solomon.
Proverbs 31, I am only going to look at a few verses but talks about the wonderful friendship of a husband and wife and especially, a husband extolling the wife of his youth. Verse 10, "Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trust in her, so that he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life." Verse 28, "Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many daughters have done well, but you excel or outdo or surpass them all."
In other words, if I can give you a free rendering of this, there is a lot of women out there honey, but there is only one for me and that's you. You surpass everyone I have ever met, will I told her that when I got married 40 years ago. You know what, if you told her that again, well she would melt. Maybe she hasn't heard that in a long time. I don't want to give her a coronary or anything, but if you were to say that and really mean that, that could change a lot of things.
Listen to the words of James Hewett who wrote this and I quote "Husbands who kiss their wives every morning before leaving work usually live five years longer than those who do not." I can just hear --reaction to that. Oh! Puck her up, get ready. A kissing husband has fewer automobile accidents, loses up to 50% less time from work because of illness and earns 20% to 30% more than a non-kissing husband. One of the best things for your portfolios, gentleman, is to love your wife, to rise up and call her blessed, the friend that God has given you, one of the mega themes of this book.
Verse 30, "Charm is deceitful, beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." So, Solomon, you got to admit, unusually talented, insightful leader, amazing guy, very wise in fact. It's because he asked for that. He asked for that. He wanted wisdom. He knew he needed wisdom.
1 Kings, Chapter 4, "God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight and breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than any other man and his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon's wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom."
Now we have just touched on four mountain peaks of 513 of the most important of the 3,000 proverbs that Solomon wrote that are recorded here. But here's where I want to end, on a sobering note, if you let me.
The Solomon was wiser than any person as the Bible says. Though he began his reign, his career with wisdom, he died a fool. He died a fool. He turned toward idolatry. He married 300 wives, 700 porcupines, I mean concubines. So he had a thousand plus women in his life, who turned his heart away from Yahweh to worship other gods, became very conflicted, became very foolish.
Here's a guy that wrote some of the greatest pearls of wisdom ever who didn't live according to his own advice. I got to tell you as a pastor as a preacher, somebody gives Bible studies every week to me that's sobering. If I don't live by the truth I preach, I am a fool. If you don't live by the truth you hear and say Amen too, you are a fool. So we are left with this, the Bible says, "Be doers of the word; not just hearers."
I read an article about an instructor, a driving instructor in Berlin, Germany. He has instructed thousands of people how to drive cars, he doesn't have a drivers' license. It's because he didn't want to go back after failing the test and try to take it again because he was too intimated and that was 43 years ago. 43 years he has been helping people get drivers' licenses; he ain't got one. He is the instructor. So we are warned by Solomon's life. He trafficked in wisdom, he died a fool.
I am going to close, you can turn to it if you like or you don't have to, I will just read it. It's an appeal really in Proverbs 8. I will just read it to you. There's just a few verses. Proverbs 8 is a picture of "Wisdom personified as if it's a woman standing at the head of the gates of the city, calling out to people who are walking to the streets of the city."
In Verse 32, "Now therefore listen to me, my children; for blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, do not disdain it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death."
Powerful, powerful appeal. So you can see why it's a good thing if in your normal Bible reading, you take one proverb a day and you just meditate on those little truth bombs that will detonate as you may be commit one or two to memory throughout the day. They just give off those beautiful explosive charges and remind you of some of the most salient truths that we cover tonight; the fear of the Lord, being diligent, friendship, etcetera. And one of the wisest things you could do if you time tonight then you can do it that's in a few minutes, join us over in the hub for prayer for our nation.
"Heavenly Father, thank you for this evening, for the time in your word. Thank you for the interview with our congressmen, congressman peers. You protect him; give him the wisdom, Lord that you gave to Solomon as he helps govern the affairs of this great nation. We are your servants, we talk about our relationship with you, and the relationship, the Bible describes that we have is we are your servants, your slaves, you are our Master. You are not just our heavenly buddy, you are God, and we thank you Lord, for the principles that you have laid out that if a person wisely follows, righteously obeys, will have fullness of life, grant that for us in Jesus name. Amen."