17 May 2022

*this will be the last blog as there is no Proverbs 31 devotion available*

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Proverbs 30:32-33

If you have been foolish, exalting yourself,
or if you have been devising evil,
put your hand on your mouth.
For pressing milk produces curds,
pressing the nose produces blood,
and pressing anger produces strife.

The surest mark of a fool is his boasting. He betrays his folly and his ego through exalting himself – exaggerating his deeds, putting himself above others, drawing attention to himself, delighting in the abasement of others. Such is folly and evil. The remedy for such boorish behavior is to stop speaking. It is better to be silent than to reveal one’s foolishness; it is better to hold one’s tongue than to use it to produce strife, which is the point of verse 33.

The effect of such speech is compared to the act of physical pressing. Such pressure on an object forces it into another mode. Pressing milk through a strainer produces curds. We may think such pressure, then, to be good, but the image of pressing the nose reminds us of the negative point.

Walk into a room where there is already some tension. Begin to boast. The result will be anger pressed into outward strife. There will be anger expressed against you, anger against others in the room, anger against whatever seems to be a cause for grievance.

In life, there is always an element of tension, however happy the occasion may be. We are sinners, and so there is always in us a readiness to be angry. Sin is all about us and has impacted us, and so there is always a cause to get angry. Anyone can mar a happy occasion, and the easiest manner is to exalt oneself as the expense of another. Someone will get offended. Someone will make a remark or express a facial disapproval. The boasting will press inner anger so that it comes out in strife. All the reason then to control one’s tongue. It is better not to be thought of at all, than to receive such attention that produces strife.


16 May 2022

Proverbs 30:29-31

Three things are stately in their tread;
four are stately in their stride:
the lion, which is mightiest among beasts
and does not turn back before any;
the strutting rooster, the he-goat,
and a king whose army is with him.

They feel a sense of nobility who feel confident in their position. The lion, by virtue of his strength and size; the rooster who protects his hens; the he-goat who heads the rest of the flock; and the king who possesses might – each of these carry with them an air of nobleness which comes from their sense of confidence or security. And that noble bearing has the added effect of increasing their courage so that when a threat comes upon them, they will defend the den, territory, or home for which they are responsible.

These examples before us are not viewed for their aggressiveness. Even the lion is not depicted as an aggressor but as one who will “not turn back from any” who threatens. He is king wherever he walks, not fearing an attack. Likewise a king with his army. He need not fear. Rather, he and the lion and the rooster and the he-goat may be attentive to their responsibility to watch over and protect those under them.

Thus, they do not walk about in a hulking manner, trying to intimidate anyone they meet. They are not bullies, who feel that they have something to prove or who are mean-spirited. They are strong, but strong with the knowledge of their responsibility. That is what makes them noble even if they are no more than a rooster or a goat.

And you? Does responsibility ennoble you or debilitate you? Does power fill you with a sense of responsibility to exercise it wise and for good purpose, or does it lessen your sense to care for the weak and any under your authority? Whether you are a mighty lion or a strutting rooster, a king with an army or a he-goat with a flock, it is the spirit of your inner being that ultimately determines whether your outward bearing is noble or ignoble.

14 May 2022

Joshua 22

Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh and said to them, “You have done all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded. For a long time now—to this very day—you have not deserted your fellow Israelites but have carried out the mission the Lord your God gave you. Now that the Lord your God has given them rest as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan. But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Then Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their homes. (To the half-tribe of Manasseh Moses had given land in Bashan, and to the other half of the tribe Joshua gave land on the west side of the Jordan along with their fellow Israelites.) When Joshua sent them home, he blessed them, saying, “Return to your homes with your great wealth—with large herds of livestock, with silver, gold, bronze and iron, and a great quantity of clothing—and divide the plunder from your enemies with your fellow Israelites.”

So the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the Israelites at Shiloh in Canaan to return to Gilead, their own land, which they had acquired in accordance with the command of the Lord through Moses.

10 When they came to Geliloth near the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an imposing altar there by the Jordan. 11 And when the Israelites heard that they had built the altar on the border of Canaan at Geliloth near the Jordan on the Israelite side, 12 the whole assembly of Israel gathered at Shiloh to go to war against them.

13 So the Israelites sent Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, to the land of Gilead—to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh. 14 With him they sent ten of the chief men, one from each of the tribes of Israel, each the head of a family division among the Israelite clans.

15 When they went to Gilead—to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh—they said to them: 16 “The whole assembly of the Lord says: ‘How could you break faith with the God of Israel like this? How could you turn away from the Lord and build yourselves an altar in rebellion against him now? 17 Was not the sin of Peor enough for us? Up to this very day we have not cleansed ourselves from that sin, even though a plague fell on the community of the Lord! 18 And are you now turning away from the Lord?

“‘If you rebel against the Lord today, tomorrow he will be angry with the whole community of Israel. 19 If the land you possess is defiled, come over to the Lord’s land, where the Lord’s tabernacle stands, and share the land with us. But do not rebel against the Lord or against us by building an altar for yourselves, other than the altar of the Lord our God. 20 When Achan son of Zerah was unfaithful in regard to the devoted things,[a] did not wrath come on the whole community of Israel? He was not the only one who died for his sin.’”

21 Then Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh replied to the heads of the clans of Israel: 22 “The Mighty One, God, the Lord! The Mighty One, God, the Lord! He knows! And let Israel know! If this has been in rebellion or disobedience to the Lord, do not spare us this day. 23 If we have built our own altar to turn away from the Lord and to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, or to sacrifice fellowship offerings on it, may the Lord himself call us to account.

24 “No! We did it for fear that some day your descendants might say to ours, ‘What do you have to do with the Lord, the God of Israel? 25 The Lord has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you—you Reubenites and Gadites! You have no share in the Lord.’ So your descendants might cause ours to stop fearing the Lord.

26 “That is why we said, ‘Let us get ready and build an altar—but not for burnt offerings or sacrifices.’ 27 On the contrary, it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the Lord at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and fellowship offerings. Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no share in the Lord.’

28 “And we said, ‘If they ever say this to us, or to our descendants, we will answer: Look at the replica of the Lord’s altar, which our ancestors built, not for burnt offerings and sacrifices, but as a witness between us and you.’

29 “Far be it from us to rebel against the Lord and turn away from him today by building an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices, other than the altar of the Lord our God that stands before his tabernacle.”

30 When Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the community—the heads of the clans of the Israelites—heard what Reuben, Gad and Manasseh had to say, they were pleased. 31 And Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, said to Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, “Today we know that the Lord is with us, because you have not been unfaithful to the Lord in this matter. Now you have rescued the Israelites from the Lord’s hand.”

32 Then Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, and the leaders returned to Canaan from their meeting with the Reubenites and Gadites in Gilead and reported to the Israelites. 33 They were glad to hear the report and praised God. And they talked no more about going to war against them to devastate the country where the Reubenites and the Gadites lived.

34 And the Reubenites and the Gadites gave the altar this name: A Witness Between Us—that the Lord is God.


Prayer: Almighty God, You alone can order the unruly wills and passions of sinful men: grant to Your people that they may love what You command and desire what You promise, so that, among the many and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

13 May 2022

Proverbs 30:24-28

Four things on earth are small,
but they are exceedingly wise:
the ants are a people not strong,
yet they provide their food in the summer;
the rock badgers are a people not mighty,
yet they make their homes in the cliffs;
the locusts have no king,
yet all of them march in rank;
the lizard you can take in your hands,
yet it is in kings’ palaces.

Observe nature and learn. We are quick to blame our failure to succeed on a defect that gives us decided disadvantage. “I am too small to go against big opponents.” “I am not strong enough for the work.” “I am not smart enough; I don’t have the education needed.”

The examples given from nature in this proverb all have disadvantages. They are small and thus could not survive a fight with a larger opponent. They are weak and could not lift heavy objects. But where they are small in comparison to other creatures and weak in comparison to the task required, they are nevertheless wise to overcome their supposed weakness, even to turn their weakness into their strength.

The ant and the locust are wise enough to work as a group so that the ant more than provides for himself, and the locust becomes even a fearful adversary. The rock badger, as small as he may be, uses his size and ability to dwell in impregnable fortresses in the cliffs. The tiny lizard, who is regarded as common and unclean, is able to live in palaces precisely because of his size.

Even in sports, where talent is matched against talent, the less talented athlete often emerges as victor because he uses his wits to outsmart his competitor, even to make the competitor’s greater talent a liability.

The battle belongs not so much to the strong but to the wise and to the great of heart. Determination, matched with wit, is powerful in both the large and the small. Do not let your “small defect” determine what you can and cannot do. Do not be quick to give in to your weakness. Turn, rather, to the strengths you have. You do not know what they are? Then use your wit to find out. You have more wisdom than you know. All you need to do is observe. Observe nature; observe what goes on about you; observe yourself. It will not be long before you learn and profit from what you see.

12 May 2022

Proverbs 30:21-23

Under three things the earth trembles;
under four it cannot bear up:
a slave when he becomes king,
and a fool when he is filled with food;
an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress.

In our modern democratic age, we might take issue with this proverb. Our stories of success are the very things held up here as troubling. We admire the slave who overcomes his circumstances to become king. We may not admire the fool, but at least appreciate the wit he uses to get his food. Is not the story of an unloved woman finding a husband who loves her romantic? And as for the maidservant, we think of the servant girl mistreated by the arrogant mistress who lives out a Cinderella story and displaces the mean mistress. Indeed, we regard all these instances as Cinderella stories.

But here is what the proverb is speaking about. It looks at the slave who by devious means obtains the throne, which his ignoble spirit demeans. The fool should be receiving what he needs – discipline, and yet through the folly of life gets rewarded for his foolish behavior. The unloved woman is not one who has found a husband to love her; rather, she is unloved because of her own critical, unloving ways, and woe to the man who is forced or beguiled into marrying her. And as to the maidservant, like the slave, she has used deceit and probably her sexual prowess to displace her mistress.

Cinderella stories are nice, and it is good to see those who are good and who possess noble spirits rise above their circumstances. But for all such stories, there are many others in which the wicked and the ignoble have used evil means to displace those who are in rightful places of authority and circumstances that befit their character. Such ignoble persons turn noble positions into opportunity to bully. The slave bullies all those for whom he holds perceived offenses, raising the wicked to power and humbling the noble. The unloved woman turns the role of help-meet into opportunity to bully her husband. The handmaiden as mistress struts arrogantly before the household. And the fool feels like a clever man because his stomach is full.

11 May 2022

Proverbs 30:18-20

Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of man with a virgin.
This is the way of an adulteress:
she eats and wipes her mouth
and says, “I have done no wrong.”

The proverb contemplates the mystery and grace of “ways.” There is the graceful flight of the eagle in the sky, moving its way through the air and the winds seemingly with ease. There is the serpent without legs sliding along easily over rock. There is the way of the small ship navigating over high waves. And then there is the way of the “man with a virgin” – the way of a man wooing a maiden or a husband intimate with his new bride, a picture of the mystery of love that brings physical intimacy.

These “ways” have sacredness about them as one contemplates the physics and the beauty about them. How repugnant, then, it shows the way of an adulteress, who treats sex as nothing more than having a meal. The eagle is nothing more than a bird flapping its wings, the snake a wiggly creature, the ship but a boat floating on water, and the man with a maiden – well, that is nothing more than a man giving way to lust. There is no mystery, no beauty, no sacredness; there is just creatures getting around and carrying out their instinct. Nothing is good, nothing is bad; the “ways” are simply creatures going through the motion.

The adulteress can make a decent living with such an attitude. So can anyone doing what they do merely for the profit. But what they lose is their soul, their ability to see mystery, to sense the sacred, and ultimately to know real joy.

10 May 2022

Proverbs 30:17

The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother
will be picked out by the ravens of the valley
and eaten by the vultures.

Disrespect of one’s parents clearly is not a modern phenomenon. This is the second time in chapter 30 that the matter has been raised (see v 11). There is the tendency of youth and, perhaps more so, of adult children to denigrate their parents. Among youth, there is the natural tendency to assert independence, and that often comes through questioning one’s parents. Nor is it unusual for youth to resist what they feel are restraints on their instincts for pleasure and acceptance among their peers.

It is the adult child, who never grows out of that youthful attitude, who is most troubling. As he grows into adulthood, he should be learning the trials and temptations that have beset his parents, thus making him more understanding of whatever defects they possess. He should be learning from his own failures the frailty of the human spirit, and so identifying with his parents as fellow sinners needing grace.

Bless your parents; honor them by doing whatever is for their good. Act according to the principle of grace and not out of your hurts. Perhaps you cannot help them (though you have more of a chance to do so than if you act of resentment and pride); but what is really at stake is your heart. Do not let it be filled with pride; do not let scorn come to life in it.

9 May 2022

Proverbs 30:15-16

The leech has two daughters;
“Give” and “Give,” they cry.
Three things are never satisfied;
four never say, “Enough”:
Sheol, the barren womb,
the land never satisfied with water,
and the fire that never says, “Enough.”

We are given vivid imagery of the spirit which is never satisfied. The impression being made is that such a spirit feels a true hunger that cannot be satiated, not so much out of greed but out of an inability to receive or maintain nourishment. This is made clear in the last three examples – the barren womb (that feels the emptiness of being able to bear a child), the barren land (which would be the common condition in the Middle-east), and fire (which ceases to exist the moment its fuel runs out). They crave to receive, like the leech and his family that must have “blood” to survive. And so Sheol is represented. No matter how many dead it receives, it has an unending appetite for more. Again, their problem is not being greedy, but being unable to benefit for long in what they receive.

Such a spirit is pitiable. He craves for fulfillment but cannot attain it. Like the Teacher of Ecclesiastes, he explores the different ways to find it – in work, in pleasure, in entertainment, in riches. He may seek it by exploring philosophies and religions. He may try to find it in noble and sacrificial work. And at times he seem fulfilled, but then the craving comes again, only stronger. “Give, give,” he cries.

The saddest position is when he cannot profit even from hearing the gospel. His heart does not possess the proper soil, because in his pursuit to find fulfillment through other means, he has left his heart hardened and incapable of receiving the seed of the gospel. Like hardened barren land which cannot profit from the rain, so is his heart to the gospel.

Let us pray for our neighbors who are in such a state. Who crave for fulfillment and, yet, by the very means they seek to satisfy their cravings, they are hardening their hearts to make it all the more difficult to attain. Pray for them, that the Spirit will touch their spirits and satisfy them with the blessing of the gospel.

7 May 2022

Joshua 20 – 21

Then the Lord said to Joshua: “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood. When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them. If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought. They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled.”

So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. East of the Jordan (on the other side from Jericho) they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau in the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan in the tribe of Manasseh. Any of the Israelites or any foreigner residing among them who killed someone accidentally could flee to these designated cities and not be killed by the avenger of blood prior to standing trial before the assembly.

Towns for the Levites

21 Now the family heads of the Levites approached Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the heads of the other tribal families of Israel at Shiloh in Canaan and said to them, “The Lord commanded through Moses that you give us towns to live in, with pasturelands for our livestock.” So, as the Lord had commanded, the Israelites gave the Levites the following towns and pasturelands out of their own inheritance:

The first lot came out for the Kohathites, according to their clans. The Levites who were descendants of Aaron the priest were allotted thirteen towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin. The rest of Kohath’s descendants were allotted ten towns from the clans of the tribes of Ephraim, Dan and half of Manasseh.

The descendants of Gershon were allotted thirteen towns from the clans of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan.

The descendants of Merari, according to their clans, received twelve towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Zebulun.

So the Israelites allotted to the Levites these towns and their pasturelands, as the Lord had commanded through Moses.

From the tribes of Judah and Simeon they allotted the following towns by name 10 (these towns were assigned to the descendants of Aaron who were from the Kohathite clans of the Levites, because the first lot fell to them):

11 They gave them Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), with its surrounding pastureland, in the hill country of Judah. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.) 12 But the fields and villages around the city they had given to Caleb son of Jephunneh as his possession.

13 So to the descendants of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Libnah, 14 Jattir, Eshtemoa, 15 Holon, Debir, 16 Ain, Juttah and Beth Shemesh, together with their pasturelands—nine towns from these two tribes.

17 And from the tribe of Benjamin they gave them Gibeon, Geba, 18 Anathoth and Almon, together with their pasturelands—four towns.

19 The total number of towns for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, came to thirteen, together with their pasturelands.

20 The rest of the Kohathite clans of the Levites were allotted towns from the tribe of Ephraim:

21 In the hill country of Ephraim they were given Shechem (a city of refuge for one accused of murder) and Gezer, 22 Kibzaim and Beth Horon, together with their pasturelands—four towns.

23 Also from the tribe of Dan they received Eltekeh, Gibbethon, 24 Aijalon and Gath Rimmon, together with their pasturelands—four towns.

25 From half the tribe of Manasseh they received Taanach and Gath Rimmon, together with their pasturelands—two towns.

26 All these ten towns and their pasturelands were given to the rest of the Kohathite clans.

27 The Levite clans of the Gershonites were given:

from the half-tribe of Manasseh,

Golan in Bashan (a city of refuge for one accused of murder) and Be Eshterah, together with their pasturelands—two towns;

28 from the tribe of Issachar,

Kishion, Daberath, 29 Jarmuth and En Gannim, together with their pasturelands—four towns;

30 from the tribe of Asher,

Mishal, Abdon, 31 Helkath and Rehob, together with their pasturelands—four towns;

32 from the tribe of Naphtali,

Kedesh in Galilee (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Hammoth Dor and Kartan, together with their pasturelands—three towns.

33 The total number of towns of the Gershonite clans came to thirteen, together with their pasturelands.

34 The Merarite clans (the rest of the Levites) were given:

from the tribe of Zebulun,

Jokneam, Kartah, 35 Dimnah and Nahalal, together with their pasturelands—four towns;

36 from the tribe of Reuben,

Bezer, Jahaz, 37 Kedemoth and Mephaath, together with their pasturelands—four towns;

38 from the tribe of Gad,

Ramoth in Gilead (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Mahanaim, 39 Heshbon and Jazer, together with their pasturelands—four towns in all.

40 The total number of towns allotted to the Merarite clans, who were the rest of the Levites, came to twelve.

41 The towns of the Levites in the territory held by the Israelites were forty-eight in all, together with their pasturelands. 42 Each of these towns had pasturelands surrounding it; this was true for all these towns.

43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

Prayer: Almighty God, You show to those who are in error the light of Your truth so that they may return to the way of righteousness: grant to all who are admitted to the fellowship of Christ’s service that they may renounce those things that are contrary to their profession and follow all such things as are agreeable to it; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

6 May 2022

Proverbs 30:11-14

There are those who curse their fathers
and do not bless their mothers.
There are those who are clean in their own eyes
but are not washed of their filth.
There are those—how lofty are their eyes,
how high their eyelids lift!
There are those whose teeth are swords,
whose fangs are knives,
to devour the poor from off the earth,
the needy from among mankind.

We are given four observations of probably one type of person or generation. It is of the arrogant whose pride and self-absorption lead to spite and self-deceit. They despise their parents (and others in rightful authority) whom they regard as fools. They regard themselves as being clean, i.e. without fault, while in truth they are most defiled. They look down upon everyone, whom they regard as lesser beings and fools. And they are especially severe with the poor and needy, whom they despise precisely because of their poor position.

They only admire the powerful who are also ruthless, for they believe sincerely in the law of survival of the fittest. They despise their parents because of their parents’ attempt to instill a moral code, which they regard as oppressive and unrealistic. Like the fool, they think they have life figured out, indeed, that they are among the few who understand the ruthlessness of life and the rules that one must play to survive and succeed.

And what is required to deal with them is a righteous use of discipline. For their problem is not a lack of education, but a lack of heart. We cannot change another’s heart. We can curb the behavior, and we can point in the right direction, using reason and a charitable spirit. But what is truly needed is the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, pray for those whom you know following the path of arrogance. Pray for their being brought low, that they might recognize their poverty and folly, rise in humility, wash off their filth by the blood of Christ, and bless their fathers and mothers and everyone who persevered in pointing them along the path of God.

5 May 2022

Proverbs 30:10

Do not slander a servant to his master,
lest he curse you and you be held guilty.

This is a warning to us not to be quick to get someone in trouble. We can slander by fabricating a lie; we can slander by exaggerating a supposed offense; we can slander by accurately telling what happened without considering the circumstances. We can be quick to slander when we ourselves are in a bad mood and are unforgiving; we can be quick to slander if our pride has been wounded; and we can be quick to slander to cover up our own guilt.

We can be quick to slander a “servant” because he is in a vulnerable position. He cannot get even; he has less standing and his job security is on the line. By complaining to the “master,” we have an easy means of attack without endangering ourselves. We let the master carry out our vengeance for us.

But let us be wary of the servant’s curse. The proverb does not mean simply angry or profane words. Rather, the servant is calling upon God to bring justice against his offender. He may not have recourse to earthly justice, but he does have the ear of the Judge who sees all and weighs the human heart. No one gets away with anything. Let us remember that before we are quick to slander. If we have been ill-used, remember that God will provide justice, and, thus, we do not need to take sinful actions to get satisfaction. Don’t be in position where another person must call upon God to get satisfaction against us.

4 May 2022

Proverbs 30:7-9

Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

If you were given two wishes to be granted, would these be the two you would choose – to be kept from committing falsehood and to given only what is needed so that you would not be tempted to sin?

Truly this is a request coming out of wisdom; for it is the wise person who recognizes his moral frailty and dependence upon God to sanctify him and to “deliver me from evil.” The best of us are prone to falsehood, and the one we are most likely to deceive is ourselves. The best of us have our prejudices and fears that keep us from hearing and accepting the whole truth, whether it be about God, ourselves, or others. As the movie line goes, “[We] can’t handle the truth.”

Then there is the recognition of our susceptibility to temptation. If we have an abundance, we tend to take what we have for granted and to credit ourselves for what we have. Our religious fervor declines or we become like the Pharisee who turns religious faith into an opportunity for self-exaltation. If we are poor, we are likely to lose confidence in God and trust to our own means – even unethical means – to provide for ourselves. The real crime, then, becomes the disgrace we lend to God’s name, because of being known as believing in him.

Recognition of such dangers as expressed here is not meant to lead us to be fearful, but, rather to turn to the Lord who alone can save us, preserve us, and lead us along his righteous path. It is meant to keep us from pride and false confidence in ourselves. It is meant to lead us to glorify God and give him the due honor that is his alone.

3 May 2022

Proverbs 30:5-6

Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

Every word proves true – every promise, every warning, every instruction. What we are commanded to do is to study every word in his Word. Because every word is true, we need to systematically study the scriptures, not skipping over the portions that seem uninteresting and with no application. Because every word is true, our one intent is to understand what the words are teaching. We are to let the words determine what we are to learn; for if we do not, we will become guilty of adding to his words.

Such guilt works like this. I have a topic I am interested in, so I “search” the scriptures finding verses that may have a word I am looking for or seem to speak to my topic. I then pull those verses out of their context and make them say what they do not actually mean. Thus one “health and wealth” preacher twisted 1 Corinthians 2:9 – “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” – to mean that God intends physical prosperity for those who love him. In its real context, the verse is a rebuke to those who prefer the wisdom of the world over the wisdom of the cross.

Or to take another example of a preacher who took the story of sinful woman washing Jesus’ feet (Luke 7ff), which teaches the mercy of God towards those who repent, to be a lesson that it is okay to cry. Or yet another example of a preacher taking the story of the paralytic being lowered through a roof to speak disapprovingly of people who damage other people’s property.

Such addition to God’s words will result in rebuke and the verdict that the speaker is a liar. For perverting God’s Word – whether it be to contract scripture or misapply or misinterpret – is to add what is not true. We undoubtedly will make our mistakes in understanding, but let it not be because we will not submit ourselves to hearing whatever it is that God wants us to hear, and all because we have our own agenda.

2 May 2022

Proverbs 30:1-4

The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.
The man declares, I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God, and worn out.
Surely I am too stupid to be a man.
I have not the understanding of a man.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son’s name?
Surely you know!

We enter into a new section of Proverbs, the last two chapters being the words of other sages. Chapter 30 presents the observations of Agur, son of Jakeh. He begins with an observation about man’s ability (and himself) to uncover the secret knowledge of God. Compare his thoughts with those in Job 38:1-7.

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

In brief, man cannot by reason nor by exploration know God truly. He can, through natural revelation, deduce some basic traits of God, but he cannot delve into the great mysteries. For that, divine revelation is needed. Without such revelation, who could have begun to think of the Trinity? Who could have thought through his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence? His eternal nature, his immutability? Who could have explored with depth his holiness, his justice, and his mercy? Who could have grasped grace?

And who could have anticipated and understood such love by which the divine Father sent the divine Son to die for his enemies, and then to adopt such enemies to be his children and be united with them through the divine Holy Spirit?

What divine revelation reveals is enough to overwhelm our powers of reason. What more is left out because we could not handle such mystery? What is given is enough for us to spend all our lives, even in eternity, contemplating and then living in response to. And let us begin by giving the answer to the last question of verse 4. It is God the Father and his son’s name is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Give praise that our God has revealed such wondrous knowledge to us!

30 April 2022

Joshua 13:1-19:51

Prayer: Almighty God, You have given Your only Son to be for us both a sacrifice for sin and also an example of godly life; give us grace that we may always thankfully receive the immeasurable benefit of His sacrifice, and also daily endeavour to follow in the blessed steps of His most holy life; who now lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for evermore. Amen.

29 April 2022

Proverbs 29:27

An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous,
but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.

We understand the first line. The unjust, who deceive, scheme, cheat, steal, and murder – of course they are an abomination. A whole justice system is set up to punish them. And certainly the righteous, those who follow the moral, straight path, who believe in fair play and who are bent on doing what is good and right – surely they would be antagonistic against the wicked.

But we fail to understand the very real antagonism that the unjust feels against the righteous. They are not so much angry that the righteous oppose them, but rather, they really do despise the ways of the righteous, whom they regard as hypocrites. The unjust do have a code by which the strong and the clever exercise control over the weak and simple. They recognize that all humans have natural desires for power, for wealth, and to indulge their physical desires. They, thus, despise the righteous, who, in their minds, either are weak persons deluding themselves or practicing outright hypocrisy, using the public righteousness to hide their inner cravings and activities.

The unjust see themselves as bold men who are willing to take risks and endure the spite of others in order to indulge in their natural ambition for power and for pleasure. They see the righteous as rigid and frigid weaklings who oppose them out of secret envy or smallness of mind.

The unjust do not understand persons who delight in righteousness, who protect others against the unjust because they actually love their neighbors, who understand and value an inner code that exalts fair play and kindness. The unjust do not understand a self-denial that produces deeper and long-lasting reward. And the unjust certainly do not understand the freedom of a humble spirit that allows the righteous to promote the welfare of others, even to seek the reform of the unjust.

28 April 2022

Proverbs 29:26

Many seek the face of a ruler,
but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.

We seek the help and favor of “rulers,” those in position to see that we receive justice and favor, who will protect us from the wicked and the oppressor. We look for those who “have connections,” who know those who can do something. Such connections can help and much depends on the favor of those in authority with means to help.

But remember, whatever such persons possess, they have received those things from the Lord to do his will. Even their hearts are under the power of the Lord. It is God who caused Pharaoh to show favor to Moses and to harden his heart against Moses, as well. It is God who creates the “connections,” God who determines if the ruler will be in a good mood or poor one. It is God who controls the timing and even the “chance” circumstances. And it is God who gives you the words to say to the “ruler,” who gives you discernment, who guides your very manner before the ruler so that he listens to you and grants your petition.

So, if you want justice, then go to the top and submit your petitions to the Lord who raises and brings down rulers, who alone carries out his will, who is your Father and cares for you. Seek the face of this Ruler.

27 April 2022

Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

One would think that by fearing man, he could avoid the snares of man. But this proverb says that such fear actually lays a snare. How so? Isn’t man dangerous? Does he not possess evil intention? It would seem prudent to have a healthy fear of those who can do harm.

The second line helps put the first into perspective. Yes, we should be wary of man, but that very caution should then turn us to the Lord to be our safeguard. But more to the point, we are to find our safety in living for the Lord and according to his commands for us. We often lose our focus on living for the Lord because of the fear of man – fear of what man thinks of us, fear of what man may do to us. We often swerve off the path of God’s commands because of the same fear, not trusting God to safe-keep us. Keeping the commands of God and living for him is the prudent way of keeping safe.

Jesus’ comments in Luke 12:4-7 serve as a commentary of this proverb: “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”


26 April 2022

Proverbs 29:24

The partner of a thief hates his own life;
he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.

The curse is possibly a legal pronouncement made in general against unknown lawbreakers or against witnesses who will not reveal the truth. Here is a person who has joined up with a thief as an accomplice of some kind. Either he has helped to commit the crime or knows about the crime. In either case, he keeps silent, allowing the criminal to go unpunished and the crime to be unresolved, even after a curse is invoked.

Does he think he will escape with impunity? Does he think to mock God, who is called upon by the invoker of the curse to bring about justice? If so, then he in truth acts as one who hates his own life, for he is condemning himself to judgment. He will live under the fear of being found out. If he has a conscience, it will plague him. And what awaits him after death is the final judgment that will expose all crimes and deliver perfect justice.

Perhaps this person joined up with the thief because he thought the thief to be clever. Perhaps he joined in out of fear from the thief. Perhaps he had in a moment of folly committed himself and feels that he cannot break his word. Whatever the case, he shows that he fears man more than God. The day will come when he will rue such a mix-up in whom to fear.

25 April 2022

Proverbs 29:23

One’s pride will bring him low,
but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

The person of pride seeks to be exalted. He desires honor. He wants to be on top. That very desire which spurs him on is what will bring him low. The more we seek to exalt ourselves, the more likely we will be humbled.

There is the person who does not think of himself but rather seeks to promote the welfare of others and the glory of God. He thinks not about how he will be exalted but the good that can he can accomplish. That very desire which spurs him on is what will lead to honor.

It is the same principle that Jesus expressed: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35). If we focus on ourselves – our pleasures, our pride, our security – we will lose the very things we crave, for nothing of this world is permanent or secure. If we focus on God – glorifying him, living for him and for his kingdom – we will obtain what is permanent, for what belongs of God is eternal and secure.

Seek first the kingdom of God, and whatever else is needed for your happiness and welfare will be provided by God, who is the only one who can carry through on his promises, and the only one whose regard truly matters.

23 April 2022

Joshua 10:16-12:24

16 Now the five kings had fled and hidden in the cave at Makkedah. 17 When Joshua was told that the five kings had been found hiding in the cave at Makkedah, 18 he said, “Roll large rocks up to the mouth of the cave, and post some men there to guard it. 19 But don’t stop; pursue your enemies! Attack them from the rear and don’t let them reach their cities, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand.”

20 So Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely, but a few survivors managed to reach their fortified cities. 21 The whole army then returned safely to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah, and no one uttered a word against the Israelites.

22 Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me.” 23 So they brought the five kings out of the cave—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon. 24 When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks.

25 Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” 26 Then Joshua put the kings to death and exposed their bodies on five poles, and they were left hanging on the poles until evening.

27 At sunset Joshua gave the order and they took them down from the poles and threw them into the cave where they had been hiding. At the mouth of the cave they placed large rocks, which are there to this day.

Southern Cities Conquered

28 That day Joshua took Makkedah. He put the city and its king to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it. He left no survivors. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.

29 Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Makkedah to Libnah and attacked it. 30 The Lord also gave that city and its king into Israel’s hand. The city and everyone in it Joshua put to the sword. He left no survivors there. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.

31 Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Libnah to Lachish; he took up positions against it and attacked it. 32 The Lord gave Lachish into Israel’s hands, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah. 33 Meanwhile, Horam king of Gezer had come up to help Lachish, but Joshua defeated him and his army—until no survivors were left.

34 Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Lachish to Eglon; they took up positions against it and attacked it. 35 They captured it that same day and put it to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it, just as they had done to Lachish.

36 Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron and attacked it. 37 They took the city and put it to the sword, together with its king, its villages and everyone in it. They left no survivors. Just as at Eglon, they totally destroyed it and everyone in it.

38 Then Joshua and all Israel with him turned around and attacked Debir. 39 They took the city, its king and its villages, and put them to the sword. Everyone in it they totally destroyed. They left no survivors. They did to Debir and its king as they had done to Libnah and its king and to Hebron.

40 So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded. 41 Joshua subdued them from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon. 42 All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.

43 Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

Northern Kings Defeated

11 When Jabin king of Hazor heard of this, he sent word to Jobab king of Madon, to the kings of Shimron and Akshaph, and to the northern kings who were in the mountains, in the Arabah south of Kinnereth, in the western foothills and in Naphoth Dor on the west; to the Canaanites in the east and west; to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites and Jebusites in the hill country; and to the Hivites below Hermon in the region of Mizpah. They came out with all their troops and a large number of horses and chariots—a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. All these kings joined forces and made camp together at the Waters of Merom to fight against Israel.

The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them, slain, over to Israel. You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots.”

So Joshua and his whole army came against them suddenly at the Waters of Merom and attacked them, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Israel. They defeated them and pursued them all the way to Greater Sidon, to Misrephoth Maim, and to the Valley of Mizpah on the east, until no survivors were left. Joshua did to them as the Lord had directed: He hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots.

10 At that time Joshua turned back and captured Hazor and put its king to the sword. (Hazor had been the head of all these kingdoms.) 11 Everyone in it they put to the sword. They totally destroyed[a] them, not sparing anyone that breathed, and he burned Hazor itself.

12 Joshua took all these royal cities and their kings and put them to the sword. He totally destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. 13 Yet Israel did not burn any of the cities built on their mounds—except Hazor, which Joshua burned. 14 The Israelites carried off for themselves all the plunder and livestock of these cities, but all the people they put to the sword until they completely destroyed them, not sparing anyone that breathed. 15 As the Lord commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses.

16 So Joshua took this entire land: the hill country, all the Negev, the whole region of Goshen, the western foothills, the Arabah and the mountains of Israel with their foothills, 17 from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, to Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. He captured all their kings and put them to death. 18 Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time. 19 Except for the Hivites living in Gibeon, not one city made a treaty of peace with the Israelites, who took them all in battle. 20 For it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

21 At that time Joshua went and destroyed the Anakites from the hill country: from Hebron, Debir and Anab, from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua totally destroyed them and their towns. 22 No Anakites were left in Israelite territory; only in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod did any survive.

23 So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.

List of Defeated Kings

12 These are the kings of the land whom the Israelites had defeated and whose territory they took over east of the Jordan, from the Arnon Gorge to Mount Hermon, including all the eastern side of the Arabah:

Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.

He ruled from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge—from the middle of the gorge—to the Jabbok River, which is the border of the Ammonites. This included half of Gilead. He also ruled over the eastern Arabah from the Sea of Galilee[b] to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea), to Beth Jeshimoth, and then southward below the slopes of Pisgah.

And the territory of Og king of Bashan, one of the last of the Rephaites, who reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei.

He ruled over Mount Hermon, Salekah, all of Bashan to the border of the people of Geshur and Maakah, and half of Gilead to the border of Sihon king of Heshbon.

Moses, the servant of the Lord, and the Israelites conquered them. And Moses the servant of the Lord gave their land to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh to be their possession.

Here is a list of the kings of the land that Joshua and the Israelites conquered on the west side of the Jordan, from Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon to Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir. Joshua gave their lands as an inheritance to the tribes of Israel according to their tribal divisions. The lands included the hill country, the western foothills, the Arabah, the mountain slopes, the wilderness and the Negev. These were the lands of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. These were the kings:

the king of Jericho one
the king of Ai (near Bethel) one
10 the king of Jerusalem one
the king of Hebron one
11 the king of Jarmuth one
the king of Lachish one
12 the king of Eglon one
the king of Gezer one
13 the king of Debir one
the king of Geder one
14 the king of Hormah one
the king of Arad one
15 the king of Libnah one
the king of Adullam one
16 the king of Makkedah one
the king of Bethel one
17 the king of Tappuah one
the king of Hepher one
18 the king of Aphek one
the king of Lasharon one
19 the king of Madon one
the king of Hazor one
20 the king of Shimron Meron one
the king of Akshaph one
21 the king of Taanach one
the king of Megiddo one
22 the king of Kedesh one
the king of Jokneam in Carmel one
23 the king of Dor (in Naphoth Dor) one
the king of Goyim in Gilgal one
24 the king of Tirzah one
thirty-one kings in all.

Prayer: Almighty Father, You have given Your only Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification: grant that we may put away the old principle of corruption and wickedness, and always serve You in purity and truth; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

22 April 2022

Proverbs 29:22

A man of wrath stirs up strife,
and one given to anger causes much transgression.

Anger is a particularly difficult vice to have because of its impact on others. People may laugh at or sympathize with a person struggling with various vices and sins, but they are offended by anger. In anger a person will lash out at others; he will say hurtful words or even physically strike. In anger he will scheme against others. In anger he will seek vengeance; he will intentionally stir up strife.

In anger he will commit other transgressions – lying, slandering, stealing, etc. Anger causes him to lose his ability to think straight. In anger he throws caution to the wind; he does not consider the consequences of his actions. In anger he harms the very persons he loves.

If you have a temper problem, make it your priority to deal with it. Seek the counsel of others. Get friends to hold you accountable. Examine your heart. Do whatever is necessary. It is the one sin you cannot hide, the one sin that will nullify all your good works and intentions. It is the sin that will plague you with broken relationships and hurt feelings that will cause others to mistrust you and to hold grievances against you.

Seek help.

21 April 2022

Proverbs 29:21

A servant pampered from youth
    will turn out to be insolent.

The final word of this proverb is difficult to translate. But the common understanding of all translators is that the pampering of a servant leads that servant to become spoiled. Instead of growing in devotion to his master, he becomes insolent. Indeed, the roles become reversed; the servant expects special treatment from the master. This is especially true if there are other servants who are not pampered. But then, there is the opposite problem of masters who are harsh with their servants, who in the end find such servants to be rebellious and surly.

What then is the answer? (And this applies, by the way, to all relationships in which one person is in a position of authority over another.) Paul gives the answer in Colossians 4:1: “Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.”

The person in authority makes his mistake by either acting as though there is no leader-subordinate relationship, and thus tries to be a mere friend, or he accentuates the leader-subordinate relationship, emphasizing the exercise of authority. His focus needs to be on justice and fairness. Each – the one in authority and the subordinate – has a role to play and job to do. Ignoring the distinction between the two will only create misunderstanding as expectations are not met. One works under and for the other. That needs to be understood.

But all the more important, then, for the one in authority to treat the subordinate fairly by not being harsh, by giving clear direction, by making expectations understood, by rewarding in a fair manner good work, as well as disciplining in a fair manner. Fairness is the key concept here. You can harm the subordinate by being too harsh and by being indulgent. What is needed is fair play.

20 April 2022

Proverbs 29:20

Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
    There is more hope for a fool than for them.

This is a harsh indictment against a person “hasty in his words,” considering the low opinion the proverbs have for the fool. What is it that is so terrible about such a person?

He stirs up trouble. When a fool acts up, he mostly is holding himself up for derision. The person who speaks hastily stirs the water, causing others to become troubled. He makes a smart-aleck remark that cuts. He throws out an opinion that embarrasses. He draws a quick, false conclusion that slanders. He pretends to have knowledge that in truth is false and misleading. He is hasty with harsh words that wound and offend.

Thus, he continually offends and stirs up trouble. At least a fool is seen for a fool, and his behavior has limiting impact. The hasty speaker will likely be spotted for a fool but only after the trouble he has caused. And even when his reputation is established, his words remain offensive.

There is little hope for him because he does not connect the trouble with his tongue. He blames others for misunderstanding him, for being overly sensitive, for being judgmental and biased. Even if he does acknowledge the connection, he still does not curb himself. He accepts that he causes misunderstanding, but he “can’t help himself.” What he really wishes is to be accepted for who he is.

Meanwhile, he talks and talks and talks…