Standing on a Platform of Wood

Nehemiah 8:4 – And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose.

We had an awesome study on Zoom last night with the people from our camp. Sadly, like many things, our camp was cancelled this year. Thankfully, our camp leaders are working to keep us all connected, even with the disappointment of not having camp.

Ryan Cummings led the study last night and talked about dealing with disappointments. He spoke of the people of Israel and Judah returning home from Babylonian captivity. They dealt with disappointment after disappointment. One of the things he brought up is something I never noticed before.

During the days of Nehemiah and Ezra, they set up a time where Ezra would read the Law of Moses to the people all day, and the priests would all teach and explain the Scriptures. It was a time of renewal and revival. But it was also a reminder of disappointments.

Ezra stood on a platform of wood. I’d never really thought about it, but Ryan pointed out that the previous platform upon which King Solomon prayed was a platform of Bronze.

Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the court, and he stood on it. Then he knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven, (2 Chronicles 6:13).

From bronze to wood. From millions of people to tens of thousands. From a giant magnificent temple to a more modest structure. From being owners of the land to being servants in the land. Disappointment after disappointment.

Yet, what do the people do? They worship! They praise! They sing! They read from the word! They repent and make commitments to follow God again! Even if the preaching and teaching of the word came from a wooden platform instead of a bronze one, the most important thing was that the word was still preached.

Life is full of disappointments. We can make our own lists of things that went wrong in life. It just didn’t go how we planned. But even when we stand on a platform of wood, we must praise God and worship Him. Make the best of what you have and the situation in which you find yourself. Nehemiah and Ezra didn’t have the ideal situation, but they still ensured that the people were taught and encouraged.

Encouragement for the Graduates

2020 was not the graduation year our graduates were expecting. They have had to deal with a year that was far different that they were anticipating. The class of 2020 will have a story to tell that is unlike any previous class.

We are proud of you seniors, whether you are graduating from high school or from college. Well done! And great job on being flexible and making the best of your senior year in the midst of the Covid-19 chaos. Although you have not had the year you wished for, we know that you will take these challenges and trials and use them to develop you even further in your growth as a man or woman.

The encouragement for you today is to look at the various men and women of the Bible who went through big changes in their lives, many of them away from their homes, and most of them in some great life-transforming events. Look at these men and women and live to imitate them.

  • Be a Solomon who asked for wisdom (1 Kings 3)! We all need help and advice sometimes.
  • Be a Daniel and a Moses who were educated in the world but did not become worldly (Daniel 1:4,8,17-20; Acts 7:22; Hebrews 11:24-26)! Daniel was a Dean’s list type student, but he did it without caving in to the culture.
  • Be an Esther who stood up for others even when it could have cost Esther her life. She saw her purpose (Esther 4:12-16). Use your talents and positions in life to look out for the helpless and hopeless.
  • Be a Joseph and stand for sexual purity in mind and in body (Genesis 39)! Joseph showed us that being sexual pure is not only possible, but God will richly bless you for keeping yourself pure!
  • Be a Jacob and see that God is with you wherever you go, and He will keep His promises to you. Commit like Jacob to making the Lord your God (Genesis 28:10-22)! Jacob was on the run for his life, but was shown by God that God will always be with him.

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
(Numbers 6:22-27)

The Work Is Great

1 Chronicles 29:1-2
And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the LORD God. So I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, besides great quantities of onyx and stones for setting, antimony, colored stones, all sorts of precious stones and marble.

David saw the building of the temple as God’s “great work.”

  • Just because David couldn’t directly oversee the building of the temple, this work did not lose any value or importance in his eyes. David got even more involved because what was important was the glory of God’s house, not who got to be in charge. God’s work is great, the workers are only great if they are humbly seeking God’s glory as servants. We are only servants. Greatness is not in being in charge, it is doing what is best for the great work of God.
  • David recognized the immense need to prepare the next generation for leadership in God’s great work. King David didn’t live at the end of his nose; he looked down the road and planned for future leadership of God’s people. He organized the priesthood, prepared his own son as king, arranged all the workers to build the temple, put the military in order, arranged the finances, etc. Sometimes leaders just find themselves reacting to current problems instead looking to the future and preparing.
  • He gave his all for this great work. At first, David thought his “great work” was to build a temple for God (1 Chronicles 22). But God wanted Solomon to build the temple. So, David’s “great work” was to prepare Solomon and all Israel to build the temple. Look at 1 Chronicles 17-22! Look at all the work David did to prepare for the building of the temple. His great work was to prepare the next generation, and he spent every ounce of his energy doing it!

David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation

Acts 13:21-22 “Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.'”

Acts 13:36 “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption,”

David served God’s purpose and God’s will in his generation. But what does that really mean at a practical level? For David here’s what it meant: He wanted to build a temple for God and His glory, but God said, “No…your son Solomon will build it for Me.” So at a practical level for David, he spent the rest of his life preparing Solomon and the nation for the temple-building project. This was God’s calling for David.

God gave David a clear “to-do” list, and David went about that job with “all his might” (2 Chronicles 29:1-2). He defeated the enemies on every side, creating peace and national security. David organized the priesthood into divisions so they could divide up responsibilities in leading temple worship. He also did the same for the military, so it would be properly organized. During his reign, he collected a TON of money through his military victories and he took a big stash of his own cash to put in the treasury to help build the temple. Through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, he also drew out and wrote out the building plans for the temple. Again, with God’s guidance, command and inspiration, he designed musical instruments for worship and he wrote all kinds of worship music to be used in the temple. David was one pretty busy dude during his reign! On top of that, David gave first importance to the spiritual training of his young son Solomon and helping him see the value of God’s wisdom.

This was God’s purpose for David in David’s generation. God said “No” to building the temple, but “Yes” to helping get all the preparations together to build that temple.

I’ll leave you with this thought: You may not get to do the job you think you should do for God, but what can you do for God? How will you, like King David, dive in to help prepare the next generation of God’s people so that they can be ready to build God’s house in their generation? Are you serving God’s purposes for you in your generation?

Why were the former days better?

Ecclesiastes 7:10 Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

Looking backward can be helpful at times. Its good to reflect upon your life and your past. God wants us to do that, He wants us to see how He has been there with us all along. He wants us to reflect upon the good things we have accomplished with Him, and how we have been shown His grace when we have walked our own pathways. We need to walk down that pathway sometimes (Revelation 2:5; Hebrews 10:32).

On the other hand, we have passages like the one above from Ecclesiastes that warn us about looking back as if the days behind us were “the good old days.” Solomon says, it’s not wise to look back at the past with rose-colored glasses.

We can think that America was better in a different time. Read about the roaring 20’s. That was a hundred years ago! The 30’s had a Great Depression. We were engulfed in a World War in the 40’s where millions died across the globe. How about the 50’s? Good for some, not so good for others. How about the wars, rebellion and turbulence of the 60’s? Surely it was better when Reagan was president in the 80’s? Be careful about looking back with glowing optimism. Solomon is saying, that you may get lost searching back for the good old days. Every time period has had its great things that happened and its horrible things that happened.

We can think the church was better in a different time. Is it possible to get blurry vision on what the church used to be like? The church in my glasses may have seemed great and perfect, but others may not have had the same perspective. Another may pine for the days when churches could open their doors for a gospel meeting, have a two-week long meeting, and have the building packed to the gills every night. Every guy had a suit and tie and the ladies wore dresses. Well, that may not happen again, I don’t know, but what do we do now? Pining for the past won’t move anyone forward. The past is hardly ever as wonderful as we think it was.

What we have is right now. This time. This day. This generation. Make the most of it.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 31

Here we are at Day 31!

Proverbs 31:1-31 (1) The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him: (2) What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows? (3) Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings. (4) It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, (5) lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. (6) Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; (7) let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. (8) Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. (9) Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. (10) An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. (11) The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. (12) She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. (13) She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. (14) She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. (15) She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. (16) She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. (17) She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. (18) She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. (19) She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. (20) She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. (21) She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. (22) She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. (23) Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. (24) She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. (25) Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. (26) She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (27) She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. (28) Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: (29) “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” (30) Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (31) Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

What are you doing? (vs. 1-10). I love this section of Proverbs 30. The mom says to her son, “What are you doing?” There are things that will destroy a king, and there are things that will destroy anyone who is not a king. The king’s mother also warned him about women, the wrong sort of women (vs. 3). Momma will follow up here later to talk about the right kind of woman. There is a time for alcohol, this Proverb teaches, but those times and amounts are limited. Alcohol will distort your ability to discern between right and wrong, so watch out for it! What should a king be doing? Opening his mouth to plead the cause of the helpless and needy. So should anyone who isn’t a “king.” That is what God’s people should be doing.

A virtuous wife (vs. 11-31). We began the book of proverbs looking at two kinds of women, two pathways, two choices. We end the book of Proverbs considering the kind of woman that God praises and that we should praise too! Remember from the beginning of this chapter that this advice and picture of a godly woman came from a godly mother who was counseling her son! I hope that we as Christian men do not read this section of Scripture and come up with unrealistic expectations for all of the things our wives must do to be pleasing to God (really to us). This is, I believe, a composite picture of the wonderful things that a godly woman is, says and does. She is a teacher of good things. This woman loves her family dearly and cares for them in a sacrificial way. She works hard to provide for her family in whatever way necessary. A godly woman is thoughtful of so many things and people. She sees those in need and reaches out to them. In her wisdom she sees the “winters” of life coming and prepares her household for them. Notice that the husband safely trusts in her. He is not micromanaging her affairs. He’s got his own work to do. But look at how the husband and the kids rise up and praise her. This is so important. Praise that woman, do not wait for Mother’s Day!

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 30

Here we are at Day 30! Tomorrow is the last day of our 31 days of Proverbs.

Proverbs 30:1-33 (1) 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. (2) Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. (3) I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. (4) 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! (5) Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (6) Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. (7) Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: (8) Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, (9) 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. (10) Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty. (11) There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers. (12) There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth. (13) There are those–how lofty are their eyes, how high their eyelids lift! (14) There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, the needy from among mankind. (15) The leech has two daughters: Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, “Enough”: (16) Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.” (17) The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures. (18) Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: (19) 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 a man with a virgin. (20) This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.” (21) Under three things the earth trembles; under four it cannot bear up: (22) a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is filled with food; (23) an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress. (24) Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: (25) the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer; (26) the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; (27) the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank; (28) the lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces. (29) Three things are stately in their tread; four are stately in their stride: (30) the lion, which is mightiest among beasts and does not turn back before any; (31) the strutting rooster, the he-goat, and a king whose army is with him. (32) If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. (33) For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.

Agur’s relationship with God (Verses 1-9). The author here, Agur not Solomon, speaks of his relationship with God. He recognizes how inadequate he is before God. On his own he could not come to the knowledge of God. He sees the value of God’s word and knows that to add to it or take away from it is defiance before God. I love how Agur asks for two things from God, and I believe these are good things for all of us to ask of God. First of all, take all falsehood away from me. May I speak the truth in my heart in the mirror before my God, and may I speak the truth to others around me. Secondly, don’t make me too rich or too poor. This Agur was a pretty wise man.

Groups of 4 things. The Proverb writer starts with three things and for emphasis adds that it is four things.

  1. There are those (vs. 11-14) who are proud, cursing and dangerous.
  2. Never satisfied (vs. 15-16). Just like the leech who has offspring who are gluttonously ravenous, there are some things in life that will never say “Enough!” The grave will never be satisfied, the ground will always drink up more water, and one who is unable to conceive is crying out to God for a baby.
  3. Things too wonderful to understand (vs. 18-19). Young, pure love is a wonderful thing to God. Just like watching a ship on the seas, an eagle flying or a serpent moving gracefully along the rocks.
  4. Things the earth cannot bear up (vs. 21-23). Some things make the earth tremble. When these things happen, it is just going to cause more trouble. You think a woman getting married is a good thing, but if she is a hard to love woman, that marriage will be trouble. We might think a slave becoming king is a great Cinderella story, but if the slave comes to the throne bitter and thirsty for vengeance, it will ruin the kingdom.
  5. Small but wise (vs. 24-28). Ants are small and can be squished with a finger, but look at what they do every year. They work hard and provide their food for the winter. Locusts are also small creatures, they have no king, they they are smart enough to “march in ranks.” Rock badgers have enough sense to find a safe place to live in the cliffs.
  6. Stately (vs. 29-31). Whether it is a king with his troops behind him, or a rooster or a lion, they all have a kind of swagger to them. Notice, though, what is said in the next verse. Vs. 32 warns us against having that kind of swagger in exalting ourselves.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 28

Here we are at day 28, let’s get started!

Proverbs 28:1-28 – (1) The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. (2) When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue. (3) A poor man who oppresses the poor is a beating rain that leaves no food. (4) Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive against them. (5) Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely. (6) Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways. (7) The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father. (8) Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor. (9) If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. (10) Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit, but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance. (11) A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has understanding will find him out. (12) When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves. (13) Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. (14) Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity. (15) Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people. (16) A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor, but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days. (17) If one is burdened with the blood of another, he will be a fugitive until death; let no one help him. (18) Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall. (19) Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. (20) A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished. (21) To show partiality is not good, but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong. (22) A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him. (23) Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue. (24) Whoever robs his father or his mother and says, “That is no transgression,” is a companion to a man who destroys. (25) A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the LORD will be enriched. (26) Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. (27) Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse. (28) When the wicked rise, people hide themselves, but when they perish, the righteous increase.

Rulers, good or bad (vs. 2,3,12,15,16,28) – Verses 12 and 28 say that when wicked people rule, people hide themselves. But when the wicked perish and good people rule, then the good people increase. Vs. 15-16 talk about how it is like dealing with a roaring lion or a charging bear…hide and get out of the way! When good people rule, there is stability in the kingdom, but when bad leaders rule there is instability (vs. 2).

To show partiality is not good (vs. 21) – It is easy to show partiality…toward our political party, toward our favorite school, our business, toward our family, etc. Solomon said here a man will transgress for a piece of bread. He may end up showing partiality and blinding his eyes to what is right because of the money in his pocket or other things that benefit him. For example, someone in the other “party” may do something corrupt and we cry out for justice, but someone in our “party” does the same thing wrong and we cry for mercy and compassion. That is not good, Solomon said.

Being greedy and in a hurry for money versus being generous and patient to make money – Chapter 28 has several passages about money, generosity and greediness. Verses 19,20 and 22 warn about what happens when we are stingy for money and are in a hurry to get it. Vs. 19 says we will have plenty…plenty of poverty! We end up broke and in debt! Be patient! Also, when you take from your parents instead of giving to them, God is most unhappy with that (vs. 24). It is greedy people that stir up trouble (vs. 25), most likely because they have a financial motive for doing so. God promises that if you are gathering money the wrong way, that it will end up in the hands of a righteous person somehow (vs. 8).

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 27

Happy Memorial Day! Here’s Proverbs 27!

Proverbs 27:1-27 – (1) Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. (2) Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. (3) A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both. (4) Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? (5) Better is open rebuke than hidden love. (6) Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (7) One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet. (8) Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home. (9) Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. (10) Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away. (11) Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him who reproaches me. (12) The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. (13) Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger, and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for an adulteress. (14) Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing. (15) A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; (16) to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand. (17) Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (18) Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who guards his master will be honored. (19) As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. (20) Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man. (21) The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise. (22) Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him. (23) Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, (24) for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations? (25) When the grass is gone and the new growth appears and the vegetation of the mountains is gathered, (26) the lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field. (27) There will be enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household and maintenance for your girls.

Verses 5-6 – Open rebuke or hidden love, which is better? Open rebuke. Kisses of an enemy or the wounds of a friend, which is better? The wounds of a friend. Being a friend doesn’t mean that we just smile and laugh and live with rose-colored glasses. Sometimes we need to be corrected, and if our friends and family don’t love us enough to talk to us directly, then are they really our friends? Verse 17 talks about how iron sharpens iron, which means that there are times we have to help refine each other. Just because you correct me and don’t agree with me all the time doesn’t mean you aren’t my friend.

Verses 23-27 – Knowing the condition of your flocks and herds. Solomon is so wise here to tell us to pay attention to our flocks and herds. Why? Because if we don’t pay attention, those flocks (your income stream) could go away. If you take care of those flocks and herds you will be able to maintain your family and your employees with plenty to spare. So, you may not have sheep and goats, but you have money and a job. Are we paying attention to our finances and managing them well? Like Solomon said, riches do not last forever, so keep a close watch on the state of things.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 26

Happy Memorial Day! I missed Day 26 yesterday, so here it is.

Proverbs 26:1-28 (1) Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool. (2) Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight. (3) A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools. (4) Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. (5) Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. (6) Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence. (7) Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools. (8) Like one who binds the stone in the sling is one who gives honor to a fool. (9) Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools. (10) Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard. (11) Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. (12) Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (13) The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!” (14) As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed. (15) The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth. (16) The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly. (17) Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears. (18) Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death (19) is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” (20) For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. (21) As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. (22) The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. (23) Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart. (24) Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; (25) when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; (26) though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. (27) Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. (28) A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

In Chapter 26, there is a focus on three types of people:

Fools (verses 1-12) – One of the consistencies I see in this section is that truth really has no effect in a fools ear. Just like a drunk person wouldn’t feel a thorn in his hand, wisdom will not pierce a fool’s heart. Solomon demonstrates in verses 4-5 that you don’t go down in the pit with the fool and act like them in a quarrel (vs. 4). But you will have to answer him with wisdom according to what he deserves (vs. 5, compare the New American Standard Version here). A fool will shoot off at the mouth and will be more dangerous than an archer that carelessly shoots arrows everywhere.

Sluggards (verses 13-16) – A door on its hinges may swing, but it really doesn’t go anywhere. The lazy person is the same way…the only movement he makes is turning over in bed. And your advice will fall on deaf ears, because he has seven times your wisdom!

Quarrelsome, whispering, deceitful people (verses 17-28)- There is a lot of wisdom here about quarrels in relationships here. We have to have the wisdom to know when something is not our business and to stay out. I’m sure we all can think of times when we jumped into something that was not our affair, and we felt like just wrestled a pitbull. We also can take notice that fire takes fuel, and so do contentions. When we are picking on others and being rough with them, only to follow with “I’m joking,” then we are shooting flaming arrows at people’s hearts. When we whisper and repeat things that shouldn’t be repeated, we are throwing wood on the fire of strife. Also, there is the wisdom here of Solomon that shines the light on deceptive people that pretend to be nice but are hateful in their hearts. God says that will be exposed before the assembly.

So, let’s look at these three types of people here in chapter 26 and think of the OPPOSITE type of person. A wise person, a diligent person, and a peace loving person. Let’s consider how we can be like that today.