Today: [Proverbs 19] The Error of Blaming God. In chapter 19 of Proverbs we are warned against blaming God for the consequences of our own poor choices. It is a western tradition centuries old to hold God accountable for all the ills of humanity. Men assume themselves to be erudite and philosophical to question why do little babies die if God is God and loves us as the scriptures declare? Solomon in this chapter exposes the unflattering core motivation of all such thinking and gives us a way out of the company of scorners against God.
[Pro 19:1-29 KJV] 1 Better [is] the poor that walketh in his integrity, than [he that is] perverse in his lips, and is a fool. 2 Also, [that] the soul [be] without knowledge, [it is] not good; and he that hasteth with [his] feet sinneth. 3 The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD. 4 Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour. 5 A false witness shall not be unpunished, and [he that] speaketh lies shall not escape. 6 Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man [is] a friend to him that giveth gifts. 7 All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth [them with] words, [yet] they [are] wanting [to him]. 8 He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good. 9 A false witness shall not be unpunished, and [he that] speaketh lies shall perish. 10 Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.
Chapter 19 of Proverbs begins with an exhortation to patience and deliberation in life’s circumstances. Verse 2 warns against acting in haste without full knowledge of situations that seem to demand prompt action. When we get in a hurry and react without thinking to a provocation we often wind up in the wrong. Verse 3 goes on to tell us that our own foolishness perverts our way although we often make the mistake of fretting against God for consequences our own lack of wisdom brings upon us. We also see that the tendency to question God and fret against God, blaming Him for various ills in the world is according to scripture the hallmark of the thinking of a fool. We are often tempted to question God and hold Him accountable for what has nothing to do with Him. Why do little babies die? If God is sovereign and loves us why do we have wars, and suffering and holocaust. How could a loving God allow such things to come to pass if He is indeed God and in control of all things?
We must remember this this – God made man a free moral agent. This means that God gave man the ability to choose. In order for that choice to mean something there had to be an environment where the consequences of choice could be made manifest and developed. The consequences of free will began in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve disobeyed and in so doing imposed consequences upon all mankind to come after them. We did not choose with them therefore God sent a savior to offer redemption from the consequences of sin. God gives us free will but does not abandon us without remedy to the consequences of the choices of those before us or the consequences of our own choices either. What Adam perpetrated in the garden of Eden was ameliorated in the garden of Gethsemane through Christ. Adam said “I will” in Eden. Jesus said “Not My will be done but thine” in Gethsemane. The authority and dominion Adam abdicated to Satan in Eden was wrested back by the obedience of Christ in Gethsemane. That is why we are described as justified in Christ when we accept Him as savior. The word justified is defined as “just-as-if-you-never-sinned”. The state of grace in Christ is a state of recovered Edenic entitlement.
11 The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and [it is] his glory to pass over a transgression. 12 The king’s wrath [is] as the roaring of a lion; but his favour [is] as dew upon the grass. 13 A foolish son [is] the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife [are] a continual dropping. 14 House and riches [are] the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife [is] from the LORD. 15 Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger. 16 He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; [but] he that despiseth his ways shall die. 17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again. 18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. 19 A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver [him], yet thou must do it again. 20 Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. 21 [There are] many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.
Verse 11 encourages us to adopt discretion as a response to the anger of others. To overlook the sins of others is an expression of God’s glory. Preachers today feel it is their job to expose sin and excoriate the sinner. Jesus claimed that He didn’t come to destroy the sinner but to save the sinner. Sin is exceedingly sinful this is true and it cannot be ignored – but remember it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. Those who shriek and strut before their congregations like little spiritual Napoleons are pandering to the lowest common denominator of carnality and judgmentalism within the religious community. God is honored when we love the sinner, extend God’s grace and keep on loving (on God’s terms and not theirs) until hearts change or God directs us otherwise. There is a time when God says “enough is enough” and separation from transgression becomes our mandate – but it is often far beyond our own human level of patience and endurance. So keep on loving and let your love be sincere. Your love may be the only heavenly thing that sinner will experience for all eternity.
22 The desire of a man [is] his kindness: and a poor man [is] better than a liar. 23 The fear of the LORD [tendeth] to life: and [he that hath it] shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil. 24 A slothful [man] hideth his hand in [his] bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again. 25 Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, [and] he will understand knowledge. 26 He that wasteth [his] father, [and] chaseth away [his] mother, [is] a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach. 27 Cease, my son, to hear the instruction [that causeth] to err from the words of knowledge. 28 An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity. 29 Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.
Verse 23 makes an astonishing statement. The fear of the Lord tends to life. The fear of the Lord brings satisfaction in life. The person who fears the Lord will not be visited with evil. This flies in the face of the theology of random suffering being seen as an act of God’s ineffable sovereignty. Men and women suffer and theology says “God’s ways are mysterious” and “we’ll understand it better by and bye”. Proverbs 19:23 says if we fear the Lord we will not be visited with evil. Which would you rather believe? That God randomly afflicts us for some higher purpose we will never understand in this life – or that the fear of the Lord is a stronghold preserving us from evil? This is the plain promise of verse 23 and we are not presumptuous to lay claim on its provision.
Verse 24 speaks of the motivations of those who are ungenerous to others. A slothful man hides his hand in his bosom. Have you ever seen those who are reluctant to give? They live with their hand over their wallet – reticent to give to any worthy cause. Verse 24 tells us that their core motivation is not thrift but sloth. They are lazy in spirit and refuse to be roused to responsibility for the needs of any other than themselves. They may cover this with many spiritual and religious pretenses but in their heart they are slothful in spirit.
Verses 27-29 warn against being misled by false counselors and giving yourself over to scornfulness. Verse 29 tells us that to be scornful is to fall under the prepared judgments of God. In our culture we esteem the act of scornfulness as a virtue. We honor those who challenge convention and bring all things into question. Remember the exhortation of David not to sit in the seat of the scornful. The heart of scorn also is the heart of sloth. Scornful men and women sit back doing nothing in the gospel or the kingdom yet render from their lips a constant criticism of anyone who rises to serve in the things of God. As judgements are prepared for scorners so stripes are prepared from the backs of fools. Make it your choice to refrain from assassinating the character of those who are attempting in their own best efforts to serve God however imperfect their labors.
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