05 March 2015

Proverbs on Speech

The book of Proverbs has much to say regarding speech.  Not only is that a mammoth understatement, it is also an incredibly loaded statement.  The book of Proverbs contains a total of 915 verses.  Categorized below are at least 150 different verses (some listed a number of times under various headings), and I am sure there are some that I have missed.  That means about 1 out of every 6 verses in the book of Proverbs has something to say about speaking. 
The overwhelming lesson I have taken from this study is that if God is so concerned with what comes out of my mouth, I would be well served to give more thought, more attention, and more study to what I say and how I say it.
Some are naturally quiet and reserved.  Others, because of their personality or their position or both, tend to do a lot of speaking.  I fall into the latter category.  It is very important that I pay careful attention and give diligent heed to what this book has to say.
Let’s start with some contrasts: the speech of the wise vs. the speech of the fool; the tongue of the strange woman vs. the tongue of the virtuous woman; the instruction of parents vs. the enticement of sinners. 
The Speech of Wisdom
Wisdom lifts up her voice in the public place.  She stands on the top of the highest places (9:3) and cries[1] out at the entryway of the city (8:1-3).  She makes known her words to the simple in the streets, in the chief place of concourse, and in the openings of the gates (1:20-23).  Her speech is characterized by righteousness (8:8), knowledge (15:7); instruction (1:3; 8:10); and sound counsel (1:5; 8:14).
The Speech of the Fool
The fool hides hatred by lying (10:18) and slanders his neighbor (10:18).  His mouth proclaims (12:23), pours out (15:2), and feeds on (15:14) foolishness.  His lips do not disperse knowledge (14:7; 15:7) but rather boasting (14:3), deceit (14:8), and perversity (19:1).  Unlike wisdom, he opens not his mouth in the gate (24:7), and his instruction is folly (16:22).  He utters all his mind (29:11) and enters into contention (18:6).  His mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul (18:7).
The Tongue of the Strange Woman
The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein (22:14).  Her snare is laced with flattery and fair speech (2:16; 6:24; 7:21).  She is loud (7:11), and yet her lips drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil (5:3).  She entices the simple with her lies (9:16-17). 

The Tongue of the Virtuous Woman
Everything said above regarding the speech of wisdom is true of the virtuous woman, for Proverbs says she opens her mouth with wisdom (31:26).  On top of that, the book adds this beautiful phrase: in her tongue is the law of kindness
The Instruction of Parents
Proverbs makes mention of the instruction (1:8; 4:1; 13:1), the law (1:8; 4:2; 6:20), the teaching (4:4, 11; 31:1), and the commandments (2:1; 4:4; 6:20) of father and mother.  The parents plead with the son to attend to their words; to incline his ear to their sayings; to let them not depart from his eyes; to keep them in the midst of his heart (4:20-21; see also 7:1-5; 7:24; 23:26).  The end objective is for the son to be guided by the voice of his parents’ instruction, even when mother and father are no longer present: When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life (6:22-23).
The Enticement of Sinners
This instruction is so important, for sinners will always be enticing us to join them (1:10).  For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall (4:16).
The book of Proverbs speaks against numerous sins of the tongue: these include lying, deceit, false witness, talebearing, whispering, backbiting, flattery, and boasting.  It condemns that speech which is froward or perverse. 
Lying, Deceit, False Witness
The Lord hates a lying tongue (6:17), and so does a righteous man (13:5).  Lying lips (12:22) and the false witness that speaks the lies (6:19) are said to be an abomination unto God.  He calls the liar and the slanderer a fool (10:18).  The liar’s judgment is certain, for Proverbs says that a lying tongue is but for a moment (12:19).  Twice it states that a false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish (21:28) and not escape (19:5, 9).  According to Proverbs, the root of lying is hatred (10:18; 26:24, 26, 28).  Over and over the book warns us to recognize and avoid the false, deceitful witness and his lying, deceitful words (12:5; 12:17; 14:5; 14:8; 14:25; 25:18; 26:18-19; 30:8).  It also urges not to engage in the sinful practice (17:17; 20:17; 24:28).
Talebearing, Whispering, Backbiting
A prudent man conceals knowledge (12:23), but a talebearer reveals secrets (11:13; 20:19).  His words are as deep wounds (18:8; 26:22).  They kindle strife (26:20) and separate very friends (16:28; 17:9).  Proverbs instructs us not to accuse a servant to his master (30:10) but to debate our cause with our neighbor himself (25:9) and to use an angry countenance to drive away the backbiting tongue (25:23).
We have already seen that the strange woman is characterized by her flattery (6:24 et al).  Further, Proverbs states that because a flattering mouth works ruin (26:28), we must not meddle with him that flatters with his lips (20:19).
How prevalent is this sin that Proverbs condemns!  Most men do indeed proclaim their own goodness (20:6), but Proverbs would have us allow our praise to come from the lips of others (27:1-2).
Froward Mouth
It might help to think of froward as the opposite of toward (“to and fro”).  According to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the word means “perverse; that is, turning from, with aversion or reluctance; not willing to yield or comply with what is required; unyielding; ungovernable; refractory; disobedient; peevish.”  A naughty person and wicked man walks with a froward mouth (6:12).  The froward tongue shall be cut out (10:31).  Wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and discretion are given to deliver us from the man that speaks froward things (2:12).  So put away a froward mouth (4:24).
Perverse Lips
Perverse lips are also to be put away (4:24), for he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief (17:20), and perverseness is said to be a breach in the spirit (15:4).  Better is the poor man that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool (19:1). 
In contrast to the above, Proverbs reveals those things that ought to characterize our speech: pleasantness (15:23; 16:24; 22:18); sweetness (16:21); softness (25:15); kindness (31:26); grace (22:11); and truth (12:17, 19, et al). 
The book of Proverbs places a high value on right words and also describes the destructive power of the tongue.
Value of Right Words
Consider the following statements: The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life (10:11).  The tongue of the just is as choice silver (10:20). The lips of the righteous feed many (10:21).  The tongue of the wise is health (12:18).  A wholesome tongue is a tree of life (15:4).  The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook (18:4).  There is gold, and multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel (20:15).  A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver (25:11).  A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it (15:23)!  By heeding the instruction of the book of Proverbs, we might learn to say the right thing, the right way, at the right time (cp. 15:23; 27:14), to the right result. 
Destructive Power of the Tongue
Truly, death and life are in the power of the tongue (18:21).  An hypocrite with his mouth can destroy his neighbor (11:9), for his words are like the piercings of a sword (12:18). 
One of the most interesting aspects of this study was the instruction Proverbs provides regarding how to give an answer.  That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightiest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee (22:21).
1.     Study to answer (15:28).  Do not answer a matter before you hear it (18:13).
2.     Get your answer from the LORD (16:1).
3.     Answer softly (15:1) not roughly (18:23).
4.   Know when to answer nothing (26:4).  Know when to return a fool his folly (26:5). 
5.     Answer with a righteous life (27:11).
6.     Enjoy the good results (15:23; 24:26).
The book of Proverbs calls its reader back to two very important but almost-forgotten arts in the Christian life: that of counsel (both seeking it and giving it) and rebuke (both taking it and giving it out).
In general, the book of Proverbs is one big treasure trove of counsel (22:20).  The book reminds us of the great importance of proper counsel (11:14; 15:22; 20:18; 24:6) and urges us to seek it out (20:5), hear it (1:5; 12:15; 19:20), compare it to God’s word (1:5; 8:14; 19:21; 20:18; 21:30 cp. 12:5), and act accordingly.  Good counsel, properly given and received, sweetens friendship (27:9) and produces joy (12:20).
Reproof, Rebuke
Proverbs says more about rebuking than being rebuked (9:7-8; 19:25; 24:25; 25:12; 27:5-6).  It reminds us that a rebuke properly given risks offending the recipient for the sake of his betterment.  It is a selfless act, and thus not very popular.  Those on the receiving end of such a rebuke would be wise to pay careful attention (6:23; 9:8; 19:25).
Finally, the book of Proverbs mentions several things that should occupy my speech to a much greater degree: delivering souls (14:25; 24:11-12; 12:6); praying (15:8); confessing (28:13); singing and rejoicing (29:6); and speaking well of others (27:2; 31:28, 30).

[1] The simple cries for wisdom in 2:3-6.  Wisdom cries to the simple in 1:20-23; 8:1-3; 9:1-3.  Whatever our desire for wisdom, it cannot match God’s desire to give it to us.

30 December 2013

Bible Reading Program

Looking for a Bible Reading Program for 2014?  This booklet contains four different plans to choose from.  CLICK HERE to download the file.  Print double-sided w/ short edge binding and staple (or take to your local print shop or office supply store).

Follow the link below for more Bible Reading/Scripture Memory programs, workbooks, etc.


For a sermon on New Year's Resolutions CLICK HERE.


-        To maintain a daily walk with the Lord (Revelation 3:20).
-        To live in obedience to scripture (Deuteronomy 17:19).
-        To prepare yourself for the day of judgment (2 Timothy 2:15).
-        To gain a working knowledge of the Bible (Isaiah 28:9-10).
-        To cleanse the heart and purify the mind (Psalm 119:9-11).
-        To seek true, genuine success (Joshua 1:8).


-        Read daily (Deuteronomy 17:19).
-        Read habitually (Job 23:12).
-        Read meditatively (Psalm 1:1-3).
-        Read prayerfully (Psalm 119:18).
-        Read thoroughly (Proverbs 30:5-6).


Each month contains a chart with four reading plans to choose from:
-        Sequential: Read straight through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
-        Old Testament / New Testament: Read sequentially through both testaments simultaneously, with a daily reading passage from each.
-        Chronological / Historical: The arrangements of these daily readings are loosely based on the order of events and/or when the books were written.  This plan includes a number of days each month to catch up, get ahead, study other passages, or reflect on prior reading.
-        Sectional: This plan promotes variety by providing readings from 7 different sections of scripture – 1 for each day of the week.

Choose one of the charts.  Track your progress by marking the passages you have read.  Stay on track and complete the entire Bible in a year.

15 August 2013

Effects of Hymn Singing

Passed along by a friend, from the Memoirs of hymn-writer Philip P. Bliss (late 1870s)...
On the stage at one of the Liverpool theaters, a comic singer came out before the footlights to sing. Just as he was about to commence his waggish melody, the tune of a sweet Sunday School hymn, learned before, came suddenly to mind, and so confused him that he completely forgot his part. He stood a moment trying to recall it, and then retired, covered with shame. The manager, enraged at his failure, and still more enraged at his apparently foolish explanation, paid him the remainder of his wages and ordered him at once to quit his service. Out of employment, he wandered about the city like the unclean spirit, seeking rest and finding none. His heart was full of curses, and to drown his mortification he drank deep and desperately, till his days and nights were one continual debauch. 
In the meantime, Mr. Moody and Mr. Sankey began their meetings in Liverpool. The fame of the evangelists was in every mouth, and the young actor, hearing them discussed and ridiculed among his low associates, conceived the idea of writing a burlesque about them, to be put upon the stage. He sobered himself sufficiently to begin. But he felt he could not make his work complete without more "points" or "hits" to give it zest. So he determined to attend a meeting himself, and hear the men whom he intended to lampoon. He went, and the same power that in the sudden memory of that early hymn had driven him once from the stage arrested him and held him a reverent listener. At the close he remained among the penitent inquirers, and was soon led to accept the Lord Jesus as his Master. The young man is now in London, preparing himself to be a missionary. 
Often a remembered hymn will keep sacred hold of a wicked heart when nothing else can. That simple Sunday School song, to the poor comedian, was a voice come back from his by-gone and better days. In spite of himself it changed his fate, and led the way to the still better days beyond.
Who would join me in conjecturing that the same will never be said of CCM and the like?

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 

30 May 2013

How to Treat a Girl

I've spent most of the afternoon preparing some devotions to take on an upcoming youth trip and came across some notes for a young men's session on purity that was probably at least 5 years ago.

Haven't posted in a while, so I thought I'd pass along part of those notes here.


1.  Like God's daughter (2 Corinthians 4:14-18; Galatians 3:26).  Treat God's daughter like you would want someone to treat your daughter.

2.  Like a sister in Christ (1 Timothy 5:1-2).  Be no more romantic with a sister in Christ than you would with a sister in the flesh, and you'll be OK.

3.  Like somebody else's wife (1 Corinthians 7:1-2).  Many people involved in a relationship wrongly assume they are going to one day get married and take the liberty of acting like they're already husband and wife.  We all know that even the best of relationships have a chance of ending before they reach the altar (which is sometimes a good result if the purpose of dating or courting or whatever you call is to seek God's will in the selection of a marriage partner).  "I will have no physical contact with this girl that I wouldn't want another man having with my wife" would be a safe rule to follow.  A young man should conduct himself in such a way that he will have no regrets in the case that the two parties decide it is not God's will (or not their will) for them to be married.

4.  Like God is your chaperone (Jeremiah 23:23-24; Hebrews 13:5).  Because He is.  So don't do anything you'd be ashamed for Him to see, because He does.

With marriages falling apart all around us, it's more important now than ever for us to train our young people on how to make the second most important decision they'll make in their lives (who to marry), and how to prepare for and enter into that relationship.

10 May 2013

How God Will Judge

So according to 1 Corinthians 3 and host of other scriptures, God will judge (1) our works, (2) our words, (3) every secret thing, and (4) the heart.  The question now to consider is HOW God will judge?  In what manner will this judgment seat of Christ be carried out?

1 Corinthians 3:13-15 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by FIRE; and the FIRE shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be BURNED, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by FIRE.

It is obvious from the passage that our works will be tried by – FIRE.

Now, I am a Bible literalist.  I believe that unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, what we read in the word of God is to be taken literally.  Which means I have no reason to believe that the fire of 1 Corinthians 3 – the judgment seat of Christ fire – is not a literal, burning fire. 

No explanation is given as the source of the fire, the size of the fire, the location of the fire, how our works pass through the fire, etc.  But there are some very interesting cross references that connect fire and judgment to a couple different things.