The twentieth chapter of proverbs speaks to us of how the heart has deep waters that can be drawn out. It speaks to us of the negative influences of the flesh and the positive ones of the hearts. It identifies the weaknesses of alcohol, cheating, revenge and rash speech. The chapter is also filled with the attributes of steadfast love, wise counsel, purity of heart and the glory of gray hair.
"Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise." (v1)
Alcoholism is nasty.. those who are addicted lead lives that are devastated and bring devastation. It is why this verse speaks of being led astray by alcohol. Scripture advises moderation in these things.. it speaks negatively of drunkenness yet it also teaches us that Jesus changed water into wine. For 30 years I did not drink alcohol.. didn't feel I could exercise moderation.. these days I enjoy an occasional glass of wine.
"The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out." (v5)
My pastoral ministry involved all sorts of counseling opportunities. Many times I felt an opportunity to draw out the deep things in the hearts of people who were hurt, wounded or just seeking wisdom. It was often quite glorious to see friends weep with joy as they connected with the deep things of their heart.
"Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?" (v6)
I sometimes think that life and love is all about being faithful. Really.. love that doesn't last.. is it really love at all?
"Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”?" (v9)
I think that one difference between an Old Testament view and a New Testament view is the view of the heart or innermost being. The believers heart is pure.. it is not divided.. it is not wicked.. because of Jesus we have a new heart.. our issue is to fully live from it instead of our own understanding.
"Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord." "'Bad, bad,' says the buyer, but when he goes away, then he boasts." "Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel." (v10, 14, 17)
How we treat each other is so important to God. His desire is that we love each other. You cannot love your neighbor and cheat him. Trying to get the best of another.. even at a garage sale..is simply wrong.. it should not make you feel good when it makes another feel bad.
"Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war." (v18)
Once my wife was advising me to seek counsel about a problem I was having.. I was not open to the idea.. she retorted and said "I thought you believed in counseling".. ouch. The things we need counseling on the most are often the things that we do not want to get advice on the most.. sometimes we need someone to tell us we need help
"An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end." (v21)
Mostly it is better for wealth to accumulate over a long period of time. Most of us could not handle wealth or fame when we are young.. it is hard even when we are old.
"Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you." (v21)
We are never more like the enemy of our souls when we refuse to forgive and seek revenge.
"A man's steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?" (v24)
We often walk through life not really understanding the things that happen to us until we seem them in hindsight. Until we do I think that it is best to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
"It is a snare to say rashly, “It is holy,” and to reflect only after making vows." (v25)
I have sometimes made a fool of myself by make commitments too quickly. Reminds me of what Jesus said about counting the cost before you make a commitment.
"The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair." (v29)
This verse comforts me greatly.. arthritis of my wrists and ankles have greatly decreased my strength.. yet I feel my innermost being is stronger than it has ever been.. not that I wouldn't mind have that strength or brown hair again.
Please click here to catch some of my other ponderings on the book of Proverbs.