HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
FOUR LIFE PRINCIPLES WE SHOULD ADOPT NOW!
GEMS OF PROVERBS
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If there is one central theme in the book of Proverbs, it is that there are consequences for all actions. The fool is not just someone who stupidly “sticks his hand into the proverbial blender of life,” he is the type of person who does it over and over. Fools in essence rarely learn from their mistakes. The two important lessons that Solomon tries to get through to us in the book of Proverbs are that:
l. There are disastrous consequences for some actions...
2. Some people repeat blunders over and over, regardless of the terrible consequences...they are called “fools.”
One of the important principles in the book of Proverbs is that the wise person can see ahead. He looks ahead to the end result of his actions and avoids a bad outcome. Not so with some people. We often watch Cold Case Files, Forensic Files or The System, and I never cease to be amazed at the response of a murderer when he is sentenced after a trial...the truth is, they usually don’t respond at all when they are found guilty, in fact most of them show no emotion at that point. But even the coldest hearted murderer can get very emotional right before the execution. Payday is tough. They didn’t wisely look ahead and avoid a very bad outcome. The most evil people are the greatest fools of all.
THE PRINCIPLE OF CONSEQUENCES
Amazingly, the thing that always seems to shock criminals is when they have to “pay the bill” for their crime. They don’t seem to understand the principle of consequences. Most criminals think they are so intelligent that they can fool the authorities and get away with any crime, they think they can hide it or make the crime look like a random robbery or an accident, etc.... They think they can outsmart the system, but when they get the death penalty or life in prison, they have just rammed their head hard right into a solid brick wall called “consequences.”
When a man commits adultery and he loses his wife and his children and half of all he owns including his brand new home...he has just rammed his hand into the blender of consequences and hit puree. If he had listened to the book of Proverbs, he would have learned the secret to avoiding the worst consequences of life.
You’d be surprised....the book of Proverbs reveals the secret to success in life. It’s as simple as having respect for God. The first and most important principle we need to learn in life is this: The fear (respect) of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” God has the wisdom we seem to lack. He can see ahead and knows the end results of certain kinds of actions.
GODS WAY IS SUPERIOR
Regardless of what some people say, God’s law is a gift to mankind... It’s not about restrictions, it is protective to society as a whole. It’s about the principle of staying in your own lane when you drive. It’s only when we go where we are not supposed to that we get in trouble. And believe it or not, the law is about equality. In fact the old “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” punishment was not as archaic as one might think. Under God’s system, the punishment had to fit the crime. You could go no further in punishing someone than their own action. For example, if a person stole something, they didn’t have to go to jail for 20 years, they had to work and pay back the debt. The punishment could reform them. And under God's system, if someone stabbed a person in the eye maliciously and put it out, they would have their own eye stabbed out in the same manner. They would learn the true consequences of that action pertaining to them. Under God’s system, the criminal received the exact punishment they deserved. No more, no less. This is true equality and fairness.
There wouldn’t be the sort of prison system we have now. Most murderers would only murder once. Under our system, how many lives would be saved if murderers were not released back into the public to continue their rampage. I saw a show not long ago about a man that killed three women. He went to prison but was released a few years later because of overcrowding. Big mistake. He was a serial killer and after he was released, he went on to kill five more women. The Police organized a manhunt and they were desperate to find him, yet the very “system” of criminal justice that was now searching for him had been the ones who let him back into society to kill again. Truly the blood he spilled was on their hands.... Had he been executed in the first place, many innocent lives would have been saved. God’s system of criminal justice is fairer and would work better than our own modern system of “justice.”
HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
Why don’t people listen to God? The bottom line is that we don’t respect God like we should... If we did, we could learn a lot...the book of Proverbs is about how not to go down the hard road in life. Yet Solomon teaches us that some people despise learning. He simply calls them fools because they don’t want to absorb anything new or different, even if it is vastly better. The fool listens to his carnal animal brain and never gets past that. A fool is in mental “auto-pilot mode,” and refuses to ever think and use his brain to come out of it.
Fools obviously have no respect for God. Because to absorb any kind of new information, you must have a certain amount of respect for the giver of the information first. When we accept the teacher---we accept his teaching. Also, we have to admit to ourselves that our own thinking ability is infinitesimally small compared to God’s. That’s why the Bible says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
WE DON'T KNOW IT ALL!
Another main thrust of the book of Proverbs in so many words is “Don’t think you know it all!” There is a scripture in Proverbs 14:12 that says, “There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Our own minds in “auto-pilot” mode will lie to us, so we can’t use our own mind as a trustworthy guide. A wise person will find something more stable to direct his ways. The human brain makes false associations and comes to many false conclusions.
To literally learn anything from God, we must first have a respect for Him and for His ability to teach us. We must then be compliant to His law and teachings. This is how we change for the better, but the foolish carnal mind is hard and proud and is not compliant to God. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 8:7 The carnal brain actually hates God, yet if we choose to love God and voluntarily comply with His laws, He will give us His Holy Spirit, which is His mind and power... At that point, we become transformed into a brand new person. We truly change for the better and become more like God. Colossians 3:9-10 says, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”
God’s mind directs us in all wisdom... When we put off the old carnal minded animalistic way of doing things, we then become “made in the image of God.” Every single principle of God is based on wisdom and those who RESPECT GOD will immediately depart from all evil. They will live a better life now and forever, as a result of God’s precepts. Proverbs 3:6-8 says,
“In all thy ways acknowledge him, (because He knows what He’s talking about) and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in your own eyes: (Don’t think you know it all) fear the LORD, (Respect God and His ability to teach you.) and depart from evil. (Don’t go down the road that will destroy you.) It shall be health to thy navel and marrow to thy bones.” (This is for your own good!)
The wisdom that God teaches us, not only leads to a healthy mind and body, it also makes us wise unto eternal salvation. Timothy 3:15 says “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. The book of Proverbs teaches the principles of wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” Wisdom, comes to those who humble themselves and take their instruction from God. It leads to a better life now, but it leads to eternal life in the end.
MODERN SELF-HELP PRINCIPLES FOUND IN PROVERBS....
You might be surprised that many of the self-help gurus take their “principles of success” right out of the pages of the Bible.
As we already discussed, equality is a major teaching of God. The following is a very profound self-help principle! “What you think about will come bouncing back to you.” It fits in with the wise old proverb of Solomon, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.” The principle of “What you give out---will come right back to you” is not a new one. It is taught in the Bible throughout. In fact, Galatians 6:7 repeats the same concept saying, “whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.
Christ said in Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” This is a living principle. This is not psycho-babble. You could say, “What your mind expects to find, it will find.” Here is an example in Proverbs chapter 10, “The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.” In light of this, we should try to think positively because what we expect will come bouncing right back to us. The following is a true example of this. A young man was told by the doctors that he had a rare incurable form of cancer. His health declined rapidly. When he went into the hospital toward the last, he was nearly dead, yet re-testing revealed that the doctors had misdiagnosed him from the start. He didn’t have the rare cancer at all, yet the young man by then was at the point of death. He expected to die and his mindset obliged him! Our thoughts do produce fruit. A negative mindset which afflicts us all from time to time can literally make us sick! It is so hard to let our habitual negativity go and trust Solomon's wisdom which says that “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)
The negative mood we often find ourselves in is a bad habit that needs to be broken.... It comes from not ruling our own spirit. We all need to rule our own minds and choose the mindset of contentment and the mental habit of joy for better mental and physical health. So what can you do right now to be “healthy, wealthy and wise” as Benjamin Franklin said? We can take our teaching from the wisest man who ever lived. King Solomon was actually the first of the “self-help gurus!” (some of the concepts in the following section are taken from an article called “Let God Be True”-- based upon the book of proverbs)
FOUR LIFE PRINCIPLES WE SHOULD ADOPT NOW!
1. Have a positive contented and “merry” spirit for your personal health. Get rid of all negative thoughts...we don’t want them bouncing back to us and becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. We must remember that “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
2. Probably 90% of all our sins are committed with our mouths and definitely 99% of our foolishness comes from our lips, so be quiet, stop talking so much. A fool reveals himself through his mouth. “Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise: and he that shuts his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” Christ said that we would give account for every idle word...so if we cut our words back, we actually control our sin output. We should follow the biblical advise, “Be quick to hear...slow to speak.”
3. Pick your friends carefully. Stay away from fools, immoral people and criminal types. We are strongly influenced by those around us. We should even avoid perpetually angry people, so we don’t pick up their ways.. “He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” If you have bad friends they will bring you down, if you have wise companions they will bring you up. You become like the company you keep. Even Solomon himself was corrupted by the evil women he married.
4. We must learn to discipline ourselves. In other words, learn to “rule our spirit.” “If we have a melancholy spirit bent toward inward thinking, we should take some precautions. The best advise in this case is to stop thinking, and go do what you should be doing, now! Get outside yourself.” “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” The biggest enemy that will come through “the walls of our city” is our own negative thought processes which can destroy, even lead to suicide if left completely unchecked.... Rule your own spirit. Discipline yourself. Control what goes through your own mind. If we rule our spirits through keeping a positive attitude through tough times, the problems we have in life can only make us stronger and more experienced.
In World War II, they discovered an interesting fact about this subject. “Older, more experienced men actually had a higher survival rate than younger, more physically fit sailors.” The truth is that the “battle hardened” experienced soldiers survived better than the physically fit younger men! This might explain why the early apostles admonished being “joyful in tribulation.” Tribulation can’t really hurt us at all, it surprisingly fortifies our spirit and gives us experience and patience. It builds up our “spiritual” muscles, so to speak. We get tougher, more patient and stronger every time we go through something hard. Romans 5:3 says, “...but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.” Fulfilling the old saying, what does not kill us, only makes us stronger! Rule yourself for a successful life.
Solomon wrote over 3000 wise sayings. Obviously, we can’t cover the whole book here. All we can do is recommend that you dig into the book and start “mining for gold.” I recommend for better understanding that you sometimes read the book of Proverbs in a non-King James version because there are many words in the King James that are difficult to comprehend...such as the word “froward” which I think means twisted or perverted....etc... Sometimes, it’s good to read the book of Proverbs in the NIV version or even in “The Living Bible.” Both of those versions are good for getting to the jist of what Solomon was teaching. It’s easier to digest the book with these versions. Start studying the book of Proverbs today. It is like mining for gold, as it is the best self-help book ever written...literally inspired by God for teaching man the principles of living a better more successful life! Start digging for your gold today!
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