David’s Great Sin

If you asked many Christians what sin was David’s most reprehensible sin, they would point to his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband to cover up the fact that he had made her pregnant.  However, the LORD seemed to think otherwise.  If consequences mean anything, we know that 70,000 men in Israel died because David took a census of the people.  This aroused the anger of the LORD.  2 Samuel 24.1 states, “He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”  The text makes it seem like the LORD moved David to do something that would arouse the LORD’s anger.  The companion passage in 1 Chronicles 21.1 says, “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.”

This seems like a contradiction.  However, 1 Samuel 24.1 may refer to the LORD testing David and 1 Chronicles 21.1 may refer to Satan tempting him.  Another alternative reading would conclude that the NKJV translators should not have capitalized the pronoun in 1 Samuel 24.1 and the pronoun is referring to Satan.  But this latter interpretation doesn’t mention Satan in the near context.  I think either option is fine.  The one reading that is strictly abominable is to make God’s Word contradict itself.

What sin does David commit in taking a census of the people?  The context of the passage seems to indicate that he was placing to much confidence in his ability to amass an army.  It seems to me that pride is the cause of this reprehensible action from God’s perspective.  There are three key lessons we might garner from this episode:  1) We must understand that God will punish sin; 2) Further, the good news is that God also pardons sin; 3) However, the consequence of all sin is death.

God Punishes Sin

The LORD says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD.  For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited” (Jeremiah 17.5-6).  Since David’s confidence rested in his ability to marshal an army and not in YHWH, he is susceptible to punishment.  He was given a choice of punishments:  1) seven years of famine for the whole nation; 2) three months of losing battles against military foes; or 3) three days of plague sweeping across the whole nation.

David simply leaves it in God’s hands.  Therefore, God punishes sin by sending an angel to slay people in judgment.  By the time the angel is finished, 70,000 die.  God brought great and horrific punishment for the sin of David.

God Pardons Sin

David faced great grief and sorrow because of his sin and the consequences meted out.  He and the people were humbled.  1 Chronicles 21.16 states that “David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem.  So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces.”  David’s prayer to God is poignant:  “Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered?  I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done?  Let Your hand, I pray, O LORD my God, be against me and my father’s house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued” (1 Chronicles 21.17).

It seems obvious that David is broken over this sin.  Punishment is leading to pardon.  God commands the angel to halt the judgment against the people.  He also commands that David build an altar right at the point where the judgment ceased.  The sacrifice made points to the great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.  God has punished our sin in Christ’s death.  Jesus Christ arose from the dead so that we might have pardon and eternal peace.

Sin Always Brings Death

Yet the consequence of sin is always death.  If you delude yourself into thinking that your sin does not effect your family, friends, and those brothers and sisters you claim to love at church, you’ll never see your need to come to God’s throne of grace through the blood of His Son.  God still tests us.  Satan still tempts us.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

Barzillai: A Lesson from an Old, Rich Guy

The Temporal World

I was reminded this past weekend at a retreat that I don’t have very long to live for the Lord Jesus on this earth.  My time is short, and I guess it is good to live under the realization of this truth.  This was not so easy when I was younger or before being diagnosed with cancer.  But the fact that there is a mere step between death and me is very clear now.  The elderly know this to be true.  If we live with it in mind, we will be better The Temporal World

I was reminded this past weekend at a retreat that I don’t have very long to live for the Lord Jesus on this earth.  My time is short, and I guess it is good to live under the realization of this truth.  This was not so easy when I was younger or before being diagnosed with cancer.  But the fact that there is a mere step between death and me is very clear now.  The elderly know this to be true.  If we live with it in mind, we will be better able to rise above that which is confined by time.

I remember reading The Stranger by Camus.  It’s a French existentialist novel.  The main character was condemned to death and hours away from his execution.  Suppose you were in that situation.  How would you feel about the material world around you?  Would you wonder about the iPhone 8?  Would you catalog all that you own in your mind?  Would you think about re-arranging your investment portfolio?  Probably not.  All the things you considered so important wouldn’t be given a thought in such a scenario.  You’d be focused on your imminent death.  Those close to you would see the dichotomy you faced and would understand how empty and vain living for materialism truly is.

No one can afford to neglect his work, family, education, or even researching the iPhone 8.  We have duties and responsibilities which demand our attention.  However, it’s really all a question of where your affections are (Colossians 3.1-2).  They must not be set upon below-things but above-things.  We cannot be overly-wrought about having the latest and greatest product.  Our sobriety and moderation is what people should note about our character in Christ.

“But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:29–31)

The Eternal World

David attempted to show kindness to Barzillai, a very aged man of 80 years old (see 2 Samuel 19.31-39).  He was a very rich man who had supplied David while he faced the rebellion of his son Absalom.  David hoped to reward Barzillai for his kindness by providing for him since he had taken back his throne and was heading back to Jerusalem.

“But Barzillai said to the king, ‘How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? I am today eighty years old. Can I discern between the good and bad? Can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any longer the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be a further burden to my lord the king? Your servant will go a little way across the Jordan with the king. And why should the king repay me with such a reward? Please let your servant turn back again, that I may die in my own city, near the grave of my father and mother.'” (2 Samuel 19:34–37)

Well, that’s perspective.  In view of eternity, a thousand years is as a day and a day a thousand years.  Nobody really has very long to live.

  1. Since life is short, we must give attention to eternal matters.  The brevity of life reminds us of our daily need of repentance, reconciliation, and revival when it comes to our spiritual lives.  If you are unclear as to whether you are right with your Creator and bound for Heaven, then by all means click here and make peace with Him.  The concerns of time are insignificant when compared to eternity.  Preferring material matters over eternal matters is really a sign of insanity.
  2. Since life is short, we must guard against apathy to eternal matters.  Most of us understand how important these matters are but often we grow apathetic.  Apathy is very displeasing to the Lord Jesus (see Revelation 3.15-16).  Brief flashes of energy for eternal matters shouldn’t be our endgame.  We must diligently work for Christ day by day.  Life is a race (see Hebrews 12.1-3).  We must prepare well and run well with our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus.  We don’t have time for weights and besetting sin.  What shall we truly give in exchange for our eternal souls …for the eternal life granted to us by Christ?  Will we ever show too much gratitude?  Too much sacrifice?  If you could enjoy your favorite earthly activity for 1,000 years, how could that compare with the joys of Heaven?  Indeed, whatever you hand finds to do for eternity, do it with all your might.

Some are young.  They look forward to the years ahead of them with excitement and anticipation.  They have plans.  They want to experience certain life-events.  But they may be cut down like a flower.  Youthful zeal should be used for heavenly work.  Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.

Some are at the mid-point of life.  You might have accomplished many life-goals.  You might be in a state of crisis as you look back and see the emptiness of what you have accomplished.  That’s the way it will be in all you will yet accomplish.  Temporal matters must be diligently pursued and performed for the glory of God.  But these things cannot compare to living an eternal quality of life.

Still others are elderly or in a precarious health situation which makes death imminent.  That’s the way it was with Barzillai.  You feel old age and illness swallowing you up.  You know that your time is short.  Allow earthly things to simmer on the back burner of life.  Let eternity increase and enlarge in your mind.  Live in light of death and judgment.  Keep pressing forward for the prize of your high calling in Christ.

Wherever you are in the spectrum of life, know and pray these Scriptures.  Make them your own:

“Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.” (Psalm 39:4)

“[Lord,] teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

The Sickly Love of the World – Part 2

“Amnon hated [Tamar] exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.  And Amnon said to her, “Arise, be gone!” (2 Samuel 13.15)

Your love falls short at its inception, throughout all of your attempts, and eventually it will fall away.  Such is the love of ungodly, sinful people.  The only enduring love is the love of God worked in and through you.  But Amnon didn’t just love Tamar with an ungodly love, he hated her with an ungodly hatred.  This hatred is surprisingly unjust and obvious to spot in this story.  It’s not so obvious to spot in our own story.

It’s easy to understand why the Jewish POW might hate the German soldier who treated him with cruelty.  But it’s much more difficult to understand why a man who raped a woman he claimed to love now hates here with a deep, intense, and abiding hatred.  You expect pity, compassion, or deep regret from him after he did what he did.  But his heart is not tender toward her, but it is hard like a flint.  He resents her.  Why do we hate those we hurt?

  1. They remind us of how vile we have become.  We have hurt them and in the process hurt ourselves.  We cannot remove them from our lives.  We cannot eradicate the memory of the violence we have done.  We are disgusted with them because in them we see why we should be so disgusted with ourselves.  Our own foolishness has brought us low, but somehow we blame those we hurt.  They are the reason that our character is now despised in the eyes of others.  We have not humbled ourselves and so we hate the one we hurt.  It doesn’t get more ugly, unjust, or ungodly than that.
  2. They now make it impossible to conceal our shame.  It is one thing when sin you commit is only known to you and not to others.  It’s very easy for us to deceive ourselves and push that sin to the margins of our lives.  But when we hurt an individual like Amnon hurt Tamar, that person has power to bring shame and reproach upon our lives.  Everything begins to crumble.  Even the most vile among us seems to care about how they are perceived by others.  David cared so much about how people perceived him that he hid his adultery by murdering a righteous man and loyal soldier in his army.  He went to great lengths to conceal his shame.
  3. They are good that we now call evil.  How could a gentle woman like Tamar, a rape victim, become the enemy in this situation?  Only in a deceived, bent mind like Amnon’s.  “A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it” (Proverbs 26.28).  Men hate God and His Word because they know God is not pleased with them.  They stay in the darkness because their deeds are evil.  They hate the light and won’t come to it.  Such yearn for the Holy One to cease from before them (Isaiah 30.11).  We hate those who are good because they won’t speak good concerning us, but only evil.  It never dawns on us that we deserve it.

If we know God well …if we are always aware of His presence and power, then we won’t allow ourselves to be led to the depths of depravity.  If we cultivate relationships with godly friends, we will avoid the ungodly ones that encourage us to gratify our lustful and base desires.  If we understand the power of our example, we will let no man despise our youth.  Amnon followed in the steps of his father in his personal life.  He made some of the same devastating choices.  He paid with his life when his brother Absalom made his own devastating choice to take vengeance for this very instance.  May God be merciful and protect us from such devastating, life-altering sin.

The Sickly Love of the World (Part 1)

“Amnon hated [Tamar] exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.  And Amnon said to her, “Arise, be gone!” (2 Samuel 13.15)

David sinned and gave reason for God’s enemies to bring reproach upon His great name.  He had committed adultery with a beautiful woman named Bathsheba.  She had belonged to Uriah.  The loyalty of her husband led David to murder him in order to cover up the adultery.  God told David that what he had done in secret would lead out to his own public humiliation.  This begins when his son Amnon pined away for his half-sister named Tamar.  His lust was consuming.  He was distressed and became sick because of it.  Amnon conspired with a cousin and found a way to be alone with Tamar.

Tamar came to care for Amnon at the behest of the king.  She was brought into his chamber to nurse him back to health.  But he invited her to lie with him.  She refused and pointed out the disgrace and shame that it would bring upon them both.  She also made it clear that the king would not withhold her from him if he simply had asked the king’s permission.  But nothing would stop this lust-driven man.  He was stronger than her, so he raped her.  Once he committed this awful deed, the Bible tells us that the lust that drove him became a greater hatred that consumed him.  “The hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.”

The Scripture refers to Amnon’s lust for Tamar as love.  That bothers me until I realize that there is a counterfeit love which belongs to ungodly people.  Much in our world passes for love, but it is sad and perverse.  Amnon was consumed by this twisting of true love.  His fixation manifested his selfishness, cruelty, and lack of respect for God and for righteousness.  He sought to gratify his lust at the expense of the honor of Tamar and his own position of honor as the king’s son.

Some relationships are like this.  Men are strongly attached to women for no other reason than their external beauty.  The sports fanatic is strongly attached to other sports fanatics for no other reason than their common affinity for their favorite sports team.  It’s not about the character we possess or the fact that we share the image of God, it’s all about how the person fulfills some strong desire you have.  Sometimes sin ties drug addicts or gamblers together.  They abuse one another to score money or drugs from one another.  A man doesn’t mind leaving another man destitute in this relationship as long as he has what he wants.  All that is left is misery and ruin.  The lust/love for Tamar is the only form of love Amnon  knows.  It is selfish, cruel, and calculating.  It is a love which seeks to exclude God or at the very minimum marginalize Him.

True biblical love is honorable and virtuous.  It is unmatched by any counterfeits.  But even what Christians call love for one another often falls short of 1 Corinthians 13 love.  It’s interesting to observe people who have much in common drawn together even by that which is good.  They are naturally drawn together.  But even with this scenario, it falls short.  How does it fall short?

Our Love Falls Short at Its Starting Point

We know in our minds that our love for one another should come from our love for God and His love for us.  We ought to see people as created in the image of God.  We ought to respect that in all people.  A man marries a woman and becomes a Christian a few years later.  He draws close to God while his wife draws away from him.  The powerful, natural attachment she had for him is dissolving.  The passion and sentiment that made the bond strong at the beginning is unable to hold the bond together.  Why?  It is because their love was nothing more than affection and sentimentalism.  If she doesn’t come to Christ, that which she thought to be love will turn to hatred.  The hatred with which she will hate him will become greater than the love with which she loved him.

Our Love Falls Short in Its Actions

True love seeks out the highest good of the object loved.  The highest good is the spiritual welfare of the people we claim to love.  But how can you actively love someone and bring them their highest good when you have no spiritual perception.  If our love is manipulative, cold, calculating, and selfish, we do nothing for those we claim to love.  A man may sacrifice a great deal for his family and their temporal needs and utterly fail to meet the greatest need his wife and children have.  It is truly vain to meet the material needs of our families while forsaking the spiritual needs.

Our Love Falls Short in Its Endurance

Some stick it out for many years.  Many give up.  But even if we opt for this lesser, temporal love until the end of our lives, our lives still end.  Nothing we have done or felt or sacrificed for will go with us.  However, the Christian has hope beyond the grave.  I will be separated from my wife and my boys at death, but we will meet again.  I will spend eternity with them in unending joy around our Savior.  I have what no worldly, materialistic man has – no matter how successful he is.  I have enduring love.

Why is This Happening to Me?

 

It is likely that you will attempt to do a great thing for God in a wrong way during your lifetime.  When you reap the bitter fruit of that experience, you will face the temptation of becoming angry with God.  You were convinced that you were doing the right thing for the right reasons, but you were contrary to the will of God.  This contrary nature to God’s will may be born of ignorance, sloth, or oversight.  Yet it leads out to the same discouraging place of disillusionment.  Left unchecked, it drives us to despondency and despair.Untitled

The Scripture tells us about David’s attempt at doing a great thing for God in the wrong way.  He gathered Israel under one banner for the first time and attempted to convey the ark of God from the place where it had been resting for several decades up to Jerusalem where David reigned.  The people constructed a new cart to convey the ark, and a man named Uzzah was appointed to drive the oxen which would pull the cart.  When the ark was jostled during the journey, Uzzah reached out to protect and steady the ark.  It was at this point that God’s righteous anger flared, and Uzzah was struck dead by God.  Taken at face value, it seems that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.  As a matter of fact, we don’t even see a crime!

What did Uzzah do wrong?

I’m sure the whole nation wondered why God struck Uzzah dead.  I know that David was greatly bothered by it.  He became angry over the action which the LORD had taken that day (2 Samuel 6.8).  It’s not just that Uzzah did something wrong, but David and the whole nation did wrong.  Uzzah paid the price.  Earlier in the Law of Moses, only the priests were permitted to touch the ark.  Only the Levites were permitted to transport the ark.  Numbers 4.15 says that “the sons of Kohath (Levites) shall come to carry” the holy items of the tabernacle.  But these men were not permitted to touch what they carried “lest they die.”  They carried the ark of the covenant on their shoulders (Numbers 7.9), presumably through means of poles and rings attached to the ark.  So, Uzzah touched the ark.  That’s what he did, and it was wrong.  But neglect of God’s Word rests squarely upon David and the people as well.

Why is there such a severe response from God?

God responded with severity because God is holy, majestic, and great.  Mercy only means something once people understand God’s righteous, holy, and powerful presence.  God chose to manifest His righteous character, and who are we to question such a demonstration?  God showed His people that nothing done for Him is acceptable if it is contrary to His will.  He had said, “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified” (Leviticus 10.3).  So Uzzah paid a great and awful price that day for being contrary to God’s revealed will.  The whole nation would learn that “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him” (Psalm 89.7).

How does David respond to this severity?

First, David is angry (2 Samuel 6.8).  He was angry because of what the LORD had done to Uzzah.  That anger led him to an outburst against God.  The LORD’s outburst and righteous indignation toward Uzzah led to David’s outburst and sinful anger toward the LORD.  Sound familiar?  David believed that God had acted unfairly and that God was not good.  David lost sight of the fact that God always does what is right and just and good.  Even the slothful priest Eli when faced with a terrible prophecy concerning his family said, “It is the LORD.  Let Him do what seems good to Him” (2 Samuel 3.18).  Should we not bear the indignation of the LORD because of our sin against Him (Micah 7.9)?  Do we do well to be so angry?  Doesn’t sin crouch at the door ready to pounce upon us? Shouldn’t we gain mastery over it and over our emotions?

Second, David is afraid (2 Samuel 6.9).  He is afraid because He doesn’t know what God wants.  This makes him unbelieving.  He will not serve the LORD as a man after God’s own heart.  Instead, he lives in a state of servile fear and unbelief.  So he asks, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?”  He gives up and won’t move the ark.  He should have worked to find out God’s heart and will regarding this situation.  He should have humbled himself before the LORD.  But he doesn’t, and this leads straight to discouragement and disillusionment.

What about your service for the LORD?

What will happen if you live contrary to the will of God?  What will happen if your friendship with the world puts you at enmity with the Christ who redeemed you?  Sometimes you rebelliously do what you want to do.  Other times you do what you think is God’s will, but His favor is not upon you.  He regards your activity as sin and not service.  God still cares about holiness.  He desires that you be holy even as He is holy.  If we are to serve God, we had better do so in the beauty of holiness.

How do you deal with unexpected but discouraging circumstances?

Let it not be with unrighteous anger or unbelieving fear toward God.  Search God’s Word prayerfully and find His will for your life.  Don’t give into discouragement and disillusionment.  Renew your mind in the Word of God, “that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12.2).  Whenever hope is missing from your life, God is not the cause of it (Romans 15.4-5).  You are accepted in the Beloved One.  Find out when it was that you strayed from the path of God’s will, and get back on it.

Strengthened in God

The Bible tells the story of Israel great king and psalmist David.  He faced very difficult times in life.  He lived during a very unsettled period of Israel’s history.  He was suspected by the Philistines who were protecting him from Saul, plundered by the Amalekites who had taken his family captive, and threatened by his own soldiers.  During this period of his life, all hope seemed lost.  The Bible reveals that he was greatly distressed because the people were ready to stone him.  Yet, “David strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30.6).  How was he able to do this?

Reduced to great weakness, he had cause for anxiety, fear, and unbelief.  Yet three lifelines kept him from drowning in despair:

  1. The Character of God – David knew well that the LORD God is merciful, gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth. He knew that God forgives iniquity and by no means clears the guilty (see Exodus 34.6-7).  Nothing is too hard for God to do or too great for God to give.
  2. The Closeness of God – David had already faced danger from a lion, a bear, a giant, and a murderous king. These experiences proved God to be close.  David had no reason for fear.  God raises the dead after all.  “He delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1.10).
  3. The Covenant of God – God promised to David that he would assume the throne and become king over all Israel. He knew that to be king, he would have to continue to live.  God never breaks a promise.

The God David served is the God we serve.  We can know by experience that God is good.  We also may claim the promise that the Lord Jesus will never leave us or forsake us.  But we have greater reason for strength and encouragement than even David had.  There are three perspectives of God that have greater clarity for us than they had for David:

  1. The Perspective of Power – we see more clearly the power of God because we see the impact that Jesus had through His earthly ministry.
  2. The Perspective of Love – we see more clearly the love of God because there is no greater love than the death of His Son for our sins.
  3. The Perspective of Faithfulness – we see more clearly the faithfulness of God because the promises made are fulfilled in Christ Jesus and attested to through the gift of the indwelling Spirit of God.

If David strengthen himself in the LORD his God in the face of difficulty in trial, how much more are we able to strengthen ourselves in Him!  Is this great and powerful God your God?  “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1.12).  As a child, He will be a Father to you.  “And you shall be [His] sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6.18).

Strengthen yourself in the LORD.  Expect life to bring difficulty and trial.  There is no reason or cause for strength in yourself, but in God you will find all you need and desire.  Are you discouraged and disillusioned by what’s happening around you?  Do you find the inward corruption and penchant to sin defeating?  Hope in God!  If you call on Him, He will answer you and give you strength!

God’s Merciful Gift of Wisdom

Christianity is unique among world religions because it does not ask for a man to live a holy life in order to merit reward or eternal bliss.  Instead, Christians live holy lives as a result of the mercy and grace bestowed upon them as Christ abides in them and they in Him.  Eternal life is more than a destination for Christians; it is a quality of life that the world’s religions cannot offer.

Proverbs 1, 8, and 9 contain personifications of wisdom.  A personification attributes personal, human-like qualities and activities to abstract concepts like wisdom.  Jesus Christ is often thought to be wisdom in these passages.  The fact that the representation is female doesn’t prevent us from identifying wisdom with Christ.  Wisdom is a feminine noun in Hebrew; therefore, when a pronoun refers to the noun, translators normally use the feminine form.

Increasingly, people are intensely adverse to having their corrupt behavior identified and confronted.  It’s always been this way.  Extrapolate and explain the consequences of foolish behavior, call for repentance and conversion, and speak firmly, lovingly, and compassionately.  These are our responsibilities as Christians.  But more and more, they are not well-received in our entitled world.  You will be thought as a fanatic but also as very weak-minded and enslaved.  You can feel the sneers and mocking glances.  However, if we must lose the favor of man for the favor of God, then so be it.

What is foolish to people in our lives is wisdom to God.  Nothing we say or teach or promise will persuade men unless the proclamation, teaching, and promises come from the Word of God.  The voice of wisdom is found only in the all-sufficient Word.  It is calling aloud outside and raising her voice in the open squares.  Wisdom and God confront us in Proverbs 1.20-33.  There are two important aspects to this text:

  1. God’s grace comes to those who will receive wisdom.
  2. God’s judgment comes to those who despise wisdom.

Receiving Wisdom

“How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity” (Proverbs 1.22a)?  It’s not only to the willingly naive that the invitation to receive wisdom is given, but to the morally dull and obstinate (the fool).  It’s not only to the naive and obstinate that the invitation to receive wisdom is given, but to the worst of the fools, namely the scorner.  This is the one who delights in mockery, acts with insolent pride (Proverbs 21.24), hates correction and will not tolerate authority (Proverbs 15.12), responds with insult (Proverbs 9.7-8), and will not listen to rebuke (Proverbs 13.1).  You would think that God would not invite these types of foolish people to receive anything but judgment.  However, love and mercy belong to God.  So, God invites them to turn at His rebuke that the spirit of wisdom might be poured out upon them (Proverbs 1.23).  If they will, God will make His words of wisdom known to them.  How much better off we would be, if we allowed words of wisdom from parents, teachers, pastors, and friends to prevail upon us!  But often we think nothing of justifying our foolish actions, multiplying our guilt before God, and turning a blind eye to clearly indefensible thoughts and conduct.  We must turn at His rebuke.

The LORD is gracious to make promises to those who accept His invitation to receive wisdom.  Our weakness in temptation and ignorance of what is right keeps us under the sway of the wicked one.  We hear the voice of the LORD calling us to turn at His rebuke, but we don’t know what to do or how to turn.  Surely the LORD will pour out His Holy Spirit upon our spirit.  He will provide the Spirit of Wisdom and of Grace.  He will make His words known to us.  “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!  Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3.1).  Turn at His rebuke and receive wisdom.

Despising Wisdom

God calls, but what if we refuse (Proverbs 1.24)?  What if He stretches out His hand, the hand of wisdom, and no one regards Him?  What if we disdain all of wisdom’s counsel, and have none of His rebuke?  Then all that is left is not the tender invitation of wisdom, but her laughter at our calamity, her mockery when the terror of judgment falls upon us like a storm or a destructive whirlwind.  This is when distress and anguish comes upon us because we have despised wisdom (Proverbs 1.25-27).

Vengeance belongs to the LORD.  There comes a day when we call on God …on wisdom, but there is no answer (Proverbs 1.28).  We seek for wisdom diligently, but do not find her.  We have despised wisdom, hated knowledge, and do not choose the fear of the LORD (Proverbs 1.29).  We would not have any of wisdom’s counsel.  Instead of turning at wisdom’s rebuke, we despised wisdom’s rebuke (Proverbs 1.30).  Therefore we shall eat the fruit of our own way, a way we have chosen (Proverbs 1.31).  We are filled to the full with our own fancies …our own foolishness.  There simply isn’t any room for God or for wisdom in our lives.

Receive wisdom and know the goodness of the LORD.  God is good and only gives that which is good.  If anyone lacks wisdom, simply ask of God and He will give it.  Many of us have been persistent in our disobedience in spite of God’s merciful invitations to get wisdom.  We have squandered days, weeks, months, and even years toiling in our simplicity.  God is patient and longsuffering.  Day after day He renews His merciful invitation to receive wisdom.  But consider those who have lived lives cut off from wisdom because of their sins.  God’s patience must end in our repentance.  Repent today while it is still called to day.

Despise wisdom and know the justice of the LORD.  It is true that God is not willing that any should perish; however, it is also true that all must come to repentance in order to live an eternal quality of life.  God will by no means clear the guilty.  He repays wickedness in this life and in the life to come.  God will do right.  “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10.31).  Receive wisdom and all the promises she affords by the grace of our Almighty Father.