Proverbs ~ Chapter 11
Proverbs Contrasting Righteous and Wicked Lives, Chapter 10-15.
In Chapter 10 we saw many comparisons between the righteous and wicked believer in how they conduct their lives, specifically in regard to wealth, speech, and fear.
Now turning to Chapter 11, the comparisons continue, but the overall theme is in regard to business life, as identified in vs. 1, “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.”
Even though we are going to see many more comparisons in this chapter between the righteous and wicked that can be applied to general life principles, each is also geared toward the worker, be it outside the home or inside the home. Prov 14:1 introduces the context of inside the home as well. So as we note each verse, please keep in mind the context that is given to us in vs. 1, your work life.
In addition, we will see the consequence of operating in business in righteousness versus wickedness. We will see the blessings associated with righteous business dealings versus the wrath of dealing wickedly in business.
The outline of Chapter 11 is thus:
Vs. 1-8, Blessings or wrath related to integrity in business.
Vs. 9-14, Blessings or wrath by association related to speech in business.
Vs. 15-23, Blessings or wrath related to wisdom in the soul in business.
Vs. 24-26, Blessings or wrath related to giving in business.
Vs. 27-32, Blessings or wrath related to motivation in business.
Prov 11:1, “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.”
“False” is the Noun MIRMAH, מִרְמָה meaning, “deceit or treachery.”
“Balance” is the Noun, MOZENAYIM, מֹאזְנַיִם meaning, “scale or balance.”
Most references of MOZENAYIM are to the ancient scale instruments used for weighing out money. In the early periods of history, gold and silver pieces or coins were the primary currency of trade and their value was determined by its weight. Therefore, merchants would carry a set of balances with them and a set of weights in a leather pouch, usually stones of different sizes and use them on the scale to determine the weight of the gold or silver to determine its value.
Archeologists have found “dozens of stone weights inscribed with the word “shekels,” that vary from 11.08-12.25 grams. The distribution of these types of stones found is wide and their weight is fairly uniform across the ancient Near East that shows the standards were widely recognized and fell within tolerable limits.” (Complete Biblical Library).
In the marketplace, one of the greatest instruments of fraud was a “deceitful balance” used by dishonest businessmen. Deceitful men would carry two differing weights in their bags, the lighter to buy with and the heavier to sell with, cf. Micah 6:11; Hosea 12:7.
This type of business practice is an “abomination” TOEBAH, תּוֹעֵבָה, meaning a “detestable thing or abomination” “to the Lord”, YHVH.
Beside the list of “Seven Abominations to the Lord” in Prov 6:16-19, this is one of several other things mentioned throughout Proverbs that is detestable to the Lord, Cf. Prov 16:11; 20:10, 14, 23.
Prov 20:10, “Differing weights and differing measures, both of them are abominable to the LORD.”
Prov 20:23, “Differing weights are an abomination to the LORD, and a false scale is not good.”
“But a just weight is His delight.”
“Just” is the Adjective SHALEM, שָׁלֵם that means, “full, complete, safe, whole, or peaceful.”
“Weight” is the Noun EBEN, אֶבֶן (even) which means, “stone.” It means an accurate, fair weight which is a full weight or one which is complete, that is, “all there” according to its etching, cf. Duet 25:13-16.
Deut 25:13, “You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. 14You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 16For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the LORD your God.”
Literally, we could also call this a “stone that brings peace” in business, because it is not corrupt. Just as our Lord is the rock that brings peace between God and man, the business person should emulate Christ and be fair and honest in all situations which brings about peace.
This call for honesty in business rises out of and is linked to the command by God to “love your neighbor”, cf. Lev 19:18, 33-37, where honesty is explicitly commanded in judgment, weights, and measures.
“Delight” is the Noun RATSON, רָצוֹן that means, “favor, pleasure, will”, which we saw in Prov 8:35 & 10:32, as something that is “pleasing” to God.
So the contrast is complete, as a “deceitful balance” is an abomination to the Lord, something that He highly detests; whereas, a “peaceful stone” is “pleasing” to Him.
Then in Prov 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.”
“Pride” is the Noun ZADON, זָדוֹן that means, “presumptuousness, pride, or insolence.” It is an exaggerated opinion of one’s self or circumstances that exceeds limits. This word is also used in Prov 13:10; 21:24.
Waltke notes, “Pride denotes a psychological state of an exaggerated opinion of oneself that does not correspond to social reality.” (Bruce Waltke, New International Commentary.)
This type of insolence stems from a lack of recognition of God and of one’s lesser status compared to Him. It is primarily used in contexts which describe people whose pride causes them to oppose God (or His mandates) and exalt themselves, as here, the business man disregards the righteousness of God and acts to serve himself with false scales, cheating, and stealing from others.
This type of person receives “dishonor”, the Noun QALON, קָלוֹן that means, “shame or dishonor”, the lowering of a person’s social status as we saw in Prov 3:35; 6:33; 9:7.
Therefore, the inevitable consequences of insolence are disgrace and shame, since the arrogant person inevitably falls prey to his own pride, Prov 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” When the arrogant comes, dishonor is sure to follow, and eventually, the corrupt individual will be found out and be cast as a criminal with shame among his peers.
“But with the humble is wisdom.”
The “humble” is the Adjective TSANUA, צָנוּעַ used only here in the Old Testament and its cognate verb TSANA is only used in Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
So here it is, one who does not think more highly of himself or circumstances than that of others and in turn functions with honesty and integrity in all business matters, not cheating or stealing from them. This is the man who has and functions in Bible Doctrine, “wisdom” CHOKMAH, consistently. The consequences of humility are not having dishonor, which means you have honor instead. Here we see that people will think of you as a wise business man rather than a crook or cheat, since wisdom is much more attractive than the embarrassment that accompanies the failure that follows after pride, cf. Prov 15:32-33.
Prov 15:33, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.”
Prov 16:19, “It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
So by comparison, paradoxically, the high is made low and the low made high.
Then in Prov 11:3, “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.”
“Integrity” is the noun TUMMAH, תֻּמָּה, that means, “integrity, innocence, or uprightness.” This comes from the verb TAMAM meaning, “to be complete”, and is the feminine equivalent of the word TOM meaning, “completeness or integrity.” It is used only five times in the Old Testament, in Job and this one time in Proverbs.
“Integrity” means rigid adherence to a code of behavior, the state of being unimpaired, soundness, completeness, or unity. Its synonyms include honesty, veracity, honor, and probity.
That is the way of the “upright”, YASHAR, (straight, reliable, upright, level) in business and in life in general, as their own integrity from having Bible Doctrine resident within their soul “will guide them,” the causative Hiphil Imperfect of NACHAN, נָחָה that means, “to lead or guide.” YASHAR means in all their business dealings, they are straight talkers versus the liar, they are reliable to get things done and to be given authority and responsibility and are level or fair in all their dealings. There is no under handedness or cheating with false scales or weights. Therefore, we can say that the righteous will be caused by the Doctrine in their soul to make good, fair, just, and righteous decisions in all their dealings, cf. Prov 6:20-22.
“But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.”
“Crookedness” is the Noun SELEPH, סֶלֶף that means, “crookedness, perversity.” It is derived from the Verb SALAPH which means, “to twist or to ruin.” It stems from the idea of twistedness, picturing the moral distortion that leads to sin, as used only here and in Prov 15:4.
“Treacherous” is the Qal Active Verb BAGAD בָּגַד (baghadh) that means, “to act deceitfully or treacherously.” Here it is used substantively for the person who is “treacherous or deceitful.”
“Will destroy them” is the Qal Imperfect Verb SHADAD, שָׁדַד, that means, “to be violent, to lay waste, to ravage, or devastate.” That is what the perversity of the treacherous does to them, it devastates them. By cheating and stealing in business, the arrogant believe it will be beneficial to their lives, when in fact, it is the complete opposite and instead brings ruin to them.
Therefore, integrity (by means of the application of Bible Doctrine in the soul) preserves the wise, because it enables them to choose the paths that lead to life (i.e., blessings), Prov 3:18; 8:35. Yet, the wickedness of the treacherous blinds them so that they cannot choose wisely and therefore act perversely.
Prov 11:4, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”
“Riches” is the Noun HON for “goods or wealth” that “does not profit” LO YA’AL, “in the day” BE YOM, “of wrath”, is the Noun EBRAH, עֶבְרָה (evrah) that means, “wrath or outburst, excess and anger.”
EBRAH is a synonym of HEMA, “wrath” – Prov 6:34, but adds the nuance of fierceness to it; it expresses an overwhelming and complete devastation, Isa 13:9.
This verse escalates the notion found in Prov 10:2a, which states that “ill-gotten gains do not profit”, to “do not profit in the day of wrath.” This “day of wrath” is speaking to some disaster or calamity that is brought on as a result of negative volition towards God’s Word in the form of Divine discipline, most likely self-induced misery.
Just as the prophetic scriptures of Ezekiel and Zephaniah tell us that for the unbeliever, “Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them on the day of the Lord’s wrath”, Ezek 7:19; Zeph 1:18, here we see that money cannot buy your way out of a problem or difficulty, and certainly it cannot purchase rewards and blessing in the eternal state for the reversionistic believer. Money cannot buy their way out of God’s Divine discipline, nor can it redeem lost rewards in the eternal state.
“The wealth that the subversive and treacherous accumulate in defiance of the Lord’s rule and at the expense of others will backfire and not save them in the time of God’s wrath.” (Bruce Waltke, New International Commentary.)
“But righteousness delivers from death.”
This passage repeats Prov 10:2b.
“But righteousness” WA TSEDAQAH, “delivers” the causative Hiphil Imperfect Verb NATSAL, נָצַל that means, “to extricate, save, rescue, or deliver”, “from death”, MIN MAWETH. This tells us that those who operate righteously and justly in business will be spared from the third stage of Divine discipline, the Sin Unto Death, as compared to the wicked business man who cheats, steals, and lies, and in turn will suffer ruin.
Therefore, vs. 4 warns the wealthy that although they may feel safe because of their riches, Prov 18:11…
Prov 18:11, “A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own imagination.”
… eventually a test will come where his riches cannot and will not deliver him, yet those walking inside of God’s Plan for their lives will be delivered from such calamities, by the Word of God resident within their soul.
So this passage warns that money must not be the ultimate source of our confidence, but as seen in the righteous, it is our attitude toward and relationship with the Lord, rather than the state of our bank account, that determines how we will survive any calamity in life.
Prov 11:5, “The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way, but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.”
The next two vs. 5 & 6, reinforce the appeal to be completely committed to what is right.
“The righteousness of the blameless” is the Noun TSEDAQAH with the Adjective TAMIM, תָּמִים meaning, “complete, whole, full, without blemish, or faultless.” TAMIM is also derived from the root TAMAM meaning, “complete”, just as TUMMAH for “integrity” in vs. 3 was. So TAMIN here is not for the straightness of the line, but of the surface, evenness. As we would say today, he is operating “above board” rather than “under the table” that means he deals with honesty and integrity in all his business dealings rather than with sin, evilness, and wickedness like a crook.
One of the meanings of TAMIM refers to the “unblemished” animals that were required for various sacrifices, Lev 1:3, 10. In addition, the Lord’s work, way, and Word are said to be “perfect” or “faultless,” Deut 32:4; Psa 18:30; 19:7. Likewise, God’s people were told to be “blameless”, Gen 17:1, or serve Him in “integrity” or “sincerity”, Joshua 24:14a, “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity (TAMIM) and truth.”
This does not mean that God expects sinless perfection, but whole-hearted effort which includes repentance for failures (sins). So to be “blameless” means, to confess our sins when we commit them, turn away from those sins so we do not repeat them, and walk in fellowship with the Holy Spirit being obedient, i.e., applying God’s Word to our daily lives, (e.g., given the content of Chapter 11, in all of our business dealings and transactions.)
The psalmist desired that his heart would be blameless or wholly true to God’s Word, Psa 119:80,
Psa 119:80, “May my heart be blameless in Your statutes, so that I will not be ashamed.”
… and those who walk “uprightly” in integrity and blamelessly with consistent honesty and a clear conscience with God and others, as described in Psa 15:1-5, are allowed to experience God’s presence and security as they walk in faith daily.
Psa 15:1-5, “O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? 2He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. 3He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; 4In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; he swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5He does not put out his money at interest, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.”
Then we have, “will smooth his way” which is the causative use of the Piel Imperfect Verb YASHAR יָשַׁר once again that means, “to be straight, upright, smooth, or pleasing”, with the Noun DEREK.
Therefore, when we walk with integrity according to God’s will and Word having a Personal Sense of Destiny, it causes us to be pleasing to God in all the things that we do, especially in business.
“But the wicked (RASHAH) will fall by his own wickedness (RISHAH).”
The “wickedness” here tells us of the reversionistic believer’s internal principle; it is “evil and wickedness.”
“Will fall” is the Qal Imperfect Verb NAPHAL, נָפַל meaning, “to fall” with the nuance of God’s Divine discipline, cf. Prov 7:26; 11:14, 28, signified in this metaphor of going violently to death and destruction.
Later in the Book of Proverbs it speaks of the person who falls into the pit which he has dug, as a figure for an evil person who tries to trap others, Prov 26:27; 28:10. And as we have seen previously, wickedness sows its own destruction by pursuing its own course, despising instruction and correction, (i.e., Bible Doctrine), Prov 1:22-32; 8:36.
“The godless comes to ruin by his godlessness—that by which he seeks to forward his interests, and to make a way for himself, becomes his destruction.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament.)
Therefore, this speaks of the “reap what you sow” principle of Divine discipline, whereby the person who operates sinfully in their business dealings, it will come back to bite them. His own wickedness will come back to his own head. Yet, the righteous do not fall in this way, because their integrity directs them into the wise decisions that lead to life, vs. 3.
Prov 11:6, “The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.”
For the righteous believer this is having a Personal Sense of Destiny as they walk inside God’s Plan for their lives, vs. 5a, which is now escalated to their deliverance from Divine discipline in vs. 6a.
“The righteousness of the upright” is TSEDAQAH YASHAR, giving yet another description for the positive believer who is going forward inside of God’s Plan for their life, who is filled with and is applying Bible Doctrine on a consistent basis, by means of the filling of God the Holy Spirit. They are walking in their Experiential Sanctification.
“Will deliver them” is the causative Hiphil Imperfect of the Verb NATSAL, נָצַל, meaning to be saved, delivers, rescued, extricated, etc.” The basic meaning of NATSAL is “to separate or to be separate.”
“Of NATSAL’s over 200 usages, the Hiphil stem is by far the most frequent (about 190 times). The emphasis seems to be on the causative tendency of the Hiphil (“to cause to separate” or “to remove from”).” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary.) Therefore, this positive believer is “saved, delivered, or separated” from something. That something is the Divine discipline of God.
In contrast to the Divine discipline that befalls the wicked believer, the righteous will be delivered from such tragedies and calamities, primarily because they will not cause them to happen in the first place, and secondly they will be blessed by God rather than disciplined. This does not mean that the righteous believer is exempt from tragedies in life, but it means that whatever tragedies you face are not the result of Divine discipline and are instead categorized as “suffering for blessing,” whereas the wicked reversionistic believer will face tragedies as a direct result of their own actions.
“But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.”
The wicked of vs. 5b are now defined more precisely as an unreliable reversionistic believer in vs. 6b, and their wickedness is traced back to unrestrained greed.
“Treacherous” once again is the substantive use of the Verb BAGAD, בָּגַד that means, “to act deceitfully or treacherously.” Remember that treachery is not simply betraying someone’s trust; it is betraying someone for personal gain.
“Will be caught” is the Niphal Imperfect of LAKAD, לָכַד (lakhadh) that means, “to catch, to capture, or to occupy.” This word is used for the capturing or seizing of others, but more pointedly, here it is used for those who ensnare themselves and for God’s judgment on the wicked. The latter two are in view as the “treacherous are caught in their own greed.”
“Greed” is the Noun HAWWAH, הַָוּה. Brown, Driver and Briggs Hebrew Dictionary defines HAWWAH as, “desire, (in bad sense), chasm (figuratively of destruction), and engulfing ruin, destruction, and calamity.” Therefore, the translation “greed” comes from the “desire” definition of this word, and the overall context of this chapter given in vs. 1, having to do with false business transactions. Yet, the other definitions of this word tell us of the resultant Divine discipline for this type of person as their greed leads to ruin, destruction, and calamity.
This type of person is so preoccupied with his own desires and greed that he does not stop to think about, nor care, that he is destroying relationships and his reputation in his pursuit of personal gains. He is only focused on some form of temporary gain.
Therefore, we can say, “The deceitful will be caught by their desires.” In other words, this type of reversionistic / apostate believer will go too far in their cheating and stealing. It will cause them to eventually be discovered in their criminal activities, and they will then suffer the consequences of their actions, including loss of reputation within the community, Prov 10:9.
In addition, God’s Discipline is in view as we noted in Prov 10:3, as God “will reject the desires of the wicked”, cf John 15:1-6, noting that the non-fruit bearing believer is cast into the fire of God’s discipline.
Yet, the righteous believer, who is characterized by integrity, is not only free from the fear of being found out, Prov 10:9; 28:1, but will even be rescued from Divine discipline as a result of their fair and honest dealings in business that emanate from the Divine norms and standards they have stored in the conscience of their soul by means of the consistent intake of Bible Doctrine, Prov 11:8f.
In this verse we have a double negative that is speaking about the reversionistic believer in both lines. It focuses solely on the fate of the wicked, whose hope lasts only until death. It is thus one of the proverbs that look beyond this life to the eventual vindication of the righteous, e.g., Prov 12:28.
Prov 11:7, “When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, and the hope of strong men perishes.”
The first line of this verse gives greater detail to Prov 10:28b, “the expectation of the wicked perishes”
There we saw, “The expectation (TIQWAH – Hope) of the wicked (RASHAH) perishes (ABAD [avadh], “to destroy, to annihilate, to perish, to ruin, or to exterminate”).” ABAD is in the Qal Imperfect speaking of the certain future destruction of the wicked believer’s evil hopes and dreams.
Here we have the same word combination with the addition of the Qal Infinitive Construct of “when a man dies”, BE MUTH ADAM, referring to the “wicked.”
Therefore, all the hopes and dreams of the wicked believer end when he is removed under the 3rd Stage of Divine Discipline, where said hopes and dreams where sought after by evil and sinful means.
The corresponding line further tells us, “and the hope of strong men perishes.”
“Hope” here is TOCHELETH, the synonymous term to TIQWAH that was also used in Prov 10:28, but there for the positive believer.
“Perishes” is once again ABAD, but here in the Qal Perfect speaking of the completed past action of this persons hopes and dreams being annihilated.
So who are these people? “Strong men”, which is the plural of the noun, ON, אוֹן that means, “generative power, strength, vigor, or wealth.”
This word is pregnant with meaning in application. Pun intended. Because not only are we talking about powerful men, strong men of vigor who can produce things, and wealthy men, but it also speaks to progeny, the ability to produce offspring.
ON refers to:
- In the first use of ON, it signifies reproductive ability or manhood, Gen 49:3.
Gen 49:3, “Reuben, you are my firstborn; my might and the beginning of my strength (ON).”
There, Jacob noted that the first fruit of his generative power and strength, his firstborn, Reuben, was the first sign of his generative power, as is any firstborn. Then in Deut 21:17, in delineating the right of the firstborn, the Law stated that, as the first sign of his father’s strength the initial son must not be denied his rights.
Therefore, in relation to Prov 11:7, this tells us that not only will the reversionistic believer receive discipline from the Lord during his life, but that he will either not have an heir to continue his lineage or his progeny will also suffer as a result of his wickedness, cf. Ex 20:5.
Ex 20:5, “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.”
- The fleeting strength of the wicked, Job 18:12.
Job 18:12, “His strength (ON) is famished, and calamity is ready at his side.”
Here we see the context of Divine discipline; (weak, sick, and sleep.)
- Physical strength or maturity, Job 18:7, 12; Hosea 12:3
Hosea 12:3, “In the womb he (Jacob) took his brother by the heel, and in his maturity (ON) he contended with God.”
Here we see the contexts of human power, resources and assets that are used by sinful man rather than the faith-rest life. It teaches that not even human strength guarantees success.
- Riches as strength, Job 20:10; Hosea 12:8.
Hosea 12:8, “And Ephraim said, “Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth (OH) for myself; in all my labors they will find in me.”
Here we have the context of material wealth from Satan’s cosmic system gained by our human power, our old sin nature, which tells us that even financial security is vain.
Job 20:10, “His sons favor the poor, and his hands give back his wealth.”
Therefore, each of these usages tells us something about Prov 11:7b. The “strong man” is one who is producing from his own human power, resources, and assets. When a believer uses his human power to live life and does not trust in God and His Word and the Filling of the Holy Spirit, anything he produces is considered “wood, hay, and straw”, 1 Cor 3:12, and is what we call “human good” which is rejected by God. Only “Divine good,” the “fruit of the Spirit,” is accepted by God and considered “gold, silver, and precious gems” in 1 Cor 3:12.
Finally, not only does this wicked believer lose out on rewards in the eternal state, but he also will miss out on leaving a legacy behind, Psa 49:5-15. This corresponds to the previous forms of discipline we have seen regarding shame and loss of reputation in this life and in subsequent generations.
Prov 11:8, “The righteous is delivered from trouble, but the wicked takes his place.”
The word for “trouble” here is the Noun TSARAH, צָרָה that means, “distress, affliction, dire straits, anguish, or trouble.” It is used many times to denote the general distress of people, and focuses on the events that are occurring in these individuals’ lives as distress or afflictions. It is used this way in Prov 1:27 as a form of self-induced misery and Divine discipline from the Lord.
Prov 1:27, “When your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.”
But here it is in regard to the self-induced misery and Divine discipline from the Lord that the positive believer is “delivered” from, as the passive Niphal Perfect (completed past action) of the Verb CHALATS חָלַץ is used to denote, “to be separated from, pulled off of, etc.” It is synonymous to NATSAL of vs. 6, “deliver”, that spoke of the righteousness of the positive believer that separates them from God’s discipline.
The Complete Biblical Library, Hebrew-English Dictionary, notes regarding CHALATS, “The verb refers to the action of taking one’s shoe off in legal ceremonies (preserved in Middle Hebrew and Jewish Aramaic; cf. Ethiopic, Christian Palestinian Aramaic and Syriac). One who refused to perform the societal law of levirate marriage was to undergo a humiliating legal ritual, in which the wife of his deceased brother was to spit in his face before the elders of the village, and his descendants were to bear the name of “descendants of the shoeless one.” The title carried the stigma of ill-gotten gain, as the sandal-less one refused to procreate a son, who would then inherit the deceased’s patrimony (cf. Gen. 38).”
In addition, this word also has an exclusive meaning in the Hebrew when used in poetic context of “to rescue.” YHVH is usually the subject, and humans in distress the object, e.g., 2 Sam 22:20; Psa 140:1.
2 Sam 22:20, “He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.”
Psa 140:1, “Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men.”
So Solomon is using a fascinating play on words here as he contrasts the Divine discipline of the wicked in Prov 11:7b, “the hope of the strong man perishes” meaning, they have no heritage and a poor reputation, where here in vs. 8, the Lord actually spares that form of humiliation and discipline from the positive believer.
In other words, the righteous will have a legacy of reputation and offspring to carry on his good name.
“But the wicked takes his place”
The Hebrew here is WA BO RASHAH TACHATH for, “But he will enter the wicked instead.”
What will the wicked be entered into instead of the positive believer? God’s Divine discipline! Therefore, rather than bringing Divine discipline onto the righteous, the Father will bring it to the wicked instead in the form of the reputation and progeny as we have seen above.
Waltke gives examples of replacement discipline, “For example, the perjurer who intended death for the innocent is himself sentenced to death (Deut. 19:16-18; cf. Esth. 5:14; 7:10; 9:1-10; Dan. 6:23-24; Luke 16:25).” (Bruce Waltke, New International Commentary – The Book of Proverbs Chapters 1-15.)
When believers get out of fellowship through sin, human good, or evil, we bring suffering onto ourselves. This suffering is in the form of Divine discipline that includes three potential stages of Divine Discipline as noted in 1 Cor 11:30, “some are weak and sick and a number sleep.”
It also includes the law of volitional responsibility with its self-imposed, self-induced, and self-indulged forms of misery. Bad decisions not only destroy future options in life, but they result in tremendous misery manufactured by ourselves, for which we must take the responsibility. The resultant discomfort, misery, and unhappiness may last for a short or long period of time. This is the law of “you reap what you sow,” Gal 6:7-8; Cf. Prov 22:8.
Gal 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8For the one who sows to his own flesh (Old Sin Nature) will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
If we do not use the most basic Problem Solving Device of Rebound (1 John 1:9), we will continue in a state of carnality, cosmic living, or reversionism.
All discipline is designed to wake up the reversionistic believer from their persistent walk in sin and evil. It is meant for good.
Psa 119:75, “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.”
Heb 12:11, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
So here we see the wicked receiving God’s discipline for the evil and sinful business transactions they persistently deal in, whereas the righteous are spared God’s discipline because they are consistently functioning in honesty and integrity in all of their business transactions.
In summary of the first section of Chapter 11 regarding business transactions:
- Cheat, steal and lie, 1a.
- Are prideful and receive shame and embarrassment, 2a.
- Bring about destruction to themselves, 3b.
- Are not protected by their worldly wealth in time of God’s discipline, 4a.
- Will reap the wickedness they sow, 5b.
- Eventually will be found out as criminals, 6b.
- Fail to gain their evil hopes and dreams, 7a.
- Produces human good and will not have a legacy, 7b.
- Will receive discipline from the Lord, 8.
- Deal with honesty and integrity, 1b.
- Are humble and have a good reputation, 2b.
- Are guided by the Bible doctrine in their souls to make good, fair, just, and righteous decisions in all their dealings, 3b.
- The mentality of their soul is sustained by Bible doctrine in times of tragedy, 4b.
- Will be pleasing to God, 5a.
- Do not cause Divine discipline to come upon themselves, 6a.
- Are spared God’s discipline, 8a.
Next we turn to the second section of Chapter 11, vs. 9-14, that tells us about:
The Blessings or Wrath (Divine Discipline)
by Association Related to Speech in Business.
In this section Solomon contrasts the wicked and the righteous in regard to their speech as it pertains to business transactions. In this section we also will see the impact each has, not only to themselves, but also to the community at large. We begin with vs. 9.
Prov 11:9, “With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.”
“Godless man” is the Hebrew Adjective CHANEPH, חָנֵף meaning, “profane, filthy, impious, impure, hypocritical, or godless.” It is used as a substantive to refer to a person with such qualities. The root idea is to incline away (from God). The word refers to a person whose moral uncleanness separates him or her from God. The implication is that a person is hypocritical when he professes godliness but acts in godless or sinful ways. We call this a “two-faced person.”
Keil and Delitzsch note, “in the ancient Hebrew it signifies, him who is resolved upon evil.” (Commentary on the Old Testament)
Job 8:13, “So are the paths of all who forget God; and the hope of the godless will perish.”
In our verse particularly, we see that hypocrites prove destructive to their neighbors by the use of the godless “mouth” (PEH), i.e., sins of the tongue.
“Destroys” is the causative Hiphil Imperfect of the Verb SHACHATH, שָׁחַת that means this hypocrite will cause his neighbors, “to be destroyed, to be ruined, to be ravaged, to be corrupted, or to decay.” We saw this word in relation to the adulterous man in Prov 6:32, who is living inside of Satan’s Cosmic System, which as a result corrupts his own soul. But here the damage goes further, in that he now is corrupting his “neighbors”, the noun REA, רֵעַ meaning, “kinsman, fellow countryman, or friend.”
Keil and Delitzsch also note that SHACHATH pertains, “to the hostile purposes of the wicked masked by the words of the mouth, which are seen through by the righteous by virtue of knowledge which makes them acquainted with men. This penetrating look is their means of deliverance.” (ibid)
In addition, this verse and the ones to follow in this section also have to do with business leaders and the political leaders over the city, state, and nation. If they are slick talking leaders, the righteous will see right through them. And as we will see in the following verse that when the leaders have doctrine in their soul, the people will rejoice, and when the wicked leader dies, there will be shouts of joy.
“Rome rejoiced at the death of Nero, and the public rejoiced in the French Revolution at the death of Robespierre.” (Waltke, New International Commentary).
“But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.”
The “righteous” (TSADDIQ) who have “knowledge” (DA’ATH), and apply it will not be overtaken by the hypocritical believer and their sinful ways. Instead, they will be “delivered”, the passive Niphal Imperfect of CHALATS that means, “separated”, as we have seen in vs. 8. These are the only times this verb occurs in Proverbs.
Therefore, the corruption that is already in the soul of the wicked, hypocritical believer will not penetrate the soul of the positive believer who is consistent with their intake and application of God’s Word. As I have stated before, our only defense against sin and Satan’s cosmic system is to have doctrine on the right lobe of our souls. Without doctrine, you will be susceptible to the flattering, lying, gossiping, and maligning tongue of the wicked believer and will be taken advantage of in your business deals with such individuals.
Therefore, this passage warns that the wicked may indeed prevail over others by taking advantage of them in business with their flattering, lying, and deceptive speech, and false manifestations of friendship, but as we have noted, the positive believer will see right through them and have discernment based on Bible doctrine in their soul so as not to get swindled. Likewise, as the preceding verse shows, any such success the hypocrite believer has will only be temporary, cf. Prov 12:6, 13; 14:3.
Prov 12:6, “The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright will deliver them.”
Prov 12:13, “An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will escape from trouble.”
Prov 14:3, “In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will protect them.”
“The hostile purposes of the wicked masked by the words of the mouth, are seen through by the righteous by virtue of knowledge which makes them acquainted with men.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament – Volume 6: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon.)
Three proverbs follow relating to the nature of city and national life, and between them two against mockery and backbiting.
Prov 11:10, “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting.”
In this verse, the impact or consequences escalate from the individual one-on-one relationship to the entire community, similar to Prov 28:12; 29:2.
Prov 28:12, “When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.”
Prov 29:2, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan.”
In our verse we have a double positive for the righteous.
“If it goes well with the righteous, the city has cause for joy, because it is for the advantage of the community; and if the wicked (godless) come to an end, then there is jubilation.” (Keil and Delitzsch, ibid).
First we have, “when it goes well (TOV – good) with the righteous (TSADDIQ) the city (QIRYAH) rejoices (ALATS, עָלַץ) in the Qal Imperfect that means, “will rejoice or exult.” You may have noticed the poetic comparison of CHALATS – delivered and ALATS – rejoicing. When you are delivered from evil because of God’s Word in your soul, you will also rejoice.
That is why the emphasis of this verb in scripture (used six times) is always found in contexts of victory that comes as a result of dependence upon God. The end result always gives God’s people reason to rejoice. When righteousness reigns, there is “rejoicing”, as is the case here and Prov 28:12, while in its absence, men hide themselves.
Prov 28:12, “When the righteous triumph (ALATS), there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.”
Secondly we have, “when the wicked (RASHA) perish (AVAD) there is joyful shouting (RINNAH, רִָנּה).” RINNAH means, “a ringing cry or shout,” often consisting of an emotional outburst rather than articulate speech. The majority of uses refer to shouts of joy, and it appears in the context of battle to describe the shout of victory, particularly when the Lord is the Divine Warrior Who wins victories for his people, Psa 118:15; Isa 14:7; 48:20; 51:11; cf. vs. 5.
Here it is in regard to the death of an evil man who has brought ruin to the city as the people see Divine justice prevail and rejoice in the Lord for delivering them from such evil. It gives great detail to Prov 10:28, “The hope of the righteous is gladness, but the expectation of the wicked perishes.”
Prov 29:2, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan.”
“This verse links the strength and glory of a nation or people to the character of its justice. The populace rejoices when the just prosper, because that shows that justice prevails. Their response to the conviction and eradication of the guilty is even stronger: they shout in triumph, as if over a vanquished foe. The people of any land know that if justice prevails, it will go well with them.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Proverbs-Song of Songs.)
So our double positive speaks to the outward expression of the soul of the righteous believer when they have good leaders or heads of business and when evil ones die. In other words, “ding dong the witch is dead!”
“By definition the righteous use their “good” (tôb)to promote the civic good. Ultimately their prosperity is not at humanity’s disposal but due to God’s grace (Job 2:10). When God matches their good with good, a city (qiryâ; see 10:15) celebrates the triumph of morality.” (Bruce Waltke, New International Commentary).
Waltke goes on to say, “The proverb must be held in tension with 24:17. Over a personal fallen foe one must not gloat but show love, for he is a fellow human being (cf. 25:21-22).” (Ibid)
Prov 11:11, “By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.”
This proverb links the welfare of people inhabiting a certain location to their moral values, in this case regarding sins of the tongue versus honesty and integrity in speech from having Bible Doctrine resident within their souls.
Once again we have the “reap what you sow” principle, but here it is on a collective basis. If a majority of the people are operating in righteousness, the city is exalted; if the majority is operating with sins of the tongue, the city is torn down.
This verse continues the analogy of righteousness versus wickedness in regard to business, and here we see that when the people of the city, state, or country conduct business in righteousness, the entire location is blessed, and if they do not, it is destroyed.
As you know from what Proverbs has told us, words typically reveal what is in the heart. A nation full of the presence of positive believers filled with and applying Bible Doctrine, who do not use sins of the tongues to gain advantage over their neighbors, will be blessed, whereas a nation, state, or city filled with wicked reversionistic believers who consistently use sins of the tongue to gain advantage in business leads to the location’s destruction.
And as the people go, so goes the city, state, or nation; as those who are deemed to lead the people will too be either righteous or corrupt.
So not only is this talking about business, but it has application for political leaders as well. Every official in charge of managing some portion of a city, state, or country is transacting business daily. If they conduct their business with righteousness honoring God’s Word, His divine establishment principles, and the laws of the land, then the city and people will be blessed causing them to rejoice. Yet, if the officials operate with evil and wickedness in their business transactions the city, state, nation, the people will suffer. As the people go, so goes their officials.
The first half of this verse gives us the positive scenario.
“By (BE) the blessing (BERAKAH) of the upright (YASHAR) a city (QERETH – a poetic contraction of the noun QIRYAH) is exalted (the Qal Imperfect of the Verb RUM, רוּם, to be high, to rise).”
A “city is exalted” denotes the peoples’ outward response from the joy in their souls regarding an environment where righteousness consistently prevails. It is viewed as a good, peaceful, and prosperous city; a nice place to live with freedoms. It is one that brings peace and happiness to its inhabitants and those surrounding it.
“But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.”
Here we see the negative consequences that result from a people who collectively are filled with sin, and therefore consistently function in sins of the tongue.
So goes the people, so go the leaders and officials of the people, as a city, state, or national leader who transacts business with sin and evil, and specifically with sins of the tongue, (lying, slandering, maligning, gossiping, flattering, etc.), will result in destruction to that locale and heartache to all its inhabitants.
“By (BE) the mouth (PEH) of the wicked (RASHA) it is torn down.”
“Torn down” – (HARAS, הָרַס that means, to tear down or breakthrough.) The basic meaning of HARAS involves the tearing down of structures, and the structure in context here is not a single building but the entire city, state, or nation.
Remember that Just ten righteous people would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction, Gen 18-19, for righteousness is a great barrier to Divine judgment. The greatest preserver of our society is righteousness. No politician can benefit a city, state, or nation like righteousness. All the elections of all time will do nothing like righteousness to help society. But sin destroys. Most governments are stupidly supporters of sin and oppose righteousness.” (John Bulter, Analytical Bible Expositor – Proverbs to Song of Solomon.)
Therefore, vs. 11 teaches us of the importance of a righteous “pivot” within a city, state, or nation.
Doctrine of the Pivot
The pivot is defined as the accumulation of mature believers living in a client nation or under civil government in a specific geographical location. The pivot is a remnant of mature believers who live in a specific area. They have or are advancing toward and through the three stages of spiritual adulthood, (Spiritual Self-Esteem, Spiritual Autonomy, Spiritual Maturity). As a result of the Pivot, God is able to bless the people and the location with spiritual and material blessings.
The pivot is composed primarily of mature believers, and may also include those positive believers who have momentum inside of God’s Plan for their lives who are marching toward or have already attained spiritual adulthood. Technically, the pivot includes all believers who have fulfilled the principle of virtue as their first priority in the Plan of God, which means they have built up the norms and standard of their soul with Bible Doctrine and are applying it on a consistent basis.
True Christian influence in the city, state, or national entity is spiritual, and the believer’s civil responsibility is defined under the Laws of Divine Establishment, as in Rom 13:1-10.
Christianity must never be the state, though religion always tries to be the state, (e.g., Arab countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia or Christian countries like Geneva tried to be but failed miserably). The influence of Christianity is not produced by influencing with Christian principles, but by growing in grace and establishing a pivot through evangelism and witnessing that has invisible historical impact.
We believe in and advocate the separation of Church and State for the true function of freedom and the fulfillment of human volition in the Angelic Conflict. We support the State and establishment, but we are not the establishment. The influence of the Church must be spiritual.
This does not imply that Christians should not serve in government. It does imply that believers in government service must abide by the Laws of Divine Establishment, and must never seek to force Christianity on others. People must accept Christ by their own personal consent. Christianity must not be the state.
In a client nation, there must be enough freedom for evangelism, conversion, spiritual growth, and missionary activity.
There has always been a pivot somewhere, though there has not always been a client nation. Four great pivots were formed in the eighteenth century in Holland, Britain, America, and North Germany. All these pivots had great missionary activity.
Believers in the pivot stand out in contrast to believers living in the cosmic system whose arrogance from motivational arrogance results in self-righteous, crusader arrogance, and or self-indulgent gratification arrogance. These believers are apostate, recognized by their tired and worn out rhetoric, their self-righteousness, their crusader arrogance, their distortion of doctrine and disorientation to reality, and they are potential revolutionists. A certain number of believers are even mentally ill from arrogance. Rather than trusting in God and His Word, these types are revealed by their social actions and civil disobedience that they advocate and practice. A shrinking of the pivot is recognized when there is this type of activity and less personal witnessing, evangelizing, and missionary work.
The Pivot Principle.
In essence, a small pivot means a declining gentile client nation. An enlarged pivot means a wonderful, prosperous, and blessed client nation.
The spin-off of the Pivot is made up of believers who have entered reversionism and are living in Satan’s cosmic system. They have negative volition toward Bible doctrine either on the intake or the application of God’s Word, and their resultant reversionism produces the spin-off.
When the pivot is too small in any generation, there are great disasters; some are economic, some military, some policy. When the spin-off of cosmic involvement becomes too great, that generation is destroyed, as noted in our study of Prov 11:11b.
This “destruction or tearing down” (HARAS of Prov 11:11b), means Divine judgment is brought against the location as noted in Lev 26:14-38 in regard to the then client nation Israel. If there is no response to the first four cycles of discipline to a city, state, or nation, God eventually removes that client nation from history through the fifth cycle of discipline, vs. 27-38
Hosea 4:1-14 gives us an example of a nation in decline and why a client nation is destroyed. Rev 17:1-8 teaches this under the principle of: evil one destroying evil two.
When divine judgment falls on a nation, the pivot is secure. The pivot is always preserved, even though it also shares in the difficulties of the disaster. However, unbelievers and reversionists are wiped out. While the pivot is secure, the spin-off is always destroyed by historical catastrophe. This is how God administers the Sin Unto Death to reversionists; historical disaster separates the pivot from the spin-off.
If the pivot is too small and the spin-off is too large, then the nation is destroyed. But if the nation is destroyed, the pivot is preserved through the disaster, Isa 28:5 6. By destroying the great spin-off of reversionists, the Lord protects future generations of history from evil, reversionism, apostasy, and tyranny. The spin-off is destroyed so that the nation will have breathing room for future generations.
Historical crisis and disaster is the means of cleansing a nation from the spin-off of evil. A great spin-off will destroy a nation unless God intervenes with historical disaster to eliminate that cancer. Either the spin-off must go or the nation must go. The Divine destruction of the spin-off is therefore comparable to a national rebound. With the infection of reversionism destroyed, the nation takes on new life and continues.
If the pivot is large enough, not only is the client nation delivered from historical disaster, but a large pivot of mature believers means great blessing by association to the client nation and to all nations around it. If large enough, the pivot is the means of delivering a nation under discipline, either from or through the historical disaster. The example is Judah in 701 B.C. during the Sennacherib invasion. The consistent ministry of Isaiah turned the tide in Judah. Therefore, when all the establishment means of deliverance fail, response to Bible teaching is the last hope.
Prov 29:8 tells us, “Scorners set a city aflame, but wise men turn away anger.”
And remember, “It’s not them, it’s US!”
History of the Pivots.
The Dispensation of Israel.
The first client nation to God was Israel. The dispensation of Israel was built around four different client nations. Between B.C. 1440 and A.D. 70, God called out a new racial species in order to form the first in a series of Jewish client nations. Blessing was related to those nations. Many Old Testament books reveal Israel’s impact on history. The four different nations were:
- The United Kingdom.
- The Northern Kingdom.
- The Southern Kingdom.
Due to apostasy by the people, the administration of the fifth cycle of discipline came upon each of the four client nations as follows.
- The United Kingdom split due to the arrogance of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. B.C.931.
- Assyria administered the fifth cycle of discipline to the Northern Kingdom in B.C. 721.
- The Chaldeans administered the fifth cycle of discipline to the Southern Kingdom in B.C. 586.
- The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and took over Palestine in 70 A.D. that was the end of all Jewish client nations, and the beginning of the times of the gentiles.
The Times of the Gentiles.
During these times of the Gentiles (the Church Age), no Jewish nation can be a client nation to God, not until the Second Advent of Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of the four unconditional covenants to Israel. Although in Rev 7:3-8, during the tribulation there will be 144,000 Jewish evangelists for world evangelism, this does not constitute client nation status, as they will most likely come from many nations around the world.
The first Gentile client nation to God was S.P.Q.R., i.e., the Senate and the People of Rome, which we call the Roman Empire. This was the first and in many ways, the greatest Gentile client nation to God. When the Roman Empire reached its peak with a large pivot, there was the Golden Age of the Antoine Caesars, 96 – 192 A.D. The historian Gibbon called this period the “golden age of humanity.” The period of the Antoine Caesars was a time of dictatorship, and yet a time of the most fantastic blessing. This proves that the issue is not the type of government, but the pivot of believers.
In fact, Paul’s prayer of Eph 1:15ff anticipated that Rome would become the first Gentile client nation with a pivot. As he traveled, he was always looking for a pivot. Finally, he found it in the Roman province of Asia, with Ephesus as its capital, called the “holy city” for the next few centuries. Rev 2 – 3 mentions seven of those churches in Asia. This motivated his prayer in Eph 1:15ff. This first pivot, headquartered in Ephesus, can be called the Aegean pivot as it spread to Greece, Cyprus, Crete, Northern Africa, and Rome. Never-the-less, Paul’s prayer is effectual for the pivot as it spreads around the globe throughout the Church Age.
Other great Gentile client nations of the past include the Goths; the Franks; the Swiss under Calvin and Zwingli; Scotland under Patrick; Sweden under Gustavus Adolphus; parts of Germany under Luther, France under the Huguenots, Great Britain, Brandenberg, Prussia under Frederick the Great.
As noted above, there has always been a pivot somewhere, though there has not always been a client nation. Four great pivots were formed in the Eighteenth Century in Holland, Britain, America, and North Germany. All these pivots had great missionary activity.
The United States of America, a Client Nation.
Before it became a nation, the United States of America was already under client nation status as a part of the Anglo-Saxon pivot. As a colony, the United States was already in client nation status.
On 4 July 1776, a document was written: The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.
“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to separation.”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that to secure these rights, governments are institutions among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .”
“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce us to absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such a government and to provide new guards for their future security . . .”
“We therefore acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind: enemies in war, and in peace, friends.”
“We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in general congress assembled, appealing to the supreme judge of the world for rectitude of our intention, do, in the name of and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved of all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved, and that as free and independent states they have the full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may have a right to do.”
“And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
From that day on, we have been a nation; but before 1776, we were already under client nation status with a 200-year old Anglo-Saxon pivot.
But today the Anglo-Saxon pivot seems to be running out of gas! It may be dying here, and is practically non-existent in England.
In the Twenty-First Century, if the rapture does not occur, the pivot may move to the Pacific Basin. The Pacific was already great at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. It saw one of the greatest revivals ever in Korea in 1905 under Presbyterian missionaries. Today we see many signs that point to the Pacific Basin as the next pivot center, as China is buying up all our debt and soon may be the leader of every economic factor in the world. They may take us over without firing one shot, as the enemy within our nation destroys it. Just as the Barbarians invaded the Roman Empire in its decline and were often evangelized, with many becoming strong believers; so today we see the invasion of the peoples of the east, as it were, coming to the United States, literally and spiritually, with many being evangelized, as China today has an enormous underground Christian society.
As goes the believer, so goes the client nation. A large pivot means blessing for the United States; a small pivot means discipline and eventual destruction. We are at the crossroads now, at that point where the survival of this client nation depends on your attitude toward Bible doctrine.
There are no tragedies in history, people and nations are the products of their own decisions, good or bad. A good decision as defined by the scripture is: Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and Post-salvation renewing of your mind, Rom 12:1-2, i.e., perception, metabolization, and application of the mystery doctrine for the Church Age.
Pivot versus Power Politics.
Problems of life demand solution. These problems are both individual and collective. The satanic system for problem solving on earth is to use human power motivated by arrogance and self-righteousness. When man feels inept to solve his own personal problems, many times he compensates for it by trying to solve collective problems in his society, nation, or even the world, as the Muslim’s are trying to do today.
When using human power to solve collective problems, it is called “Power Politics”, which is man trying to solve all the problems of life with human systems, power, resources, and assets, rather than trusting in God and making decisions from the strength of Bible Doctrine in the soul.
On the other hand, the mature believer recognizes that he cannot solve his own problems nor is he motivated by his self-righteous arrogance to think he can solve the problems of his society, nation, or the world by his own human power and resources. Instead the mature believer recognizes the power of God and His Word to solve his own and collective problems. This type of believer utilizes “Pivot Politics” as the solution to collective problems.
Therefore, there are two approaches to problem solving on a national scale: Power and Pivot Politics.
Power Politics is the human and satanic solution to problems. Power Politics is the concept of social action practiced by the national council of churches, the world council of churches, communist socialism, and Islam. Power Politics uses peace and love propaganda to achieve its goals and if that does not work, they resort to violence, tyranny, terror, and revolution to achieve their ends when people resist their propaganda. Their form of “self-determination” operates on emotion rather than thinking from Bible Doctrine in their soul, and in fact causes them to stop thinking because “big brother” will take care of all their needs.
Conversely, Pivot Politics is the Divine solution to the problems of life. Pivot Politics includes regeneration, advance in the Plan of God through perception and application of Bible doctrine, attaining maturity, and becoming part of the pivot which preserves a locale (city, state, or nation). Pivot Politics adheres to principles of freedom and advocates the function of the Laws of Divine Establishment in the national entity.
Unfortunately, many believers become distracted from the Plan of God by power politics. They become involved in communist socialism, the welfare state, and other satanic plans for the establishment of a pseudo millennium.
Historical crisis clarifies the difference between Power Politics and Pivot Politics. Crisis means there is no apparent solution, and when a crisis occurs it finds antithetical means for finding solutions from Power Politics and Pivot Politics.
In Power Politics, the crisis is exacerbated by so called human solutions because the decision makers are unable to cope with the situation, and therefore the crisis is intensified by irrationality, confusion, and violence. Whereas, Pivot Politics prepares the mature believer for the crisis through perception of Bible doctrine, so that the Faith Rest Drill functions in claiming promises, reversing concentration away from the problem and onto God and His Word in the soul, and coming to doctrinal conclusions.
For example, in Acts 12 when Peter was arrested and later to be executed, his fellow believers prayed on his behalf, trusting in the Lord. As a result, Peter was delivered from the prison, Acts 12:1-19. Compare also Paul and Silas in Acts 16:22-34.
Power Politics represents collective human viewpoint. Its approach to crisis includes alliance and compromise with evil, the welfare state, communism, and terror, yet Pivot Politics represents personal solution to disaster through personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
In Power Politics, the end (e.g., Communist or Islamic conquest) justifies the means (terrorism, revolution, violence), but in Pivot Politics, the means (Bible doctrine) justifies the end (Spiritual Maturity).
That is why the Lord told Peter to put away his sword in Mat 26:51-53, “And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. 53Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
Power Politics emphasizes action, e.g., violence, tyranny, arrogance, evil, self-righteousness, revolution, and change; while Pivot Politics emphasizes thought, reverse concentration, and grace. Grace glorifies God; change glorifies man. We need unchanging Bible doctrine for the changing world.
There is a continuous battle between Power and Pivot Politics. There is a difference in their mode of operation.
By emphasizing change, Power Politics destroys establishment authority and the proper use of freedom. Change upsets establishment and destroys freedom in the name of the common good. Therefore, Power Politics, in the name of human good, destroys the essential characteristic of the Angelic Conflict: Freedom. The change of Power Politics destroys human freedom by attacking establishment authority, personal privacy, property, and free enterprise. God’s Word demands that the believer reject Power Politics. For example, he must never approve of assassination or revolution.
The solution in Pivot Politics is perception of Bible doctrine, remembering the fact that Jesus Christ controls history, and advancing to spiritual maturity. God uses prepared people in crisis situations, who know how to apply His Word for Divine solutions by utilizing reverse concentration, under the second stage of the Faith-Rest Drill. In fact, the form of government does not matter. What matters is the practice of establishment principles which sponsor human freedom, be it in a monarchy, oligarchy, or democracy. Pivot Politics offers solutions to crisis without tampering with human freedom.
And as you know from our study of Prov 11:11, a pivot of mature believers breaks no laws, sponsors no violence, confiscates no one’s property, does not intrude on privacy, but turns the world upside down through the invisible force of Bible doctrine and the function of the Royal Family Honor Code; the larger the pivot, the greater the blessing, prosperity, and effectiveness of the client nation.
Power Politics tries to change the leopard’s spots, while Pivot Politics only tries to change his direction. Power Politics exchanges establishment evil for non-establishment evil. Therefore, tyranny prevails, e.g., the French and Russian revolutions.
Power Politics is the believer on a crusade, full of scar tissue of the soul, with locked in arrogance, filled with self-righteousness, parlaying human good into evil, and distorting law through the advocacy of terrorism or revolution. Power Politics means disruption of normal life in the name of human good and self-righteousness; it is the use of arrogance and self-sacrifice to destroy freedom. With Power Politics, responsible government is changed to irresponsible tyranny, as it uses human good to produce evil. On the other hand, Pivot Politics uses Bible doctrine to produce Divine good.
Each believer must choose for involvement in the Plan of God, or trying to improve Satan’s world through human power, resources, assets, and systems.
Power Politics uses human good to produce evil.
Eph 4:17-19, “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles (unbelievers) also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”
Pivot Politics uses Bible doctrine to produce Divine good.
Rom 8:35, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” 37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The book of Proverbs gives us insights on areas where we need to have self-control, insights on the blessings of discipline, and the problems that come from our neglect. This section, vs. 9-14, is one that reminds us to have insight and hold our tongue when necessary.
Prov 11:12, “He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent.”
Following the context of vs. 10-11, vs. 12-13 teach self-restraint in speech directed towards your neighbors and the destructive effects on the community of sins of the tongue.
“Despises” is the Qal Active Participle Verb BUZ, בּוּז that means, “to despise, hold in contempt, hold as insignificant.” This verb was used in Prov 1:7 for “fools who despise wisdom and understanding,” and likewise here the fool is one who “lacks sense,” CHASER LEB, (i.e., lacking in heart = no Bible Doctrine in the soul). This fool also despises his “neighbor” (REA), as demonstrated by running his mouth when he should keep it shut.
Prov 14:21, “He who despises his neighbor sins, but happy is he who is gracious to the poor.”
The foolish and arrogant individual thinks so little of those he conducts business with, or those living in his geographic area, that he feels he can take advantage of them and steal from them any time he wants. As such, he will gossip, malign, slander, or lie to them or about them, in order to cheat and steal from them as the opportunity arises. He has no integrity whatsoever.
The contempt of those who lack heart, (Bible Doctrine in their soul) is rooted in their arrogance, Psa 31:18; 123:4.
Psa 31:18 “Let the lying lips be mute, which speak arrogantly against the righteous with pride and contempt.”
This arrogant and doctrinally deficient believer does not look upon his neighbors as equally created by the Creator, cf. Acts 17:26; Mal 2:10, which leads him to feel he is just in taking malicious advantage of them.
Mal 2:10, “Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?”
“But a man of understanding keeps silent.”
The “man”, ISH, who has “understanding”, TEBUNAH, has God’s Word resident within his soul and recognizes that his neighbors are created as equals by the Creator, and therefore will not look for ways to take advantage of them or steal from them, and do not use their words to hatch schemes of treachery against them.
Instead they “keep silent”, the active use of the Hiphil Imperfect for ongoing action of the Verb CHARASH, חָרַשׁ, that here means, “to be silent, dumb, or speechless”, with the connotation of concealing information they may be aware of, as we will see in the next verse.
So here it means the righteous believer will not gossip, malign, slander, or lie about others to gain an advantage in a business transaction with information they may have about others, nor will they fabricate information about others whether it be civil or political business they are transacting.
Therefore, a primary mark of wisdom, according to Proverbs, is knowing when to be silent, cf. Prov 17:27f; 26:4f. And the man of wisdom has the discretion not to blurt out his thoughts and feelings, cf. Prov 12:23; 13:3; 17:14, 27, which at times is very difficult to do.
Likewise, the wise man holds himself in check because he loves his neighbor and does not harbor hatred in his heart against them, Prov 10:12, 18. Moreover, the wise believer waits for the right time and place to speak, cf. Prov 12:23; 15:2, 28; Isa. 41:1, as the Lord does, cf. Isa 42:14; Hab 1:13; 2:2-3.
In addition, the wise man does not respond in kind to the evil perpetrated against him, cf. Prov 26:4; Gal 6:1.
Prov 26:4, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him.”
Therefore, if you are slandered, do not get revenge by slandering others. Answering bitter speech and unkindness with contempt or anger, however well deserved, only fuels the flame. A troublemaker should always be met by one who is following the example of Christ as noted in 1 Peter 2:23, “While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
The course of wisdom and blessing is to go on quietly committing all to God. Prov 20:22, “Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the LORD, and He will save you.”
Silence is an external mark of wisdom, but it grows out of a self-disciplined inner life which rejects the simplistic approach which condemns others’ thoughts, opinions, and persons out of hand, without weighing their value. Holding people in contempt reduces them from objects of potential compassion to those of scorn. Therefore, an intelligent man, (one who is filled with Bible Doctrine in the right lobe of his soul), contrary to the foolish man (who is without Bible Doctrine in his soul), keeps silent, keeps his judgment to himself, abstains from arrogant criticisms, because he knows that he is not infallible, and does not truly know what is in the heart of others. He possesses too much self-knowledge to raise himself above his neighbor as a judge. He understands that contemptuous rejection and unfriendly reckless condemnation does no good, but actually affects evil all around him in the community.
Prov 11:13, “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.”
“He who goes about” is the verb HALAK, “go, walk, act, etc.” and denotes a person undertaking something and acting according to certain criteria; the criteria of this person is found in the next word.
“Talebearer” is the Noun RAKIYL, רָכִיל meaning, “slanderer or informer.”
Slander means, “The utterance of defamatory statements injurious to the reputation or well-being of a person, a malicious statement or report, or to utter damaging reports about someone”, (American Heritage Dictionary). The slanderer then is one who utters or spreads slander.
Slandering, gossiping, and talebearing are essentially the same wicked activity, but faithful, trustworthy, and honorable people do not do these things and reveal publicly the secrets and private affairs of others.
Prov 20:19, “He who goes about as a talebearer (slanderer) reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip.”
The Law was quite clear about this type of sin and forbids gossip and talebearing, Lev 19:16-18, as does the New Testament, Eph 4:31; Col 3:8-9; 1 Peter 2:1.
Eph 4:31, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
Jeremiah and Ezekiel portray slanderers as hardened liars and deceivers bent on destroying their victims, Jer 6:28; 9:3; Ezek 22:9.
The slanderer “reveals secrets”, GALATH, גָּלָה, SOD, סוֹד.
GALATH is in the intensive active Piel stem that means, “to reveal, to be revealed, to uncover, to remove, to go into exile, to reveal oneself, to expose, to disclose, or lay bare.”
The basic idea of the noun SOD is private, intimate communication, and is sometimes used for sexual relationships. It can refer to the content or product of the communication in the group, that is, secret plans, private advice, or intimate thoughts and feelings. So it refers to “the conversation” that takes place among friends and especially their secret “plans,” which are also necessary to assure victory in war, cf. Psa 83:3.
Therefore, the wicked believer is one who goes around telling everyone other people’s business. We call this a busybody or gossip queen.
Even in a court, a secret must not be divulged to win a case Prov 25:9, “Argue your case with your neighbor, and do not reveal the secret of another.”
The malicious slanderer however, out of his disloyalty, divulges a confidence, assists the enemy, sows dissension, and disrupts and destroys the community, including his closest friends, cf. Prov 16:28; 17:9.
These are the least trustworthy kind of people and the funny thing is, is that people flock to them first because they want to hear the juicy gossip of other people, and then out of stupidity, tell them their life’s story too, thinking that they will not share it with others. If someone is telling you about another person’s business, what makes you think they are not going to tell others your business???? So you see how sin and arrogance blinds us from reality!
Finally, it is foolish to trust or confide in people who reveal other people’s secrets, because eventually they will reveal yours as well, since that is their pattern of life as a gossip. Just as Prov 20:19 is next to a proverb that deals with the importance of obtaining advice when working toward a decision, vs. 18, so is Prov 11:13 tied to vs. 14, but here warns that it is dangerous to seek personal advice or counsel from someone who is likely to reveal the situation to others, i.e., “loose lips sink ships”, as we will note below.
“But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.”
The righteous believer is one who is “trustworthy”, a compound word made up from the passive Niphal Verb AMAN, אָמַן, used Adjectively for, “faithful or reliable” and the Noun RUACH, רוּחַ, meaning, “spirit, breath, or wind”, many times used for the Holy Spirit. But here it means, “faithful spirit”, that signifies this is his moral state, his mode of operation: he is a faithful, reliable, and trustworthy person.
This faithful person “conceals” KASAH, כָּסָה meaning, “to cover, hide, or conceal” a “matter” DABAR, “a word, thing, or matter.”
KASAH was used a number of times in Proverbs regarding the wicked who cover up what is truly in their heart, but also for the righteous who “covers” the sins of others out of Impersonal and Unconditional Love as in Prov 10:12. This form of Impersonal and Unconditional love is used when you find out or know something about someone else that is damaging to them or could be used to cause damage to them, but you do not use it.
Likewise, it includes false information that one creates or passes along, that you do not repeat to others. The righteous believer will not take such information and share it with others, instead he keeps it to himself. As the saying goes, “if you cannot say something good about someone, do not say anything at all.” That is the principle where the righteous believer out of the integrity within his soul, built by the norms and standards of Bible Doctrine he has stored in the right lobe of his soul, leads him to keep things and matters to himself, rather than sharing them with others slanderously as the wicked gossiping believer does.
It also designates a person who remains loyally attached to another and can be relied upon. When you keep things to yourself, it will be noticed by others, and they will look upon you as a trustworthy and faithful person and friend. As a result, you have many more opportunities to talk with others who will share their intimate thoughts and feeling with you, knowing that it is a safe environment to do so, giving you greater opportunity to share the gospel and Word of God with them in application to their situation(s). When you do, you too will be like the Lord, a “mighty counselor.”
Therefore, the wicked are not only malevolent with their words, but they also are indiscreet and cannot be trusted. The wise not only refrain from lies and slander, but they also know how to keep a matter private. Gossiping about someone, even if the gossip is true, is very harmful. If there is a fault, one should lovingly admonish in private, and then conceal it from everyone else. This is in accordance with the mind of Christ.
There is an interesting parallel to this in Ex 37:17-24. There we have the instructions for making the Golden Candlestick or Lampstand and its accessories used in the Tabernacle.
The first point is that a lamp will not burn well for very long without occasional snuffing. Yet, God made provision even for this seemingly insignificant matter. It might not seem important how a light was snuffed and what was done with the black snuff afterwards, but in God’s eyes nothing is trivial that concerns the glory of His Son or the welfare of His people. Therefore, snuffers were to be made of pure gold, which symbolizes Deity, Divine glory and perfect righteousness. In addition, Moses was instructed to make golden tongs to perform the delicate task of trimming the charred end of the candlestick, which task was entrusted to the priests. So when the wicks had been snuffed out and trimmed, they were prepared for future long and bright burning.
So what does this have to do with Prov 11:12-13, well you see that every believer is a believer priest. And it is our task to handle our tongues with the same care and attention that the priests of the Tabernacle did regarding the Golden Lampstand. The snuffing of our tongue means that we hold it fast when it is about to shed the darkness of evil on others. The trimming of our tongue then follows as we learn the principles and precepts of God’s Word, so that we discard words or speech that are charred and evil and leave only that which is clean and bright. By so doing, we burn brightly the righteousness of God and shine His light onto a dark and lost world.
But you know the analogy does not stop there. In addition, the Lord instructed Moses to make snuff-dishes, which were also made of pure gold. These dishes were used to carry away the dirty snuff from the wicks that had been snuffed and trimmed. These pans were very important, because they concealed the discarded dirty remains of the wicks, thereby not allowing any of their filth to touch or get on the spotless priestly garments of the other priests, thereby keeping them completely clean. Otherwise it would have defiled them all. So the dirty snuff was hidden away in the presence of God!
Is not this where we often fail? It may often happen that some fellow believer is losing his brightness and no longer shining for God as he once did, Gal 6:1-2, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
If we do some snuffing to our own tongues by not gossiping, maligning, slandering, or even lying, in this way the “snuffing out” of evil is accomplished God’s way, and instead of destroying a brother in Christ by touching others with the filth of gossip and slander, you instead conceal his sins, giving him the opportunity to restore his light which will burn all the brighter.
So the question is, should the evil be spread abroad through slandering and made a matter of common knowledge? No! The evil should be concealed in your own personal snuffing dish so as not to defile those around you and politely discard it.
How much grief and sorrow could have been prevented in many churches, neighborhoods, cities, states, and nations, if the golden snuff-dishes had been used to carry away the evil. So much strife and discord are brought about through sins of the tongue. And it is remarkable how ready we are to listen to that which we know can only defile ourselves and others.
Prov 25:23, “The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, an angry countenance.”
In the New Testament, the Divine way of dealing with a brother’s fault is clearly defined in Mat 18:15, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”
By obeying God’s Word in this way, innocent people might be spared much shame and misery. And many wandering ones might be recovered who otherwise would be driven deeper into sin. God, too, will be glorified, and the Lord Jesus honored; for He has said, in John 13:14, 17, “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 17If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
Prov 11:14, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
“Guidance” is the Feminine Plural Noun of TACHBULAH which is TACHBULOTH, תַּחְבֻּלוֹת meaning, “steering or guidance.” It is derived from the Verb CHABAL, חָבַל that means, “to bind or pledge.”
Some have suggested that it originated from a term connected to pulling ropes in order to steer a ship, (i.e. a helmsman), and thus choosing the right information at the right time from an abundance of information you have received, and applying it to life’s situations. This is similar to the idea found in the “Faith Rest Drill,” where you are claiming promises of God as individual strands that you then bind together into a thick rope, as you make Doctrinal conclusions to the details of life. But here the negative AYIN is employed, so this is what is “not” happening.
Since the object of the sentence here is “the people” AM, we understand, that “no guidance” is speaking about the leader(s) of the people, in civilian, political and/or religious realms. Therefore, a boss or ruler without wise counsel to guide his decisions is like a ship at sea without anyone at the helm.
TECHBULAH occurs six times in the Old Testament. In Job 37:12, it is used to describe the way God directs the thunderclouds, and all the other uses are in Proverbs, which are figurative designations of “wise counsel.” So it refers to wise counsel or advice that a wise person seeks out, Prov 1:5; without which a person is at a loss to know what to do, as is the case here. However, in Prov 1:5, it meant rules of self-government; whereas, here it means rules for the government of the people.
In addition, the wicked may give deceitful advice or counsel, Prov 12:5, but a person is always benefited by seeking counsel from the wise. Such “guidance” is particularly important in the affairs of a nation, especially in planning a military campaign, Prov 20:18; 24:6.
Prov 20:18, “Prepare plans by consultation (ESTAH), and make war by wise guidance (TACHBULAH).”
Prov 24:6, “For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
But here that kind of guidance is non-existent, because there is a lack of Bible Doctrine being applied by the leaders.
“Fall” is the Qal Imperfect Verb NAPHAL, נָפַל meaning, “to fall, to lie, to prostrate oneself, to overthrow.” It has many uses like our English word does, but here it talks about the discipline of the Lord on apostate people and nations including the collapse of a business or the Five Cycles of Discipline a nation may suffer, Lev 26.
Interestingly, when you combine TACHBULOTH and NAPHAL it has the connotation of the people being placed under bondage by their leaders and forced to worship them, which is the result for a reversionistic nation.
Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh at around the time of our nation’s birth outlined Eight Steps as to How Nations Rise and Fall. In his work of studying various democracies throughout history, he discovered a specific pattern they all followed. He describes the pattern from its beginning point to its conclusion. Noting they go….
- From bondage to spiritual faith.
- From spiritual faith to great courage.
- From courage to liberty.
- From liberty to abundance.
- From abundance to complacency.
- From complacency to apathy.
- From apathy to dependence.
- From dependence back into bondage.
Our forefathers went through stages 1-3, in founding our great nation. Unfortunately, today we are in a very different place. After the Presidential election of 2000, Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, said he believes the United States is now somewhere between the “complacency and apathy” phase, which is phase 6 of Professor Tyler’s definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation’s population already having reached the “governmental dependency” phase. And today we are even closer to the “dependency” stage which means “bondage” is soon to follow.
Helmut Thielicke, a German theologian and pastor speaking to his congregation in 1945 with regards to the meaning of all that happened to Germany said that his nation had gotten what it deserved since it had “repudiated forgiveness and kicked down the Cross of the Lord”…he said that the heart of the matter was this: “Denying God and casting down the Cross is never a merely private decision that concerns only my own inner life and my personal salvation, but this denial immediately brings the most brutal consequences for the whole of historical life and especially for our own people. ‘God is not mocked.’ The history of the world can tell us terrible tales based on that text.” Finally, he reminded his congregation, that “the worship of success is generally the form of idol worship the devil cultivates most assiduously…We could observe in the first years after 1933 the almost suggestive compulsion that emanates from great successes and how under the influence of these successes even Christians stopped asking in whose name and what price they were achieved…Success is the greatest narcotic of all.”
“But in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
“Abundance” is the Noun ROB, רֹב (rov) that means, “number, multitude, or abundance,” and here is speaking about the wisdom of consulting with a larger number of “counselors” before making any decision.
“Counselors” is the Qal Active Participle Verb, YA’ATS, יָעַץ and means, “to advise or plan.” In the Qal Participle, it is often used substantively to refer to a “counselor” as it is here, and so is speaking about “advisors, planners, and counselors.”
The context is in contrast to “no guidance” from leaders, because they do not have Bible doctrine in their souls. So an “abundance of counselors” is speaking of having many men and woman who have Bible Doctrine in their souls who make wise decisions from a position of strength.
It is also a reminder that humility is a sign of wisdom and that the wise; therefore, seek advice from as wide a circle as is practical, including those who may not agree with them, or who are “inferior” to them, cf. Ecc 9:13ff.
Eccl 9:7, “The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.”
Each person has a different perspective, so the truth and therefore the best course of action, often lies between many different suggestions, cf. Prov 15:22; 20:18; 24:5f. As we would say, “two heads are better than one.”
Prov 15:22, “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.”
This also tells us that leadership is a good and necessary thing, whether it is for business or a civil government, as opposed to anarchy or dictatorships. In general, it is found to be true that it is better for people when they are governed according to the laws and conclusions, which have resulted from the careful deliberation of many competent and authorized men, than when their fate is entrusted unconditionally to one, or to a few, or to themselves.
In addition, an “abundance of counselors” may allude to the books of Bible themselves as the “abundant counselors,” because our Lord is called first and foremost the “Wonderful Counselor” in Isaiah’s list of four titles for our Lord in Isa 9:6, where “counselor” is the word YA’ATS, and we receive His counsel when we receive His Word.
Isa 9:6, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
Therefore, when the leaders of a business or society have an abundance of Bible Doctrine in their souls, their subordinates are blessed by God.
This blessing is identified here with the word “victory”, the Noun TESHUAH, תְּשׁוּעָה meaning, “deliverance or salvation.” TESHUAH comes from the root word YASA meaning, “to save, deliver, or help.” It implies bringing help to those in trouble rather than rescuing them from it.
Throughout Scripture TESHUAH is the result of God’s activity on behalf of His people in many different settings, and it refers to deliverance in a general sense as well. Here it speaks of a deliverance that comes from counsel, indicating a deliverance from foolish actions and works, as well as their consequences based on leadership having Bible Doctrine in their soul, which is applied to the decisions they are responsible for making.
This deliverance provided through wise counselors is applicable in business, government, and nearly all other spheres of life.
Any victory, deliverance, or salvation a client nation has is the result of God’s blessings on the people because there is a Pivot, cf. Prov 21:31; 28:18. And because there is a Pivot, a client nation to God is blessed so that through it God’s will, work, and plan is done. For example:
A Client Nation is Responsible to do Five Things.
- It must evangelize its own population at home.
- It must communicate Bible doctrine to the believers in the nation.
- It is responsible for the custodianship of Bible doctrine.
- It provides a haven for the Jews.
- It is responsible to send out missionaries to evangelize other nations.
To depend entirely on your own judgment is the height of folly. Even the wisest and godliest are often given to blunders and errors of discernment, because no one is infallible. To weigh a matter in the presence of God and to invite the spiritual counsel of those who are able to discern differences is the way of wisdom. Remember that Rehoboam lost the major part of his kingdom by neglecting this important truth; and many have suffered terrible losses for the same disregard and contempt of counsel and help. Therefore, a multitude of counselors provides objectivity, experience, and a sounding board in order to make good decisions, and they provide encouragement for the leader especially in difficult times.
Principles of Leadership
In context we are talking about having good leadership in business or governmental affairs because of the application of Bible doctrine in the soul. This reminds us of the “Leadership Principles” we find in the book of Nehemiah. There Nehemiah was charged with the rebuilding of Jerusalem, where under the authority of King Artaxerxes I, King of Persia (464-423 B.C.) in the month of Chislev = (Nov. – Dec.) of the year 445 B.C., he returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, beginning with its broken-down gates and walls. In his endeavors to rebuild the city we find several leadership principles.
Leadership Principles in Nehemiah
- Leaders Have a Sense of Mission, Nehemiah 1:3-11.
- Leaders Leverage Their Power and Resources, Nehemiah 2:5-10.
- Leaders Conduct Research, Nehemiah 2:11-16.
- Leaders don’t take on the problem alone, they build unity of mission with those around them, Nehemiah 2:17-18.
- Leaders Adapt to Adversity, Nehemiah 2:9, 19-20; 4:1-3,7-9; 6:1-19; 7:1-4.
- Leaders Resist Underhanded Politics, Nehemiah 6:5-9.
- Leaders Serve People, Nehemiah 7:1-2,5; 5:18; 11:1-2.
- Leaders Celebrate Often, Nehemiah 8:1-12; 9:1-3; 12:27-47: 13:1-4.
A fact of interests regarding leadership or authority is that the Bible more often commands from the perspective of the bottom looking up, thereby instructing us to have Authority Orientation as one of the Problem Solving Devices. There are more commands for the subordinate to respect the authority above them than there are commands for the one in authority regarding their subordinates, cf. Rom 13:1-14; Eph 5:22-33; 6:1-8; Col 3:18-25; 1 Tim 5:1-25; 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10; 1 Peter 2:13-21; 3:1-7.
As for Leadership the Bible does give clear instruction and several examples for us to follow, Eph 6:9; Col 4:1. Nehemiah is one of those examples that we will note in some detail. But first there are some general principles regarding leadership to note, including:
The existence of any organized group demands the existence of leadership. Likewise, the existence of authority demands the function of leadership, and the possession of authority carries the responsibility of leadership.
Many categories of life depend on and demand leadership capability rather than mere managerial function. The principle of authority demands more than management; it demands the existence of leadership for the proper function of that authority.
- Categories of life that demand leadership include: marriage, the family, government, the military, professional organizations, business organizations, academic institutions, athletic organizations, and Christian organizations.
- Authority in the family demands parental leadership. Authority in marriage demands the leadership of the husband. Authority in the military, business, government, the church, and other organizations demands the exercise of leadership by those put in charge.
Historical events produce a need, and only leadership can meet that need. Circumstances produce a market and leadership supplies that market. Life is a marketplace for leadership, and crisis sets the stage for leadership.
Leadership is the authority, ability, and capacity to direct, guide, lead, motivate, and control in any organization where legitimate authority exists. The purpose of leadership is to enforce, execute, and motivate policy, purpose, and the objectives of any legitimate organization.
Leadership is the responsibility of authority. However, being in a position of authority does not mean or imply that the person has leadership skills.
Every believer has leadership responsibility because every believer is a Royal Priest and a Royal Ambassador and has the authority and responsibility to worship God and disseminate His Word to a lost and dying world. Therefore, every believer must learn leadership skills in order to effectually execute God’s Plan.
Leaders Have a Sense of Mission, Neh 1:3-11.
Before he began his journey, a marketplace and crisis (a need) was presented to him. Almost by definition, leaders have some end to which they are headed. It is this sense of mission that helps guide their decisions and determine their strategy.
With Nehemiah’s sense of mission, he applied the Faith Rest Drill, and before he launched into action, he separated himself from the pull of the sin nature and cosmic system, through rebound and recovery in vs. 6.
- He recalled the Word of God (claiming promises) and applied faith rest to the situation, 8-9.
- He formed a doctrinal rationale in 10.
- He petitioned the Father in prayer for guidance and protection and trusted in Him, 11.
Nehemiah’s mission grew out of his knowledge of the Law and his awareness that the destruction of Jerusalem had come about through God’s judgment of his people’s sins, vs.5-8. At the same time, he knew that God was willing to forgive their sins and restore them to the land, vs. 9.
Therefore, Nehemiah was determined to rebuild Jerusalem in accordance with the Lord’s promises, and he began to devise a strategy toward that end, vs. 10-11. It is important to note that Nehemiah did not dream up a sense of mission out of his own agenda or self-interest. He responded to the news of Jerusalem’s plight with tears, prayer, fasting, humility, (Body, Soul, and Spirit) and sought the Lord’s will, vs. 4.
Deut 6:5; Mark 12:30, “AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.”
As he prepared to go before the king, he probably did not know exactly what he should say or do, only that he needed to go to Jerusalem. Nor could he have known all that he would encounter once he arrived at the ruined city. Nevertheless, convinced that God wanted the Holy City to be revived, Nehemiah stepped forward as a leader, and his leadership proved strategic.
For those of us who find ourselves having the awesome privilege and responsibility of being called into positions of leadership, we need to be sure that we have “identified the overarching mission” to which we are committed, and know that it is something God wants us to accomplish.
Leaders Leverage Their Power and Resources, Neh 2:5-10.
Management has been defined as the ability to get things done through other people. However, that can happen only if the people involved are in a position to get things done. Therefore, as leaders we must use their influence to get people of means to participate with them in their efforts. God has placed you where you are for a reason, so understanding that is part of having a Personal Sense of Destiny.
Phil 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Nehemiah followed this principle in his plan to rebuild Jerusalem. He was in a key position of influence as the cupbearer to the king, Neh 1:11. He had the king’s ear, and he leveraged his proximity to power for the advantage of his people.
Principles of Leveraging Power and Resources:
- Leaders give succinct answers with forethought, vs. 6.
- Leaders are not ashamed to be under the leadership of others. Applying humility is an important part of being a leader. Arrogance is a hindrance not help to leadership.
Rom 12:3-5, “Stop thinking of self in terms of arrogance beyond what you ought to think, but think in terms of sanity for the purpose of being rational without illusion as God has assigned to each one of us a standard of thinking from doctrine. 4For just as we have many members in one body and all members do not have the same function, 5so we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.”
- Leaders are not embarrassed to ask for help when they do not have the means they need to accomplish a task. This is applying humility!
Rom 13:1, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”
As a result of Nehemiah leveraging his resources, he requested and was granted a leave of absence, Neh 2:5-6, letters of reference, Neh 2:7, and a government grant for building materials, Neh 2:8.
The ability to leverage resources is an indispensable requirement of leadership. There are plenty of resources to help. A wise and disciplined leader identifies and utilizes the resources around him, verses resisting or resenting those with means, thereby alienating himself and those he leads from vital resources that could help accomplish the goal. Use the means available to you that have been given by God.
Leaders Conduct Research, Neh 2:11-16.
Before a plan or idea is communicated, leaders assess the needs and situation and then formulate a plan. Any good plan is flexible enough to change as new situations or information arises. A missile without a guidance system is a dangerous thing: all power and no direction. In the same way, leaders who do not know where they are going can wreak havoc. That is why it pays for people in leadership positions to gather the right kind of information, so that they can make wise choices about which path to pursue.
Before he launched his plan to rebuild the wall at Jerusalem, Nehemiah conducted careful research about the task at hand. He quietly walked the city by night without fanfare, surveying the extent of the problem and formulated some tentative strategies to rebuild the wall, Neh 2:11-15.
- This tells us that leaders should keep a low profile when not in service and then perform their leadership role only when needed. Yet, arrogant self-righteous leaders feel they need to create a lot of fanfare to get the job done.
Luke 11:43, “Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places.”
Nehemiah’s low profile was especially appropriate given that he was a new member of the community. As a representative of the king, he could have come in with trumpets blaring and declared what his expectations were. Instead, he kept his thoughts to himself and avoided attracting attention to himself until he had formulated a plan.
- Leaders make informed decisions based on reality. If you are in a position of leadership, take pains to gather the kind of information you need to make wise choices and decisions. Make decisions that are informed and based on reality, and do not assume that the power of your position alone is all that is required to bring about the results you seek.
- Patience is key to successful leadership, Col 3:12-17.
Leaders do not Take on the Problem Alone, Neh 2:17-18.
Instead of going it alone, leaders will build unity of mission with those around them. Yet, they have to remember that there has to be a fine line between leader and workers to maintain order and integrity. And, it does not mean that leadership should bully those under their authority.
History shows that most of the greatest achievements have been accomplished by teams and groups of people working together toward common goals and ends. Nehemiah understood the power of the team as he undertook the task of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall. So after surveying the situation, he gathered the people and gave a speech in which he mobilized the team around the rebuilding project.
Leaders need to raise the awareness that something should be done and then instill confidence in others that something can be done, by the team.
Leaders think and speak in terms of “we” and “us.”
Clearly, Nehemiah saw himself as a participant in the dire circumstances, even though he had just arrived from the royal palace. In fact, he bridged the class division between himself and his people by sharing the discussion he had had with the king, thereby showing them that they had a friend in the emperor’s court.
Those in leadership positions have to learn how to break down walls that divide and are a hindrance to the building up of a team. Simple things like addressing individuals by name, involving people right where they live, respecting their limitations, and taking personal interest in their circumstances leads to overcoming barriers.
- There are Five Cycles that every new group goes through before they are effective in the project they are charged with accomplishing. The cycles include: Form, Storm, Norm, Conform, and Perform. That is, the group first comes together typically with lots of enthusiasm about the project, but soon thereafter they start to bicker over the duties and responsibilities which cause some in-fighting. The key to effective leadership is to get through the storming cycle as quickly as possible in order for the group members to know and be comfortable with their individual responsibilities (norm and conform), and then start to perform them with the shared vision of the completed project.
Leaders cannot become too socially involved with those under their command. There are certain social events which are wonderful and legitimate. But to become “buddy-buddy” with those under your command, or to over socialize means that when you have to make a decision, whereby that man will have to be sacrificed as a part of a greater plan, you cannot do it. You will not be able to make an objective decision, and in that scenario, you should not be a leader.
Leadership can be neutralized and destroyed by over involvement with those under your command. Over involvement should be confined to your peer’s within the framework of your organization. When you erase the line between the leader and followers, you also destroy respect. And if there is no leadership, the followers are self-destructive.
Neh 2:18 (KJV), “So they strengthened their hands for this good work.”
The word “good” in the Septuagint is AGATHON. In the Greek AGATHON means, “good of intrinsic value,” which means good works that are rewardable in heaven.
Tacitus (a Roman historian in the late first and early second century AD) said, “An army of stags is more to be feared under the command of a lion than an army of lions led by a stag.”
Leaders are able to assign tasks objectively, without bias, Neh 3:1-32. They also do take on the responsibilities of an assignment assigned to others. This means they keep the monkey on the back of those it is assigned to and do not take it back. Once they assign a task, they leave the task (monkey) with those it was assigned to. And as you know, many workers try to give the monkey back to the leader, but the leader must not take it back and instead work with the worker(s) to solve the problem.
Leaders are able to stir up a sense of mission among those around them, Heb 10:24-25; 2 Peter 1:13. The Leader knows how to stimulate and stir up others keeping them together to accomplish the mission, Neh 2:17-18; 4:14; 5:7-13. Both of these (stirring up and keeping together) require initiative on the part of the leader and on the part of the participant.
For example: The true test of living the spiritual life occurs when we come up against injustice, degradation, ingratitude, and turmoil; all of which have the tendency to make us spiritually lazy. We tend to retreat to a comfort zone and seek God for comfort only, and distance ourselves from people and the world, Neh 5:1-5. To live a distant, withdrawn, and secluded life is diametrically opposed to spirituality as Jesus Christ taught, Mat 10:7; Mark 3:14; 16:15. While being tested, we want to use prayer and Bible reading for the purpose of finding a quiet retreat. We use God only for the sake of getting peace and joy. We seek only our enjoyment of Jesus Christ, not a true realization of Him. This is the first step in the wrong direction. All these things we are seeking are simply effects, and yet we try to make them causes. That is why Peter said “Yes, I think it is right, to stir you up by reminding you …”, 2 Peter 1:13.
It is disturbing when God uses a leader, who is full of the spiritual life, to hit you between the eyes to stir you up. The real danger in spiritual laziness is that you do not want to be stirred up. All you want to hear about is a spiritual retreat, retirement, from the world. Yet, our Lord Jesus Christ never encouraged the idea of retirement. He says, “Go and tell My brethren …”, Mat 28:10, cf. Rom 12:2; Phil 3:20; Eph 2:12, 19; 1 John 2:15-16. So to be stirred up is taking the first step toward Christ-realization (Resurrection life), not self-realization.
Leaders Adapt to Adversity, Neh 2:9, 19-20; 4:1-3, 7-9; 6:1-19; 7:1-4.
- Many people run from adversity, wise leaders cheerfully expect it. Wherever change and progress are underway, competing interests inevitably rise to challenge them. At that point, leaders must decide whether they will accept the challenge and meet it, or turn tail and let their opponents set the agenda.
Nehemiah’s adversaries were a group of Jews from racially mixed backgrounds and Gentiles who had a vested interest in seeing Jerusalem remain unprotected, Neh 4:7. During the 70-years of Judah’s exile, they had established dominance over those left behind. Therefore, Nehemiah’s plan to rebuild the walls and revitalize the city threatened to end their monopoly on control. Nehemiah responded to their opposition with resolute faith and prayer and measured resistance. Compare with Eph 6:10-18.
Remember that Jerusalem represents our soul and spirit, and those outside the walls represent the cosmic system.
Eph 6:18, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”
Rather than escalate a touchy situation, he defended against their attack and kept on working. Rather than reacting and escalating the situation, leaders fortify their situation and continue moving forward.
From Nehemiah’s example we see a general principle of work assignment, in that 50% of the workers should be focused on new / future product development, while 50% should be focused on maintaining current products. And all should be prepared to protect current products if a crisis arises, Neh 4:12-23.
Thus he adapted to the adversity rather than run from it or over react to it.
If you are in a position of leadership, how do you respond to opposition and adversity? From Nehemiah’s example, we see that a bend but do not break attitude is appropriate, applying flexibility strengthened by your faith, and confidence that God will see you through. Likewise, you should respond to the opposition in appropriate ways, taking practical steps to ensure that the task goes forward, even as others try to shut it down.
Col 4:6, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
- Adversity not only comes from the outside; it comes from within too. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem represent the cosmic system, which tries to influence our soul (Jerusalem) away from the mission at hand.
In Chapter 5, we have the example of inward pressures and struggles that wear on a leader’s soul trying to sidetrack him form the mission to sooth the perceived wants, desires, and needs, as tempted by the Old Sin Nature (O.S.N.), Neh 5:1-5. Just as we have outward pressures on our soul trying to cause us to sin, inside pressures and temptations from the O.S.N. try to cause us to sin. Satan uses both tactics to try to stop us from advancing in the plan of God.
Yet, Nehemiah’s response to the inward pressures was to remind the team what the real issue was, who the real enemy is, and what the Word of God has to say about both, (that is the purpose of the 11 Problem Solving Devices). He then encouraged them to apply doctrinal principles to the situation to solve their problems, i.e., “get back to basics”, Neh 5:6-13. Usury and slavery (Ex 21:1-6; 22:25-24; Lev 25:35-46; Deut 24:10-13).
- Preparation is the key for adapting in adverse situations, Rom 5:1-5; 2 Peter 1:5-11. It includes spiritual preparation, Neh 4:8-9 and organization preparation, (i.e., military), Neh 4:13-23.
Prov 11:14b, “By an abundance of counselors there is victory (success / deliverance).”
Prov 20:18, “Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance.”
And remember that God rewards our perseverance as He eventually rewarded Nehemiah’s with the completion of the wall in a mere 52-days, Neh 6:15. The call for perseverance is also found in Luke 8:15; Rom 8:25; 15:4-5; Rev 2:2, Ephesus; Rev 2:19, Thyatira; and Rev 3:10, Philadelphia.
Luke 8:15, “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”
Rom 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”
Leaders Resist Underhanded Politics, Neh 6:5-9.
In Neh 6:4, “They sent messages to me four times in this manner, and I answered them in the same way.” (“Four times” – 4 is the number of creative work, material completeness, and is the world and city number representing the cosmic system), Sanballat and friends are getting creative in their attempt to frustrate the work in Jerusalem. Having failed to intimidate Nehemiah into stopping the work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall, Sanballat and his cronies tried smear tactics to shut the project down, Neh 6:5-7.
- Frustrated opponents often resort to slander and maligning when other methods have proven useless. Therefore, leaders should easily dismiss their actions, 8, and not react hastily.
As such, Nehemiah did not even attempt to prevent his enemies from sending letters to the king. He was a leader with confidence. He trusted in God up to this point and saw the graciousness of God, “And we know that God works all things together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”, Rom 8:28. He applied the doctrinal rationale that if God had brought him this far and the people remained faithful to God, that God would not allow their efforts to be nullified at this point. He had a clear conscience and an impeccable reputation. Therefore, no amount of “mud-slinging” could cause him to lose heart. He knew that none of it would stick.
It is worth noting that Nehemiah did not resort to “slinging mud” himself. He probably could have come up with plenty of counter-accusations against his adversaries. But rather than waste time on a verbal exchange that would have distracted him from the wall, he prayed, trusted in God and ignored the politics swirling outside the city walls. Therefore, if you are in a position of leadership, you should resist the dirty tricks of your opponents.
As a leader you must maintain your integrity, so that there can be no ground for accusation against you. You need to resist the temptation to “fight fire with fire” by resorting to political games and dirty tricks yourself. Leaders do not resort to this type of action, Deut 23:9; Phil 2:14-15.
Deut 23:9, “When you go out as an army against your enemies, you shall keep yourself from every evil thing.”
Phil 2:14-15, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” Cf. 1 Tim 5:7
Likewise, Pastor leaders are not to get involved in backhanded tactics, 1 Tim 3:2-3; Titus 1:6-7.
Leadership learns the great lesson of humility: to take offenses and still demonstrate virtue-love to the offenders. Leadership learns the following principle and keeps giving virtue love.
2 Cor 12:15, “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; even though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.”
Leaders Serve People, Neh 7:1-2, 5; 5:18; 11:1-2.
Some people regard leadership primarily as the art of getting results. Great leaders, they say, are those who get the job done. It matters very little how they operate, as long as they achieve their goals. Leadership is not just the art of getting results where it does not matter how the results are achieved as long as they are achieved. Leaders must do a right thing in a right way. When we examine the great leaders of Scripture, we find that they not only accomplished much, but they served people in the process, Mat 20:28; Mark 8:6; Gal 5:13-14; 1 Peter 5:1-5.
Mat 20:28 “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
- Noah built an ark to save mankind, Gen 5-9.
Gen 5:29, “Now he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed.”
- Joshua led an army to establish a nation, the Book of Joshua.
- Joseph stored grain to save many nations during famine, Gen 41-42.
- Jonah witnessed naked to save a people he hated, the Book of Jonah.
- Paul suffered great hardship and persecution to start the church, the Book of Acts.
Leaders must remember that Jesus Christ controls history, Deut 33:26, He allowed you to be in the position you are in. Col 1:16-17, tells us that Jesus Christ not only created the universe but holds it together and preserves it. Heb 1:3, Jesus Christ holds the universe together by the word of His power. Heb 1:10 tells us that He created the universe. He allowed you to be in the position you are in. Ultimately your position is to serve God, Col 3:24; 2 Tim 1:3; Heb 9:14, by serving others.
Nehemiah illustrates this point rather well. His project of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem was never an end in itself. The ultimate objective was to revitalize the people of Israel and return them to their covenant relationship with God, Neh 11:1-2; w/ 1:1-11. To that end, after the wall was completed, Nehemiah turned the city’s management over to local government leaders, Neh 7:1-7. He did not create dependency on his own skills, nor did he use the project to gain wealth or fame for himself, Neh 5:18.
Great Leaders do not create dependency on their own skills nor use projects to gain wealth or fame for themselves, Neh 5:18. Instead, right from the start, Nehemiah began the process of turning over management of Jerusalem to others. Great Leaders, right from the start, begin the process of training others for future leadership positions. Nehemiah also helped the people trace their roots by reviewing the census taken several years earlier in Ezra’s time, Neh 7:5; and see Ezra 2:68.
Leaders also instill a sense of worth, value, and meaning to those they serve, Neh 7:5 w/ Ezra 2:68. That set the stage for repopulating the city, Neh 11:1-2, and continued the initiative of revitalization. See Neh 1:1-11 for the goals of the project, service for God and the people. When others have a sense of value in themselves by seeing the love of God, they are revitalized to do great things, Neh 6:15
All of our service should be done with a view to the New Life you have in Christ, Rom 7:6.
Rom 7:6, “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”
Laser focus on your mission is required for proper service to occur. Too much variance dilutes effective Leadership, Mat 6:2, Luke 16:13.
Leaders ask yourselves:
- As a person of leadership, what is your posture toward the people you lead?
- Are you concerned about the task alone, or do you see people as the ultimate beneficiaries?
- How can you serve those who work with you, over you, or for you, so that they gain from the process even as they carry out the work?
Leaders Celebrate Often, Neh 8:1-12; 9:1-3; 12:27-47; 13:1-4.
Effective leaders appreciate the value of celebrating the great things that God has done in and through their organization. When the task is completed, when results have been achieved, when people have been served, then it is appropriate to take time to celebrate. That is what Nehemiah did when the people completed the rebuilding of the wall, Neh 8:1, 10. (Note that as the people came to celebrate they came as one-unit versus many different individuals, Phil 2:2; cf. 1 Cor 11:17-26.
Nehemiah had Ezra read from the Law, on the Feast of Trumpets, Neh 8:2, to begin the celebration, which was the motivation for Nehemiah’s mission in the first place. He went back over the vision and mission statement for the people of Israel. Therefore, leaders go back over the vision and mission statement so the people can see their accomplishments.
The words brought about a godly sorrow, Neh 8:4-8; 9:1-3, when they realized what they had been missing out on and the fact of realizing God’s love for them. This was not to be a time of sorrow but of joy. Remembering lost opportunity can bring about sorrow. But God tells us not to fret about the past. Take joy in what the future holds, Neh. 8:10-12; Phil 3:13.
Phil 3:13, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”
So we see the celebration with heartfelt praise, choice food, and even an “amen” chorus, Neh 8:6. The community rejoiced in the Lord for the work it had accomplished. But first they had to separate themselves from sin in order to truly worship the Lord, Neh 9:2; 10:2; 13:1-4, just as we need to rebound, 1 John 1:9, before we can truly worship and celebrate in the Lord.
Note that for the celebration Nehemiah instructed them to “share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared,” Neh 8:10. In other words, bring the poor to the party too! Share the wealth. No one should be deprived of joy just because they cannot afford even a small party, 1 Cor 11:17; 13:3.
1 Cor 13:3, “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
If you are in a leadership position, know how to celebrate your group’s milestones. In the end, celebration can be a way of worshiping the Lord, because He is the source of all good gifts, so we can praise Him for giving us a ministry and the means to accomplish it.
We now begin the third section of Proverbs 11, which includes vs. 15-23, that tells us of the “blessings or wrath of God related to applying the wisdom in our soul to all of our business transactions.”
Prov 11:15, “He who is guarantor for a stranger will surely suffer for it, but he who hates being a guarantor is secure.”
This verse is a look back to the integrity of our speech in business and the forward look towards this next section of applying wisdom in our business transactions. It reminds us of the topic previously noted Proverbs 6:1-5.
“Guarantor” is the same word we saw in Prov 6:1, for “surety” which is the Qal Perfect Verb ARAB (arav) that means, “to take on pledge, give in pledge, exchange.” It means you have become a co-signer on a loan for someone that is not close to you, a “stranger” as it were, or someone who is not trustworthy.
“Stranger” is the Noun ZUR that means, “stranger or foreigner.” In the domestic sense, the word refers to “someone strange to a family or household,” thus, a stranger or outsider. In the theological sense it refers to someone outside the family of God, and in an ecclesiastical sense it means someone outside the priesthood.
Solomon consistently warns against the destructive folly of co-signing loans, cf. Prov 6:1-5; 17:18; 20:16.
Prov 17:18, “A man lacking in sense pledges and becomes guarantor in the presence of his neighbor.”
Anyone who makes a practice of co-signing will eventually co-sign a bad loan, and have to pay the debt himself. Failure to pay a loan could result in literal bondage, as the Law showed in Lev 25:47-55. For example, Nehemiah, five centuries after Solomon, was approached by those who had mortgaged their fields, vineyards, and houses. Having lost their real estate to pay their debts, they were allowing their children to be enslaved in order to raise the money, Neh 5:1-5.
It is not wrong to co-sign a loan if you are family, royal family, or friends with someone that you know well. But the idea here is to not co-sign for those who you do not know well just because they ask you or you feel sorry for, etc. It includes the idea of having prudence and discretion in your decision making. That is, if you know the person and they have a track record of bad decision making in regard to business transactions, you should not enter into an agreement to stand up on their behalf for a loan or other debt scenario.
The warning here is that for those who enter into these types of agreements too hastily or based on emotion, they will “suffer for it”, which is the compound word RA-YEROA made up of the noun RA that means, “bad or evil” and the passive Niphal Imperfect Verb RA’A that means, “to be bad or to be evil.” So bad-bad or evil-evil is the literal translation, and in the Passive Imperfect it means, “disaster-disaster will happen.”
“But he who hates being a guarantor is secure.”
“Hates” is the Verb SANE שָׂנֵא (saw-nay), that means, “hate or something that is abhorred, disdained, or opposed, and that which a person desires to have no relationship with what-so-ever.” This is the man of wisdom. He knows a bad business decision when he sees it, and therefore will not co-sign for it and has nothing to do with it.
“Guarantor” is not ZUR here but the same phrase we noted in Prov 6:1b, which is TAQA תָּקַע in the Qal Active Participle that literally means, “to pitch, clap, or blow a horn.” Here it uses the “clap” definition meaning, to clap hands with another, that is “shake hands,” as we would say today, which signifies an agreement in business between two parties.
So the one who hates to enter into, and therefore does not enter into bad or negligent co-signing business agreements will be blessed.
The blessing here is “secure” Qal Active Participle BATACH, בָּטַח that means, “to trust or place confidence in.” The TWOT defines it as, “to feel safe” that is a complete, peaceful security.
Not co-signing for strangers or those who are not trustworthy will result in your personal finances being safe and secure, where you will be able to provide for yourself and family. Yet, a bad business decision leads to disaster in that you may lose all that you had and not be able to provide for yourself or family.
“The use of wealth requires good sense not to squander it on kind but risky causes such as going bail or guaranteeing a loan for a stranger.” (Goldingay, “Proverbs,” p. 595, quoted by Waltke, NIC.)
Jesus Christ is a great example of this as He took upon Himself our debt of sin upon the Cross and suffered greatly for it. Heb 12:2, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Because of His love for us, He willingly did so. Nevertheless, Christ warns us to not take on the debt of others in business transactions because of the detrimental affect it will have on us and our families.
The first gem of wisdom in this section is to not co-sign for those outside your family, strangers, so that you will continue to provide for yourself and your family.
Vs. 16 & 17 form a quatrain of thought in regard to applying wisdom to your business transactions.
Prov 11:16, “A gracious woman attains honor, and ruthless men attain riches.”
“A gracious woman” is made up of the Nouns CHEN, חֵן and ISHSHAH, אִשָּׁה. CHEN (khane) and means, “grace or favor,” in the sense of inner beauty from Bible Doctrine in her soul, that finds favor in the sight of another person or acceptance by the person. The term can also mean, “popularity or charm.”
Here it is linked with the noun for “honor”, KABOD that means, “honor or glory” that means she will have a good reputation. So as you give grace, you will obtain grace in return. That is, if you are gracious in all your business transactions, meaning you do not lie, cheat, steal, or take advantage of others and treat others fairly with honesty and integrity, you will obtain a good reputation for yourself.
“And ruthless men attain riches.”
Here it contrasts one woman who typically has less physical power to many men who operate wickedly. In other words, one woman has more power in righteousness than many men in their own human strength and resources.
“Ruthless men” is one word, the Masculine Plural Adjective ARIYTS, עָרִיץ used pronominally that means, “powerful, violent, awe-inspiring, terror-striking, awesome, terrifying, ruthless, or mighty.”
“Attain” is the Qal Imperfect Verb TAMAKH, תָּמַךְ that is also used for the gracious woman above and means, “take hold of or grasp.”
What do the ruthless men attain? “Riches”, which is the noun OSHER, עשֶׁר that means, “riches or wealth.”
So here in contrast to the gracious woman who attains a good reputation, the ruthless men in business will not gain a good reputation, which means they will gain a bad reputation. The only thing that they will gain is money, worldly wealth and riches. Therefore, this verse contrasts the honor that comes to one gracious woman with the mere wealth gained by the violence of many men, and commends gracious speech and habits in business rather than brute force to gain material wealth.
So we are not to get down trodden, when we see the wicked prosper, knowing that it is only temporary; keeping our focus on things above not on the things of this world, Col 3:1-2.
“Many are fearful of losing the admiration of others by showing kindness and humility. So they wrap themselves in a haughty, chilling dignity which actually makes them the objects of scorn and disgust. Nothing is as lovely and admirable as a gracious, conciliatory spirit, whether in the home, the assembly, or in the world.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – Proverbs.)
Therefore, the second gem of wisdom is to be gracious in all your business dealings, and you will have a good reputation.
Prov 11:17, “The merciful man does himself good, but the cruel man does himself harm.”
The “merciful man” is made up of the Nouns CHESED, חֶסֶד meaning, “goodness, kindness, grace, mercy, lovingkindness, loyal, faithful, etc.,” and ISH for “man.” This parallels the “gracious woman” of vs. 16, where this man is also one who operates in all his business transactions with honesty and integrity. He is faithful and loyal, and therefore trustworthy. You can depend on him. He treats others with grace and mercy and lovingkindness, which includes impersonal and unconditional love.
“Does himself good”, is the noun NEPHESH, נֶפֶשׁ that means, “soul or life,” here referring to the man in view, and the Qal Active Participle of GAMAL, גָּמַל that means, “to recompense another, to bring to completion, to deal bountifully, or to do good.” It can denote unmerited acts of grace. It tells us that a person’s behavior affects others, Prov 10:11, as well as himself.
So the benefit here is also similar to the “gracious woman’s”, in that he will receive back what he has given. If he gives grace, he will receive grace back. It is the “do unto others as you would have done to you” principle.
“But the cruel man does himself harm.”
“Cruel man” is the pronominal Adjective AKHZARI, אַכְזָרִי that means, “cruel.” Cruel means, “disposed to inflict pain or suffering, or the causing of pain and suffering.”
“Does himself harm” is the Noun, SHE’ER, שְׁאֵר that means, “flesh or body,” and the Qal Active Participle Verb AKHAR, עָכַר that means, “to trouble, to bring ruin or disaster, or to be disastrous.” The verb is concerned with actions that bring personal or national disasters, and in the poetic literature, as is here, it applies to personal disaster usually based upon one’s actions.
Prov 15:6, “Great wealth is in the house of the righteous, but trouble is in the income of the wicked.”
Therefore, the Christian business man or politician that causes pain and suffering on others will receive pain and suffering himself from his own actions, i.e., the discipline of the Lord, which can include the sin unto death as noted in vs. 19.
Remember that “Pharaoh threw the boy babies into the river, (Exod. 1:22), but God drowned his entire army in the Red Sea (Exod. 14:28).” (Waltke, New International Commentary)
So this verse describes how a person’s behavior directly brings consequences according to his actions and shows the benefits of graciousness, as well as the consequences of evil and wickedness.
Note also that in vs. 16 & 17, the righteous affect their soul life positively, while the wicked their flesh negatively.
Therefore, the third gem of wisdom is to treat others with grace and impersonal love in all your business dealings, and you too will receive grace and love from others in return.
Prov 11:18, “The wicked earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness gets a true reward.”
This verse starts with the warning of negative behavior with the “wicked” RASHA, “earns” ASAH, (to make), “deceptive” SHEQER, שֶׁקֶר, (deception or lie), “wages” PE’ULLAH, פְּעֻלָּה, (reward or wages).
Here we see a throw-back to the second section regarding sins of the tongue in business with SHEQER for lying and deceit in business. This tells us that the wicked person’s gain is done in sin and is not a blessing or reward from the Lord. They are ill-gotten gains.
“But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward.”
“Sows” is the Qal Active Participle Verb ZARA, זָרַע that means, “sow or plant a seed.” The seed sown here is “righteousness”, TSEDAQAH meaning, “righteousness, blameless conduct, and integrity.” In context, this is the person operating in honesty and integrity in all their business transactions.
Principles of Sowing: (Waltke, NIC)
- Sowing entails timely effort and investment with the hope of a reward.
- One reaps what one sows, sometimes a hundred-fold more than you sowed, Mat 19:29.
- The picture of broadcasting seed invokes the notion of performing many kind acts everywhere.
- The “sower” depends on God, who mysteriously provides the increase.
- The temporal distance between the sowing and reaping suggests that the righteous waits for his reward, James 5:7.
The contrast between “earning” and “sowing” reflects the difference between the self-centered impatience of the wicked that do things from their own human power, not trusting in God, and those who diligently pursue righteousness and wait upon the Lord for the harvest, cf. Psa 37.
The benefit the righteous receives is a “true”, EMETH, אֱמֶת, “reward”, SEKHER, שֶׂכֶר, meaning, “wage or reward” for a day’s work. The word “true” is added because, in the agricultural realm, the harvest is somewhat uncertain. So true means: there will be a harvest for the seed that you sowed. In other words, as you perform your daily work unto the Lord, you will be blessed for it in time and eternity.
This tells us that the righteous worker receives a fair and just wage for his work, there is nothing shameful or dishonorable about it, and therefore he should be pleased and satisfied with both his work and his wage, whereas the evil worker will have guilt and anxiety regarding his ill-gotten wages.
“Wickedness is often an object of envy, especially when it prospers, Prov 3:31; 23:17f; 24:1f, 19f, whereas those who pursue righteousness in their lives may not appear successful, cf. Prov 19:1, 22. The former see only what their own strength can gain and, being the source of their own “wisdom,” pursue their ends without regard for either the standards of God’s Word or the consequences of their behavior.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
So we see that the wicked believer will receive material wealth from their evil behavior here on earth, but it will certainly not give them a lasting reward in the eternal state, whereas the righteous believer will receive blessings both in time and eternity that are everlasting.
Therefore, the fourth gem of wisdom is to do your job unto the Lord with peace and contentment, knowing He is a rewarder of righteousness.
Prov 11:19, “He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life, and he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.”
This verse brings home the ultimate consequences of righteousness and wickedness. It describes the long-term consequences of choices we make.
“Steadfast in righteousness” is the Adverb KEN, כֵּן, with the Noun TSEDAQAH. KEN as an Adverb that is usually translated as “thus or so”, but also conveys quality, quantity, or even time. Therefore, combined these words mean persistence in operating with righteousness in your business transactions.
When you do, the benefit or reward is “life” CHAYYIM, which means quality and quantity of life. It is a life fulfilled, being satisfied with what you have done and what you have, as we have seen earlier in Proverbs. And it means you will not come under God’s Divine discipline, including the Sin Unto Death as the wicked believer does, as shown in the second half of this verse.
“And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.”
“Pursues” is the intensive active Piel Participle Verb RADAPH, רָדַף that means, “to pursue or persecute.” It typically means, “to follow,” but it is used of actions requiring more intensity of effort and purpose. Therefore, this is the believer who is intensely chasing after “evil”, RA’AH, “evil or disaster”, used for “suffer” in vs. 15. This is the individual of Prov 6:15b, whose, “Feet run rapidly to evil.”
This means they are constantly looking for ways to cheat and steal in business as they pursue worldly riches that they believe will benefit them. But in reality, his efforts will bring about “his own death” LE MAWETH. This refers to the Third Stage of Divine Discipline, the Sin Unto Death, 1 Cor 11:30.
So the theme of true and deceptive pay is now escalated to the consequences of life and death respectively, where this Proverb describes the long term consequences of our actions. So this proverb contrasts between life and death; the opposed fates which are determined by the believer’s response to wisdom, cf. Prov 1:32f; 2:19-22; 8:35f.
Therefore, the fifth gem of wisdom is keep trusting (Faith-Resting) in the Lord in all your business transactions regardless of what the world may otherwise tell you, and you will be blessed in time and eternity.
These first five verses indicate for us the proper and improper means of conducting business in civilian, military, or political realms. When we apply the wisdom of God, we will make good business decisions, act graciously and lovingly, with the result of gaining a just reward in time with blessings in eternity. Yet if we do not, all that we do gain will rot, decay, and fade and will be wood, hay, and straw at the BEMA seat of Jesus Christ, 1 Cor 3:10-15.
Prov 11:20, “The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD, but the blameless in their walk are His delight.”
This next quatrain speaks to God’s viewpoint of the contrasting believers (wicked vs. righteous).
This verse tells us that the difference between them is far more serious, since their external choices reveal whether their hearts are aligned with God’s purposes and standards or not. This in turn leads to Divine approbation or condemnation.
“Perverse” is the Noun IQQESH, עִקֵּשׁ used adjectively that means, “distorted, twisted, crooked, or perverse”, as previously used in Prov 2:15; 8:8. Old English translates it “froward” meaning, “difficult to deal with, stubbornly disobedient, or contrary.” “Perverse” means, “determined to behave in an unreasonable way, especially by doing the opposite of what is expected or wanted.” Therefore, this reversionistic believer is set against God and His Word, and the community at large, and instead serves only himself.
This type of stubbornness is what is in this reversionistic believer’s “heart”, LEB. It is the mentality of their soul to do the opposite of what God’s Word says and even what the norms and standards of a civil society call for. So it means that this reversionistic believer is filled with all kinds of mental attitude sins, especially in regard to their business transactions. As a result, they are morally and ethically reprehensible in their business transactions which are an “abomination to the Lord.”
“Abomination” is the Noun TO’EBAH, תּוֹעֵבָה (to’evah), which means, “a disgusting or detestable thing, an abomination,” which we noted in Prov 3:32; 6:16; 8:7; 11:1. An abomination is, “something that you hate because you think it is extremely offensive, unpleasant, or wrong”, which is what a perverse mental attitude in business transactions is to God.
This reversionistic believer is unpleasant and offensive to “the Lord”, (YHVH, יְהָוה), because he is functioning extremely to the complete opposite of God’s perfect righteousness and holiness.
“But the blameless in their walk are His delight.”
“Blameless” is the pronominal use of the Adjective TAMIYM, תָּמִים in the masculine plural that means, “complete, sound, without blemish, or faultless” as we noted in Prov 2:21 & 11:5. This is the person, in contrast to the reversionistic believe above, who is wholly committed to God’s way and plan for his life, which includes being committed to the greater community as well, by operating in God’s righteousness in all their business transactions.
These believers are “walking in”, DEREK, (i.e. applying), God’s righteousness because His Word is in the “heart” of their soul. They are operating inside the Plan of God on a consistent basis, as they apply His Word that is resident within their souls, due to the consistent intake and application of Bible doctrine, coupled with the filling of God the Holy Spirit, having the balance of residency. They are walking in their experiential sanctification on a consistent basis, and as a result, they are a “delight”, RATSON, רָצוֹן, “pleasing” to the Lord, Prov 8:35; 10:32; 11:1.
Prov 8:35, “For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor (RATSON) from the LORD.”
Prov 10:32, “The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable (RATSON).”
Prov 11:1, “But a just weight is His delight.”
Remember that the heart is the source of moral conduct when it is filled with God’s Word. Otherwise, the sin nature fills the heart and rules your soul, and leads to all kinds of evil behavior.
Therefore, the sixth gem of wisdom is to conduct your business dealings with God’s righteousness and you will be His delight, i.e., pleasing to Him.
Prov 11:21, “Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished, but the descendants of the righteous will be delivered.”
This proverb contrasts the outcome of the choices made by the deceitful and the honest, described in vs. 20.
It begins with an idiom meaning, “assuredly,” which is YADH LEYADH, literally meaning, “a hand to a hand.” The origin of the idiom is lost to us, but in its only other occurrence, it also precedes the phrase, “will not be unpunished”, Prov 16:5.
Prov 16:5, “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; assuredly, he will not be unpunished.”
In both cases, it follows the phrase, “abomination to the Lord”, (Here it is in the preceding verse. In Prov 16:5, it is in the first line of the proverb.)
This “hand to a hand” reminds us of a “handshake” which is used to signify or seal a deal or contract. It is derived from the practice of clapping hands, either your own or with someone else, when affirming or guaranteeing something, as when making a pledge to co-sign a loan for another person, Prov 6:1; Job 17:3. So it gives us the sense of an agreement or contract that is sealed, and is used as a conclusion to a matter.
The conclusion here is that the “evil man”, RA, “will not go unpunished”, which is LO for “not” and the passive Niphal Imperfect of NAQAH, נָקָה, that means, “to be free, clean, pure, exempt, or innocent.” Therefore, the reversionistic believer will receive the action of being punished in the future; they will not go free!
“Originally, this verb meant to be emptied; therefore, its most basic sentiment is to be poured out and can have a negative or positive connotation. In the negative sense, it refers to a city which has been deserted, emptied of people (Isa. 3:26). Aside from the passive or stative form, this verb also has a factitive form. (The factitive concept is to make something a certain state, in this instance, to make something clean or pure.) The factitive form has two aspects: (1) acquittal, the declaration of someone as innocent, (2) leaving someone unpunished.” (AMG’s Complete Word Study Dictionaries).
But here it is attached to the negative particle LO meaning, they will not be acquitted, they are not innocent, and they will not go unpunished. Therefore, we see the Divine discipline of the Lord for the reversionistic believer. And unfortunately, this punishment does not just affect them, but has downstream effect on their descendants too, who will suffer as a result of their discipline, as noted by way of the contrast in the second half of this verse.
“But the descendants of the righteous will be delivered.”
Here we see blessing by association to the “descendants”, (the Noun ZERA, זֶרַע, meaning, “seed or descendent” derived from ZARA, “to sow”), “of the righteous”, (the Adjective TSADDIQ).
Their blessing is that they will be “delivered” the passive Niphal Perfect of MALAT, מָלַט that means, “to escape, to flee or to deliver.” “MALAT is one of a cluster of Hebrew terms pertaining to deliverance (cf. nasal in 11:4, 6, halas in 11:9, 10, and yš in 11:14.” (Waltke, New International Commentary.)
In the Niphal, it can have a simple meaning of “to escape,” and usually has the connotation of escaping from mortal danger. It includes individuals or groups as we have here. Therefore, the thing they are absolutely escaping from is Divine discipline, including the Sin Unto Death.
Remember that the Lord is the final court of appeal, and although He alone can evaluate the heart of a man, a person’s way proves whether the heart is corrupt or blameless. Likewise, only God hands out life and death sentencing. As such, this proverb calls for a transformation of the right lobe of your soul (heart) to correspond with God’s ways and means, because one must be sincere in his heart and constant in his way; no in-between ground is granted. That is, you are either in fellowship with God walking experientially sanctified, or you are out of fellowship because of sin going unconfessed, walking in darkness.
Therefore, the seventh gem of wisdom is: Operate in the righteousness of God in all your business transactions, so that you and your descendants will be blessed.
Prov 11:22, “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.”
In this verse we do not have a contrast, but a correlation, as the first half exemplifies the second. In regard to business, we may title this, “Beware of the trophy wife!”
We begin with an introductory description of this woman as she is compared to “a gold ring in a pig’s snout.”
“Ring” is the Noun NEZEM, נֶזֶם which refers to “earrings, finger rings, or nose rings” as we have here.
“Gold” is the Noun ZAHAB זָהָב (zahav), which is the more common word for gold in scripture, and indicates wealth, as a “ring of gold” was a sign of luxury and wealth in the ancient days.
The gold nose ring was a female ornament that has been in use since the time of the patriarchs, Gen 24:47, that was generally attached to the right nostril and hung down over the mouth, to enhance ones’ attractiveness, Ezek 16:12; Hos 2:13. But here this decorative ornament is in a “pig’s nose.”
“Swine’s” is the Noun CHAZIYR, חֲזִיר that means, “swine, boar, or pig.” In Deut 14:8, it represents unclean food, forbidden to the Israelites, and to them pigs represented the utmost of disgusting creatures. Even to touch a pig made a person unclean, Lev 11:7f.
Isaiah speaks of pigs in regard to their flesh and blood, as an offering in pagan rituals and false worship condemned by God, Isa 65:4, 66:17.
Therefore, swine represents the lowest of the low, and something you would not want to associate with.
“Snout” is the Noun APH, אַף that means, “face or nose,” and has come to also mean “anger”, as a crinkled face or nose is the picture of someone’s anger, cf. Prov 14:17; 29; 15:1, etc., and to snort through the nose also indicates an emotional response to something unpleasant. Etymologically, the Hebrew word is derived from the root ANEPH, which has cognates in Arabic that means, “to refuse or despise.”
Therefore, the metaphor in this proverb speaks to the pig’s obnoxious habit of eating swill and rooting in dung, as well as its insensibility in wasting and tarnishing the precious ornament in its snout. It connotes the idea of luxury and wealth tainted by that which is false and repulsive to God.
So the “gold ring in a swine’s snout” represents an angry woman adorned outwardly with beauty who is full of false (cosmic) doctrine that you want to have nothing to do with.
Then we have the correlation, “so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.”
“Beautiful Woman” is the Adjective YAPHEH, יָפֶה with the Noun ISHSHAH, אִשָּׁה.
In Scripture YAPHEH refers exclusively to physical beauty. So right away we see that this is focusing on outward beauty versus the inner beauty that comes from having God’s Word resident within your soul. This is noted by the next phrase, “who lacks discretion.”
“Lacks”, is the Qal Active Participle Verb SUR, סוּר that means, “to turn aside, depart, leave, deviate, or to go away.” We have previously noted this word in Proverbs 3:7; 4:24, 27; 5:7; 9:4, 16, where we are warned not to turn aside or deviate from the path of righteousness. Here it indicates the apostate woman who has in fact deviated from God’s Word and righteousness, as indicated by the next word “discretion.”
“Discretion” is the Noun TA’AM, טַעַם that means, “taste”, (i.e., perceive with the sense of taste), and therefore comes to mean, “judgment, discernment, or discretion.”
Good “judgment” (i.e., discernment) comes only from following God’s commandments.
Psa 119:66, “Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in Your commandments.”
An example of a woman with Godly discernment is seen when David praises Abigail for her discretion, and notes that it was God who gave her the wisdom to meet with him, 1 Sam 25:32-35. She is like the woman of Prov 11:16 who is gracious in all her ways that garnishes her with the honor of a good reputation.
But clearly our Proverb is a person who has rejected God’s Word, and therefore has turned aside from sound wisdom. Instead of gaining honor by her natural gift of beauty, she instead wins ridicule; no discernment.
So the overall metaphor tells us that we should avoid the trophy wife at all cost, because outward beauty does not mean that a woman also has inner beauty.
Inner beauty is the true beauty of a woman in God’s eyes. Yet, when a woman lacks Bible Doctrine in her soul, she will make wrong decisions time and time again, and will most likely be filled with anger as a result. This is the woman you want to avoid at all cost. This is truly and ugly woman!
Remember that a piece of jewelry no matter how precious its substance, cannot change the nature of the one who wears it. As Waltke notes, “Misplaced ornaments, instead of enhancing her beauty, make her look foolishly wasteful, grotesque, and repulsive”, (Waltke, NIC). Outward beauty is no substitute for wisdom, especially when it conceals a rebellious heart. Since people can, and do, manipulate their appearance for their own purposes, appearances often deceive. Therefore, those who reject instruction, correction, and discipline are fit to be neither life partners, cf. Prov 12:4; 14:1, nor companions, and should be avoided, Prov 14:7; 19:19; 22:24.
Prov 12:4, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.”
Prov 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.”
Prov 22:24, “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man.”
Since the heart determines the direction of a person’s life, Prov 4:23, what is unseen is always more important than what is seen, 1 Sam 16:7.
1 Sam 16:7, “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Therefore, the eighth gem of wisdom encourages the wise business man or woman to choose companions based on the Bible doctrine in their soul that is reflected in their words and actions, and not on their appearance.
Prov 11:23, “The desire of the righteous is only good, but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.”
In this verse we will see another contrast between the desires of the righteous and the expectation of the wicked.
“Desire” is the Noun TA’AWAH, תַּאֲוָה that means, “longing, eager desire, appetite, delight”, or negatively, “lust.” We saw this word in Prov 10:24b for the righteous who will have their desires granted to them. Here we see that the desire of the “righteous”, TSADDIQ, “is only good”, AKH, אַךְ, “only” and TOB, טוֹב, “good, pleasant, or proper.”
This means that the only thing the righteous desire is what is pleasing to the Lord, called producing the Fruit of the Spirit, (i.e., Divine Good, Gal 5:22-23), as manifested in doing what is right for others, never harming anyone, treating them with impersonal and unconditional love, even at your own expense, which we will see in vs. 24-25.
Gal 5:19-23, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
This is what it means to stand as a member of the pivot within a society.
So we see the righteous person’s aspirations rooted in their nature to perform Divine Good to others. They desire to walk inside of God’s Plan for their lives so as to be pleasing to Him, vs. 20b, which means they continually walk in the righteousness of God, experientially sanctified.
“But the expectation of the wicked is wrath.”
“Expectation” is the Noun TAQWAH, תִּקְוָה that means, “hope or expectation”. It refers to an attitude of anticipation with the expectation that something will happen, which we noted in regard to the wicked in Prov 10:28 & 11:7.
“Wicked” is RASHA, that means, “wicked or evildoer.” So we have the reversionistic or apostate believer in view here, telling us that their confident expectation is not in the rewards and blessing of the Lord in both time and eternity, but of “wrath”, ‘EBRAH, עֶבְרָה (evrah), which means, “Divine discipline.”
Prov 11:4 told us that, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath;” therefore, nothing can sustain the reversionistic believer when Divine discipline sets in, and here it is amplified to tell us that the reversionistic believer can only look forward to that Discipline, because in God’s Love, Righteousness, and Justice that is all He can give to them!
Conversely, since the righteous desire to produce Divine good, their hopes and plans do not lead to God’s discipline, but instead blessing and rewards. Furthermore, since the plans of the wicked are themselves evil, their best hopes are certain to arouse anger, condemnation, and judgment, on the part of God, cf. vs. 27b, resulting in discipline. The wrath the wicked hoped to inflict on others comes on them. They hoped for prosperity by overthrowing others, but they are rewarded instead with God’s discipline.
Therefore, we finish this section with the ninth gem of wisdom by being reminded of the “reap what you sow” principle. If you sow God’s righteousness, you will reap blessing from the same, yet if you sow wickedness, you can expect God’s discipline in return.
Vs. 24-26, Blessings or wrath related to giving in business.
We now turn to the fourth section of Chapter 11 in Verses 24-26 that discusses the right attitude towards giving.
Giving first and foremost in all situations is a business transaction in and of itself. When you give to someone, you are taking some form of material blessing you have received from God, whether it be your time, talent, or treasure and are surrendering it to them for their benefit. The thing you are purchasing is a benefit for someone else. Giving also means there are “no strings attached.” In other words, once you give it, it becomes the property of the one you gave it to. Therefore, the exchange of blessings from you to them is a business transaction. So we see how giving continues the theme of applying the righteousness of God in regard to business transactions. Here we will learn how the righteousness of God should be applied in giving, as these three verses are arraigned as follows:
- Generosity Blessed, 24a.
- Stinginess Cursed, 24b.
- Generosity Blessed, 25.
- Stinginess Cursed, 26a.
- Generosity Blessed, 26b.
We begin with Verse 24, where we have the principle, “The tight-fisted man ends up poorer and the open-handed man richer”, (Aitken, Proverbs, p. 126, as quoted by Waltke, New International Commentary.)
Prov 11:24, “There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.”
Here we see “Generosity Blessed.”
“Scatter” is the intensive active Piel Participle Verb PAZAR, פָּזַר, which means, “scatter, or disperse.” This word is never used in regard to seed, but of other material things. With the intensive Piel stem it emphasizes the act of scattering widely, loosely, liberally, or freely.
Even though PAZAR is not used for seed in Scripture, it still gives the idea of the planting process, as the next verse tells us of the nurturing process in “watering”.
Therefore, this means that the believer is a generous giver who gives according to his means without fear or worry, as they faith rest in God to provide for them, even though they are giving generously and depleting their own supply.
“Material wealth can be scattered, or distributed. The righteous are expected to materially help the poor (Ps. 112:9); indeed, the righteous will scatter wealth freely, yet still grow richer (Prov. 11:24).” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
Given the contrast of the second half of this verse, it is not talking about any “big spender”, but of those who give in accord with Divine righteousness. Verses 23-27 define for us “what is right” in terms of serving community, and not self.
“Increases all the more” is the passive Niphal Participle Verb YASAPH, יָסַף meaning, “to increase, add to, to do again, to continue.” The word means the ability to continue to do something and to be able to do it again and again. Therefore, in context of our verse, if you are able to keep on giving, or give over and over again, it means you have the means to do so, which means God has increased your material blessings that enables you to give even though you have given some of it away previously. So it is speaking to the quantity that we will be given when we give generously to others.
This is the blessing for the giver, as YASAPH has been used in Proverbs thus far to indicate various kinds of blessings our Lord gives to the righteous believer, cf. Prov 1:5; 3:2; 9:9, 11; 10:22, 27.
The Adverb “yet” here is ODH, עוֹד and means, “still, again, or yet” and adds emphasis to the blessing. In other words, even though you give away your material blessings, you will “still” have enough to give “again” in the future.
So the first half of this proverb introduces the topic of giving generously with the blessing of continued material means to give, which is later expounded upon both positively and negatively in Prov 14:31; 21:13; 22:9; 31:20.
“And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.”
Here we see “Stinginess Cursed.”
“There is one who withholds” is the Qal active Participle Verb, CHASAK, חָשַׂךְ. This is a different Hebrew word than used in vs. 26, MANA. There are four basic meanings of CHASAK, “to withhold, to refrain, to spare, or to keep back”, and it can apply to people, actions, and things. Here it refers to the action of giving in regard to people who are not generous because they are too afraid of their circumstance, not faith resting in God, and as a result hold back what they actually should be giving away. Rather than having an open hand, they have a closed fist.
“What it justly due” is a compound word with the Prepositional Adverb MIN, מִן for “of, from, out of, or more than”, and the Noun YOSHER, ישֶׁר that means, “straightness, uprightness, or equity.” Here it is the less common usage that is related to “equity”, meaning, “one should give to another what is due to him or her.” We saw YOSHER in Prov 2:13 & 4:11 regarding the choices in life that we have, to either walk in righteousness or walk in evil. Yet here, to “withhold giving generously” is to divert from the path of righteousness. YOSHER also includes the sense of “duty”, or “uprightness.” So “justly due” is a good translation as it denotes that which is advantageous to others in regard to the type of giving the believer should practice, which is not being practiced by this reversionistic believer.
“Results only in want” is also a compound word combining the Adverb AKH, “only”, with the Preposition LE, “to, toward” and the Noun MACHSOR, מַחְסוֹר meaning, “want, need, lack, or poverty.” It is derived from the Verb CHASER that means, “to decrease.” So has the connotation of “want or lack,” and therefore to live in a constant state of need, which is equivalent to poverty, Prov 6:11; 11:24; 14:23; 21:5; 28:27.
The Lord instructed the people of Israel that those who lack should be relieved by those who have abundance in Deut. 15:7f, “If there is among you a poor person… you shall not harden your heart… but you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.”
Therefore, according to our proverb, if you do not help those in need when you have the means to do so, you will become like them.
As Solomon warns in the introduction (cf, 3:5f), many proverbs contradict human expectations, and this proverb is a good example of this principle, echoing the gospel statement that “whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for (Christ’s) sake shall find it”, Mat 16:25.
Both halves of this verse are related to “sowing” and “reaping”, the first positively, the second negatively which reminds us of 2 Cor 9:6-8.
2 Cor 9:6-8, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;”
A poem from John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress” says it like this: “A man there was, though some did count him mad, the more he cast away, the more he had.” And, “He that bestows his goods upon the poor shall have as much again, and ten times more.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary)
Sowing seed is done at the beginning of the season, so here the emphasis is on giving even before the need arises.
“People who are not generous are usually selfish and place great importance on their personal needs and possessions. This leaves them dissatisfied with what they already have and always looking for more of what they think they need. This cycle of chasing after things that cannot satisfy them is endless and leaves them miserable. According to Solomon, their selfishness eventually leads to loss and poverty.” (Mattoon’s Treasures – Treasures from Proverbs, Volume 1.)
Next in Verse 25, we have a double positive of “Generosity Blessed.”
Prov 11:25, “The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”
“The generous man” is a compound word made up from two nouns, NEPHESH, “soul, breath, or life,” and BERAKAH, “blessing.” So literally it is “the soul of blessing”, meaning the one who blesses others with what they have; time, talent, or treasure. It also refers to doing one’s duty toward the needy as noted in vs. 24.
The blessing the generous receive from God is, “He will be prosperous”, which is the intensive passive Pual Stem, and future Imperfect of the Verb DASHEN, דָּשֵׁן that means, “to be made to become fat.”
To be “fattened” connotes wealth, abundance, full satisfaction, and health, cf. Deut 31:20. It is used for the refreshing of the bones in a parallel to the rejoicing of the heart in Prov 15:30. In our context, it means, “to prosper or make rich”, as being fat was a sign of the Lord’s blessings. This blessing is for the generous giver but is also for the diligent in Prov 13:4, and the one who trusts God in Prov 28:25.
So we see that the believer who gives generously while faith resting in God will himself be generously given to by the Lord; he will be blessed in this life. And as in vs. 24 where the blessing is given in terms of quantity, here with “fatness” it is speaking about the quality of our reciprocated blessings.
Rod Matton states, “What is a liberal soul? What does Solomon actually mean by this term? It is a person who is generous. God says this person will be made “fat.” They will have an abundance, will prosper, and reap the blessing of encouragement, provision, and refreshment from others. When you are generous with what God has given you, it causes people to appreciate and admire you because you are demonstrating selflessness, concern, and love for other people. The generous person also enjoys the great joy and delight that come from giving to people in need. You have never really lived until you’ve done something for somebody who can never repay you.
Philip Yancey has some interesting thoughts about this word “fat.” He said: I don’t know what comes to your mind when you hear the word “fat”, but I have a good idea. In America, fat is nearly always a dirty word. We spend billions of dollars on pills, diet books, and exercise machines to help us lose excess fat. I hadn’t heard a good word about fat in years—that is, until I met Dr. Paul Brand.
“Fat is absolutely gorgeous,” says Brand, a medical doctor who has worked with lepers in India. “When I perform surgery, I marvel at the shimmering, lush layers of fat that spread apart as I open up the body. Those cells insulate the body against cold, provide protection for the valuable organs underneath, and give a firm, healthy appearance to the whole body.”
I had never thought of fat quite like that! “But those are just side benefits,” he continues. “The real value of fat is as a storehouse. Locked in those fat cells are the treasures of the human body. When I run or work or expend any energy, fat cells make that possible. They act as banker cells. It’s absolutely beautiful to observe the cooperation among those cells!”
Dr. Brand applies the analogy of fat to the body of Christ. Each individual Christian in a relatively wealthy country like America is called to be a fat cell. America has a treasure house of wealth and spiritual resources. The challenge to us, as Christians, is to wisely use those resources for the rest of the body. Ever since talking to Dr. Brand, I have taken sort of a whimsical pleasure once each month in thinking of myself as a fat cell on the day I write out checks for Christian organizations. It has helped my attitude. No longer do I concentrate on how I could have used that money I am giving away; rather, I contemplate my privilege to funnel those resources back into Christ’s body to help accomplish his work all around the world.” (Mattoon’s Treasures – Treasures from Proverbs, Volume 1.)
“And he who waters will himself be watered.”
First we have the action, “the one who waters”, as the causative active Hiphil Participle Verb RAWAH, רָוָה that means, “to give water, be satiated, drenched, or soaked.” We saw this verb in Prov 5:18 & 7:18 regarding right and wrong love respectfully. Here it means you give until the need is met.
“Giving involves giving wealth, it also involves giving of yourself, your time, attention, kindness, thoughtfulness, and consideration for others. You do not have to be wealthy to be generous because you can give these other things. In fact, many people would rather have attention and kindness more than money. They need someone to love them.” (Mattoon’s Treasures – Treasures from Proverbs, Volume 1.)
Then we have the blessing, “will be watered” as the causative passive Hophal Imperfect Participle Verb RAWAH that means, “you will receive the action of being watered.” In context, it means that God will bless you abundantly. He will drench you with material blessings, even though it seems like you are giving them all away.
There are two key motivating forces in a person’s life, 1) the desire for gain, and 2) the fear of loss. Solomon makes it clear that generosity affects both of these motivations. The world says to hold on to as much as possible, but God blesses those who give freely of their possessions, time, and energy. So here we understand that the gift blesses both the giver and the receiver, and the basic issue, in regard to material property, is whether someone will trust the principles of God, or the “common sense” of Satan’s cosmic system.
Therefore, faith-rest is in view as this double image functions to underscore the certainty of reciprocity for being generous, i.e., when you give, God will give to you!
In addition, when you give it helps you to gain the right perspective of your possessions. In doing so, you realize that your possessions were never really yours to begin with, but they were given to you by God to be used to help others. What then do you gain by giving? You gain freedom from enslavement to your possessions, the joy of helping others, and God’s approval.
Watering is done after the seeds have been planted, so here the emphasis is on giving when the needs arise during the nurturing process, and to keep on watering (giving) until the harvest, i.e., the needs are met, and the person gets back on their feet.
“A soul of blessing is one from whom blessings go out to others, who is even a blessing to all with whom he comes into fellowship.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament)
Prov 11:26, “He who withholds grain, the people will curse him, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.”
This verse goes back to contrasting righteousness and wickedness and begins with “Stinginess Cursed”, this time from the perspective of the needy, whose lives are directly affected by the response to their situation.
“He who withholds” is different from CHASAK of vs. 24. Here it is the Qal Active Verb MANA, מָנַע that means, “to withhold, hold back, or refuse.” In essence, the verb represents the antithesis of giving, in that the subject is capable of and has the power to provide the object in question, but refuses to do so.
“Grain” is the Noun BAR, בַּר for “grain or wheat.” It symbolizes life’s necessities, not luxuries, and stands for all the produce from fields, orchards, and gardens that support life and the economy. So the context in view is that which provides physical sustenance, food, or even the money necessary to purchase food.
The paradox that generosity gains and stinginess negates is here put in terms of selling grain, presumably at normal market value versus implicitly hoarding it in recession or depression to drive up the price, causing inflation resulting in higher profits for the seller. Therefore, this is the person of Amos 8:4-8, who is exploiting the need of others to advantage themselves in business, as they are holding back their stores of grain in times of scarcity, speculating to receive yet higher prices down the road.
The figure here is a different aspect of the character of the wicked than we saw in vs. 24: rather than simply not giving, (no scattering), as was the nature of the wicked in vs. 24, here their nature is to turn their backs on those that are in need, (not watering when the plant is growing), and hoarding their resources for an assumed better future price.
Prov 3:27, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
The consequence for withholding that which could provide for others is “cursing”, the Qal Imperfect of QAVAV, קָבַב. It is the opposite of BERAKAH, (blessing). It is used of Balaam practicing divination to curse Israel, Num 22:11, 17; 23:8, 11, 13, 25, 27; 24:10. The general idea of this word is a pronouncement of bad fortune or ill favor bestowed on another, e.g., sayings like, “he’s a bad man” or “may the Lord repay you for your evil deeds.” Since only the Lord can affect the curse, Israel looked to Him for the fulfillment of their curse proclamation, cf. Ex 22:22-24; Amos 8:4-8; James 5:4.
James 5:4, “Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth (The Armies).”
This type of “cursing” will not just come from one person but by the LE’OM, לְאוֹם, the “people or nation.” In other words, you will not be part of the Pivot if you are a cheapskate, if you are not giving with your time, talent, or treasure.
There is a special curse on those who ignore helping the helpless poor.
Prov 21:13, “He who shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.”
Prov 22:22-23, “Do not rob the poor because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate; 23for the Lord will plead their case, and take the life of those who rob them.”
There is also a curse for those who take advantage of the poor, Prov 22:16; 28:3.
Prov 22:16, “He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.”
“But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.”
Here in the conclusion, we once again note, “Generosity Blessed.”
“But blessing (BERAKAH) will be on the head (ROSH) of him who sells it (SHAVAR).”
“Sells it”, SHAVAR, שָׁבַר means, “to break into pieces, to shatter or crush, or to sell grain.” Here it is in the causative active Hiphil Participle Verb Stem meaning literally: “to crush the grain and purify it for use”, and figuratively: “he breaks up his wealth, so that he can give some of it away or sell it.”
We see an example of this in Joseph, who in Gen 41:56-42:6, when the famine was severe, “opened the storehouses and sold grain.”
Charity to the poor is a bona fide function of the establishment, Prov 14:31, 19:17.
Prov 14:31, “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for his maker, but he who is kind to the needy honors God.”
Prov 19:17, “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed.”
Charity to the poor is a bona fide function in this life, Gal 2:10.
The believer must distinguish between socialism or the welfare state and charity. Charity is for the helpless poor. Welfare makes the poor helpless.
When the harvest is in, share what you have with the needy. In other words, do not hoard wealth for yourself, give when you have the means to do so, and do not make up excuses as to why you cannot give.
Principles of Giving: 2 Cor 8-9
Giving is an expression of worship to commemorate the grace policy of God. In the Church Age, it is the legitimate function of the believer’s Royal Priesthood in worship, both inside and outside the local church. It is the presentation of money or other valuable commodities or assets, including your time, talents, and truth, (Bible Doctrine in our soul), which may be used to help others. Therefore, we are to be good stewards in the giving of our time, talent, treasure, and truth.
- Time: (Spend quality moments with those who need help or encouragement.)
Gal 6:9-10, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”
- Talent: (Operate in your spiritual gifts.)
1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
- Treasure: (Financially support each other when necessary.)
Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure, (how much you give), it will be measured to you in return.”
- Truth: (Apply the Word of God in your relationships with each other.)
Col 4:5-6, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
Everything that we are and possess as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, both spiritually and materially, namely, our time, talent, treasure, and truth are in fact “trusts” given to us by God which we are to invest for God’s kingdom and glory. We are God’s trustees or stewards of good gifts to be given to others, 1 Peter 1:17; 2:11; 4:10-11; Luke 19:11-26.
As you may know, there is a spiritual gift of giving that the Holy Spirit has given to some believers, where they demonstrate in the superlative the quality of committing earthly possessions to the Lord for His use, 1 Cor 12:11; Rom 12:6, 8.
Rom 12:6, 8, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us….8he who gives, with liberality.”
“Liberality” is the Greek Noun, HAPLOTES, ἁπλότης that means, “singleness, simplicity, sincerity, mental honesty, or virtue.” It is not self-seeking, but openness of heart manifesting itself by generosity.
Yet, giving is universal to all believers as a major portion of “Christian service” unto God, as we are noting in Prov 11:24-26 and in 2 Cor 8-9, and giving is one of the four categories of Christian service.
- Christian service related to your spiritual gift.
- Christian service related to your Royal Priesthood, which includes prayer, giving, and the execution of the Plan of God through learning, thinking, and solving.
- Christian service related to your Royal Ambassadorship, which includes evangelism, witnessing, administration in the local church, function on the mission field, function in a Christian service organization.
- Christian service related to the Laws of Divine Establishment, which includes military service, law enforcement, government, but never activism.
Giving is an expression of the Royal Family Honor Code, Rom 15:26; Gal 2:10.
Rom 15:26, “For Macedonia and Achaia have decided with pleasure to make a special offering to the poor believers who are in Jerusalem.”
Gal 2:10, “They only asked us to remember the poor; the very thing I was also eager to do.”
Giving is the means of inculcating teamwork and coordination into the body of Christ where motivation is the major issue, as we will note in Prov 11:27-31.
Principles of Grace Giving.
Giving is an expression of the Royal Family Honor Code, Rom 16:26.
Giving is an expression of mental attitude in every circumstance of life, 2 Cor 8:2.
Giving is an expression of freewill, without gimmicks or coercion, 2 Cor 8:3.
- Even though under adversity, they shared the happiness of God. And having that mental attitude, they gave even while in deep poverty.
Giving must express an attitude toward the Lord before it can express an attitude toward people, 2 Cor 8:5.
- They were occupied with Christ and had personal love for God the Father which motivated their giving.
Giving depends on consistent function of post-salvation renewing of your mind; Perception, Metabolization, and Application (PMA) of Bible doctrine, 2 Cor 8:7.
2 Cor 8:7, “But just as you excel in everything, in faith-rest, and in doctrine, and in knowledge, and in all diligence, and in love (impersonal) from you to us, and also you excel in this grace giving.”
They excelled in giving not on the basis of whether they liked someone or not, but on the basis of a number of Problem-Solving Device including: Doctrinal Orientation, Faith-Rest, and Impersonal Love for Mankind (emphasizing the virtue of the subject, rather than the attractiveness of the object), culminating in Grace Orientation. Grace giving is not based on personal love!
Precedence for giving is predicated on grace as exemplified by our Lord in His First Advent, 2 Cor 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich (He was eternal God), yet for your sakes he became poor (true humanity in hypostatic union), so that you through his poverty (being judged for our sins on the cross) might become rich.”
Therefore, giving is a mental attitude related to an overt act, 2 Cor 8:12, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable on the basis of what one has (willingness counts for giving), not on the basis of what one does not have.” Willingness counts for giving, if you have nothing to give.
People often think of giving in terms of the amount given, but that is wrong. In fact, even if you cannot give because you do not have the financial means to do so, you can still give through the mental attitude of your time, talent, and truth. Therefore, mental attitude is the key to giving, not the amount given as noted in 2 Cor 9:7-12.
Verse 7, Giving is related to motivation from metabolized Bible doctrine in the right lobe of the soul, 2 Cor. 9:7, “Each one as he has determined in his heart (right lobe), so give; not grudgingly (from distress of mind), or under compulsion: for God loves a cheerful (HILARIOS – cheerful, willing, and gracious) giver.” The key to giving is Grace Orientation, Problem-Solving Device # 4, which is the true basis for giving.
Verse 8, God in His matchless grace provides both the spiritual motivation and the monetary capital for grace giving. This verse goes on to say that when God finds this kind of person He provides the money to give, “for God is able to make all grace abound unto you.” That is, God graciously provides extra finances for the grace giver to give. The only legitimate system of giving is a grace giver giving to a grace cause.
Verse 9 is a quotation from Psalm 112:9, “Just as it stands written, He scatters abroad, (God gives extra money to certain people), he gave to the poor; His righteousness abides forever.” God provides to the poor under grace, and His righteousness meets up with His grace at the point of grace giving in the believer.
Verse 10, God in His matchless grace provides both the monetary capital for grace giving and makes it part of your Christian service “Now he who supplies seed to the sower (capital or resources) and bread for food, shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” God not only increases the capital and resources to give, but He increases the results of your giving too, i.e. fruit.
Verse 11, Generosity from a righteous mental attitude results in generosity of giving, 2 Cor 9:11. Giving is never a strain. “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, which through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” This grace giving all leads to praise and glorification of God.
Verse 12, Giving is a result of Christian service, “The ministry of this service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanksgiving to God.” This is blessing by association and maximum glorification of God.
So these passages start with a mental attitude, “cheerful giver, never under compulsion”, and ends up in many expressions of thanksgiving to God. Therefore, giving is a mental attitude based upon the Problem-Solving Device: Grace Orientation.
A profitable servant is obedient, whereas the unprofitable servant is disobedient in giving, Mat 24:47-51; 25:14-30.
Then in Rom 14:12 we are told, “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”
This will take place at the Bema Seat Evaluation of the church, 1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 Cor 5:10, which will be conducted by the Lord Jesus Christ immediately after the Rapture/Resurrection of the Church. There the believer will be subject to giving an account to the Lord for his service and stewardship of his time, talent, treasure, and truth that will then be evaluated to determine if your works were done in faith in service of the Lord or not, and then to determine if these actions merit a reward or not.
“Giving an account” is not a time for explanations or excuses as to why you did not do good here on earth, but rather a time for elevation of your stewardship of the time, talent, treasure, and truth that the Lord gave to you to be invested in His kingdom.
In other words, being held responsible by the Lord for your service, which involves a four-fold stewardship:
- Time: Were you profitable in how you used your time on earth that the Lord gave to you?
- Talent: Were you profitable in how you used your spiritual gift that the Lord gave to you?
- Treasure: Were you profitable in how you used your finances that the Lord gave to you?
- Truth: Were you profitable in how you used the truth that the Lord gave to you?
If you were a faithful and profitable servant and steward of the time, spiritual gift, finances, and truth that the Lord gave to you as trustees, you will receive a reward from the Lord; and if you were not, you will not receive a reward.
Vs. 27-31, Blessings or wrath related to motivation in business.
In this last section we continue and complete the theme of business transactions, picking it up from where we left off in vs. 24-26 regarding giving to others for their well-being. So here we see the positive and negative aspects of right and wrong motivation regarding all business decisions we make.
Here we see the pattern of:
- Righteousness blessed, vs. 27a
- Wickedness cursed, vs. 27b
- Wickedness cursed,vs. 28a
- Righteousness blessed, 28b
- Wickedness cursed, 29
- Righteousness blessed, 30
- Righteousness blessed, 31a
- Wickedness cursed, 31b
Prov 11:27, “He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, but he who seeks evil, it will come to him.”
“He who diligently seeks” is the Verb SCHACHAR, שָׁחַר that has two meaning in Hebrew. The first is the color “black” and the second is “to seek diligently” or “look for early” as we have here in the Qal Active Participle. The two usages refer to the dawn that is looked for early in the morning. This is the diligent person who is looking to perform acts of righteousness in spite of difficulty.
As you know, being a believer here behind enemy lines of Satan’s cosmic system, is not an easy task. As the world tells us to act wickedly, we need to be continually reminded of God’s Word that tells us to act righteously. And as such, the mature believer is one who diligently applies God’s Word to everyday situations and seeks the good of God in all that they do.
And, as we have been noting throughout Proverbs, “wisdom” is the personified knowledge of the character, nature, and actions which embody the Holiness of God and His will. Therefore, to seek wisdom is the path to walking in God’s holy and righteous living, Prov 8:17; 13:24.
As you know, when you walk in the God’s light (holiness and righteousness), you will be rewarded in time and eternity. Yet, for those who do not honestly seek God’s righteousness, they will not find it or its rewards, Prov 1:28.
This righteousness is noted in the common word for “good” TOB, (tov). This is Divine good production, the fruit of the Spirit, where good thoughts and actions are applied to others.
Since “evil” in the second half of this verse refers to harming others, “good” here refers to providing for the well-being of one’s neighbor, that is operating with integrity in all your business transactions. Cf. Prov 3:27; 11:23.
So this is the one who is zealously intent upon Divine good, and the believer operating under the Royal Family Honor Code. This believer always asks himself what will, in the given case, be well-pleasing to my neighbor and to God.
It is the person who “does unto others as he would have done to himself” of Mat 7:12.
Mat 7:12, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
The second “seeks” in this verse is the intensive active Piel Imperfect of the Verb BAQASH, בָּקַשׁ, that means, “to find, require, demand, or desire.” It denotes the pursuit of something not present to satisfy a desire. The verb is generally used literally, as one who is seeking an object which is concrete, (i.e., that which is pleasing to God and man). It often implies judgment or retribution possessing a legal aspect, which ties in to the overall theme of Divine judgment for reward and discipline.
“Favor” is the noun RATSON meaning, “favor, pleasure, or will.” It means seeking the favor of man through your righteous acts which in turn is seeking the favor of the Lord, or pleasing him, as we have previously noted in Prov 8:35; 10:32; 11:1, 20. Therefore the one seeking God’s righteousness is also seeking to please Him by pleasing man in righteousness, which results in the judgment of a reward.
“But he who seeks evil, evil will come to him.”
“But he who seeks” is our third Hebrew verb for “seek” which is the Qal Active Participle of DARASH, דָּרַשׁ that means, “to resort to, to seek, inquire, or require.” This “seeking” denotes a person who carefully and energetically strives to fulfill a passion, cf. Prov 11:19b.
This seeker unfortunately is not seeking good but is seeking out “evil” RA’AH, רָעָה that means, “evil or disaster.”
It could refer either to those who seek wicked deeds in order to participate in them or to those who work to bring trouble and disaster into the lives of others. In either case, what they seek will come back around to them, Prov 1:18f; 26:27.
Prov 26:27, “He who digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him.”
The consequence of this type of action is “it will come to him” The Qal Imperfect of BO, for “to go or arrive,” where here it means, “arrive.” So the principle is: If you are a trouble maker, then you are going to make trouble for yourself. If you seek mischief, injury, misery, or distress for others, then it will find you!
So those that seek God and to act righteously before man early and often are seeking to please God and man with the result of being rewarded, yet those who seek or resort to evil will receive evil / disaster in their lives.
The truth, “seek, and you will find,” takes on new meaning as: “what you seek for others, you will find for yourself”, Mat 6:33; 7:7.
Therefore, once again our attention is turned to God’s just rewards. The seeker after good will be rewarded according to His faithfulness in endeavoring to bring righteousness to others in their business transactions. But the trouble maker, who rejoices in iniquity and desires to cheat, steal, malign, or harm his neighbor, will receive the same himself.
Prov 11:28, “He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.”
“He who trusts” is the Qal Active Participle Verb BATACH, בָּטַח that means, “to trust or place confidence in.”
“In his riches” is BE OSHER. OSHER means, “wealth or riches,” speaking of worldly materialistic wealth. This is the person who places there hopes and dreams in the world and in their worldly riches rather than God. They do not trust in the Lord to provide logistical grace blessings and in turn only trust in their bank accounts.
“Will fall” is the Noun NAPHAL נָפַל which we have seen before that means, “to fall, to lie, to prostrate oneself, or to overthrow.”
This word begins a contrast with “green leaf” below. It gives us a contrast between the Fall or Autumn, when leaves are falling off of the trees and Spring when new life and growth emerges. Here the Fall means dead, dying, and decaying of the leaves, which is the future of the one who trusts solely in Satan’s Cosmic System.
Therefore, this person has a false sense of security. In Psa 49:6 & Prov 11:28, men cannot trust in riches or rely on gold, fortified cities, Jer 5:17, chariots and horses, Isa 3:1, or even other men, Jer 17:5. In fact, there is a curse against anyone who puts his trust in man. Likewise, we cannot even rely on ourselves, because human strength is inadequate, Prov 28:26. Further, Job 6:20 summarizes that those placing their confidence in creatures and their devices will be disappointed.
We are made to trust in or have true confidence in God alone, all else ultimately leads to disappointment or worse. Therefore, trusting in worldly riches is a foolish thing, Mark 10:24, and ultimately a fateful enterprise.
Remember that wealth is fleeting, Prov 23:5, and in the end it cannot save from death, cf. Prov 10:2, 15; 11:4; 18:11; 28:11; 30:7-9.
“But the righteous (TSADDIQ) will flourish like the green leaf.”
“Will flourish” is the Qal Imperfect Verb PARACH, פָּרַח that means, “to sprout, bud, blossom, or break out.”
“Green leaf” is the noun ALEH עָלֶה that means, “leaf or foliage,” and is derived from ALAH that means, “to ascend.”
So combined it is the opposite of what happens in the Fall and is the new leaf of Spring. It compares the fatal fall of the wicked versus the flourishing of the righteous.
It speaks of the newness of life, the guarantee of new life and the vibrancy of that new life and the perpetual renewing of life as it springs forward each year. This is the blessing for the righteous. This is the believer of 2 Cor 3:18, “being transformed into the image of Christ.”
The point is that the righteous, those who trust the Lord not their circumstances, Prov 11:28b; cf. 10:2b, are delivered by the object of their trust, God and His Word. Those who count on material possessions will come to realize that these things cannot provide ultimate security.
This also reminds us that we are not to trust the gift but rather the Giver, cf. Deut 6:10ff; 8:10-14, and it is the righteous, not the man with money, who is truly wealthy.
Prov 11:29, “He who troubles his own house will inherit wind, and the foolish will be servant to the wisehearted.”
Here we have two analogies of different socio-economic positions: the head of a household and the servant of the household.
It begins with the head of the house who brings “trouble” to it. “Trouble” is the Qal Active Verb AKHAR, עָכַר that means, “to stir up, to trouble, or to be disastrous.” It means that because of his cheating, stealing, gossiping, maligning in business, it results in difficulties and disasters.
We noted this verb in vs. 17, for “does himself harm.” Cf. Prov 15:6; 27.
Prov 15:6, “Great wealth is in the house of the righteous, but trouble is in the income of the wicked.”
Prov 15:27, “He who profits illicitly troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes will live.”
“His own house” BAYITH, used literally for buildings, but here and elsewhere figuratively for “extended family, household, or clan.” So this means to cause problems and difficulties for yourself and for your own family, as a result of your evil business practices.
The discipline this reversionistic believer will receive is to “inherit wind” that means to reap the whirlwind, as previously noted. It is a metaphor for being left with nothing Eccl. 1:14, and means a storm or disaster will come upon your family and potentially subsequent generations, Prov 1:27: 10:25.
Eccl 1:14, “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.”
The word “inherit” is used here as a metaphor for what the reversionistic believer will receive, more so than pass down, when he operates in evil business practices. Yet in fact, “to trouble one’s own house” is to walk so as to leave an evil example for succeeding generations that will negatively affect those subsequent generations too.
“And the foolish will be servant to the wisehearted.”
“Foolish” is EWIYL, אֱוִיל (evil) once again, and means, “foolish” in the sense of “one who hates wisdom and walks in folly, despising wisdom and morality.”
This type “will become a servant”, EBED (evedh), for servant or slave, to the “wisehearted”, CHAKAM LEB.
This describes those whose foolish decisions ruin their business or property, cf. Prov 14:1, with the result of enslaving them to those who are wise, and take over their business and household as well, cf. Prov 17:2.
Prov 17:2, “A servant who acts wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully, and will share in the inheritance among brothers.”
So the wicked believer will cause problems to themselves and their household which leads to being enslaved to others. “Instead of passing on the inherited business or property, Prov 19:14, and building it up by wisdom, Prov 24:3-4, 27, this foolish person reduces the family’s heritage to a fleeting nothing, and he himself becomes a slave, no longer a free man.” (Waltke)
Prov 11:30, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls.”
The agricultural analogy of vs. 28, “Fall and Spring” continues now with the righteous being a “tree of life” bearing fruit.
“The fruit of the righteous” is PERI TSADDIQ and is speaking once again of Divine good production, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, John 15:1-5. It is a metonymy for what characterizes everything that results from the words and lives of the righteous believer, in both their own lives and the lives of those who are affected by their business transactions.
The blessing here is, “a tree of life”, ETS CHAYYIM, that refers to sharing the happiness of God with others. It is the benefits and abundant life that the righteous produce for their family and community by their words and deeds in business. They are a source of life and happiness to those around them.
Interestingly, it was exactly one year ago this week (Nov, 20, 2012) that I taught on this regarding Prov 3:18, “She (wisdom) is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.” There our emphasis was on the wisdom of God, (Bible Doctrine), described as a “tree of life.”
Here the emphasis is regarding the application of Bible Doctrine (righteousness) to our business transactions.
In both cases, the “Tree of Life” represents sharing the Happiness of God, one of the 11 Problem Solving Devices. We will note the Doctrine of the Tree of Life after we conclude vs. 31.
But remember what Mat 13:32 tells us, “And this (the mustard seed that represents faith-resting) is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.” Cf. Mark 4:32; Luke 13:19.
So we see that for the person who applies God’s Word (wisdom) to their business dealings, they will be prosperous bringing sustenance and happiness to themselves and their families and communities. Therefore, the result of functioning with righteousness in our business transactions is that others are blessed by association.
“And he who is wise (CHAKAM) wins souls.”
This person because of their Divine good production are excelling in their Royal Ambassadorship with the result that they are “winning souls”, LAQACH for “to take, grasp, or seize” with NEPHESH for “souls or lives.” Another way to say this is that he “takes away souls” from death.
This is the result of our words, actions, and deeds in relation to business transactions that are done in righteousness; they will win souls. In other words, by your actions and deeds of righteousness, you will lead people to see Christ in you with the potential of bringing them to salvation. This is part of God’s blessing by association. God has blessed you with salvation, and when you walk in that light, others will receive your light and salvation too.
“Wisdom consists not in the knowledge of Scripture, precious as that is, but in the ability to live in the power of the Word. True wisdom is being able to so minister to men, women, and children that they will be won for Christ and His truth.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – Proverbs)
“It is evident that soul-winning is not the slipshod business many would make it out to be—the mere hit-or-miss ministry that is so common today. On the contrary, it is a Divine science, requiring sincere preparation of the heart in the presence of God. It requires careful study of the need of men’s souls and of the truth of the Scriptures that can meet that need. Of all human soul-winners, Paul is the great example “made all things to all men, that (he) might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). This is the wisdom so much needed in turning men from the power of Satan unto God.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – Proverbs.)
Prov 11:31, “If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner!”
This verse starts with the interrogative HEN for “see or if.” It establishes an “if – then” statement.
The “if” is the “righteous (TSADDIQ) will be rewarded in the earth (ERETS, אֶרֶץ).”
“Rewarded” is the intensive passive Pual Imperfect Verb SHALAM, שָׁלַם that comes from SHALOM, and means, “to be at peace, to be safe (in mind, body, or estate); figuratively to be (causatively make) completed; by implication to be friendly; and by extension to reciprocate or recompensed (in various applications)” as is the case here, to be reciprocated for the righteous business transactions we have consistently applied.
Notice the place of the reciprocated blessings, “in the earth.” This finalizes the agricultural analogy, as all plant life and fruit production comes from the earth of the ground and reminds us of John 15:1 that the Father is the vinedresser, (land owner). Therefore, our blessings come from the genesis of our life here on earth, God Himself. That means that our blessings are based on the work we perform here on the earth that are reciprocated while we are still here on earth as “blessings in time.”
So the “if” statement is what is called in the Greek a first class conditional if, that means, “if and you are” blessed here on earth.
It is saying that the righteous business man or woman is blessed here on earth in this time. It is used to set up the contrast of the wicked believer.
“How much more the wicked (RASHA) and the sinner (CHATA)!”
CHATA, חָטָא means, “to sin, to miss the mark, go wrong, etc.” So wicked and sinner combined denotes their guilt before God for the wrongs against humanity.
“How much more” begins the “then” statement with the Conjunction APH, “and, even, surely, etc.”, and the Conjunction KI, “because, that, etc.”, that combine for a comparison to the righteous above.
Now we know that wickedness, sin, and evil are not rewarded by blessings from God, so the comparison is by way of God’s judgment, in that the wicked believer is rewarded with Divine discipline. This reminds us that crime does not pay, and God’s discipline is sure to follow the evil business transactions of the reversionistic believer.
So for the spiritually mature businessman there is recompense of blessings in time here on earth, and for the reversionistic businessman there is recompense of Divine discipline in time on earth.
In comparison of the righteous being all believers and the wicked being unbelievers only, H.A. Ironside notes, “This is the passage quoted by the apostle Peter (though from the Septuagint version). He said: For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begins at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1 Peter 4:17-18). Much light is shed on this quotation by comparing it in its transposed form with the proverb itself. The righteous being scarcely, or with difficulty saved, refers to their salvation on earth, not their entrance into Heaven. Here on earth the righteous and wicked are subjects of God’s authority. If the godly will be recompensed here for the evil they may do when their heart turns away from the Lord, what about the wicked? Their judgment will be dire indeed. In a national way, we see this in the case of the righteous nation of Israel, who was punished in measure for its sins. Edom, the proud, defiant persecutor, who had cast off all fear of God was also punished. See the prophecy of Obadiah. God never spares His children when they willfully follow their own ways. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6). How irreverent the thought that the wicked can defy Him as they please and go unpunished! Judgment may linger, but it is certain to be executed eventually. “They shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – Proverbs.)
The Tree of Life
The phrase, “Tree of Life”, which in the Hebrew is ETS CHAYYIM [חַיִּיםעֵץ] and in the Greek XULON ZOE [ξύλονζωή] is used 11 times in scripture; 3 times in Genesis, (Gen 2:9; 3:22, 24); 4 times in Proverbs, (Prov 3:18, 11:30; 13:12; 15:4); and 4 times in Revelation, (Rev 2:7; 22:2, 14, 19).
It is first used in Gen 2:9, “Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
A main emphasis of the Tree of Life was for the perpetuation of the human race (Adam and Ishshah) inside the Garden of Eden. As long as they kept eating the fruit from the tree of life, they continued to have life. From the context of Rev 22:2, there must have been some regenerative power in the fruit of this tree to perpetuate life for all of eternity if eaten regularly.
We also see that this and the other trees were, “pleasing to the sight and good for food.” Things that are pleasing and good typically bring happiness to the one partaking of them. This tells us that the Tree of Life was also for the total happiness of man. Man had a perfect soul in a perfect body; therefore, the perfect origin of God’s perfect happiness and the perfect expression of God’s perfect happiness were there in the Garden of perfect environment, and Adam was happy in the garden. Man was designed for happiness, blessing, capacity, and pleasure unless he went negative to God’s Plan.
The same thing is still true today. Only disobedience destroys happiness.
Man, as ruler, ought to be happy. The Tree of Life combined immortality with perfect happiness to give man perfect environment plus perfect happiness so he could do a good job ruling the world. Man had everything that would stimulate perfect happiness and the Tree of Life was God’s grace provision for man as the ruler of this world to be happy.
In addition to life and happiness, the Tree of Life was also man’s expression of positive volition to God’s provision, Gen 2:16, as long as he kept eating from it.
Yet, as you know, Adam chose to disobey God’s Word and Plan and instead ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This was the first sin man would commit and involved no morality or immorality at all, but rejecting perfect happiness provided by God, by rejecting His Word. Therefore, man was cut off from the Tree of Life (and therefore God’s happiness) because of his positive volition to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, (i.e., Satan’s cosmic system), Gen 3:6, which demonstrated his negative volition towards the Word of God.
At that point, the Tree of Life was useless to man in the status of sin and spiritual death because sin destroys happiness. The Tree of Life represents God’s perfect happiness and the perpetuation of His perfect happiness, yet in the Garden of Eden both were cut off, Gen 3:24, because with sin now in man, perfect happiness cannot exist in the human race.
In addition, if man, in spiritual death, had eaten from the Tree of Life, his free will would no longer be the means of resolving the Angelic Conflict. Immortality, in the status of spiritual death, would condemn the human race to the Lake of Fire.
Likewise, as Gen 3:22 notes, you cannot have an Old Sin Nature and eat of the Tree of Life and have perfect happiness. You cannot have God’s perfect happiness and sin. You cannot choose both the Plan of God and the cosmic system of Satan.
Remaining in the garden with a sin nature, man would have been immortal with unhappiness. Therefore, God cut man off from the Tree of Life putting it out of his reach, Gen 3:24, so that his free will would determine where he would spend eternity and whether he would be happy or miserable.
If man had been permitted to eat of the Tree of Life after the fall, he would have no volitional choice after the fall. Therefore, after the fall, the purpose for the creation of man could only be perpetuated by cutting man off from the Tree of Life and providing a new Tree of Life, the Cross of Jesus Christ, which is the Tree of Eternal Life. (Note the use of XULON referring to the Cross of Jesus Christ in: Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Gal 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24.)
Once man ate from the forbidden tree in the Garden, immortality must be attained by partaking of another tree: The Tree of Eternal Life, the Cross. When anyone believes in Jesus Christ as their Savior, God the Holy Spirit creates in them a perfect environment called the Human Spirit where God’s happiness can reside once again.
In the Garden, the Tree of Life was provided by God’s grace to be associated with man’s positive volition, which was to be expressed in his free will toward the Word and Plan of God. A new Tree had to be selected in order for eternal life and perfect happiness to exist. By expelling man from the Garden, man now could choose to eat from the Tree of Eternal Life, the Cross.
As for the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God in the eternal state, remember that the Tree of Life perpetuated happiness and prosperity in both the human soul and body in perfect environment. In the eternal state we will once again have the privilege of eating from the Tree of Life in the Garden of God, Rev 2:7, 22:2, 14, 19, because at that time there will be no more sin, Rev 21:4, where perfect happiness for eternity can exist.
So we see in Genesis and Revelation the literal Tree of Life for the perpetuation of perfect happiness when someone is in a perfect environment. Well, what about the imperfect environment we live in today. That is where the book of Proverbs comes in.
In the book of Proverbs, the Tree of Life is used metaphorically for the happiness that the mature believer can attain here on earth, in time. Notice that the language for the “tree of life” in the Hebrew of Genesis compared to Proverbs. In Genesis the definite article HA is placed before the Noun CHAYYIM – life; therefore, signifying “the” before “tree of life”, as “the Tree of the Life.” Likewise, in the Greek of Revelation the definite article HO is used to signify the same. They are both speaking to the actual tree itself. Yet, in the Hebrew of Proverbs it does not use the article HA for “the” but just uses the two nouns ETS and CHAYYIM giving us and indefinite article in the English for “is a” tree of life, signifying the likeness of the tree, but that it is not the actual tree.
Prov 3:18, “She (wisdom – Bible Doctrine) is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.”
This is as close as we can get here on earth to the perfect happiness of perfect body, soul, and environment that was experienced in the Garden of Eden and that we will experience 24/7 in the eternal state.
So we note that in Proverbs, the Tree of Life is a metaphor for God’s Word (Bible Doctrine being resident within your soul) giving capacity for happiness, blessings, and total appreciation of God’s grace.
Therefore, the term in Proverbs speaks metaphorically regarding one aspect of the real Tree of Life in the Garden, in that God’s Word in the soul of the believer allows him to share in God’s perfect happiness, +H. We cannot experience the full perfection of this happiness because we still have an old sin nature. Not until we reach the eternal state and are without a sin nature and living in perfect environment will we experience the perfect happiness of God perpetually.
Prov 3:13-18, “She (Bible doctrine) is a Tree of Life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her.”, in this figure of speech for the wisdom of God, His Word, or Bible Doctrine, we see the results of having God’s Word resident within our soul which is Sharing in the Happiness of God, or the +H of God, as wisdom is a benefit to those who hold onto her. Knowledge of Bible doctrine is the only true happiness (+H) available to the believer after salvation. Learning doctrine in time is as close as we can get to the happiness of the Tree of Life.
Prov 11:30, “The fruit of the righteous (mature believer) is a Tree of Life, and he who is wise wins souls,”, tells us that when we apply God’s Word to our business transactions, and in all aspects of life, we will be a blessing to others through our words and actions, leading them to the Tree of Eternal Life, the Cross of Jesus Christ, which not only gives them salvation but also provides capacity for +H in time.
Prov 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart (right lobe) sick, but desire fulfilled is a Tree of Life.”, tells us that the metaphor “a tree of life” functions as the antithesis of sickness; so a form of healing is in view. Yet, when God is able to bless us in time and satisfy the desires of our heart, it causes us to be healthy and happy as we share in the happiness of God, +H.
Prov 15:4, “A soothing (MARPE – a healing, cure, health) tongue is a Tree of Life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.”, tells us of the restoration of Paradise in a broken world through healing speech that gives eternal life to those who receive. That is, wisdom (Bible Doctrine) displayed in your speech has healing power in relationships that brings God’s Happiness, +H, to the relationship you are in.
In these verses, both wisdom and words of healing are equated to a “Tree of Life” because words that heal, strengthen, and restore come from thoughtful hearts, cf. Prov 10:11; 12:18. And those who are a source of encouragement must exercise both forethought and insight, i.e., “wisdom.” So we see that the ways of wisdom are pleasant, characterized by peace, long life, and blessing, which all result in the sharing in God’s Happiness, +H, while here on earth.
And as we take in and apply God’s Word on a consistent basis, growing to spiritual maturity, we become a tree of life to those in our family, neighborhood, business, school, community, state, and nation, which means we have become part of the pivot of a client nation unto God.
Mat 13:32, “And this (the mustard seed that represents faith-resting) is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.” Cf. Mark 4:32; Luke 13:19.
Yet, in the same way as Adam, we can destroy the happiness of maturity by negative volition towards God’s Word and Plan for our lives. But the fact is that the closest we can come to perfect happiness here on earth is to grow to spiritual maturity, Prov 3:13-18.
“Until we reach the “tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7), we hold fast to the life-giving wisdom of the book of Proverbs and, more importantly, to Jesus Christ, who supersedes Solomon’s wisdom.” (Waltke, New International Commentary, The Book of Proverbs Chapters 1-15.)
In all three books, the context of this tree is related to the Perfect Happiness of God.
- In Genesis, it refers to the life giving tree found in the Garden of Eden.
- In Revelation, it refers to the tree for “healing the nations” found in the Paradise Garden of the eternal New Jerusalem.
- In Proverbs, it refers to Bible Doctrine in your soul that results in sharing the happiness of God.
In Gen 2:9-3:22 the Tree of Life is associated with perfect environment, life, and happiness in the Garden of Eden, as well as the perpetuation of right relationship with God in the garden.
In Gen 3:24, when man sinned and was driven out of the garden, he was cut off from the Tree of Life and God’s perfect happiness.
The Tree of Life is not seen again by man until the eternal state, Rev 2:7; 22:2, 14, 19, when perfect happiness is possible.
In Prov 3:18, the Tree of Life is a metaphor for happiness in time and is related to Bible doctrine in the soul that brings happiness.
In Prov 11:30, it is related to righteousness (Bible Doctrine) applied to all business deals and transactions that result in blessings and +H, for others.
In Prov 13:12, it is related to positive volition towards God and His Word that results in hopes and desires fulfilled that causes +H.
In Prov 15:4, it is related to the application of God’s Word in your speech that results in happiness.
In Rev 2:7, the overcomer is granted to eat once again from the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God.
In Rev 22:2, the Tree of Life will be in the New Jerusalem for the “healing of the nations.”
In Rev 22:14, all believers will be able to eat from the Tree of Life.
In Rev 22:19, false prophets will not be allowed to partake of the Tree of Life.