Browse Tag: Proverbs

All the Day Long

All the Day Long
All the Day Long

I was thinking this morning about how my heart is not in a good state right now. My “flesh,” as St. Paul terms it, has gained an advantage over me. It has taken the higher ground. It has its foot upon my chest and is ready to sever my head while I am fallen in my weakness.

My “flesh” is my mind. It is not just my physical anatomy, as if that were the residence of sinful passions. No, my flesh includes my sinful mind, my fickle often hard heart. Even if there isn’t an outward manifestation of sinful behavior, the thoughts are there in my mind. Lust is running amok in my mind. It usually does show itself in my body sooner or later, in one way or another – even if it’s only the slightest glance of my eye in a lustful manner. My “flesh” is in my mind and body.

I have not been mortifying my flesh – in the sense of putting these things to death through the Holy Spirit. I want it to be dead at the source – in my mind. I want a pure heart – not just reformation or restriction of my behavior. But right now I am so far from that. Anger and passion and worldliness. The pursuit of pleasure. How did it enter in when I was walking closely with God? (Or maybe just thought I was.) How have I again resorted to idolatry?

This is where it has lead me: to a place of mind and heart where I can’t read the Scriptures with a true desire to walk in God’s ways; I can’t pray with a full united heart; I can’t speak to others about Truth without hypocrisy; I can’t love others. This is hell and death and barrenness.

Reflecting on these things, I then thought, I must repent right now, pray – however feebly, and open my Bible. After all, I am 61 years-old. How much earthly existence do I have left? I should prepare my heart for my exit. I should be banking up treasure in heaven with much more determination than I have in piling up cash in my retirement fund. I’ve been reading Ecclesiastes lately. Oh God! Help me to learn the lesson: VANITY! VANITY! VANITY! Twelve chapters proving the emptiness of earthly existence. BUT: “Let us hear the conclusion of the WHOLE matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the WHOLE duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14)

So, I got up at that moment. I did open my Bible. As my habit is, I first ready my daily chapter of Proverbs. Since today is the 23rd, I read chapter 23. What did I find there?

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long. For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.

Proverbs 23:17, 18

The words that struck me most were, “All the day long.” It pressed upon me that my concern should be for THIS day. Fear the Lord THIS day – for that is the whole duty of man – THIS day. The whole duty for THIS man THIS day. Forget the past – with all its failures, all its wayward moments, all its hardness of heart. Focus on THIS day. Forget the future – with its anxieties and fears. It’s tempting to say the cliched line, “One day at a time.” But it’s true. “TODAY if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart.” (Psalm 95:7, 8) “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) “All the day long” are words that brought me abruptly to the present. Honestly, it’s a relief. Didn’t Jesus say, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34) The verse before it is better known to most of us: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” That is very much in line with the words from Proverbs 23: “Let not thine heart envy sinner: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.” God keeps bringing us back to the present. That is where the action is. The present is where we live. The present is where we can obey Him and walk with Him.

But also He points us to His righteous future kingdom: “For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.” Expectation is hope. Ultimately, what is our hope? It is “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,” our “blessed hope.” (Titus 2:13) I was going to now point “us” to the previous two verses in Titus 2. But I need to shift from “us” to “me.” I need to speak verses 11 and 12 to myself: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, DENYING UNGODLINESS AND WORLDLY LUSTS, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” I must have the hope of that glorious future. For surely there is an end! “Faith is the substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) I must walk by faith, certainly. “For surely there is an end!” It is a sure and certain fact, which my faith holds onto, that Jesus Christ will appear! “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2) What is the very next verse? “AND EVERY MAN THAT HATH THIS HOPE IN HIM PURIFIETH HIMSELF, EVEN AS HE IS PURE.”

I cannot escape the message: I must mortify my flesh THIS DAY! The blessed hope gives me incentive and courage to begin hammering the nails to crucify my flesh. Come, Holy Spirit, make such death of my flesh real and effectual THIS DAY! Help me, Lord, to let go of the anger, to resist the lust – to cut off my right hand and pluck out my right eye. Breathe Your life into me. Create me anew, with a clean heart and a right spirit. Bear Your fruit through me this day, Lord. Keep me moment by moment to fear You. For there is the place of peace and joy and love. There is where kindness and goodness dwell. Lord Jesus, let me desire what You desire. Let my heart beat with Yours.

Blessed are the Undefiled in the Way

Thomas Manton
Thomas Manton, 1620 – 1677

Reading Psalm 119 is a great enjoyment to me. I am endeavoring to memorize it. (Progress is much slower than I would like.) The Psalm consists of 176 verses divided into 22 stanzas. Many days I read through the entire Psalm by reciting a stanza every 30 minutes through the day. I start at 9 AM and finish at 7:30 PM. For me, it’s a good way to meditate on the Word of God – especially since this Psalm is specifically about the Word of God!

I also like to read commentaries and devotional writings centered on Psalm 119. I am meditatively making my way through W. S. Plumer’s commentary on the Psalm. I am halfway through the thoughtful slender volume, Psalm 119 for Life by Hywel R. Jones. Plus I have an everlasting warm spot in my heart for Charles Bridges’ Exposition of Psalm 119, as I wrote about here: Marked with the Stamp of Divine Purpose.

Now imagine my delight when I discovered (thanks to Hywel Jones) that Thomas Manton preached 190 sermons on Psalm 119 and they are available online for FREE! Sign me up!

I read the first sermon on Psalm 119:1 this afternoon. “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.” The following paragraph struck me, created a thirst in me, and motivated me to pray.

Take the law of God for your rule. Study the mind of God, and know the way to heaven, and keep exactly in it. It is an argument of sincerity when a man is careful to practice all that he knows, and to be inquisitive to know more, even the whole will of God, and when the heart is held under awe of God’s word. If a commandment stand in the way, it is more to a gracious heart than if a thousand bears and lions were in the way – more than if an angel stood in the way with a flaming sword: Proverbs 13:13, ‘He that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.’ Would you have blessing from God? – fear the commandment. It is not he that fears wrath, punishment, inconveniences, troubles of the world, molestations of the flesh; no, but he that dares not make bold with a commandment… Thus a child of God doth reason when the devil comes and sets a temptation before him, and being zealous for God, dares not comply with the lusts and humors of men, though they should promise him peace, happiness, and plenty. A wicked man makes no bones of a commandment; but a godly man, when he is in a right posture of spirit, and the awe of God is upon him, dare not knowingly and wittingly go aside and depart from God.

Thomas Manton, Sermons on Psalm 119, Sermon 1

One clarification from Manton: “This is called a way [‘Blessed are the undefiled in the way’], and this way is said to be God’s law, and in this way we must be undefiled; which implies not absolute purity and legal perfection, but gospel sincerity.”

“Lord, by Your Holy Spirit, create in me such sincerity that I might walk with you.”

The Backstory on A Prayer of the Foolish


Yesterday I published the short blog post, A Prayer of the Foolish. Today I will share a little about the thought that went into that post. These are some of the practices I follow when thinking over a portion of Scripture, especially if I have a thought of writing something related to Scripture.
In real life, these practices are not done as neatly and orderly as described below. In this recent case, Proverbs 9:6 is the verse that got my attention. I spent two days thinking, praying, and consulting various references. What follows is a bit of the details of that.

Comparing Bible Versions

One of the first things I do when a Bible verse intrigues me is compare the verse in a number of different Bible versions. I primarily read the King James Version. It’s what I “cut my teeth on” when I first started reading the Bible way back in 1980. (It’s the English that Jesus and His Apostles spoke, right?) I like to compare the KJV with several other Bibles that I have on hand.

So here is Proverbs 9:6 in nine different versions:

  • KJV – Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
  • Living Bible – Leave behind your foolishness and begin to live; learn how to be wise.
  • Amplified Bible – Leave off, simple ones – forsake the foolish and simple-minded – and live! And walk in the way of insight and understanding.
  • New American Standard Bible – Forsake your folly and live, and proceed in the way of understanding.
  • New International Version – Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.
  • New King James Version – Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding.
  • American Standard Version – Leave off, ye simple ones, and live; and walk in the way of understanding.
  • New Revised Standard Version – Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.
  • New American Bible, Revised Edition – Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.

You can see there is a bit of difference regarding the first half of the verse. The majority in that list tell us to forsake our own foolish ways. A few warn us to forsake foolish people. And one directs its admonition to “ye simple ones.”

I came to the conclusion that all three takes on the phrase are necessary and lead us to the same thing: we are simple ones, foolish in our own ways, AND we need to stay away from other foolish people – not following in their ways, but going in the paths of God’s wisdom.

Consulting Bible Commentaries

After comparing different Bible versions, I next consulted several commentaries on Proverbs that I have. Only one gave me something significant. That was Charles Bridges’ commentary. Bridges almost always provides a feast to digest that usually leaves me searching my heart. Here is what Bridges wrote regarding Proverbs 9:5, 6 (“Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.”):

Come, eat of the bread of life; drink of the wine of gospel grace and joy.
Is there not besides a special invitation for her [Wisdom] children – a table richly furnished for their refreshment; where they eat of the bread, and drink of the wine, such as “the world know not of?” (Matthew 26:26 – 28)

But are not all comers welcome to the Gospel feast? The Master’s heart flows along with every offer of His grace. His servants are ministers of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18 – 20) Their message is to tell of the bounty of Messiah’s house, and to bid sinners welcome to Him. Here, sinner, is thy warrant – not thy worthiness, but thy need, and the invitation of thy Lord. All the blessings of His Gospel are set before thee – love without beginning, end, or change. Honour the freeness of His mercy. Let Him have the full glory of His own grace, who invites thee to a feast, when He might have frowned thee to hell.
Let His heavenly hope be enthroned in the soul, displacing every subordinate object from its hold on thine affections, eclipsing the glories of this present world, absorbing thy whole mind, consecrating thy whole heart.

Here only are the ways of peace. The very severities of the Gospel prepare the way for its consolations. But never can these blessings be valued, till the path of the foolish be forsaken. Thou must forsake either them or Christ. (James 4:4) To abide with them, is to “remain in the congregation of the dead.” (Proverbs 21:16) To forsake them, is the way of life and understanding. (Proverbs 13:20; Psalm 26:3 – 6; 34:12 – 14; 119:115; Amos 5:15)
Are they more to you than salvation? To “be the friend of the world is to be the enemy of God.” “Come out, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive thee, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17, 18)

– Charles Bridges, Proverbs, Geneva Series of Commentaries, pages 85, 86.

See what I mean? Take some time to digest that!

Evangelical Application

There is a footnote for Proverbs 9:6 in the New American Bible. It says the following:

That you may live: life in Proverbs is this-worldly, consisting in fearing God or doing one’s duty toward God, enjoying health and long life, possessing wealth, good reputation, and a family. Such a life cannot be attained without God’s help. Hence Wisdom speaks not of life simply but of life with her; the guest is to live in Wisdom’s house.

I appreciate that perspective. Yes, certainly, the book of Proverbs is FULL of guidance for our “this-worldly” life. Absolutely! Go apply its directions on honesty, hard work, diligence, ethical business dealings, respect of others’ property, charity to the poor, respect for authority, and more – and you will see improvements to your experience of the here and now. We all need that!

But as I contemplated the “this-worldly” application of Proverbs 9:6, I remembered 1 Timothy 4:7, 8 – “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” It made me think that there is an evangelical application to this beginning passage of Proverbs 9, which Charles Bridges certainly elucidated. There is a turning from something unprofitable and a turning to life. That is repentance. That is the call of the Kingdom of God. It was the message of Jesus Himself: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

One of my favorite writers, whose books abound with evangelical beauty, is John Owen. In his book on Communion with God, Owen touched on Proverbs 9:1 – 6 as an example of God’s gracious Gospel invitation. He said the following:

The Lord Christ, the eternal Wisdom of the Father, and who of God is made unto us wisdom, erects a spiritual house, wherein He makes provision for the entertainment of those guests whom He so freely invites. His church is the house which He hath built on a perfect number of pillars, that it might have a stable foundation: His slain beasts and mingled wine, wherewith His table is furnished, are those spiritual fat things of the gospel, which He hath prepared for those that come in upon His invitation. Surely, to eat of this bread, and drink of this wine, which He hath so graciously prepared, is to hold fellowship with Him.

– John Owen, Works, Vol. 2, page 46.

The Prayer

Charles Bridges referred to James 4:4. I went back to James 4 and read several verses.

  • 4. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
  • 5. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
  • 6. But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
  • 7. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
  • 8. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
  • 9. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
  • 10. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

And there was the key I needed: “He giveth more grace. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord.” I want to forsake the foolish. But I AM foolish. Too often I am a friend of the world. Spiritual adultery! Is there no way out from under this mountain of corruption in my own heart? “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7 – the very next verse)

Please see: A Prayer of the Foolish.

Thank you for reading.

A Prayer of the Foolish

Oh Lord Hear Me
Oh Lord, Hear Me

Proverbs 9:1 – 6
1. Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:
2. She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.
3. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,
4. Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,
5. Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.
6. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.


A Prayer

“Oh Lord, You who are Wisdom, hear me. I long to walk in Your ways, to commune with You, to feed upon the abundance of your gracious provisions, to which You call me.

“But Lord, I find myself too often numbered among the foolish, entangled in the foolish ways of my own heart, trapped by that which I desire to forsake – yet which ever lures me. ‘O God, Thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from Thee’ (Psalm 69:5).

“Truly, I am simple, Lord. Truly, I lack understanding. In Your grace, shine Your wisdom into my heart that I may forsake the foolish and go in Your way of understanding.

“Hear me, Lord Jesus. You are my wisdom and my righteousness. I have nowhere else to turn but to You. Amen.”

For more thoughts on this passage of Proverbs please see: The Backstory on A Prayer of the Foolish

Surely There Is An End

Come Lord Jesus
Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Proverbs 23:17, 18 and Psalm 73 go together nicely. Asaph vividly portrays the perspective of a believer who is envious of sinners: their seeming prosperity, their strength, their pride, their increasing riches. “They have more than heart could wish.” (Psalm 73:7) Asaph’s envy brought him to bemoan his own efforts at piety: “Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.” (Psalm 73:13, 14)

Yet there is the injunction from God:

Proverbs 23:17, 18

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.

For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.

This perspective was turned around for Asaph when he “went into the sanctuary of God.” For then he says, “I understood their end. Surely Thou didst set them in slippery places! Thou castedst them down into destruction!” (Psalm 73:17, 18)

SURELY there is an end! Lord, all I desire is You. Please walk with me and guide me today. What a fearful and amazing thing: that You, the Living God, who is a consuming fire, should love me and want to dwell with me in the person of Your Son Jesus Christ! Even so, come, Lord Jesus! MAY TODAY BE THE END. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done – in me today, Lord. Amen.

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