The violence…

The wicked will be swept away by their own violence, according to this verse. God must have a big broom!

The New International Version says, “The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right.” But that broom will overlook every person the Lord considers righteous! 

Why will the wicked be cleaned away like cobwebs? It’s really simple. They refuse to do the just thing. Which means they – the wicked – would rather do the unjust thing!

Keep this verse in mind the next time you have an important decision to make. And do the right thing.

The wicked versus the righteous

What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted. ~Proverbs 10:24 NIV

WorryThis verse sets forth the simple proposition that evil people, along with the righteous, will both get what they think about most.

What do wicked people worry about? First, to know who they are, we must define wicked. According to Merriam-Webster.com, the short definition is, “morally very bad; evil.”

In C.S. Lewis’ book God in the Dock, he wrote: “Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable.”

Lewis cleverly used this contrast between a hotel and a prison to illustrate how we view life based on our expectations. He says, “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable; think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.”

So what do evil people dread? A clue is given to us in Galatians 5:19-21:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

And what about the righteous? What are they thinking about? Galatians 5:22-24 finishes the thought:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Which one describes you?

Pay attention to wisdom

My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it. ~Proverbs 5:1-6 NIV

WomanWhether or not you accept wisdom from God could save your life. Not only does this passage imply that, it also serves as an introduction to the rest of chapter five.

You are urged to pay attention to God’s wisdom. “Attention” means:

  • the act or power of carefully thinking about, listening to, or watching someone or something,
  • notice, interest, or awareness, or
  • special care or treatment.

You’re expected to know this, and to do something about it. As you incline your ears toward the Lord, he has special words of insight on this. Why? So that you can make intelligent decisions, while your lips repeat God’s word quietly to yourself.

By contrast, the lips of an “immoral woman” drip with honey. They look good, and sound good. But in the end, you’ll find they are meaningless. Such an immoral woman doesn’t even know the course her life is on.

This chapter of Proverbs ends with verses 22-23, which say, “The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.”

God knows you’ll be tempted. But through prayer, rather than your own great foolishness, you can be forgiven.

Refusing to listen?

How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you — when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. ~Proverbs 1:22-27 NIV

hurricaneThis passage from the end of chapter one in Proverbs asks a direct question. And it demands a simple answer.

How long, it wonders, will fools delight in mockery and hate knowledge? You know people like that. Perhaps you’ve been like that. Maybe you are like that.

Genuine repentance will result in the Lord pouring out his knowledge before you. He’ll actually make his teachings known to you.

But ignoring God’s call brings a hefty price. He’ll laugh at you when disaster strikes. Or when calamity like a storm overtakes you, he’ll mock you. Just when you think you can’t take any more stress, hardship, or trouble, the Lord will lengthen it.

Ready to accept God’s terms? Then take some time to pray, and agree with him about the situation. He won’t reject your appeal. He is ready to share his thoughts with you!

Don’t shut your ears

Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered. ~Proverbs 21:13 NIV

Not ListeningWhen you shut your ears, you’re not listening. And if you listen just for a moment, you can hear the cry of the poor.

One sure way to provide assistance is to send your money to a reputable group or organization that is working with them. Another is to pray for those less fortunate than you.

But the real danger here is having God not listen to us. Proverbs 15:29 says, “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous.” Maybe not today, but at some point in the future, you’ll cry out to God. And you’ll wonder why he’s not listening.

The poor will always cry. Are you listening?

Observe discretion

My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; That you may observe discretion And your lips may reserve knowledge. ~Proverbs 5:1-2 NASB

red lipsThis passage is rather plainspoken, isn’t it?

You give your attention to God’s wisdom and his understanding for a reason. You want to observe discretion, and have lips that reserve knowledge. “…your lips will express what you’ve learned,” the New Living Translation puts it.

Is it easy to observe discretion? Being careful about what you do and say, so that people will not be embarrassed or offended, seems like a good idea. But that’s letting your gaze off yourself. This is one time when the Bible encourages you to keep focused on yourself. Your gaze must be on the Lord’s wisdom and understanding.

Where are you placing your focus today?