The Way of the Righteous
1. The time when God shall say "it is enough." Our verse, as a whole, reads thus: "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." Can you see written all over this verse, the voice of God saying, "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground"? Can you not read all through this verse, God's order, "Let the sickle fall"? He has pleaded, and pleaded often. He has reproved time and time again. Yet, the subject of His love, and pleading has been hardening his neck, He has refused to hear, He will not bow his head. Thus God says, he "shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
The wicked may go so far, but no farther. In the case of Nebuchadnezzar the time came when to him it was spoken, "O King Nebuchadnezzar, * * The kingdom is departed from thee." There came a time in the life of Belshazzar when God would delay judgment no longer. To him there appeared the finger of a man's hand writing over against the wall and this is what was written: "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN." God said, "It is enough." God sent forth His edict against the king. He was weighed in the balances and found wanting; and, that night was the Babylonian king slain. Let the sinner beware! God will often reprove him but if he continues to harden his neck, there will come a time when he will be suddenly destroyed, and destroyed without remedy. There is another thing to consider in Proverbs 29:2 and Proverbs 29:6. It is this:
2. The time when the people either rejoice, or mourn. " When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn." This is because, "In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice." It is always true that the rule of the wicked bringeth sorrow. Think, if you will for a moment, of some of the kings of Israel who reigned in wickedness. They never gave their people any peace. They put upon them taxes and demands of service that wore them out. On the other hand under the reign of the righteous, the land was full of singing. This is the message we need today. God deliver us, as a nation, from the authority of men who would lead us into bondage.
3. The time when true greatness shines forth. This is set forth in Proverbs 29:7, perhaps you can discover it. "The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it." True greatness finds us loving one another. True greatness is a great leavener of castes, of cliques. God's rebuke herein, stands forth against the Church, which says unto the rich man, who weareth the gay clothing, "sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool."
If we have despised the poor, we are under the reproof of Almighty God. If, on the other hand, there comes in our assembly, a man with a gold ring and goodly apparel and we have respect unto him, we disown and dishonor our Lord.
It is written: "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"
In the early Church the believers went together and had all things in common. They went so far as to sell their houses and possessions and divide the money severally as every man had need. Somehow or other this verse in Proverbs grips the soul when it says the "righteous considereth the cause of the poor." There is a Scripture in the Book of Job, where Job recounts before God and before his persecutors, how in the days of his plenty he delivered the poor who cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. Job's blessing was upon the one ready to perish. He caused the heart of the widow to sing for joy. He was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame. He was a father to the poor. In those days Job, the rich man, was Job the deliverer of the needy. Do you marvel that God said of Job that there was none like him upon the face of the earth, a man that was perfect and upright, and that feared God? This is the very heart of true Christianity.
4. The time when the wicked fall. In Proverbs 29:16 we read, "When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall." This carries us once more to the chapter in the Psalms, where Asaph said, "I saw the prosperity of the wicked. * * The ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches." Then Asaph said, "When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely Thou didst set them in slippery places: Thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors."
I. THE CHILD WHO MAKES HIS PARENTS TO REJOICE (Proverbs 29:3)
Here is the key text: "Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance."
1. We have before us the dutiful child. Here is a child who loveth wisdom and who walks in righteousness. We have traveled in many parts, and how often have we had fathers and mothers come to us bemoaning the fact of their son's tyranny. Somehow or other the son who is a joy to his father, and to his mother, is the one who walks in the way of God.
A noted judge in a southern city pleaded with the evangelist in behalf of his two sons. He said, "They are wayward. They have wandered away from God and away from home, and they are bringing disgrace upon their father and mother." The judge himself was not a Christian but he longed to see his sons saved.
To us there is nothing more beautiful than Solomon's words concerning his father, David. He said, "I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth." Then David said to Solomon: "Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths."
What is there on earth that can bring greater joy to a parent's heart, than sons or daughters who walk uprightly?
2. The son who keepeth company with the impure. Here is the boy who, prodigal like, goes out and spendeth his substance in riotous living. This verse in Proverbs carries us to that picture which the Lord Himself painted of the Prodigal Son. What about the father? He was at home longing after his boy. We are all familiar with the song:
"Where is my wandering boy tonight?
The boy of my tenderest care,
The boy that was once my joy and light,
The boy of my love and prayer?
Go for my wandering boy tonight,
Go, search for him where you will;
But bring him to me with all his blight,
And tell him I love him still."
There was a time when that prodigal boy was the babe of his mother's heart. As he lay asleep in her lap, she builded air castles and they all centered in him. She thought of the time when he would be her stay and her comfort, but, alas, when he grew up he kept company with the wayward, and wasted not only his own substance, but his father's. God pity the homes which sin has broken!
II. THE TRAINING OF A CHILD (Proverbs 29:15)
Here is the text: "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."
1. Child training is vital to happiness. A woman one day asked us if we believed in using the rod. We told her we were not wiser than the Word of God, and that God said, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son." "Yes," said she, "but I love ray child so much I can't bear to punish him." Our text gives God's own statement, that a child left to himself, left to have his own way, left to go his own gait, will bring sorrow and sighing and shame to his mother. We remember how the Spirit through Paul, said unto Timothy, "The unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also."
2. Child training is absolutely vital in the home. The parents should never allow themselves to be so engrossed in business or in pleasure that they neglect their child. God said unto the father, who is the head of the house, "Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
God was talking of His own commandments, and His Word; then, He went on to say to the father, "And thou shalt bind "them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."
Beloved, let us remember that it is to the father that God gave the command to teach his children. If we want our children to rise up and call us blessed, we must certainly bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. King Lemuel, however, spoke tenderly of his mother, and of all which she taught him. Thus was King Lemuel led in the paths of righteousness, and thus did he rise up to praise and rejoice the heart of his mother.
3. Training neglected leads to sorrow and shame. There are fathers who give more attention to the raising of their stock, than to the raising of their sons. They watch over their horses, and cows and even their pigs. They give them every possible attention, while they allow their children to run unreined and unruled, whithersoever their spirit leadeth them. Think you not that a child left to himself will bring shame to his mother?
God has said in Proverbs 29:17 of our Scripture, "Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul." On the other hand, if a son is not corrected, if the rod and reproof is set aside, that son will rise up to pierce the heart of his parents even as a sword pierceth. Correction must ever be the steppingstone to delight. A home where the children do not honor the father and the mother is a home filled with shadows and filled with sin.
III. THE MAN WITH VISION (Proverbs 29:18)
Our text is must delightful and yet filled with warning. "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the Law, happy is he." The man without a vision is the man who is circumscribed in his sight. He looks only at the thing's immediately about him. He never sees the future, he never looks beyond this life to the life to come. In discussing this verse we wish to present several characters and their visions.
1. Joseph and his dreams. Joseph was a youth who saw things. He dreamed dreams and he believed in them. The truth is that God revealed many things to Joseph in the dreams of his head. Joseph told his dreams to his brethren and to his father. In fact, his brethren called him "the dreamer," saying, "Behold, this dreamer cometh." The only youth that ever amounts to anything is the youth who dreams. He is not content with the things at hand. He is reaching to the things before. He is pressing every nerve toward the prize of the up-calling of God in Christ Jesus.
2. Abraham and his city. Here is a young man called to leave home, land, city and all. He went out not knowing whither he went. He confessed himself a stranger and a pilgrim mid the things of this world. He was Abraham, the tent dweller. However, Abraham was a man of vision. He looked for a city whose Builder and Maker was God.
3. Moses and his reward. Moses forsook Egypt as a young man not fearing the wrath of the king. He esteemed the plaudits of Christ as greater treasures than all the riches of Egypt. He accounted suffering the afflictions of the children of God as better than all the pleasures of the courts of Pharaoh. He did all of this because he was looking far on into the ages to come, and he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.
4. David and his vision. King David knew God in. his youth. Through many vicissitudes and trials David pressed his way. This was the reason of his success. He said, "I have set the Lord always before me."
5. Christ and His vision. The Lord Jesus "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame." "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied." God give us men with vision.
IV. THE HONOR AND STRENGTH OF THE HUMBLE (Proverbs 29:23)
"A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit."
1. Pride cometh before a fall. Satan, himself, walked up and down mid the stones of fire. He had entrance to Eden, the garden of God. Every precious stone was his covering. Yet, Satan became wise in his own conceit. Then it was that God said of him. "How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!"
Satan's antichrist, like Satan, will exalt himself above God and all that is called God. He will go into the temple in Jerusalem, acclaim himself as God, and demand to be worshiped. Thus it is that he too shall be brought down. He who lifted himself up because of his beauty and was corrupted because of his brightness, will be laid low.
King Uzziah was another who lifted himself up. He did many wonderful things in Israel. He reigned fifty-two years, and then in the pride of his heart, he went into the Temple to offer sacrifices, taking upon himself the place of a priest as well as of king, and God smote him.
2. The humble shall be exalted. God tells us in our key verse that "a man's pride shall bring him low"; He also says that "honour shalt uphold the humble in spirit." There is a certain fidelity in the soul of the humble. A fidelity to their calling and to God who calls them. He will hold high the banner of God's righteousness, but will not exalt his own banner. He will honor God, but will not honor himself. Would that we could grasp God's analogies; the way to become rich, is to become poor; the way to become wise, is to acknowledge our own folly; the steppingstone to exaltation, is the pathway of humiliation.
The Lord Jesus Christ "being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name." He who will humble himself shall also he exalted. If we are willing to follow with Christ in the pathway of His humiliation, we may also reign with Him in the realm and rule of His glory. If we share with Him His Cross, we shall also share with Him His Crown.
V. THE PLEASURE OF SERVING (Proverbs 29:25)
Our text says: "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe."
1. The fear of man. There are many alas who in their deeper hearts believe in Christ, but they will not confess Him because the fear of man has brought a snare to their souls. Christ spoke of certain of the scribes and Pharisees saying, that they believed in Him, but for the fear of the Jews they would not confess Him for "They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."
A young lady or a young man often hears the voice of God calling them to step forth into the life of sacrificial service. However, their boy friend or their girl friend, as the case may be, is a snare to them. They are afraid to bear reproach, God grant that the young people who study this lesson shall not hesitate because of what any man or woman may do or say. Let us remember that it is given unto us, not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for His sake. The great call of the Book of Hebrews is, that we should "go forth * * unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." Had Peter continued to carry that same spirit of the fear of man, which he portrayed as he cowed before a maid, he would never have had his name blazoned forth as the Apostle of Pentecost.
2. The fear of the Lord. If we fear men we fall into a snare, If we fear the Lord, and put our trust in Him whom we fear, we shall be safe. In the big Union Depot the man at the gate seemed quite unpopular to many who passed by him, showing their tickets. One of the passers-by said to him, "You do not seem popular with this crowd." He quickly replied, "I am not after their approval. The one I seek to please is upstairs." Whose praise and approval do we seek? Is it the praise of man, or the praise of God? Let the ambition of our hearts be this: that, by and by when we stand before Him, we may hear from His own precious lips, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Our Lord was not ashamed of us. In our behalf He walked the rugged road to Calvary. In our behalf He died. He was not ashamed of us. Let us therefore cease to fear man, and take our stand with the Christ who was despised and rejected for us.
VI. "THE UNRULY MEMBER" (Proverbs 29:20)
"Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him."
1. The message of James on the tongue. As we read this verse in Proverbs, our minds hasten over to the Book of James, chapter 3. We wish to call your attention to several statements therein.
"If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body." In this Scripture God seems to make the tongue our chief cause of offense. He also makes victory over the tongue, the assured sign of a full-grown believer, able to bring his whole body under subjection. The Holy Ghost speaks to us about bits in the mouths of horses, and of how those bits cause the horses to obey us. He also speaks of "ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth." Then the Spirit says, "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things."
James likens the tongue unto a little fire, that kindles a great matter, "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on. fire of hell." It is true that, "Every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind; but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."
After we have studied these words from the Apostle James do we wonder that our verse in Proverbs says; "Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him"? When we think of the tongue of the wicked, we think of a man, like a wild beast running to and fro, pouring out his blasphemies against God. The Book of Jude speaks of Christ's Second Coming as being the theme of Enoch's preaching. Enoch said, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
2. The tongue of the righteous. How beautiful are the mouths of those who preach peace? "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Truly, our conversation is in Heaven. The words we utter, if they are pure and true and holy, will find their reward up yonder. The messages of life, and light, and love, whether written or spoken, will be words which will have a wonderful harvest of blessing.
VII. CAUSING OTHERS TO FALL (Proverbs 29:8)
"Scornful men bring a city into a snare." This is the reading of Proverbs 29:8; Proverbs 29:10 says that "The bloodthirsty hate the upright." In Proverbs 29:11 it says, "A fool uttereth all his mind." In this final word, we wish to speak of the far-reaching effects of the ungodly. "A scornful man will lead his city into a snare." "A bloodthirsty man will overthrow the upright, in the hate of his soul."
Beloved, Satan goes about seeking whom he may devour. How aptly does this follow what we have said about the tongue.
The third chapter of Romans describes the dire effects of the ungodly in their hatred against the righteous. We read these words concerning the wicked: "Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: * * their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes."
Speaking of the wicked we read in the Psalms, "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good." These wicked men are spoken of as having gone aside and of having become filthy. They are called the workers of iniquity. May God deliver us from evil men! When Jesus hung upon the Cross, there was a great crowd of the ungodly who encircled Him. The 22d Psalm in giving a description of them, says, "For dogs have compassed Me; the assembly of the wicked have inclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet."
Again the Psalmist writes: "Many bulls have compassed Me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset Me round. They gaped upon Me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion."
If you read these words concerning the attitude of the ungodly toward Christ, the Son, do you marvel that Jesus said, "If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household?" Christ also said, If they hated Me they will also hate you.
Thus it is that we begin to realize the deeper meaning of our key text, and how God said that "scornful men bring a city into a snare"; that "the bloodthirsty hate the upright," and that "A fool uttereth all his mind." May the Lord deliver us from unrighteous and ungodly men!
What is the attitude of the world toward the righteous? It is ever the attitude of crucifixion; it is the attitude of non-affiliation; it is the attitude of calumny and defamation.
There is no common ground between the saint and the sinner. There is no place of fellowship between darkness and light There is no possible comradeship between a believer and an unbeliever.
He who will live godly in Christ Jesus will find himself despised and rejected of men, even as the Lord was despised and rejected.
What then shall be the attitude of the saved to the ungodly? We may not walk with them under the yoke of comradeship, but we may go over the world with the message of love and redemption. We cannot join with them in their evil deeds, but we can call them from their deeds, Jesus Christ ate with sinners to be sure, but as He ate He called them to repentance, He told them of the return of the prodigal boy, and of how the father ran out to meet him and kissed him. So let us remember that while we are not of the world, and the world hateth us, yet, we are sent into the world.
At the close of the War of 1866, the triumphant army of Prussia came to Berlin for a reception of welcome. As each regiment approached the city gate, it was halted by a choir, demanding by what right it would enter the city. The regiment replied in a song reciting the battles it had fought, the victories it had won; then came a welcome from the choir, "Enter into the city." And so the next came up reciting its deeds, and another, and another, each challenged and welcomed. They marched up the Linden between rows of captured cannon, with banners they had borne and the banners they had taken, and they saluted the statue of grand old Frederick, the creator of Prussia. So, when all the fierce warfare of earth, shall have been accomplished, and the Kingdom of Christ assured, the phalanxes of His Church shall go up to the City with the songs and tokens of victory. They shall march in together, singing hallelujahs, and shall lay their trophies at the feet of Him upon whose head are many crowns King of kings and Lord of lords. Thompson.