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21. Proverbs 21: “The Battle Within: to Love or Not to Love”

Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 9/20/2012

(edited November 2019)


Verse 1: The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”


Every man, even the most “powerful” men, are putty in the hands of the Lord.


Verse 2:  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.”


Everyone, including me, tends to think of themselves as right. But God knows, better than we, what is actually happening.


Verse 3:  To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”


Solomon didn’t have the Gospel as we do, but he sure got this right. While doctrines, religion, and theology can be useful and are not to taken for granted, we are disciples of Christ. We must practice His Love.


What if we fail? What does “unloving” look like? Unfortunately, I can see myself on the negative side of some of these examples:


Verses 4-20: An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.  The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want. The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death. The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment. The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right. It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.  The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes. When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge. The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness. Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.  A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath. It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity. The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead. He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich. The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright. It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman. There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.”


Here are, Solomon tells us, the benefits of a lifestyle of Love:


Verses 21-23:  He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.  A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.  Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.


Certainly not all these benefits arrive on our schedule, but there is “a little bit of Heaven” on the earth to be had when we obey the Lord in our living. There is also a “Hell on earth” that, at least eventually, comes to haunt a lifestyle of wickedness:


Verses 24-29:  Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath. The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.  He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not. The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind? A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly. A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.”


In conclusion, the wisest man of his day emphasizes his message with a reminder:


Verse 30:  There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord.”


That is to say, there is no “back-up plan” for living by God’s Love.


Finally, we must remember to leave all the consequences of our obedience in God’s mighty hands, for those who live by Love will meet resistance:


Verse 31:  The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.”


Let’s pray, thanking the Lord for Loving us, and asking Him to bless others through us.