Divinely Empowered Civil Justice, Theme #2
(i.e. The Kingdom of God)
The foremost characteristic of those who FOUND FAVOR with God whereby He lifted them up when they fell, and, led them in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake [“For the just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” – Prov. 24:16], instead of giving them a God-sent delusion: That foremost characteristic was, “THE FEAR OF THE LORD”. According to The Book of Proverbs, the fear of the LORD is very specific. What was a person supposed to fear about the LORD, exactly? They must have “the fear of the LORD” that God was the KING of Kings in Israel! This means that God was KING over and above the earthly King of Israel and transcending beyond the scope of earthly Civil Justice, reaching into the very heart itself! The result of such a godly and holy fear was, namely, an awareness of God’s Imminent Judgment against evil doers in Israel. This judgment did, of course, begin in the hearts via Spiritual Judgments, but it was manifest, furthermore, in physical reality via Civil Judgments. According to The Book of Proverbs, this was wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of God, without which no man could be saved!
An Awareness of God’s Imminent Judgment (i.e. “the fear of the LORD”)
· “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.” – Prov. 15:33
· “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – Prov. 1:7
· “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” – Prov. 9:10
· “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.” – Prov. 14:26-27
· “…by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.” – Prov. 16:6
· “He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD: but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth Him.” – Prov. 14:2
· “The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.” – Prov. 19:23
· “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, honour, and life.” – Prov. 22:4
· “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.” – Prov. 23:17-18
· “A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.” – Prov. 14:16 (see 22:3)
Various Other Characteristics Stemming from FEAR
· They foresaw the judgment of God that would certainly come upon them, thus they forsook evil. – Prov. 22:3, 27:12
· They devised good and not evil. – Prov. 14:22
· They were meek. – Ps. 25:9
· They were granted mercy and happiness. – Prov. 28:13-14
· They increased in strength and their expectation was not cut off. – Prov. 24:5, 13-14
Every King has a Kingdom, otherwise he is not a King. Every King rules the territory and people of that Kingdom by laws, otherwise he is not a King. In Israel there was a King and a KING, and the KING was the KING of the King. In Israel, the King was made to fear the KING. Hence, The Book of Proverbs was written. Can you see this now, my reader? According to King Solomon, if a citizen of Israel does not fear the LORD… he would perish. Solomon said, “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” (Prov. 14:27). Notice that King Solomon did not say, “Fear me because I am King!” No. Solomon said in other words, “Fear the LORD because He is the KING of me!” Solomon was not pointing to his right hand which grasped the throne of Israel, but God’s! Solomon was not pointing to the certainty that he, by Civil Justice and Governmental enterprise, would certainly find out and kill all sinners among Israel. No! Solomon was pointing the eyes of Israelite citizens to look upon the real threat of death in the Land – God Almighty as Transcendent KING!
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Firstly, God wrote the Law for His own Kingdom, to rule Israel thereby. The rule of God’s Kingdom included instruments which He deemed useful - the King, Princes, Officers, civil magistrates, Priests, Prophets, and Levites (and in all necessary circumstances where civilians play an integral role in Civil Justice).
Secondarily, in cases of leniency in the law, cases which lack the punishment of death when justice would otherwise demand it, God was able to perform the death sentence according to His own will, whenever He willed; Behold His threatenings! That which the letter pardons the Monarch can require.
Thirdly, also, that which Civil Justice unlawfully failed to punish because of human negligence, God observed. He decided upon every case that never came before civil magistrates. There is no secret crime or secret sinner in all of Israel; Behold His threatenings! Furthermore, God was not necessarily reliant upon the instrumentality of humans to execute the Divine quota of Civil Justice, but in the case that Israel was flourishing in the beauty of the Covenant as it was written (as God required), the LORD would ordinarily use human instrumentality. Therefore, that which was not necessary for Civil Justice was, nevertheless, intended to be ordinary.
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Solomon was, indeed, pointing all eyes to the real KING, God Almighty… but to what end? Namely, that all citizens of Israel might obtain “the fear the LORD”, without which no man could be saved! There is no written account that better introduces people to “the fear of the LORD”, than Proverbs Chapter 1.
Chapter 1: A Fit Introduction to The Book of Proverbs
Suffice it to say, The Book of Proverbs is confrontational. In Chapter 1, God confronted the citizens of Israel. This short introduction to the 31 Chapter Book made the impact upon the reader God was looking for. Every Israelite citizen should have felt as if God said to them, “I am threatening you!” My reader, God was threatening Israel. If you will learn anything about “the fear of the LORD” in The Book of Proverbs, it is the Divine Threatenings of God Almighty! These threatenings were so sure, ordinary, and experiential, they turned into proverbial facts of life which filled the Land of Israel. Solomon was but a mouthpiece of inspiration so that, shockingly, The Almighty spoke in first person. In this manner, in Chapter 1, GOD opened up The Book of Proverbs.
The Almighty spoke in first person, but into what situation? The proverbial scene depicted was when sinners were running loose in Israel. Uncaught sinners! Yes, and therefore they were enticing others to sin! The scene was narrated with Fatherly affection to the citizens of Israel who were the object of enticement, that they would make their decision in the light of the Threatenings of God Almighty, their KING. How terrifying are these threatenings, my reader! Consider the scene yourself… Behold the uncaught “sinners” mingled in Israel, the poor innocents who stand enticed thereby, and God Almighty looking on with Legions of Angels ready to fulfill His threatening command:
“My son, IF sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:
Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:
We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our Houses with spoil:
Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:
My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:
For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.
Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.
And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.
So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:
She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the City she uttereth her words, saying,
How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” – Proverbs 1:10-33
The secretly devised mischief was no secret to God! The sinners laid wait for robbery, pillage, murder, and bloodshed, but God laid wait to turn it upon their own heads! God said, “they lay wait for their own blood”! Oh these simple men, these Israelite sinners! From whence cometh their simplicity? They lurked in secret plotting mischief in practical atheism (in denial that in Israel God was KING)! In practical atheism, I say, expecting that Israelite justice was enforced by the limited powers of mere man. In practical atheism, I say, expecting that what was done in secret was unseen by the scope of God’s justice. In practical atheism, I say, that “the eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3). This was, in other words, a denial that in Israel God was KING; the KING of Kings!
These men were fearless because they were faithless. They “hated knowledge” and “did not choose the fear of the LORD”, because they lived lifestyles which were atheistic toward Israel’s Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Threatening Monarch (Prov. 1:29), God Almighty. The Lord allowed no such thing in Israel. According to His threats, these simplistic men were running into a head-on collision with “calamity”, “desolation”, “destruction”, “distress”, and “anguish”. Literally speaking, God watched on as they plotted evil and acted in fearless anarchy. In response, the KING invented a devise of justice which would give them faith in God again… only then it will be too late. “Then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early, but they shall not find me” (Prov. 1:28), the LORD said.
In The Book of Proverbs “the fear of the LORD” is very specifically defined: It is an awareness of God’s Imminent Judgment because the Lord is the KING of Israel. The Book of Proverbs was a Survival Manual for all citizens of Israel. Those who lived without its instruction were doomed to die. Because God was KING, justice was inevitable and its visitation sure. To the un-caught rebels lurking about the Nation of Israel, belonged sadness, terror, distress, and woe. That which was un-caught by man resides in the hands of a Living God! It was proven true, my reader – as a proverbial truth “rings true” to the common conscience – therefore Israel sang God’s praise, saying, “Yea, darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee” (Ps. 139:12)! Nothing was hid from the LORD, their KING! Under God’s Rule, “there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known” (Matt. 10:26)! Do you believe it, my reader? If you knew the content of the following 30 Chapters, you would not doubt it! In Proverbs Chapter 1 God called-out the crime of thievery and murder with personalized threatenings, but there’s much more. This Chapter is a fitting introduction to the whole Book because, henceforth, the KING of Israel threatens ALL SINNERS in the Land with such meticulous specificity it is utterly amazing.
Antithetical to how Mafia Drug-Lords put out contracts of assassination, the Lord God Almighty wrote The Book of Proverbs. This Book is a personalization of death warrants written to His beloved people Israel (because they did, above all other people, reside under the gaze of God’s Omniscient observance and immediate Rule), and as for all remedial acts of judgment, the Lord names the conduct and its punishment, every sinner to their appointment of pain. The whole Book of Proverbs unfolds to tell the story…
Prayer-less Israelite, you will cry out and not be heard. Mocking Scorner, at God’s laugh you will be disturbed. Seasonal Adulteress, the Good Man is at home. Sex-offender, you are offending God and enraging His jealousy. Fear-less Citizen, a delusion is holding your hand on the pathway leading down. Midnight Thief, the Lord Almighty is awake. Covetous Man, the Divine Curse of poverty is soon to be yours. Oppressor of the Poor, the LORD will plead. Tumult of Anarchists, there be more that be with GOD. Presumptuous Sinner, the unpardoning hatred of God is reared to suddenly destroy. Confident Rebel, God has a surprise for you. Mischievous Vagabond of Israel, God is in the wilderness. Silent Man-Slayer, the noise of your crime is heard by God (behold, the blood of the slain cries out to Him from the ground)! Restless Sinner, hell is burning for you! Guilty Man, God is pursuing you! – Behold His threatenings, “The Book of Proverbs”!
An Awareness of God’s Imminent Judgment
the inevitable visitation of justice
The pathway to the harlot’s House was a pathway of certain death. Why? God promised to kill the sex-offenders, that’s why. God was so bold to say, “None that go unto her return again, neither take hold of the paths of life” (Prov. 2:18-19, 5:4-5)! The Lord did not forbear to describe their torments in the afterlife either, saying, “And thou mourn at last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed” (Prov. 5:11)! This was the inescapable conclusion: KING-meets-Citizen, in this life and the next. Through Solomon’s work in The Book of Proverbs, the Lord points Israel to Himself - their invisible threat! - causing sex-offenders to reckon with reality that in this Land Deity is KING! Can you see how the LORD directed all attention to Himself as the infallible Enforcer of justice accomplished? Consider His own argument to the sex-offenders, when He said,
“And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” – Proverbs 5:20-23
Through the power of omniscience and by all means necessary, God would see to the execution of justice against sex-offenders. One of these means included, for example, the instrumentality of an offended husband. In a situation of adultery, the Lord would discover the hidden crime and bring it to the attention of the offended husband (Prov. 6:32-35). Upon this discovery, God would not restrain the rage of jealousy that was kindled in the heart of the offended husband but rather let it loose on its course of revenge (Prov. 6:34-35), God’s revenge. In this way, GOD, through the enraged husband, hunted the sex-offender down to fulfill His own purpose of vengeance in vindication of the promise, “whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul” (Prov. 6:32). This was one of many means used by the Lord.
With such compelling arguments, it is amazing that men could not fear the Lord! With such moving imagery like, “He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks” (Prov. 7:22), only a man “void of understanding” could go straightway to the harlots House (Prov. 7:7). Shockingly, the man “knoweth not that it is for his life” (Prov. 7:23)! His atheistic irrelevance to the fear of the LORD had deluded him (Prov. 9:18), God made sure of that. This is because, in Israel, if a man was unknowing of God, He was unknowledgeable of “the fear of the LORD”, and if this was the case, then, shockingly, the man did not know how to survive in Israel. Those who did not take heed to The Survival Manual for Israelite citizens (The Book of Proverbs), couldn’t survive. As a sinning citizen under the Government of the KING of Kings, death was imminent. This was for good reason. The pathway of life was not unclear, no! Men were commanded to Read, Meditate, Memorize, “learn to fear” (Deut. 17:19), and LIVE! Otherwise the citizen’s fate was sealed to the contrary promise, “all they that hate Me love death” (Prov. 8:36, 1:7). And what will God to do to the people that He hates? It is written, “The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein” (Prov. 22:14)? Solomon wrote to the end that all Israelite sex-offenders would confess the undeniable fact that the Transcendent KING of Israel rules over all!
[Relevant Verses: See Proverbs 2:18-19, 5:1-23 4-5, 9-11, 20-23, 6:24-29 & 32-35, 7:1-27 (all contextually regard sexual sin – God’s specific threatenings are 7:22-23, 26-27), 9:13-18 (content addresses sexual sin – God’s specific threatening is verse 18), 22:14 (unlawful sex via strange women).]
The Greater Sort
For Israelite citizens who laid wait for the robbery and blood shed of innocent men, God laid wait. For what? To return the deed upon their own heads! The Conspirator of Justice was one step ahead of the conspirators of thievery, thus the LORD said, “they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives” (Prov. 1:18). This is staggering, is it not!? My reader, have you ever felt that you are being watched? That some evil was lurking in the shadows for your harm? In Israel the Lord makes the thieves so to feel! – God was watching them! So expressive and heart-moving are God’s warnings, my reader! So detailed and personalized are His engagements to backsliding Israelites, you can feel He does not want to do them harm… but He will!
“My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste:
So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.
Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place:
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:
Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.
Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked;
For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.
My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:
For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?” – Proverbs 24:13-22
No counsel is like God’s counsel; full of compassion, sincerity, foreknowledge, and alarm! Verses 13-14 and verses 21-22 encapsulate this portion of scripture as a Father’s counsel to a son, contextually speaking. The Lord opened up by describing the tastefulness of righteousness and the goodness of obedience which, when a man had found it, his “expectation shall not be cut off”. This was because God cuts men off. Expectations of life and prosperity (according to God’s will) were rewarded to the righteous, but God spoke to the wicked immediately thereafter in verses 15-16. “Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place”. Why? Because, God said, even though the righteous would temporarily fall into the hands of a mischievous spoiler for a time, he “riseth up again”. Not so for the wicked! The Lord said, “but the wicked shall fall into mischief”. Foreknowledge and Omnipotence did speak, saying, “the wicked shall fall into mischief”. It was certain. The fate was sealed. Therefore further counsel was necessary: so certain was this fate for the wicked that, in the scripture, the righteous were depicted as onlookers to the fall of their enemies (Prov. 24:17)! The Lord counseled them not to rejoice when their enemy falls or else, shockingly, God would “turn away His wrath from” the wicked. God was watching the wicked man and the righteous man, my reader, and if the righteous man rejoiced (immorally) as he watched the wicked man fall under God’s wrath, the Lord would turn away His wrath from the wicked man as a recompense of displeasure at the righteous man’s immoral behavior! This is truly amazing. The Living God is the central figure at hand. This meant in other words, the KING was at hand! Or, in other words, “The Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk. 1:15)! This is good news to the righteous and bad news to the wicked, but have we ever understood it? Most haven’t!
By necessity, all Israelites needed to live in utter consciousness of the Living God before them at all times, as David said, “I have set the LORD always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (Psalm 16:8). God assured the righteous men to still themselves before the justice of God, even if recompense was deserved on their part. That, no matter the state of wicked men, it was temporary, therefore the righteous were encouraged not to envy them – “For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out”. So if, in happenchance (so to speak), you were a citizen of Israel that caught a word of some mischievous tumult of lawlessness at work, namely, some men dreaming up a plan of thievery for self-gain, the Lord said: “My son, fear thou the LORD and the King: and meddle not with them that are given to change: For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both” (Prov. 24:21-22)!? So what should every citizen do at such a time? God’s details are compelling: “Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not” (Prov. 29:24).
The Lesser Sort
God spoke further to other branches of criminal thievery of the lesser sort, saying, “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel” (Prov. 20:17). This kind of thievery is commonplace to the dishonest man who was given to covetousness or slothfulness. As you can see, God gave no place of escape for thieves of lesser evil than the former. When the earthly steward miscalculated a payment, when the tax collector mistakenly passed you by, when the Levitical Officer misjudged your offering, when your neighbor gave abundantly to a cause which you lied about, whatever the case of dishonest gain at hand - what was miscalculated was still recorded, what was mistaken will not be passed by, what was misjudged will soon be judged, and what was lied about will be found out because – God said, “AFTERWARDS”, Divine punishment would come upon him in proportion to his crime (Prov. 20:17). In proportion to the crime, I say, but let every citizen take heed! Divine fury can and will be aggravated to slay the sinner who presumptuously and impenitently commits the uncaught lesser evil of thievery, thus the KING said, “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” (Prov. 21:6-7).
[Relevant Verses: Prov. 1:17-18 (murder for robbery), 20:17 (thievery), 21:6-7 (thievery), 24:15-16 (warning against thievery or harming the righteous), 29:24 (partnership with thievery and resistance of evildoers).]
God appealed to all Israelite citizens to consider the essence of carnal desire, saying, “Do you want happiness?” The words are never thus stated but they are powerfully communicated by scripture! For an Israelite in the Holy Land, happiness was allowed or disallowed by the KING. For Israel to be happy while under the Government of an Omniscient and Transcendent KING (mind you, a KING who would not relent from any purpose of righteousness and justice), they needed to learn to live righteously and justly like their KING; otherwise, their eradication from the Kingdom of God was sure (Prov. 2:21-22). Did not the Lord say through the Prophet Micah, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:8)? The Book of Proverbs contained such like counsel to all citizens of Israel, that they would choose “the fear of the Lord” and wisdom instead of vainly hoping in the delusional happiness of sin and transgression against the KING (as if they were going to get away with it!). Oh the transient dream of sinners! It endureth but for a short time! In this way, some Israelite citizens were tempted to covet after “silver”, “gold”, and “rubies”, but the LORD gave His counsel on the matter, saying,
“Happy is the man that findeth WISDOM, and the man that getteth UNDERSTANDING [namely that in Israel, God was KING!]. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.” – Proverbs 3:13-18
God promised to interrupt the course of carnal happiness and covetous dreams by granting “length of days”, “riches”, “honour”, “pleasantness”, “peace”, “life”, and “happiness” to those who seek after wisdom and understanding INSTEAD! Take heed to this, my reader: this meant that God cursed the covetous and robbed them from all the gladsome characteristics formerly listed, and if their covetousness matured in its depravity beyond measure then God would kill the men. By the argumentation of Divine Threatenings, God made sure that every Israelite citizen lived with no uncertainty,
“Treasure of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death. The LORD WILL NOT SUFFER the soul of the righteous to famish: but He CASTETH AWAY the substance of the wicked.” – Proverbs 10:2-3
“He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.” – Prov. 22:16
“In the House of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.” – Prov. 15:6
“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own House; but he that hateth gifts shall live.” – Prov. 15:27
“The LORD will destroy the House of the proud: but He will establish the border of the widow.” – Prov. 15:25
“Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the LORD will PLEAD THEIR CAUSE, AND SPOIL the soul of those that spoiled them.” – Prov. 22:22-23
“He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.” – Prov. 28:8
“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.” – Prov. 28:27
“Remove not the old landmark, and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: For their Redeemer is mighty; HE SHALL PLEAD THEIR CAUSE with thee.” – Prov. 23:10-22
Do you think God kept His promises? Behold, my reader, “The Kingdom of God”! The arena where God’s behavior mattered and God’s will was done! The arena where God imminently and immediately acted and Ruled! Therefore in it, “The LORD WILL NOT SUFFER” and “CASTETH AWAY”, “the LORD will PLEAD…AND SPOIL”! Therefore, glory to God! In the Kingdom of God righteous men could not “famish” (yea, rather, in their House is “much treasure” and concerning their substance they “shall not lack”!), the border of the widow was established, the poor was defended, and the fatherless were protected! Yes, and there’s more! The wicked were spoiled, they had many curses, their Houses and revenues were troubled, their substances were cast away, their profits came to nothing, and in their poverty they “come to want”, at least, and at most they came to die! Do you remember the prayer, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10)!? These were pure words from pure lips. Perhaps now you are put to wonder and astonishment that in Israel, God was KING! The utopia of God’s Kingdom was the arena in which, “Thy will be done”, was not an unanswered prayer but a proverbial truth that no one could deny!
Men who were inclined to trust in riches did also deny the eminency of justice, therefore, God said, “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch” (Prov. 11:28). Like unto this passage, in Proverbs 28:19-22, the violent scheme of covetousness was clearly detailed by the LORD as a forewarning to all. In this passage, my reader, consider how the Lord was compassionate and condescending with His instruction to Israel. Keep in mind that God’s condescension and meticulous involvement within Israelite civilization was inevitably, for better or for worse (i.e. for blessing or for curse)! Because of this, God’s grace articulated and identified lusts to avoid and vain hopes to shun - this was so that when such temptations entered the mind or crouched at the door of Israel, the citizens would remember what was written and shun them at once!
“He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough. A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent. To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress. He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.” – Proverbs 28:19-22
As a matter of life and death, all Israelite citizens were required to trust in God. To trust in God was to live a lifestyle in “the fear of the LORD”, a lifestyle without envy of sinners and sincerely in love with God (Prov. 23:17). The result of this was astronomical!
“And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every good work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy Land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as He rejoiced over thy fathers: IF thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and IF thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.” – Deut. 30:9-10
“My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things. 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 23:15-18
“Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.” – Psalm 144:15
You see, Israelites were called to be Jews inwardly (Rom. 2:28-29), to live lifestyles that agreed with God. This meant that when God said of wisdom and understanding, “all things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her” (Prov. 3:15), the true Jew agreed! The right-standing citizen would say back to God, “The Law of Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” (Psalm 119:72)! Or, “Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased” (Psalm 4:7)! How great is God’s goodness! My reader, hear how the Lord pled His own cause to Israel, saying,
“How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.” – Proverbs 16:16-20
How disdained was “the spoil” of “the proud”! They did not “find good” or “happiness” in Israel, according to the LORD. The curse of “destruction” and “a fall” was following close behind the transient success of covetous men, so much so that the Lord said, “How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” This is truly amazing.
[Relevant Verses: Prov. 3:13-15 (covetousness), 10:2 (covetousness), 11:28 (trusting in riches), 15:6, 16, 27 (judgment of the covetous & oppressing the widow), 16:16-20 (strong threatenings all in context of gaining wealth), 22:16, 22-23 (oppressing the poor and covetousness), 23:10-11 (oppressing the fatherless), 23:15-18 (envy of sinners), 28:8 (unjust gain, covetousness, usury, oppressing the poor), 28:8, 16, 19-22, 27 (covetousness & the curse of poverty).]
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A Parenthetical Clarification: What kind of FEAR?
These individuals did not grudgingly “fear God” as if they disagreed with His Law. They did not reluctantly obey a God they did not understand. Not so! In Spirit and Truth, they loved God’s Law! By sheer joy and holy ecstasy they were compelled to sing, “O how love I Thy Law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97)! Can you say that, my reader? These individuals did not flee away from sin because they viewed God as a merciless Monster. No! They agreed with God. They felt the truth of the Law in their hearts and it controlled their emotions – feeling the sinfulness of that which God condemned and the righteousness of that which God justified, according to the Law – therefore when they fled from sin they forsook what they repulsed! My reader, is this how you understand “the fear of the LORD”? “The fear of the LORD is to HATE evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the forward mouth, do I hate!” They fled from sin because it was repulsive, yes, and they walked with God because He was altogether lovely! The fear of the LORD did not make these individuals flee away from God, on the contrary, it drew them to God! Why? They knew the blessedness of the blessed man that did abide under the shadow of the Almighty (Ps. 91:1)! Therefore they, of all men, were happy men! Therefore it was written, “Happy is the man that feareth alway” (Prov. 28:14)! Every Israelite that feared the LORD was led into and steadfastly kept by communion with the Living God, friend-to-Friend, and this was no dull experience. Did not the LORD say that He would be with them? Therefore it was written,
“For thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose Name is Holy; I dwell in the High and Holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” – Isaiah 57:15
“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the House that ye build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest? For all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” – Isaiah 66:1-2
Heaven is a happy place because God is there! By necessity, also, redeemed humans who are with God are happy men! Redeemed humanity was and is, God’s dwelling place (Ezek. 11:16). “Judah was His sanctuary, and Israel His dominion” (Ps. 114:2). This is because, at the first, Israel was “of a contrite and humble spirit”. God made them tremble at His word when He descended from Heaven upon Mount Sinai in their very sight, engulfing Mount Sinai with the FIRE of a heavenly and furious holiness! This was so that, Moses said, “[God’s] fear may be before [Israel’s] faces, that [they] sin not” (Ex. 20:20). Afraid they were and awful it was, yes, but God promised that He will revive the humble and contrite ones! How? According to Isaiah 57:15, God would be with them! His very presence would overshadow and comfort them as a flourishing garden provides fruit for the faint and shade for the weary. God was, metaphorically speaking, a canopy of relief to all mankind who sought refuge from the blistering heat of the sun. Yes! And God was, from another angle, a bright and warm sunrise which ends the dark and shivering night! God said, “to this man will I look”! What a glory! Did not the psalmist say, “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us” (Ps. 67:1)? Did not Moses say, “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: the LORD make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the LORD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Num. 6:24-26)? Did not David say, “Make Thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for Thy mercies’ sake” (Ps. 31:16)? Of a truth, therefore, Solomon said, “happy is the man that feareth always” (Prov. 28:14)! For, verily, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps. 9:10), and, “Like as a Father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him” (Ps. 103:13). Oh reader, “so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him” (Ps. 103:11)! “The mercy of the LORD us from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep His Covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them” (Ps. 103:17).
You see, my reader? The Nation of Israel was God’s Nation. God’s Nation was God’s country, God’s Land, God’s Government, with God’s Laws, governing God’s citizens, a people called “God’s people”. The Nation of Israel was, in other words, The Church, and the citizens were Church members. All citizens were Israelite converts (ideally speaking) and their lifestyles depicted salvation to the world! This being the case, Israelites were violent seekers after the Lord who had vital reality with God!
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Love for God
Israelites were violent seekers after the LORD who had vital reality with God!
A man cannot even obtain the (saving) knowledge of God except he was seeking the LORD with holy violence. The promise of Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart”, was binding upon the saint initially and present-progressively. The Old Testament saints were Whole-Hearted Seekers after the LORD in the totality of their faculties! This fact was noted before but it is vibrantly evident here, in Proverbs 2:1-6: the man was receiving God’s word, memorizing God’s word, inclining his heart, and applying his heart, not in some emotion-less conduct of exterior rule-keeping, no, but being so moved in the heart with holy desire and sincere conviction, the man was CRYING to God for knowledge, LIFTING UP HIS VOICE for understanding, seeking it with relentless desire as a lost man sought for undiscovered gold and silver in uncharted regions of land!
“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou CRIEST after knowledge, and LIFTEST UP THY VOICE for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; THEN shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” – Proverbs 2:1-6
For good reason, David said, “my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee” (Ps. 63:1)! Those that kept God’s commandments were soul-ravaged and soul-gripped by The Spirituality of the Law! Thereby, through The Spirituality of the Law, Israel had spiritual communion with the Living God. In Proverbs 4:1-9, yet again, the righteous man was submissive and studios to his spiritual guides, retaining the words of God in his heart so to never forget them nor decline from them, and, thus, he loved them, exalted them, and embraced them with all his heart!
“Hear, ye children, the instruction of a Father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my Law. For 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. FORSAKE HER NOT, and she shall preserve thee: LOVE HER, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. EXALT HER, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost EMBRACE HER. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.” – Proverbs 4:1-9
These men were ever-keeping their hearts with diligence, looking straight on and turning not aside, pondering the path of their feet and removing themselves from all evil (Prov. 4:23-27). Their relationship with God was real, yes, and God joined with them in their path of pursuit, even so: wherever they went He led them, whenever they slept He kept and protected them, whenever they awoke He talked with them, and as a Lamp to their feet and a Light to their path He illuminated them (through His written word; see Prov. 6:20-23)!
“My son, keep thy Father's commandment, and forsake not the Law of thy Mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, IT SHALL LEAD THEE; when thou sleepest, IT SHALL KEEP THEE; and when thou awakest, IT SHALL TALK WITH THEE. For the commandment is a Lamp; and the Law is Light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:” – Proverbs 6:20-23
By the shear experience of being loved by God, they loved God! And being constrained thereby they did hide His commandments in their hearts, they taught them diligently to their children, they talked about them in every conversation in the House, they talked about them when they are walking by the way, they talked about them when they did lay down and when they did rise up, for, the commandments of God were ever-before them like as the frontlets between their eyes, and, literally speaking, they did write them upon the posts of their Houses and on their gates as a memorial of love (Deut. 6:5-9)! Would to God every professing Christian of the 21st century would live likewise!
“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with ALL thine heart, and with ALL thy soul, and with ALL thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And 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. 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.” – Deuteronomy 6:5-9
By the strong compulsion of love for God, His commandments were as the apple of their eye, written upon the tablet of their hearts, and, they, being cherished, were like a sister and kinswoman to the soul (Prov. 7:1-4). Furthermore, also, nothing was comparable to their love for God and His commandments, which meant, nothing was more desirable or pleasurable to them – “For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it” (Prov. 8:11)! For this reason, also, they looked after the Living God’s illuminating face forevermore, as it was written, “Blessed is the man that heareth Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of my doors” (Prov. 8:32-36). [Let the reader take note of this key principle of salvation: (KEY) - Without this behavior they could not obtain the knowledge of God or understand the fear of the Lord, which meant, in other words, they could not hear God, see God, fellowship with God, or walk with God (John 7:11-12, Rom. 12:1-4). This is because, God promised, “A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth” (Prov. 14:6).]
All of these passages do demonstrate how the Israelites had vital reality with God. They did not merely fear God, they loved God! And these two emotions were not contrary but complementary one to another. Anyone who sought not the LORD in this manner would certainly and inevitably be found out as a sinner in Israel, doomed to whatever Civil Justice would demand. If any citizen did not find repentance and restitution for sins committed… they would suffer the death penalty. This is why the Lord said (through Lady Wisdom),
“Now therefore hearken unto Me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep My ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors. For whoso findeth Me findeth LIFE, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. But he that sinneth against Me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate Me love DEATH.” – Proverbs 8:32-36
Those who did not violently seek the LORD by hearing Him, watching daily at His gates, and waiting at the posts of His doors, they did not find Him! And if they did not find Him they did not find LIFE! In Israel, such men were doomed to die. The Lord did not merely discourage sinning by the threat of death, but He encouraged righteousness by the blessedness of salvation! Through Lady Wisdom, God said,
“Counsel is Mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. By Me Kings reign, and princes decree justice. By Me Princes rule, and Nobles, even all the Judges of the earth. I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me. Riches and honour are with Me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and My revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: That I may cause those that love Me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.” – Proverbs 8:14-21
This is certainly the Old Testament expression of, “I am come that they might have Life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Lady Wisdom was desirable, but if She was not desired then She was to be feared! In Israel, a life without wisdom IS a life without God …a life of certain death. This is according as it was written and proverbially experienced among all the people of Israel, “He that getteth wisdom loveth His own soul: He that keepeth understanding shall find good” (Prov. 19:8).
Love for the Brethren
The relationship with God, formerly addressed, compelled the Brotherhood of Israel to love one another. Hallelujah! “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity” (Ps. 133:1)! Rightly did Paul say, “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness” (Col. 3:14)! Only true saints know the blessedness of this bond. Those who were bound together by this were bound together by God, “for God is love” (1 Jn. 4:16). This was the spiritual scenery in Israel when the Lord of glory had His way. “Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of His increase” (Jer. 2:3), “a Noble Vine” and “wholly a right seed” (Jer. 2:21), therefore, glory to God! The citizens and Brethren of Israel loved one another fervently, with a pure heart and a good conscience toward God. My reader, let Solomon tell you!
“My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be LIFE unto thy soul, and GRACE to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.”
è Walking with God & Warnings of Death
“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy Neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee. Devise not evil against thy Neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee. Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm. Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.”
è Loving the Brethren
“For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but His secret is with the righteous. The curse of the LORD is in the House of the wicked: but He blesseth the habitation of the just. Surely He scorneth the scorners: but He giveth grace unto the lowly. The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” – Proverbs 3:21-35
è Warnings of Death and Destruction
Walking with God enabled love for the Brethren, and thereby the good-standing citizens were saved from “the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh” (Prov. 3:25). Why? Because God killed men who didn’t love their Brethren. Such men were froward against the Lord and an abomination unto Him. Therefore, He cursed them, scorned them, withheld grace from them, and promoted them to shame! If these were the doings of the KING, who could ward it off?
The behavior which promised LIFE, in Israel, was the behavior that matched biblical love. The Law explicitly commanded, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:18). Through The Book of Proverbs the LORD became very specific about what He meant when He said, “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev. 19:18). For example,
Christ-like Behavior is Demanded & Expected:
· “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” – Proverbs 10:12
· “A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.” – Proverbs 12:16
· “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1
· “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.” – Proverbs 15:18
· “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.”– Prov. 17:9
· “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” – Proverbs 19:11
Do you see the glory of God? With such love-saturated character, strife was unstirred and appeased, wrath was turned away, divided friends were unified, and transgression was overpassed! Wrath was unseen, shame was covered, soft answers did abound, love was diligently sought after and followed, and glory shined! To the blessed citizens of Israel who were right-standing before God as saints, “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous” (Prov. 27:4). They felt it was so, in their hearts. As “anger resteth in the bosom of fools” (Eccl. 7:9), love rested in the bosom of saints! The citizens of Israel didn’t live like Heathen Nations or love like Heathen Nations. For example, the heathen honored the cruel and vengeful who were mighty in strength. The heathen feared and respected those who were unruly in spirit and untamed by common fears. Israelites did, on the contrary, feel the truth of what was written: “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a City” (Prov. 16:32). That was to say, they didn’t admire vengeance but, rather, slowness to anger. They didn’t admire untamed and unruly strength, but, rather, him that was temperate enough to rule his spirit (Prov. 25:28). Hallelujah!
The Israelite heart was like the heart of none other in all of humanity – it was redeemed! They panted after God and cried out for righteousness! They did heartily love and fervently obeyed the following commandments given to them by God,
“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” – Jeremiah 9:23-24
“Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” – Isaiah 2:22
“And ye shall be holy unto Me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people that ye should be Mine.” – Leviticus 20:26
Israel was adorned in the ornaments of character that were God’s delight. They disdained everything else. You see, my reader, the wicked backsliders of Israel were taken in the immorality of hatred. They lived love-less and uncharitable lifestyles. They, being infuriated and intemperate, attacked and fought against those who did their persons harm. These men were easily offended and personally offended, but the right-standing Israelites loved mercy (Mic. 6:8), held no grudge by forgiving their Brethren (Lev. 19:18), and loved their enemies (Prov. 25:21-22)! The right-standing citizens had respect unto the KING of Israel, and, thus, they felt humbled under the brightness of His countenance which did continually shine upon them. This being the case, they were meek. This being the case, they were enabled to live-out the commandment of God,
“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.” – Proverbs 25:21-22
When Israelites exhibited any behavior contrary to love and charity, as the scripture has thus far defined, the Brotherhood and Citizenship of Israel faced the dangers of remedial chastisement or death via the Civil Magistrates. For this reason, love compelled citizens to maintain intense accountability. For example,
“If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? and He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? and shall not He render to every man according to his works?” – Proverbs 24:11-12
“Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” – Proverbs 27:5-6
You see, my reader? Love compelled accountability, Brother-to-Brother, and thereby the saints were kept from falling (Prov. 24:11-14). Let us also notice that, furthermore, where there was no love there was no accountability, Brother-to-Brother, but God would still keep count and punish those who did not deliver their slipping Brethren before they fell. Love wounded when necessary, to keep the backslider from falling under the death penalty.
Bridling the Tongue (Including Lying and False Witnessing)
Dear reader, the Lord’s instruction to Israel via The Book of Proverbs gets more detailed, descriptive, and helpful than the former two sections did express! For example, when an Israelite citizen was in the beginning stages of slipping from vital reality with God (i.e. love for God and love for the Brethren), what did it look like and how could it be stopped from the onset… that is, long before the soul was endangered by the death penalty? The Lord was kind and gracious to answer all questions of relevance like the former. By nature, God was compelled so to do, just as He said: “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezek. 33:11).
God administered forewarning signals to the slipping saints (those who slide from Love for God and Love for the Brethren). At the onset of their sliding they would increasingly struggle with associated sins that pertained to the diminishing of charity in the heart, a sliding which was manifest, therefore, according to The Spiritual Law set forth by Christ: “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34). Solomon did not disagree. As the “good treasure of the heart” diminished, the “good things” of the mouth diminished (Matt. 12:35), thus idle words and carnality increasingly abounded in place of that which was good and pleasurable to the LORD. No matter what dispensation or Covenant, the activity of the tongue was of eternal significance. The Lord Jesus said, “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in The Day of Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37). This was because the activity of the tongue did/does indicate true and false religion in the sight of God and man, as the apostle James confirmed: “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26, 1 Cor. 3:3).
When saving grace and true religion decreased among Israelite citizens, what did the LORD do? Were there remedial acts of chastisement and Civil Justice set in order? The situation was addressed in detail, my reader. Hear Solomon explain,
“The mouth of a righteous man is a well of Life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.
Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found:
but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.
Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.” – Proverbs 10:11-14
Here we see the destiny of true and false religion in terms of conversation via two mouths, literally speaking. At the mouth - Solomon pointed - directing the eyes of Israel to see the words and conversations which flowed therefrom, words which do lead the soul unto two contrary eternal destinies. Solomon said, “The mouth of the righteous man is a well of Life”, and, “the mouth of the foolish is near destruction” (Prov. 10:11, 14). From the former mouth came peace, love, temperance, wisdom, and knowledge, from the latter mouth came violent words, strife, un-forgiveness, hatred, and foolishness. This is how the text is most commonly understood… but there’s more to be known.
Solomon brought into view the means of rescue for the backslidden heart (1 Cor. 3:3). Solomon said, “a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding”. All the former observations of the text must be interpreted in the light of this act of Civil Justice which was meant to be remedial. The circumstances were clear: If and when a citizen of Israel was backsliding from true religion and sincere charity so that, alas, strife, un-forgiveness, hatred, and even violence proceeded from the mouth, the backsliding saint would be held accountable for whatever sins were found worthy of magisterial punishment, sins that were commonly committed when the tongue was not bridled (i.e. abusive and violent speech which would lead to physical violence [Deut. 19:21, Gal. 5:15], rashness of thought and word which would lead to false-swearing, blasphemous threatenings in the Name of God, dishonest oaths, and un-kept oaths [Lev. 19:11-12, Deut. 23:23], and in extreme cases the mouth could be so inflamed with hatred and intemperance that it framed mischief by law through false witnessing [Duet. 19:15-21]). Carnality in the heart would accelerate the man into circumstances of Civil Justice and proportionate punishments therein, therefore Solomon said: “a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding”. If the backsliding citizen did not find repentance even after he suffered the chastisement of the rod (which meant, namely, his heart was not restored into the knowledge and understanding of true religion), the purpose for which he was delivered to the Civil Magistrate was not achieved. He was supposed to be saved from the heart-condition which was “void of understanding”, through the rod! But, alas, he was turning into a presumptuous sinner against God! For this reason, Solomon said, “the mouth of the foolish is near destruction”. In Israel, all presumptuous sinners and unrepentant fools were publically executed (Num. 15:30-31). For this reason, Solomon forewarned,
“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck,
shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” – Prov. 29:1
“Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed:
but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.” – Prov. 13:13
Oh, my reader! Can you see now why Solomon said, “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction” (Prov. 13:3)? Perhaps it is not so clear to you yet. To understand what was in Solomon’s heart one must first understand the infrastructure of Civil Justice in Israel. Well, my reader, who could expound the significance of this matter better than the Lord Jesus Christ? In “The Sermon on the Mount”, He did! The Lord Jesus said,
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” – Matthew 5:21-26
Firstly, let us consider the anatomy of Israelite civil justice and rule by judgment and councils.
Secondarily, let us consider the three offences Christ is warning against.
Christ was not speaking against the Law so as to reform it. My reader, do you see how the offender that is depicted here is commended to seek atonement by a “gift before the altar” after all necessary repentance and restitution was performed (Matt. 5:23-24)? This is contextual to Jewish society, justice, and rule (a rule whereby God reigned as KING through men). The offender of the Law stood threatened by physical and spiritual judgment, by God-appointed Judges on earth and the Lord’s judgment in heaven, exactly as the Law demanded (Matt. 5:22, 25-26). Judges were appointed throughout Israel for all matters of Law-breaking (minor and major), and thus the scripture spoke of being in danger of both judgment and councils (Deut. 1:16, 16:18-22, 19:17-18, 25:1). All controversies of Law-breaking committed to the earthly Judges (Ex. 21:6, 21:22, 22:8-9, Num. 25:5). Upon their judgment all punishment would transpire, and in the case of civil disobedience to the Judges the death penalty was warned (Deut. 17:8-13). Therefore, with the grounds of Israelite judgment so clearly placed into position so as to uphold all justice, there must be witnesses for every un-confessed crime. The witnesses of any crime (sin) committed were of vital importance (Duet. 19:15). Seeing that power to kill resides in the Judges' verdict of every accusation, witnesses must be honest and true. In the case that a man was incriminated by a false accusation, retributive judgment was returned upon his own head to the same degree he thought to condemn another (“Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you” – Deut. 19:19).
With the former contextual foreground in place the situation depicted in Matthew 5:21-26 is simplified. The Lord Jesus was not disagreeing with the moral Law. No, He was not nullifying it or reforming it even though it may appear that He was. As a new believer I once thought this way. At first glance it does appear that Christ is disagreeing with the moral commandment of the Law by saying, “But I say unto you” (Matt. 5:22). It does seem like the Lord was contradicting the Law because He believed it was too shallow. Therefore (in this view), Christ spoke out in contradistinction to the Law so as to deepen the application and extend the warning – thus He did not condemn the act of murder, merely, but the thought of murder (which is anger) and the words of murder (which is “Raca” and “Thou fool”). At first glance this is a compelling interpretation, but with all things considered it is an impossible interpretation!
The former interpretation is based upon the premise that the Law does NOT condemn anger (“angry with his brother”), railing and reviling (“whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca”), and murderous incrimination (“whosoever shall say, Thou fool”). This is not the case!
“whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment”
Anger is explicitly forbidden and condemned in Leviticus 19:15-18. As you read it, my reader, take in the whole heart of the passage. It was written, “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour. Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:15-18). Apart from the regenerating power of God’s grace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, obedience was impossible. The manner of behavior which was obedient to this passage as a lifestyle depicts a profound work of God’s grace! Furthermore and as further confirmation, anger, hatred, and grudges were condemned in the New Testament just like it was condemned in the Old Testament – with no reformation (Matt. 6:14-15, James 5:9, Gal. 5:19-21). [Note: If a man is angry with his brother without a cause and it led him to commit an act of harm or injury to his fellow brother, he would be endangered of the judgment (the assembly of judges which consisted of 23 men in 1st century Judaism).]
“whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca”
Those who were angry with a righteous cause were apt to act in temperance and self-control, being guided by the Spirit of God (2 Tim. 1:7). Those who were angry “without a cause” were apt to act upon that anger, seeing that they were inflamed with the fires of iniquity (Prov. 14:17, 22:24, 29:22). “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards” (Prov. 29:11). If a man durst not act upon physical violence or plots of murder for fear of the civil magistrates, he was more likely to spew out defaming insults and slanderous accusations. Titles of honor or defaming insults in Jewish culture were connected to the moral standing one had according to the Law. Therefore to insult someone, the reviler would attack a man’s good reputation and good standing according to the Law. This meant that for Israelites, insults were more like accusations - accusations of sinful or Law-breaking behavior. Therefore for someone to say to his brother, “Raca”, he was endangered by the Law which forbade false witnessing (Ex. 20:16, 23:1, Deut. 5:20, Prov. 19:5, 9, Prov. 21:28, Deut. 19:15-21). In proportion to any false accusation the reviler was to suffer, and after repeated chastisements he was not corrected, he died (Num. 15:28-31). “A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes” (Prov. 18:6). In the New Testament the verdict was explicitly stated, “revilers” and “railers” are doomed to hell (1 Cor. 6:9-10, 5:11-13), and “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8). Even so, “The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips: but the just shall come out of trouble” (Prov. 12:13). [Note: If a man was contemptuous and injurious so as to rail and revile, by means of false witnessing or false accusation, the proportion of his punishment would equal the magnitude of his false accusation. He, being brought before the council to be judged, was thus brought into the danger of the council (the assembly of judges known as the Sanhedrin which consisted of 72 men in 1st century Judaism).]
“whosoever shall say, Thou fool”
Was there any hope for a fool? Scripture states, “Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him” (Prov. 29:20). According to Adam Clarke, “This term implied, among the Jews, the highest enormity, and most aggravated guilt.” This term was equivalent to calling someone an apostate (Psalm 14:1, 53:1) or a wicked man. According to the Jews all such men were judged to die. Literally speaking, fools died (1 Sam. 26:21, 2 Sam. 3:33, Prov. 10:8, 23, 18:7)! Every Israelite knew it, but do we? My reader, inhale the thoughts of God on the matter: “A fool’s wrath is presently known” (Prov. 12:16), “a fool layeth open his folly” (Prov. 13:16), “the fool rageth and is confident” (Prov. 14:16), and finally, “Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly” (Prov. 17:12)! Yes. For this reason fools died! They were abominable apostates beyond all hope of correction or help of remedial punishment!
Fools ended up digging their own grave by false witnessing, lying, slandering, and reviling. Their hatred and anger drove them to the very gates of judgment! Why? Because if a false accuser incriminated another man saying, “Thou fool”, a fools death he would die! To accuse the innocent with accusations of apostasy, was apostasy! Apostasy, or to be a “fool”, was a condition which was punishable by death (see Deut. 19:15-21), a condition obtained by punishable iniquity, therefore if someone falsely accused a man of crimes which pertained to “a fool” in the heat of his anger, this was to impose upon the accused the danger of death (enforced by the council). If the accusation was found to be false then the accuser must die! “The Judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Duet. 19:18-21). For good reason it was written, “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul” (Prov. 18:7), and again, “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth slander, is a fool” (Prov. 10:18).
With all this in mind, my reader, is it any wonder what was in Solomon’s mind in Proverbs 10:11-14? Solomon understood the punishments of Civil Justice for the purpose of remedial chastisement, and in the case of stubborn impenitence he forewarned: “the mouth of the foolish is near destruction” (Prov. 10:14). With the utmost clarity Solomon went on to say,
Proverbs 10:18-21, 23-29, 30-32
“He that hideth hatred with lying lips,
and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.
In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin:
but he that refraineth his lips is wise.
The tongue of the just is as choice silver:
the heart of the wicked is little worth.
The lips of the righteous feed many:
but fools DIE for want of wisdom.” – Proverbs 10:18-21
è Specified Warnings
“It is a sport to a fool to do mischief:
but a man of understanding hath wisdom.
The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him…
As a whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more…
“The fear of the LORD prolongeth days:
but the years of the wicked shall be shortened…
The expectation of the wicked shall perish…
Destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity…”
– Proverbs 10:23-29
è Repeated & Unspecified Warnings
(i.e. no reference to the Mouth)
The righteous shall never be removed:
but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.
The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom:
but the froward tongue shall be cut out.
The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable:
but the mouth of the wicked speaketh forwardness.”
– Proverbs 10:30-32
è Specified Warnings
Viewing the entire text in the contextual casement Solomon provided, the interpretation is clear. All the warnings which were repeated in verses 23-29 apply to the behavior and activity of the tongue. Solomon was not unclear of how and in what way fools made a sport of mischief: They hid hatred in lying lips, speaking a multitude of words as fair speeches for manipulative purposes. Therefore, Solomon warned them, “fools DIE for want of wisdom” (Prov. 10:21). They died because when “the mouth of the wicked speaketh foolishness” (Prov. 10:32) it defiled the holy people, Holy Land, and Holy God of Israel. They died because the God of Israel would not suffer the impenitent to live! My reader, God Almighty’s nationwide purpose was stated just above and in clear sight: “The righteous shall never be removed [out of the Land of Israel, that is]: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth [because they will die!]” (Prov. 10:30). This statement was uttered in perfect placement to communicate purposeful meaning! God said, in other words, “Unbridled tongues of Israel be warned, I am going to kill you!” Therefore, is it any wonder that Solomon said,
“He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his LIFE:
but he that openeth wide his lips shall have DESTRUCTION.” – Prov. 13:3
“Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words?
There is MORE HOPE for a fool than for him.” – Prov. 29:20
These were bold statements of proverbial truth! What a wonder that, in Israel, this was commonplace experience among all citizens! This was because in the Land of Israel - God was KING! – the territory where the will of the KING was Law. In a territory where the Law was enforced with omniscient exactitude and divine omnipotence, there could be only one result: What things the KING did abominate and delight in, these became proverbial truths to the public conscience! These became common sense proverbs reverberating through the public of Israel like “righty tighty, lefty loosey” rings true to 21st century carpenters.
“The wicked is SNARED by the transgression of his lips:
but the just shall come out of trouble.
A man shall be SATISFIED with good by the fruit of his mouth:
and the recompence of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.
He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.
There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is HEALTH.
The lip of truth shall be ESTABLISHED FOR EVER: but a lying tongue is but FOR A MOMENT.
Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is JOY.
There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.
Lying lips are ABOMINATION to the LORD: but they that deal truly are His DELIGHT.
A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.” – Proverbs 12:13-23
Here we see the proverbial pattern yet again! The unruly tongue and abominable mouth brought men into the snare of trouble, to suffer just recompenses, because they could not contain their wrath, because they were driven to the deceit of false witnessing and a lying tongue. Yes, but let us take heed: Depending upon the course of God’s sovereign design to glorify His own Name, the mouth of foolishness may prosper for a time. That being said, consider such a circumstance where the lips of wickedness were temporarily in prosperity. Then the KING said, “the wicked shall be filled with mischief”. The right-standing citizens of Israel would be glad to hear it! Yes, and in such circumstances as this (when justice was prolonged for a little while), “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a Book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His Name. And they shall be Mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (Mal. 3:16-17).
Yea, though wicked men went about the City and Nation, their hearts proclaiming foolishness, the verdict of GOD was set forth in Divine surety to be executed in due time – “The lip of truth shall be ESTABLISHED FOR EVER: but a lying tongue is but FOR A MOMENT.” Therefore, in this way, the righteous “come out of trouble” and into satisfaction! They were rewarded for their wisdom and they found God’s counsels to be true! At that time, Hallelujah! Their words did show forth righteousness and their tongue was a minister of health! Indeed, no evil thing devised against them could prosper because “they that deal truly are [GOD’S] delight”, according to the scripture! Dear reader, think of it! The Land of Israel was filled with the proverbial truth, “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are His delight” (Prov. 12:22), because these were real experiences in real time! Historical and present circumstances of Israel declared it and the living did proverbially share it, for, shockingly, whosoever despised God’s proverbial truths were no longer alive! God killed them, my reader. In Israel, the justice and judgment of Divine influence were so commonplace to everyone everywhere, the justice of God became the commonsense proverbial bywords of the public! What a glorious Nation! …it is the Kingdom of God!
As time went on, the citizens of Israel looked around to find the hoary heads among them. Seeing that the threatenings of God did historically and presently fall upon the guilty with Divine infallibility, a long life and white hair did proverbially signify the Divine favor of God upon a man! This was the meaning of the scripture, “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness” (Prov. 16:31). Such a proverb should incite wonder and amazement in us, for it sure did in them! To them it was a “crown of glory” via Divine favor! Yes, and such men as these could sit their children and grandchildren down to utter a multitude of past experiences which would confirm the truth of God’s word! Therefore, let us take note: a hoary head was a crown of glory “IF it be found IN THE WAY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS”. I make this qualification because there were seasons and generations when God’s judgment did sleep (Ps. 7:6, 35:23, 44:23), so to speak, therefore men were able to obtain hoary heads while they were NOT in the way of righteousness, but Solomon wrote The Book of Proverbs in a time when God’s Justice and KINGLY fame was flourishing! At all such times the scripture proved to be a true proverb and thus, the experience was commonplace. Hallelujah! Thanks be to God.
My reader, notice the contextual placement of Proverbs 16:31. Its placement expresses meaning that is relevant to the subject of study in this section, “Bridling the Tongue”.
“An ungodly man diggeth up evil:
and in his lips there is as a burning FIRE.
A froward man soweth strife:
and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
A violent man enticeth his neighbour,
and leadeth him into the way that is not good.
He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things:
moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.”
è The Bringing of Evil to Pass
(via the unbridled tongue)
The hoary head is a crown of glory,
if it be found in the way of righteousness.
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty;
and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a City.
The lot is cast into the lap;
but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.”
– Proverbs 16:27-33
è Justice and Judgment is Done!
The placement of the proverb, “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness”, sent a loud message to Old Testament Israelites! Can you hear it, my reader? Look closely. The circumstances embed the strong message: During the whelming fires of unbridled tongues set loose by the Devil, setting on fire a community, City, or Province of Israel, behold, there was an END! Yes, and the hoary headed man could tell the story of how it happened in his time! …Aye! And what would he say, you wonder? The white-haired man would tell the story of how the wicked men of his time took cities in the flames of their burning lips, but, nevertheless, when the KING visited, justice and judgment was executed according as it was written! Therefore the white-haired man drew two conclusions (by experience and proverbial wisdom): Firstly, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a City” (Prov. 16:32). Yes, because wicked men took the City and were overthrown shortly thereafter. Hallelujah! And, secondarily, no matter the circumstance or happenchance (so to speak) of the situation they were involved in, when, namely, the wicked men took the City in the flames of evil desire… the signature of a KING signed “the bottom line” of everything that transpired. In other words, wicked men did not have any power to do anything against God or man at all, except it were given to them from above (John 19:11). In this way, I mean, the signature of a KING signed “the bottom line”. Yes, and in this way the ancient proverb was told: “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD” (Prov. 16:33). All the hoary heads were able to confess to the young people of their generation, “It was all God’s design.” Do you realize what this means, my reader?
The facts, in proverbs, were historically true!
The truths, in psalms, were put to Zion’s tunes!
White hair, in Israel, had a story to share!
Cause they, unlike others, did not ever dare!
To go, alongside, defiance to the KING on high!
Who lived, right then, to make all rebels die!
To help, right then, and answer the righteous cry!
To establish, yet again, justice against the lie!
So that, forever, the ultimatums of pastime,
Might bring, today, The Book of Proverbs to mind!
Therefore, it was written,
“O LORD, how great are Thy works! and Thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this. When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever: But thou, LORD, art Most High for evermore. For, lo, thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.” – Psalms 92:5-9
“The LORD hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” – Proverbs 16:4
Thus in Israel,
The proverbs that were bywords of the public were not wrong!
Nor the songs which rang Temple Courts rising from holy throng!
What the public experienced and beheld became their proverb and song,
And anyone who disagreed with the facts did not ever live long!
The people beheld, what experience did tell, what Divine Inspiration did already foretell,
Even that, right well, upon the wicked befell, thus doth every man his neighbor a proverb tell!
If there rose up causes of wickedness through tongues of mischief, the Lord would find them out! The individuals of prominent influence in situations of mass defection were made answerable to the KING of Israel! How and in what way, exactly? Solomon explained! God’s threatenings against the progress of evil were profoundly specific because the word-choice of the Holy Spirit was in correlation to real events; past, present, or ready to unfold in the future! In plain speech that is easy to understand, Solomon explained:
“He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears. As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport? Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross. He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart. Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation. Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him. A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.” – Proverbs 26:17-28
è Situations of Mass Defection
(effectually exposed & judged)
“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.” – Proverbs 19:5
“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.” – Proverbs 19:9
è Individuals of Prominent Influence
(suffer specified justice)
What more needs to be said? The KING signed on “the bottom line”: “his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation.” Glory to God! With situations of mass defection effectually exposed and judged, and with individuals of prominent influence suffering specified executions of justice before The Almighty, the saints could not help but sing the words, “When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever: But thou, LORD, art Most High for evermore” (Ps. 92:5-9)! Thou, LORD, art KING of Kings and LORD of Lords! Thou, LORD, art the Monarch of every heart in Israelite territory! And after Thy good will, so it is, for this is Thy Kingdom on earth, Thy Territory, the Land in which all men experience: “Thy will be done!” This is the long-looked-for Gospel, the good news – The Kingdom of God! “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven!”
Can you imagine it, dear reader? The utopia of the KING’s will done on earth: in very House, in every City, in every Province, Nationwide, by every Parent, Parents-to-children, by every Magistrate, Officer-to-City, by every Prince, Prices-to-Provinces, by the King, King-to-Princes, and by the KING of Kings, KING-to-King! A Land in which arguments were forbidden and tongues were bridled (Prov. 28:25, 29:22)! And, furthermore, when and if the tongues of men were no longer ruled/bridled by God through saving grace, so that, the unruly persons engaged in the aforementioned criminal acts and beyond (unbridled tongues led to immoral vengeance, violence, and fighting) – even still, there was good news to be told! You see, Israel was a Land in which immoral vengeance was forbidden (Lev. 19:15-18, Prov. 24:28-29) and those guilty of violence (in word or deed) were Divinely Threatened, rebuked, corrected, and proportionately chastised (Ps. 11:5, 55:9, Prov. 4:17, 10:6, 11, 13:2, 16:29, Eccl. 5:8) by the empowerment of Civil Justice (Prov. 10:17, 26:3, 10, 12) or, otherwise, by God’s very own intervention! For, in the Land of Israel, like nowhere else on earth, there sat a GOD as KING, the one true God – an Omnipotent KING – so that everything and everyone within the boundaries of the Israelite Nation were safely under God’s Kingly dominion! Hereby we are enabled to understand, at last, The Kingdom of God! – the Good News! The Gospel Message which was, which now is, and which is to come!
[Relevant Verses: See Proverbs 10:6, 11-14, 18-21, 23-32 (bridling the tongue, arguments), 12:13-23 (the tongue determining life and death), 13:3 (bridling the tongue), 16:27-33 (all in context of the tongue – specific threat is in 31 & 33), 19:5, 9 (false witnessing, lying, and prominent persons punished), 26:17-28 (strife, talebearing, & mass defection), 29:20 (hasty in words).]