December 13: Sage Advice
Jeremiah 25:1–26:24; Romans 4:1–24; Proverbs 19:1–29
Proverbs is full of sage advice, and some examples deserve special attention. No words could better describe the concept expressed here: “Better a poor person walking in integrity than one who is perverse in his speech and is a fool” (Prov 19:1).
When times get tough—especially when money runs out—integrity is often the first thing we sacrifice. Yet only those who have truly lived in poverty understand the trials it brings. We can’t begin to know how we would act if we had nothing. For this reason, we should mentally prepare for times of want. In doing so, we might better gauge whether we’re conducting ourselves appropriately in times of plenty.
I heard of a man who chose to live as a homeless person so that he could understand their plight. It’s easy for the rich person to call such an act foolish, but how much did that man learn as he was challenged to maintain his integrity during hard times? Does the rich person own that wisdom?
Proverbs 19:2 seems to hint at this idea: “A life without knowledge is not good, and he who moves quickly with his feet misses the mark.” Some people move so quickly in and out of circumstances that they don’t learn from their experiences. It’s better to move a little slower than normal and pay attention to our actions and their ramifications than to make a mistake and not learn from it. Likewise, we must have knowledge about our work and what we’re doing, or we inevitably fail.
Let’s learn from people with integrity. And let’s learn from our mistakes, both in hypothetical situations and real ones. Let’s take the time to notice what went wrong and what went right.
What situation is God using to teach you? Where should you slow down?
JOHN D. BARRY
- The word that came to Jeremiah, concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was in the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel: The which Jeremiah the Prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day (that is the three and twentieth year) the word of the Lord hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you rising early and speaking, but ye would not hear. And the Lord hath sent unto you all his servants the Prophets, rising early, and sending them, but ye would not hear, nor incline your ears, to obey. They said, Turn again now everyone from his evil way, and from the wickedness of your inventions, and ye shall dwell in the land that the Lord hath given unto you, and to your fathers forever and ever. And go not after other gods to serve them and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands, and I will not punish you. Nevertheless, ye would not hear me, saith the Lord, but have provoked me to anger with the works of your hands, and I will not punish you. Nevertheless, ye would not hear me, saith the Lord, but have provoked me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Because ye have not heard my words, Behold, I will send and take to me all the families of the North, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babel my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will destroy them, and make them an astonishment and an hissing, and a continued desolation. Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the noise of the millstones, and the light of the candle. And this whole land shall be desolate, and in astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babel seventy years. And when the seventy years are accomplished, I will visit the king of Babel and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquities, even the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it a perpetual desolation. And I will bring upon that land al my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all nations. For many nations, and great kings shall even serve themselves of them: thus will I recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands. For thus hath the Lord God of Israel spoken unto me, Take the cup of wine of this mine indignation at mine hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them. Then took I the cup at the Lord’s hand, and made all people to drink, unto whom the Lord had sent me: Even Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them desolate, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse, as appeareth this day: Pharaoh also, King of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people: And all sorts of people, and all the Kings of the land of Uz: and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Gaza, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod: Edom, and Moab, and the Ammonites, And all the Kings of Tyre, and all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the Isles, that are beyond the sea. And Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all that dwell in the uttermost corners, And all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of Arabia that dwell in the desert, And all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes, And all the kings of the North, far and near one to another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the earth, and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them. Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Drink and be drunken, and spew and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword, which I will send among you. But if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, then tell them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Ye shall certainly drink. For lo, I begin to plague the city, where my Name is called upon, and should you go free? Ye shall not go acquitted: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the Lord of hosts. Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The Lord shall roar from above, and thrust out his voice from his holy habitation: he shall roar upon his habitation, and cry aloud, as they that press the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. The sounds shall come to the ends of the earth: for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations, and will enter into judgment with all flesh, and he will give them that are wicked, to the sword, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, a plague shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day, from one end of the earth, even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be mourned, neither gathered nor buried, but shall be as the dung upon the ground. Howl, ye shepherd, and cry, and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for your days of slaughter are accomplished, and of your dispersion, and ye shall fall like precious vessels. And the flight shall fail from the shepherds, and the escaping from the principal of the flock. A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and an howling of the principal of the flock, shall be heard: for the Lord hath destroyed their pasture. And the best pastures are destroyed because of the wrath and indignation of the Lord. He hath forsaken his covert, as the lion: for their land is waste, because of the wrath of the oppressor, and because of the wrath of his indignation. In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah King of Judah, came this word from the Lord, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Stand in the court of the Lord’s House, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s House, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them: keep not a word back, If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the plague, which I have determined to bring upon them because of the wickedness of their works. And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord, If ye will not hear me to walk in my Laws, which I have set before you, And to hear the words of my servants the Prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, and will not obey them, Then will I make this House like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all nations of the earth. So the Priests, and the Prophets, and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the House of the Lord. Now when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak unto all the people, then the Priests, and the Prophets, and all the people took him, and said, Thou shalt die the death. Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This House shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? and all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord. And when the Princes of Judah heard of these things, they came up from the king’s house into the House of the Lord, and at down in the entry of the new gate of the Lord’s House. Then spake the Priests, and the Prophets unto the Princes, and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die: for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears. Then spake the Priests, and the Prophets unto the Princes, and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die: for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears. Then spake Jeremiah unto all the Princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord hath sent me to prophesy against this House and against this city all the things that ye have heard. Therefore now amend your ways, and your works, and hear the voice of the Lord your God, that the Lord may repent him of the plague, that he hath pronounced against you. As for me, behold, I am in your hands: do wish me as ye think good and right: But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you, to speak all these words in your ears. Then said the Princes and all the people unto the Priests, and to the Prophets, This man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken unto us in the Name of the Lord our God. Then rose up certain of the Elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people, saying, Micah the Morashite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall be an heap, and the mountain of the house shall be as the high places of the forest. Did Hezekiah the King of Judah, and all Judah put him to death? did he not fear the Lord, and prayed before the Lord, and the Lord repented him of the plague, that he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls. And there was also a man that prophesied in the Name of the Lord, one Urijah the son of Shemaiah, of Kirjath Jearim, who prophesied against this city, and against this land, according to all the words of Jeremiah. Now when Jehoiakim the king with all his men of power, and all the princes heard his words, the King sought to slay him. But when Urijah heard it, he was afraid and fled, and went into Egypt. Then Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, even Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain with him into Egypt. And they fetched Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king, who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the children of the people. But the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death. Jeremiah 25:1–26:24
- What shall we say them, that Abraham our father hath found concerning the flesh? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath wherein to rejoice, but not with God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh, the wages is not counted by favor, but by debt: But to him that worketh not, but believeth in him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David declareth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not sin. Came this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? For we say, that faith was imputed unto Abraham for righteousness. How was it the imputed? when he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? nor when he was circumcised, but when he was uncircumcised. After, he received the sign of circumcision, as the seal of righteousness of the faith which he had, when he was uncircumcised, that he should be the father of all them that believe, not being circumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also. And the father of circumcision, not unto them only which are of the circumcision, but unto them also that walk in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had when he was uncircumcised. For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not given to Abraham, or to his seed, through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the Law, be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is made of none effect. For the Law causeth wrath: for where no Law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is by faith, that it might come by grace, and the promise might be sure to all the seed not to that only which is of the Law: but also to that which is of the faith of Abraham who is father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations) even before God whom he believed, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not, as though they were. Which Abraham above hope, believed under hope, that he should be the father of many nations: according to that which was spoken to him, So shall thy seed be. And he not weak in the faith, considered not his own body, which was now dead, being almost an hundred years old, neither the deadness of Sarah’s womb. Neither did he doubt of the promise of God through unbelief but was strengthened in the faith, and gave glory to God, Being fully assured that he which had promised, was also able to do it. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now is it not written for him only, that it was imputed to him for righteousness, But also for us, to whom it shall be imputed for righteousness, which believe in him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Who was delivered to death for our sins, and is risen again for our justification. Romans 4:1–24 (1599 Geneva has verse 25, included)
- Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that abuseth his lips, and is a fool. For without knowledge the mind is not good, and he that hasteth with his feet, sinneth. The foolishness of a man perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord. Riches gather many friends: but the poor is separated from his neighbor. A false witness shall not be unpunished: and he that speaketh lies, shall not escape. Many reverence the face of the prince, and every man isfriend to him that giveth gifts. All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more will his friends depart far from him? though he be instant with words, yet they will not. He that possesseth understanding, loveth his own soul, and keepeth wisdom to find goodness. A false witness shall not be unpunished: and he that speaketh lies, shall perish. Pleasure is not comely for a fool, much less for a servant to have rule over princes. The discretion of man deferreth his anger: and his glory is to pass by an offence. The king’s wrath is like the dew upon the grass. A foolish son is the calamity of his father, and the contentions of a wife are like a continual dropping. House and riches arethe inheritance of the fathers: but a prudent wife cometh of the Lord. Slothfulness causeth to fall asleep, and a deceitful person shall be affamished. He that keepeth the commandment, keepeth his own soul: but he that depiseth his ways, shall die. He that hath mercy upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord: and the Lord will recompense him that which he hath given. Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his murmuring. A man of much anger shall suffer punishment, and though thou deliver him, yet will his anger come again. Hear counsel and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. Many devices are in a man’s heart: but the counsel of the Lord shall stand. That that is to be desired of a man, is his goodness, and a poor man is better than a liar. The fear of the Lord leadeth to life: and he that is filled therewith, shall continue, and shall not be visited with evil. The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not put it to his mouth again. Smite a scorner, and the foolish will beware: and reprove the prudent, and he will understand knowledge. He that destroyeth his father, or chaseth away his mother, is a lewd and shameful child. My son, hear no more the instruction, that causeth to err from the words of knowledge. A wicked witness mocketh at judgment, and the mouth of the wicked swalloweth up iniquity. But judgments are prepared for the scorners, and stripes for the back of the fools. Proverbs 19:1–29