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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


Proverbs by Stephen Thompson

Daily Bible thoughts 986: Friday 9th October 2015: Proverbs 25:1-10: More pearls of wisdom.

Proverbs 25:1-10: More pearls of wisdom.

‘’God delights in concealing things; scientists delight in discovering things.’’ The Message (2). God doesn’t ‘conceal’ from us what we need to know, but it remains the case that his thoughts and ways are too high for anyone to fully grasp (Romans 11:33-36). On the other hand, an earthly king gets ‘’glory’’ when he is given wisdom to ‘’search out a matter’’ (1 Kings 3:9; 4:34).

‘’Like the horizons for breadth and the ocean for depth, the understanding of a good leader is broad and deep.’’ The Message (3).

In government there may well be some ‘’wicked’’, self-serving people (4, 5). But when they are removed ‘’righteousness’’ can prevail. ‘’Remove impurities from the silver and the silversmith can craft a fine chalice; Remove the wicked from leadership and authority will be credible and God-honouring.’’ The Message. (Proverbs 16:12; 20:8, 26).

Someone said, ‘’If the Lord’s going to raise you up let Him raise you up; but whatever you do, don’t raise yourself up!’’ (1 Peter 5:6).People do have a natural tendency to promote themselves; to want the seats of honour. They hunger for position. When they do, they set themselves up for a demotion (Luke 14: 7-11). ‘’Don’t work yourself into the spotlight; don’t push your way into the place of prominence. It’s better to be promoted to a place of honour than face humiliation by being demoted.’’ The Message.

There is a warning in (8) that we should not be hasty in bringing an accusation against someone. It is likely that we do not know all the facts. We may get it all wrong and end up red-faced and embarrassed. People who jump to conclusions tend to hit the ground with a terrible thump! Also, we are better to first go to the person in question and seek to resolve the matter. In the case of a fellow-Christian this process is absolutely required (Matthew 18:15-17). ‘’Don’t jump to conclusions – there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw.’’ The Message.

In a dispute with a neighbour, don’t betray a confidence in order to defend yourself (see also 11:13 and 20:19). You will be likely to lose one of life’s most treasured possessions – your reputation (22:1). ‘’In the heat of an argument, don’t betray confidences; Word is sure to get around, and no one will trust you.’’ The Message.

Prayer: Lord, once again I confess my lack of wisdom. How I hunger and thirst for yours.

Daily Bible thoughts 946: Monday 17th August 2015: Proverbs 24: 23-34: The President of Mexico!!

 Proverbs 24: 23-34: The President of Mexico!!(please click here for todays passage)

The prolific Christian author, Charles Swindoll, once quipped that, ‘’Many Christians seem to think Manual Labour is the President of Mexico!’’

Warren Wiersbe writes about a new college graduate who was asked if he was looking for work. He thought for a minute and then replied, ‘’No, but I would like to have a job.’’ The truth is that no-one’s life changes by wishing it to be so. There are things we have to do. Today would be a good time to start!

In the Proverbs passage we began to look at yesterday, there is also teaching about hard work and providence. What did the wise man learn from the field of ‘’the sluggard’’ (30)? It is an important life-lesson about the perils of laziness. (See also 10:4 and 14:23.)

Take time to look closely at the world and consider (32). Don’t live on the surface. Go deep. Take time to reflect. ‘’I took a long look and pondered what I saw; the fields preached me a sermon and I listened…’’ The Message. Somebody observed that the unconsidered life is hardly worth living. Sit under life’s pulpit; listen, watch and become wise. ‘’What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?’’ What the wise man learned from what he saw is that if a person does not work they will not have enough to live on, and what they do have will fall into ruin. (By the way, some people’s souls are like this sad landscape –covered in weeds and showing signs of ruin. In many, if not most, cases it stems from neglect. The spiritual life is under-developed through lack of diligence.)

It is important to understand that the problem addressed here is not appropriate rest. There is a need for that. God has built a pattern of work and rest into the structure of life, and we ignore it to our own detriment. One very well known, hard-working and productive preacher was known to have his ‘’horizontal half hour’’ after lunch every day. He was often travelling, and he put in long hours, but he found that this pattern involving a short daily nap helped to rejuvenate him.

In terms of work, it is vital to get your priorities right (27). It is important to know that you can live before you prepare a place to live in. If you don’t have any food what’s the point of a house? ‘’This saying teaches us to first establish our livelihood and only then start a family. A wise man plans ahead; he first lays a foundation and then he builds on it.’’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary, p. 958.

‘’I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.’’ Thomas Edison.

‘’Diligence is the mother of good luck, and God gives all things to industry.’’ Benjamin Franklin.

Daily Bible thoughts 945: Friday 14th August 2015: Proverbs 24:23-34: Love thy neighbour.

Proverbs 24:23-34: Love thy neighbour.(please click here for todays passage)

There are a number of statements made in this section which challenge our standards of neighbourly love:

  • About lack of favouritism (23-25): There is a need for fairness in how we treat all people. Although these verses apply primarily to the legal system, they can also have a more general application. How we treat people is really important, because how we act towards them is how we treat Christ (Matthew 25:40, 45; Hebrews 6:10). ‘’It is wrong, very wrong, to go along with injustice. Whoever whitewashes the wicked gets a black mark in the history books, But whoever exposes the wicked will be thanked and rewarded.’’ The Message.
  •  About loving honesty with others (26): It can be hard to express love in this way, but honesty can be as beautiful as a kiss. However, let the truth be imparted as tenderly as possible. The challenge is to deliver the message in such a way that the recipient feels ‘kissed’ by it and not smacked around the head. ‘’An honest answer is like a warm hug.’’ The Message. Maybe you need courage to embrace someone in your world with the truth today.
  • About personal honesty regarding others (28; see also Exodus 20:16; Proverbs 24:17-20 and 20:22; Romans 12:17a, 19-21.): I believe this also applies to the realm of thought. If you are thinking something about someone, but you don’t know it is true, then don’t permit that thought to stay in your mind. Swat it away. Don’t speak lies about others, and don’t believe them either. ‘’Don’t talk about your neighbours behind their backs – no slander or gossip, please.’’ The Message.
  •  About not taking revenge (29; see Romans 12:17a, 19-21): You might be tempted to get even by lying about a person, but don’t. There is this important principle that people will reap what they sow. Their bad deeds will rebound on them. You don’t want to get in the way of that. Like Jesus, take your case to a higher court (1 Peter 2:21-23). Trust your wise, all-loving and just Heavenly Father.

Prayer: Lord God, help me to grasp that you really are concerned with how we treat other people.

Daily Bible thoughts 908: Wednesday 24th June 2015: Proverbs 24:15-22: Resilience.

Proverbs 24:15-22: Resilience.(click here for passage)

‘’The destruction of evil men is sure (15, 16, 19, 20) but it is not to be received with vindictive delight by the righteous man.’’ A.E. Cundall.

As someone said, we should never speak of Hell except we have tears in our eyes.

The judgment to come on wicked people is a repeated theme in these verses. But at the heart of the passage there is a wonderful statement about the resilience of the righteous:

‘’…for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.’’ (16a).

‘’No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.’’ The Message.

It’s like God’s people are made of spiritual rubber. They bounce back. They persevere. They endure. They just keep going. This is a wonderful God-given quality. I am not saying that every believer proves to be equally resilient, but certainly everyone, in Christ, can be.

Recent scientific studies into resilience have shown the importance of having a core set of beliefs that help a person make sense of calamity. This is not the only factor, but it is vital. It’s not difficult to see how this point applies to ‘the righteous’. We believe in a sovereign God who overrules every detail of our lives for a higher purpose

In John Ortberg’s book, ‘Soul Keeping’, he writes about his high school friend’s mother called Betty:

‘’…she lived to be ninety years old. She never did anything extraordinary. She just raised four children. She just held her family together as her husband wrestled with manic- depressive disorder decade after decade, before there was medication, not knowing what she would come home to each day. She lived in the same small house in Rockford, Illinois, her whole life. She never travelled. She never bought an expensive dress or an upscale car. When she died, the chapel was packed. It was filled with lives that she had touched.’’ (p.60).

She could have felt sorry for herself. She could have hidden away under a shelter of self-pity. She could have retreated into depression. Instead she had an outward focus and was a blessing to many. She chose to serve and give. She followed the pathway of Jesus. She was resilient. (Hebrews 12:2-4)

Prayer: Lord Jesus you kept on going, even though it meant the way of the cross. Please give me your strength to glorify your Name by a life that endures.


Daily Bible thoughts 868: Friday 1st May 2015: Proverbs 24:5-14

Proverbs 24:5-14

‘’It’s better to be wise than strong; intelligence outranks muscle any day. Strategic planning is the key to warfare; to win you need a lot of good counsel.’’ The Message.

Before taking on an appointment with a Christian organisation, a well-known Bible teacher asked permission to consult with some trusted friends. He quoted (6): ‘’In the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom.’’ Furthermore, wisdom is sweet (13, 14). But not everyone tastes it (7): ‘’Wise conversation is way over the head of fools; in a serious discussion they haven’t a clue.’’ The Message.

It certainly is unwise to be a ‘’schemer’’ (8).

Trouble is a revealer of character (10): ‘’If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place.’’ We usually don’t know what strength we have until trouble comes knocking on the door. Then we discover that we are stronger than we thought – or weaker.

The next verses (11, 12) remind me of the evangelistic responsibility of the church:

‘’Rescue the perishing: don’t hesitate to step in and help. If you say, ‘’Hey, that’s none of my business,’’ will that get you off the hook? Someone is watching you closely, you know – Someone not impressed with weak excuses.’’ The Message.

‘’If we know someone is in mortal danger and do not try to save him, God will judge us. This applies to those who are in spiritual danger as well; this is why Christians are called to share the Gospel with unbelievers (1 Corinthians 9:16). We may invent excuses for not doing so, but God weighs our heart (Proverbs 21:2); He will repay us according to what we have done (Psalm 62:12; Romans 2:6) – and also according to what we should have done but didn’t (James 4:17).’’ Tom Hale: ‘The applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.957.

In our church small groups this week we learned about ‘the good Samaritan’ and how we are to be a ‘neighbour’ to anyone in need. We must not ‘pass by on the other side’ but, like the Samaritan, go to where the need is. There are no excuses.

Prayer: Lord give us growing hearts of compassion.

Daily Bible thoughts 826: Wednesday 4th March 2015: Proverbs 23:29-24:4

Proverbs 23: 29-24:4

That which appears attractive may be loaded with danger. It could be carrying deceptive beauty (31). This applies to all temptation and sin, but especially, here, to excessive drinking and drunkenness (even alcoholism? See 35b.) All sin gives ‘’needless bruises’’ (29b), and that is definitely true of insobriety. ‘’Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all? Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot? It’s those who spend the night with a bottle, for whom drinking is serious business. Don’t judge wine by its label, or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavour. Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with –the splitting headache, the queasy stomach. Do you really prefer seeing double, with your speech all slurred, Reeling and seasick, drunk as a sailor?’’ The Message.

‘’In these verses, the writer vividly describes the problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption. Scripture teaches us not to become intoxicated (Proverbs 20:1; Romans 13:13; Ephesians 5:18); here the writer goes further and points out the dangers of persistent drinking, or alcoholism…Modern psychologists tell us that alcoholism is primarily a medical problem; but they are wrong. It is primarily a spiritual and moral problem; the alcoholic has started out by disobeying God and has become entrapped by a physical addiction. Only by repenting and casting himself upon God can the alcoholic experience true deliverance and spiritual renewal.’’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary, p.957.

While it is generally true that it is good to have friends outside of the Christian faith, we need to be careful about our level of involvement with certain kinds of people. Their evil may be infectious (24:1, 2; See 3:31; 22:24-25; 23:17). If possible, try to monitor yourself and how your contact with people is affecting you. If you are being influenced for ill, rather than influencing for good, it would be better to keep your distance. If you are in doubt, do the same. Some company is toxic and will contaminate. Do all you can to avoid evil cross-contamination.

It takes wisdom to build and establish something solid, durable and of worth (3, 4); to build a life, a family, a ministry, a company etc. ‘Lord give us wisdom!’ (James 1:5-7) I like the thought that wisdom is ‘the ability to see things from God’s point of view.’ Wisdom will restrain you from excessive drinking and regulate your friendships. It will furnish the home of your life with ‘’fine furniture and beautiful draperies.’’ The Message. Probably the reference to house building in (3,4) is primarily about building a life. The best kind of ‘make over’, causing a person to become truly attractive, is one carried out in accordance with the wisdom in God’s Word.

Prayer: Lord, may my life always exhibit the beauty of your wisdom.


Daily Bible thoughts 763: Friday 5th December 2014:

Proverbs 23:10-18

Spiritual application: A friend of mine spoke about the pastor of a thriving church. When asked about the ‘secret’ of his success, this Christian leader replied, ‘I am a serious reader of the Bible.’ It was the only answer he felt he could come up with. God mightily uses people who take His Word seriously. There is much about our culture that is trite, and many Christians have a superficial relationship with the Bible. They are by no means ‘serious’ readers. They skim-read it, if they look at it all. There will come a point where the Bible will read you, if you will allow it. But it is less likely to happen if you’re just skating across the surface. Application is required for best results (12). But application is what we feel (and what we say) we don’t have time for in these busy, busy lives of ours. The poet, Davies, wrote, ‘What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?’ The people who get the most out of the Bible take the time to ‘stand and stare’. Or, they sit and stare. Maybe, even, kneel and stare. Whatever their physical position, they give God’s Book the space to work deeply on them and change them. This is not just about gaining head knowledge; like cramming for exams. It is about opening your ‘’heart’’ as well as your ‘’ears’’. What is said in this twelfth verse about proverbs/wisdom literature, can (and I believe, must) be extended to include the entire Bible. But in this sound-bite culture, that fosters short attention spans, application does not come easily.

If we take God’s Word seriously, here are some things that will ensue:

  • We will take justice seriously (10, 11): This proverb is about respecting the property rights of others; not unjustly taking their land. We have regard for those rights out of fear of God. He is the God of justice. ‘’For they have a powerful Advocate who will go to bat for them.’’ The Message. God cares for the vulnerable, and you don’t want to Have Him for an opponent.
  • We will take discipline seriously (13, 14): A clear sign that our society has moved the ‘’ancient boundary stone’’ of God’s Word is seen in the erosion of proper, loving discipline in the home and the classroom. In too many ways and at too many times children are allowed to rule. Things have been turned on their heads. It’s madness! Furthermore, the consequences are immeasurably bad. The Bible does not advocate cruelty, but there is a right application of discipline that brings wisdom (15, 16). The word ‘’withhold’’ (13) causes me to think that it is a form of robbery if we fail to discipline our children. We owe it to them to bring correction. ‘’Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones; a spanking won’t kill them. A good spanking, in fact, might save them from something worse than death.’’ The Message.
  • We will not envy the people around us who close God out of their lives (17, 18). Through God’s Word we are given perspective and insight. We are enabled to see life clearly; to see through to the true nature of things. Why be jealous of people who are going to end up in Hell? Why would anyone want to change places with them? People who are going to ‘’be left with an armload of nothing.’’ The Message.
  • Our lives will be saturated in reverence for God. We will be ‘’zealous’’ in fearing Him – wanting His honour and glory above all else.

Prayer: Lord God, people have given their lives to make it possible for me to read the Bible. Help me, then, to read it with the utmost seriousness.

Daily Bible thoughts 725: Tuesday 14th October 2014

Proverbs 22:28-23:9

Here are more nuggets of wisdom from the book of ‘Proverbs’. We are continuing to listen to the ‘sayings of the wise’:

(28; see also 15:25 and 23:10). This was about justice and protecting property rights. But I am also mindful that we keep moving moral ‘’boundary’’ stones in our society. It is both foolish and dangerous to defy God in this way. We must inevitably pay for doing so.

(29) Here is a principle that is generally true: a good, skilled worker will gain recognition and promotion. When you want to employ someone for a particular role, you look for the best qualified person you can find. You take up references. You are hardly likely to give a job and a salary to someone who is lazy and unproductive, and shoddy in their approach. ‘’Observe people who are good at their work – skilled workers are always in demand and admired; they don’t take a back seat to anyone.’’ The Message.

(23: 1-3) The point here is that if a ‘’ruler’’ or other important figure asks you out for a meal, take care. He may be testing you with a view to asking you to do some service for him. So, be self-controlled and don’t lose the opportunity of advancement through careless over-indulgence. ‘’When you go out to dinner with an influential person, mind your manners: Don’t gobble your food, don’t talk with your mouth full. And don’t stuff yourself; bridle your appetite.’’ The Message. (There is also a time to ask, ‘Why is this person being so generous and friendly to me?’ Don’t switch off your ‘discernment antennae’. Someone may be setting you up in some way.)

(4, 5) The goal of your life should not be to become rich. If wealth comes your way, then steward it wisely. But money is transient. It can easily be lost, and you can’t take it with you. It’s not something to build your life on. ‘’Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; restrain yourself! Riches disappear in the blink of an eye; wealth sprouts wings and flies off into the wild blue yonder.’’ The Message.

(6-8) These verses are, again, well expressed in The Message: ‘’Don’t accept a meal from a tightwad; don’t expect anything special. He’ll be as stingy with you as he is with himself; he’ll say, ‘’Eat! Drink!’’ but won’t mean a word of it. His miserly serving will turn your stomach when you realize the meal’s a sham.’’ In terms of hospitality, the spirit of the person communicates something powerful, and not just what they put in front of you on the table. Someone who isn’t truly generous-hearted won’t be much joy to be around.

(9) There is a need for discernment in speaking to people; in knowing when to speak and when to be silent. Wise words will be wasted on some. It will be ‘casting pearls’ before ‘swine’. The precious words won’t be wanted or heeded. They will be trampled underfoot. People who will not receive feedback impoverish themselves. They cut themselves off from the possibility of growth and improvement.

Prayer: Lord I recognise that, more than cleverness, I need to have the gift of your wisdom in order to navigate my life through all the dangers of this sin-cursed world. Please give me in plentiful supply what I so obviously lack and desperately need.

Daily Bible thoughts 693: Friday 29th August 2014:

 Proverbs 22:17-27

‘’Verses 17-21: These verses form an introduction to the thirty sayings that follow. The young person or disciple is again encouraged to take these sayings to heart and apply them (see Proverbs 1:1-6, 8 – 9). These are not merely clever statements with which to impress one’s friends; these sayings – in common with all Scripture – are God’s word, which must be obeyed. When one has committed himself to obeying God, he will fully realise that these words are indeed from Him (John 7:17). With God’s Word impressed on his heart, the disciple will be able to give sound answers to those who sent him for teaching – perhaps a parent or guardian (verse 21).’’ Tom Hale: ‘The applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.936.

‘’I’m giving you thirty sterling principles – tested guidelines to live by. Believe me – these are truths that work.’’ The Message.

The last third of ‘Proverbs’ comprises five further separate collections of wisdom material of various kinds: two collections of the sayings of the wise (22:17-24:22 and 24:23-34), a similar collection ‘’copied by the men of Hezekiah’’ (25-29), and the sayings of Agur (30) and King Lemuel (31). It’s been pointed out that the thirty sayings are closely related to a thirty-chapter Egyptian work, the ‘Teaching of Amenemope.’ This work seems to belong to a period some time before Solomon was on the scene, and it is usually thought that Proverbs has drawn from this book rather than vice versa. ‘’The openness to learning from the wisdom of other peoples reflects the theological conviction that the God of Israel is God of all nations and of all life. It is not therefore surprising when other peoples perceive truths about life which the people of God can profit from. The thirty sayings encourage us to use our common sense in our service of God. God’s service does not always require ‘a word from the Lord’ in order for us to see what needs doing! The Teaching of Amenemope was designed to offer advice to people in public service. The thirty sayings have much to say to such people too.’’ John Goldingay: ‘The new Bible commentary’,p.602.

  • Verses 22, 23 (see 16): Some years ago a book was published entitled ‘Bias to the poor’. I believe it highlighted many verses in the Bible that show that God is on the side of the poor in their vulnerability. It’s not that God doesn’t love the rich people as much as the resource less, but He clearly has a special concern to stand with the weak and powerless in this world system that is heavily tilted towards the rich and powerful.
  • Verses 24, 25: This is a reiteration of the principle that you tend to become like those you get close to (That’s why it’s important to stick close to Jesus!) See also Proverbs 12:26 and 14:29. ‘’Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious – don’t get infected.’’ The Message. Although we shouldn’t cultivate close ties with the wrong sort of people, it is still important to be kind to them and show them the love of Christ.
  • Verses 26, 27 (see also 6:1-5). Whilst we should not oppress the poor, there is a balancing act to be performed. Neither should we be recklessly indulgent with people in financial difficulties.

Prayer: Lord help me to grasp that ‘all truth is God’s truth’, and give me a teachable spirit, always wanting and willing to learn. Please strengthen me to apply my heart to all your teaching; to keep it in my heart, and be ready to speak it with my lips.

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