Monday, September 26, 2011

Law and Order

Discipline is needed to provide structure for our lives. Everyone does not agree as to the extent of the discipline given, but it is necessary for law and order. In Deut. 1:9-18 Moses appointed the first judges (magistrates) to assist him over civil matters. God had blessed the Israelites to grow in much greater numbers than when they were in Egypt. Moses told the judges what their assignments would be. However, he advised they would be representatives of God to whom their ultimate accounting would be. Thus, there was a need for just decisions by honest judges. Our Sunday School lesson focuses on Prov. 29:16-27.

'When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall.' Prov. 29:16 When sin increases on the earth, crime increases. The righteous shall not fear that God has thrown in the towel. God promised never to leave the believers nor forsake them. (Heb. 13:5) The righteous shall see the downfall of the unbelievers in the end.

'Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.' Prov. 29:17 The child must be corrected in his youth or the foolishness bound up in his heart will gradually come out to the shame of his parents. The correction shall keep the child from hanging around the wrong crowds and possibly being caught in situations which could land him in jail. 'The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.' Prov. 29:15 This proverb flatly contradicts many who advocate "permissive democracy". Whether or not the child should have time outs in the corner may be debatable whether it exists in the Bible. The rod is corporal punishment; reproof or rebuke is verbal correction. These two forms of parental discipline impart wisdom. They do not inhibit a child or warp his personality. For in Prov. 3:11-12 it states, 'My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.'

'Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.' Prov. 29:18 There is misery for those people who want a settled ministry and there is no priest to preach the Word of God. When there is no one to make God's Word known and honored, the people go wild. There is no shepherd and the people do not continue to put on the armor of God (Eph 6:10-18), resulting in spiritual death. But those believers who remain strong, obeying the Word of God, shall be happy.

'A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.' Prov. 29:19 No rational words of correction are enough. The servant may understand you and never acknowledge you outwardly. But discipline is just as applicable to them as to each of us. (Gen 15:2)

'Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him...An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.' Prov. 29:20,22 These two verses restate recurring themes in the book of Proverbs. People who speak hastily will stir up trouble. James 1:19 contains great guidance on this topic: 'let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath...' Here we see that our words stand to the attention to anyone within ear's reach. If we speak before we think, we are less than a fool. If we speak out in anger, we can create much trouble. No man can tame the tongue. (James 3:8) 'A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.' Prov. 29:11 We must remain connected with God to be wise in what we say.

'He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child, shall have him become his son at the length.' Prov. 29:21 This verse is sandwiched between the two verses abpve discussing inappropriate speech. Verse 21 refers to the idea of a pampered, spoiled servant being allowed to speak in a disrespectful way to his master. That is assumed because he was a delicately servant brought up from a child by the master. Even though he is the servant he will forget his proper position and expect to be treated as a son. Undue familiarity in the employer-employee relationship often breeds contempt (and improper speech). He may feel as if he is equal to the master and due an inheritance.

'A man's pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.' Prov. 29:23 Roles are reversed in the kingdom of God. A young man approached Jesus for advice to obtain everlasting life. He stated he had kept the commandments since his youth. Yet when he was instructed to sell his goods and give to the poor in order to have his treasure in heaven and to follow Jesus, he was unwilling for he had many possessions. (Matt 19:16-22) The young man left and...'Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.' Matt 19:23 Those who exalt themselves shall be abased. 'He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat.' Prov. 28:25 God has to break down pride, because it can lead people to try to live independently of Him. It is the humble who shall receive a place of honor, peace and satisfaction. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Matt 19:30

'Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and betrayeth it not.' Prov. 29:24 A partner (accomplice) is one who shares a common interest in a goal and assists in the accomplishment of the goal. A thief is one who steals (takes from another) secretly. When placed under oath this person swears before God, the judge, and/or jury to tell the truth. He will either perjure himself to remain the friend of the thief and condemn his soul (curse his soul). Or he will incriminate his 'friend', the thief, by telling the truth. The best choice is not to be a thief's partner (accomplice).

'The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.' Prov. 29:25 The righteous learn patience in the midst of life's challenging situations, knowing that those who trust in God will find security, while the fearful will be easily trapped in a noose. The fear of man results in yielding to temptations. Do not shrink from duty. God does not seek a coward soldier. Put on your armor (Eph 6:10-18) and remember the battle is the Lord's.

'Many seek the ruler's favor; but every man's judgment cometh from the Lord.' Prov. 29:26 Some look to the earthly judges for favors to cure their dilemmas in court, but the ultimate judgment comes from the Lord. It seems that so many people have forgotten what Moses advised the magistrate judges when he first set up the court system with the blessing of God. The judges are ultimately accountable to God for their decisions. 'The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.' Prov. 29:4 By acting with justice, the king (judge) brings his country (court) to a position of strength. If he accepts bribes or favors, he is undermining that position of strength. Therefore, we must remember God's laws are the ultimate unfailing source of justice. Such justice is not found before monarchs, legislative seats of government, or the rules of man. Those who seek God's ways of justice and mercy know an ultimate sense of security that gives strength in difficult times.

'An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.' Prov. 29:27 This verse expresses the tension and conflict that emerges when people confront injustice with God's righteousness and justice. It is like water and oil; they don't mix.

The proverbs of Solomon end at this point. He prayed for wisdom and, to our benefit, we have been blessed through his many proverbial teachings of wisdom. Are you praying for wisdom? Do you trust the Lord to keep you secure? Do you think before you speak? Do you believe the rod should be spared? Do you believe a partner in crime should incriminate his partner? What if he later recants his testimony?

Law and order is something we begin to learn in our youth, at home and church. Through experience, trials, and tribulations, the discipline or training received shall become engrained in your heart. Out of the heart comes the issues of life. We must not grow complacent. There is always something to learn in God's kingdom, and we never grow too old to learn.

Written by Deborah C. Davis

No comments: