Sermon: Kingly Wisdom, Part III, Proverbs 6:16-19

People of God, it is truly an unfortunate reality today that the Church has become silent on a host of issues. We have certainly addressed this trend before in my sermon on “Marriage and the Public Gospel,” but it needs to be re-iterated that the Church is a spiritual and political institution. Spiritual, in that it is Spirit-led, and political, in that it is led by a King, Jesus Christ.  The Church is not the headquarters for partisan politics, it is the headquarters of political dominion. The Church is not from the left or from the right, she is from above, and she speaks with heavenly authority. She uses the prophetic voice of feeble men to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.[1]

The role of the Church is to bring comfort to those who need, and to declare boldly those actions that God despises.

This is another reason Proverbs is so crucial for the Christian. It provides wisdom as the genesis/source of discernment and success. As Proverbs 3 summarizes, wisdom provides us with favor before God and man.

We are going to look this morning at Proverbs six. This section of Proverbs is addressed to the son.[2]  Let me offer you an overview of chapter six to set the context of  our passage this morning. In the first five verses, the kingly/father is training his child to avoid pledges. The theme of this section is “Don’t get into a business scenario that might sink you.” Especially, do not make deals with people who have a reputation of a hunter (vs. 5).[3] They are seeking to drain you financially—or by implication, emotionally. They do not have your good in mind, but their own. “Flee from them like a gazelle,” Solomon days.  There are some great business implications here. “Do not enter into business with an unethical person,” lest he destroy you.

The second theme is found in verses 6-11. Stay away from dangerous pledges, but also stay away from sluggards. We need to imitate the ant, instead. “To imitate the ant, we must become future-oriented. We must begin to count the costs of our activities (Luke 14:28–30). If we are unwilling to work hard today, we will come to poverty.”[4]

The ant is “self-governed and self-directed, it does not need to be told what it should do.”[5] This is another important principle: Self-governance. The decline of this country is due not only to the absurd governmental intervention in our lives, but the people who through their sluggardness, encourage the government to act as their messiah. If we had a society of self-governed people, the federal government would find little need to intervene. But when we have a society that is dependent on the forced charity of tax-payers, and a society where inactivity is praised, then the “ant” becomes the bad guy. Solomon says,  “Stay away from these people.” Stay away from those who love sleep too much. Sleeping for the sake of rest and  refreshment is different than sleeping to avoid preparing for the future. Solomon shows no sympathy for this attitude:

A little sleep, a little slumber,

a little folding of the hands to rest,

and poverty will come upon you like a robber,

and want like an armed man.

These are collections of sayings, which means that they are not true in every circumstance. You can think of the man who inherits a great deal of money, and who makes an even greater fortune with his money, while reflecting a poor character in his activities. The Proverbs are general truth, they are a pattern of life. But all things being equal, under life’s normal circumstances, the outcome of the sluggard is poverty.

But even if a man is unethical and achieves all riches possible on earth, his end is still the same. Verse 15 says that his crooked speech will lead to inevitable destruction. He will be broken in a moment. Proverbs is a book about what we must do in the present, but it details the future realities of those who obey the father’s instructions, and those who despise them.

What is striking about verses 12-15 is the parallel between the “physical/moral description of the scoundrel, and the list of seven actions that are detestable to Yahweh.”[6] Verses 12-15 parallel verses 16-19. What do these sections have in common? “Both name the body parts of the mouth, eye, feet, hands, and heart, showing how each can be used in ways other than what God intended and wisdom counsels.”[7]

In Proverbs 6:16-19, we get a vivid picture of what God hates. We are going to look at the first three on this Lord’s Day:

There are six things that Yahweh hates,

seven that are an abomination to him:

The God of Proverbs has little tolerance for these sins. In fact, he begins with six sins, and then his hatred is escalated when he says, no, not six, seven. This is a way of expression in Hebrew writing. Solomon wants to get across that God hates, doubly hates these particular sins, they are an abomination to Him.

First, God hates haughty eyes. The “haughty eyes” refer to those who deny Yahweh’s authority.[8] The reason I mentioned the public nature of the Church’s voice is because Solomon is preparing his son to be king. He is training his son to be a righteous ruler, to avoid ruling like certain rulers who practice these detestable sins. Solomon is addressing individuals certainly, but he has rulers in mind. God hates leaders and rulers who disregard His authority. This leader’s eyes reflect arrogance. This leader is like Ahab who did not think Naboth had the right to his own property, so He conspired against him and killed him.[9] There is a pattern here in these seven sins. It moves from the top to the bottom. The eyes are on the top of the body. Solomon is saying that arrogance and pride are at the heart of bad leadership and rulership. The haughty eyes have no need for the authority of God and the well-being of those under him.

Second, God hates a lying tongue. One writer said that this refers to an “aggressive deceit intended to harm the other.”[10] It descends from the eyes to the tongue.[11] God hates a false witness.[12] People who have no interest in the reputation of others are engrossed in a vile sin in God’s eyes. In our society, we typically think that speaking ill of others is just a way of starting a conversation, but God hates it. The Church does not need reputation killers. Ask yourselves these questions before speaking of a brother or sister in Christ: “Is it beneficial? Are you sharing your thoughts out of concern or out of ignorant malice?” And if they are of concern, with whom are you sharing? Your pastor, a trusted friend, or someone who has nothing to do with the matter and can offer nothing fruitful to the discussion?

A Christian’s reputation is all he has. It is better than gold. If he loses it, he has nothing. Do you want to participate in the loss of someone else’s reputation? This is very subtle. We all have faults, but a lying tongue takes those faults to the next level of deceit. They exaggerate someone else’s habits or words. They do this—sometimes unbeknownst to them—because it makes them feel better about their own sins. Sin one, pride, is connected with the sin of a lying tongue. The eyes and the tongue go hand in hand. They can either work together for good, or evil. Here, they work together for evil, and God despises this joint effort.

Finally, God despises hands that shed innocent blood. From the eyes to the tongue to the hands. Matthew Henry writes:

The devil was, from the beginning, a liar and a murderer (Jn. 8:44 ), and therefore, as a lying tongue, so hands that shed innocent blood are hateful to God, because they have in them the devil’s image and do him service.[13]

This is the biography of Screwtape. Proverbs describes the anatomy of Satan. It is hard to conceive of such a disastrous view of life, but this is the heart of evil. And though we would never imagine ourselves as shedding innocent blood, Jesus says in Matthew 5:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…

These sins are not isolated from one another. The eyes, the tongue, and the hands work together conceiving of diabolical plans.

But beyond that, and more directly, the central meaning of these words are to be applied to the barbaric slaughter of the unborn in America, in China, and sexual abuse that is rampant in parts of the world. This is not just a war of political parties, this is a war God fights. God hates those who shed innocent blood. The Church cannot be silent whether through imprecation, protest, through the joint efforts of different churches, or should God gift and call you, through adopting little ones who perhaps would be slaughtered or doomed in their conditions, the Church is the voice of peace in the world. When she acts righteously, when she speaks prophetically, when she imprecates consistently, when she speaks with one voice, she diminishes this culture of death that is so prevalent in our society. God hates death so much that He raised His only Son from the dead to destroy death.

How Now Shall We Then Live?

We need to consider our sins in light of the seriousness God gives to our sins. Our sins are dreadful in the eyes of God. When we consider the sin of the eyes, the sin of the tongue, and the sin of the hands, consider also that those sins are detestable in the eyes of God, that God curses them with His tongue, and that He does not pour blessings with His hands upon those who dwell in them.

We are not comfortable in our society speaking about the anger and righteous hatred of God towards certain sins, but the Scriptures are clear when they speak of how these sins are absolutely abominable in the eyes of God. And when sins are abominable, and when we realize they are abominable, we need to turn away from them to a God who is filled with mercy and grace. In the end, this is not meant to be a pessimistic sermon, because we have a God who is wholly optimistic about forgiving you of our sins. He is wholly righteous, and He is eager to purify us from our uncleanness.

Confess your tendencies to malign the character of others, to speak unwholesome words about your neighbor, to desire the worst of your fellow saints, and once those are confessed, rejoice. God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He does not dwell on our sins, but rather chooses to remember them no more.

When the gospel is preached, forgiveness is granted and joy overcomes sorrow, and peace overcomes despair. Pray that God would grant you the grace to use your eyes, your tongues, and your hands to serve the purposes of the Church, and to exalt the Name of Christ in all the earth.

In The Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 


[1] The last line of this paragraph comes Doug Wilson’s brilliant sermon against the Government of Idaho.

[2] 6:1.

[3] Paul Koptack, the NIV Application Commentary, Proverbs, 186. “Financial speculation can be dangerous, especially when it can lead to the loss of all one has.”

[4] Gary North, Economic Commentary on Proverbs.

[5] Koptak, 187

[6] Koptak, 189

[7] Ibid.

[8] Waltke, 346.

[9] I Kings 21

[10] Waltke, 347

[11] James elaborates on this much further.

[12] Referring to the Ninth Commandment.

[13] Matthew Henry, Proverbs’ Commentary

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About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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