This is the sermon for Wednesday night, March 18th, 2009.
Everyday Wisdom part 25
Dealing with three types of people Part A.
We’ve been going on in our series in the book of Proverbs for 25 sessions now. Now we come up to a break in the book. Yes, these are still Proverbs that Solomon spoke. More than likely, these were oral sayings that were not penned by Solomon, but during the time that Hezekiah was king over Judah, they were copied down and added to the collection of Proverbs that we have in our bible today. Notice what verse one says.
Proverbs 25:1 NIV – These are more proverbs of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah…
During the reign of Hezekiah, a revival of Judaism took place. Possibly because of this revival of Judaism they copied down and compiled these additional oral proverbs of King Solomon.
Let’s read just a small portion of 2 Kings 18, which talks a little about Hezekiah and the revival or reform he brought.
2 Kings 18:1-6 NIV – 1 In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 3 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. 4 He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan. ) 5 Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 6 He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.
And though it is not recorded in 2 Kings, it was probably during this time that Hezekiah had his scribes copy down these oral additional proverbs of Solomon. They go from Chapter 25 all the way through 29:27. So around 270 years after the death of King Solomon, Hezekiah has these additional sayings of his added to the copy of Proverbs we now have.
What is rather interesting about these sayings here is they were copied probably to honor the present reforms of Hezekiah. We couldn’t catch this in English, but in Hebrew these 140 additional verses correspond to the numeric value of the Hebrew letters in Hezekiah’s name. In other words, what the second verse says: “something hidden that was discovered” by those studying out the original languages, is rather true.
Now in Chapter 25 it is divided into three sections; and these three sections are going to be our three points: Leaders or Kings, Neighbors, and enemies.
Leadership and our response to those in authority over us.
Proverbs 25:2-7a NIV – 2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. 3 As the heavens are high and the earth is deep, so the hearts of kings are unsearchable. 4 Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith; 5 remove the wicked from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness. 6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men; 7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman.
God conceals things, so that the purpose of those in leadership is to search it out and reveal it.
Proverbs 27:2-3 NIV – 2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. 3 As the heavens are high and the earth is deep, so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.
Most Commentators feel that this is referencing the Covenant God with Judah, and their King. God conceals matters, and while those in Leadership – Kings, Prophets, Priests ministering in the Temple were to search these things out and reveal these truths.
This is not new truth revealed, but truth that has been hidden ultimately by God until the time that He determines to reveal them through the leadership that He appoints and establishes. This is truth that often times has been hidden because of sin. And King Hezekiah brought reform to Judah because Judah had been sinful and wicked, and when he did, God’s truth was revealed.
God’s ways are high above man searching them out. He is infinite, we are finite. Yet He has established a way that His ways are revealed, it is an order that He has established. In the Old Testament this order started with Adam, then to Seth, then to Noah, then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then to Jospeh, and of course Moses. After Moses you have Joshua and the Judges, the King and the priests, then the Prophets of the Old Testament.
In the New Testament you have Jesus Christ. Every revelation we have must come through Christ and His cross, the Old Testament prophesied it, and the New Testament confirms it.
Notice what it says in Hebrews.
Hebrews 1:1-2 ISV – 1 God, having spoken in former times in fragmentary and varied fashion to our forefathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by a Son whom he appointed to be the heir of everything and through whom he also made the universe.
This Idea of chasing new revelation from God is not biblical. The revelation that has been hidden has now been revealed through the Apostles and Prophets (New Testament and Old Testament Scriptures): Christ in us, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:26-27 ISV – 26 This secret was hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints, 27 to whom God wanted to make known the glorious riches of this secret among the Gentiles—which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
So it brings God glory and honor to have concealed these matters through the Word – History, Parables, Proverbs, Metaphors, Similitudes, Laments, and Prophecies; and those in leadership should be honored and humbled at the same time as they search out Scripture and discover these truths that have been concealed and reveal to them through Christ. These truths speak of Christ as our hope not only in the present life, but of future glory as well.
1 Corinthians 15:19 ISV – If we have set our hopes on Christ in this life only, we deserve more pity than any other people.
What does it mean in v. 3 that the heart of kings is unsearchable?
The ESV Study Bible says in its notes: “though his heart is hidden to those under him, it remains subject to the Creator. The references to Solomon and Hezekiah (25:1) indicate that, as usual in Proverbs, the kingship assumed is Davidic to search things out.”
Scripture declares that David had a heart for God, which was a heart that searched out the ways of God. So for the Kings of Judah, they must have a Davidic heart and search out the concealed things of God. As they search out the ways of God, God can turn and change their hearts.
Proverbs 21:1 NIV – 1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.
Those in Leadership must not be influenced by wicked people.
Proverbs 25:4-5 NIV – 4 Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith; 5 remove the wicked from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.
The King of Judah had to choose his counselors wisely. He needed counselors who were not after their own agenda’s, who were not manipulative in anyway, who did not harbor evil in their hearts, but who wanted to make sure the Kingdom was established under the rule of Law mapped out in the Old Testament.
Proverbs 13:20 NIV – He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.
As the King was searching out God’s ways through Scripture, he needed wisdom. He needed wise counselors who also were seeking out the ways of God. This is what King Hezekiah had, when He sought out God and saw how Judah has abandoned His ways – and through sin God’s ways was concealed.
Another King of Judah did this as well – Josiah, let’s look at him quickly.
2 Kings 22:1-13 NIV – 1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. 3 In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the LORD. He said: 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the LORD, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. 5 Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the LORD – 6 the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. 7 But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are acting faithfully.” 8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king. 11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’s anger that burns against us because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”
Here Josiah has repair work done on the Temple. They find the Book of the Law, when the Book of the Law was read to Josiah, he tore his robes as an act of repentance, and set orders for certain people to inquire of the Lord for him and all of Judah, in order to remedy the condition of sin. God’s Word was hidden, but the King with his advisors seek the Lord so as to have God’s Word and will revealed to them.
In the same way, those in leadership must not lead through personal preference nor the preferences of people, they must be lead by God. And in seeking the ways of God through Scripture, they must have wise counselors and seek them out to help reveal God’s ways.
One more thing concerning leadership.
Humble yourselves and don’t promote yourself to those in leadership.
Proverbs 25:6-7 NIV – 6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men; 7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman.
God is the one who promotes, you do not need to promote yourself. Anyone who tries to promote themselves needs a lesson in humility, which the Lord is known to serve from time to time.
God will honor you in due time, if you are faithful to Him. Those in godly leadership will take notice when the Lord reveals it too them.
Jesus also taught this truth.
Luke 17:7-11 ISV – 7 And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. 10 “But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. 11 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Do not seek to be honored by men, let the Lord honor you as you humble yourself before Him. That is the way of the cross, the way of the New Testament – and the way of the entirety of Scripture.
We are going to stop here this evening. In the next two weeks, we will try to finish what God has to say about Neighbors and Enemies from Proverbs 25.