Don’t Let the Wilderness Be Better Than You – Proverbs 21:19

Proverbs 21:19 “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”

If you have ever been in a house with an angry woman, which I am sure we all have been at one point or another, it is not fun.  I’m not sure why Solomon singles out women the way he does.  It’s not pleasant being around anyone that is angry.  Maybe it is because women have a greater tendency to be more gifted with talking.  A woman’s very nature is to be nurturing.  When she moves outside of God’s design, and fails to nurture, she tears down her house.  This woman is foolish to be contentious and angry; reason seems to go out the window when we are filled with wrath or unrighteous anger.

Proverbs 14:1 says, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”  Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and this woman’s tongue brings death to relationships (Prov. 25:12).

The Hebrew word for “contentious” (H4079) is a plural form for the Hebrew word meaning dissension, strife, arguing.”   It means to brawl, to dispute.  This woman is in a constant state of fighting.

The Hebrew word for “angry” (H3708) means anger, grief, indignation, spite, or wrath.

The woman in this proverb is a fighter.  She has expectations that she demands be met which often are unrealistic.  If her expectations are not met, she impatiently and angrily lets others know.  She will do whatever it takes to get her way.  This woman is fueled by the bitterness inside her.  It spews out of her.  A root of bitterness springs up and defiles any it touches.  Bitterness is the poison ivy of relationships.  Hebrews 12:15 says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”  This contentious and angry woman is the epitome of Hebrews 12:15.  She has embraced the bitterness, and has given the devil a major foothold in her life.

Proverbs 21:19 is the second time Solomon says this sentiment in Proverbs 21, and he says it a third time in Proverbs 25:24.  Proverbs 21:9 and 25:24 are identical.  “It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.”

In context of the culture, storms arose quickly and were often violent in the East.  Solomon is saying that it was better to be exposed to the elements and violent weather conditions than the elements of a contentious and angry woman.  At least in the wilderness or corner of a house top you have periods of repose with the weather, though it may not be very comfortable physically.

Matthew Henry says this in his commentary on this verse “Those cannot dwell in peace and happiness that cannot dwell in peace and love.”  That is quite a profound statement.   If you cannot have a heart of love and peace towards others, forget about having peace and happiness because it isn’t going to be.

Let’s ask ourselves a few questions.  What is my heart attitude like?  Do I have an attitude of irritability, discontentment, and anger like the contentious and angry woman?  Are people on pins and needles when they are around me?  Would it be better for the people around me to be in the wilderness facing the elements rather than facing my rotten attitude?  Am I better than the wilderness?  By God’s grace let’s not be like this contentious and angry woman.  Let us have the love of God and His peace evident in our lives.  That does not mean we compromise for standing for Truth, but it means we stand for Truth in love.  May our expectation come from the Lord, not our own desires (Psalm 62:5).  Let’s yield our expectations to Him, so we do not have a reason to get angry readily.

Are You the Ransom – Proverbs 21:18

Proverbs 21:18 “The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.”

When I think of the meaning of this verse, an historical account comes to mind from 2 Samuel 20:14-22.  In this passage Sheba rebelled against the rule of King David.  This took place right after Absalom’s rebellion against his father King David which had resulted in his death. Both of these men that rebelled ended up being a ransom for righteous King David, the man after God’s own heart.  In the case of Sheba, Sheba was also the ransom for the walled city of Abel into which he had fled from David’s army.  A wise woman on the city wall negotiated for the city to be spared with Joab, the captain of King David’s army.  Once this wise woman found out that all the attacking army wanted was the life of the rebel they were harboring in their city, she talked with the men of the city.  The city executed Sheba and dropped his head over the wall to Joab.  The city of Abel was spared.  The wicked was a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.

This verse also cross references with Proverbs 11:8 which says, “The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.”  In Isaiah 43:3-4, the prophet Isaiah reminds God’s people how he had given Egypt for their ransom.  God’s people were being oppressed by the Egyptians, and God delivered them out of trouble and Egypt ended up being the nation in big trouble with the ten plagues and the annihilation of their army at the Red Sea (Exodus 7-14).

At the end of the seven years of tribulation, God will again rescue Israel and wipe out the armies of the anti-Christ who seek to destroy Israel and God (Rev. 19).  This proverb of the wicked being a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright is a truth woven throughout history.

The most blessed and glorious reversal of this is when Jesus Christ the righteous chose to be the ransom for the unrighteous (1 John 2:1).  He willingly was numbered with the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12, Mark 15:28).  He, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, all humanity, when he died for the sins of this wicked world (2 Cor. 5:21, Romans 5:8, 1 John 2:2).  Praise God, Jesus did not stay dead but rose bodily from the grave three days later.  Jesus was and is victorious over sin and death, and is seated on the right hand of His Father in heaven (1 Cor. 15:3-4, Heb.10:9-11).  Christ freely offers the gift of eternal life he purchased with His own blood to whosoever will accept it by faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9, Romans 6:23).  Christ chose to be the ransom for all.  Because He was the ransom, salvation is afforded to all those who believe in Him.  Salvation is easy for us, because it cost God so much.  It is as simple as ABC.  “A” we must admit that we are a sinner. “B” we must believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead three days later.  “C” we must confess Him as our Lord.

Praise God that though He is a God justice, He is also a God of mercy.  We all deserve to be in hell.  By God’s grace, let’s remember, that anything better than hell is a privilege.  Let’s also have a continual attitude of gratefulness as Christians because yes, we, wicked sinners, should have been the ransom, but Christ was our ransom.  Are you the ransom or is Christ your ransom?

The Blessing of Hearing – Proverbs 21:13

The Blessing of Hearing

Proverbs 21:13 "Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard."

Those who ignore and refuse to help those who cry to them in their need, will become needy themselves, cry, and will be ignored. Henry A. Ironside in his commentary on this verse notes the opposite of this verse in Proverbs 19:17. In Proverbs 19:17 the Lord promises to repay those who lend to the poor because they are in effect lending to him. Therefore, to ignore the cry of the poor is to ignore the cry of God (Matthew 25:31-46). To ignore the cry of God means he will ignore your cry.

Let’s take a look at a few word meanings.

Stoppeth (H331) – close the ears, narrow, shut, stop. Plug your ears, in other words.

Cry (H2201) – shriek, outcry.

Poor (H1800) – weak, needy, lean, oppressed persons. God has a special concern for the poor, and therefore wants us as Christians to have that same concern (Psalm 82:3).

Who are the poor? From the above definition, the poor are those without the most basic necessities of life, food and clothing. Why would I say that this probably is referring to the poor’s lack of food and adequate clothing? This seems to be the Bible’s definition of poor. 1 Timothy 6:8 says, "And having food and raiment, let us therewith be content." James 2:14-17 is a New Testament parallel passage with this Old Testament Proverb.

James 2:14-17 says, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." After reading these passages there are definitely differences between Scripture’s and society’s or government’s definition of poor.

The government seems to define "poor” as everyone not having a cell phone, a roof over their head, healthcare, food stamps for more than just basic food staples, etc. Yes, while those things are nice, the government oversteps its bounds when it tries to redistribute the wealth to meet those perceived needs. When the government tries to be God, it creates problems. Instead of the poor looking to God to help solve their problems they look to the government, a terrible substitute. Instead of people being motivated to work they become takers instead of givers. They get that welfare mentality that people owe them something. Instead of a Godly lifestyle being encouraged, a destructive immoral lifestyle is perpetuated on to the next generation.

The poor’s needs are far better met by individuals, churches and other charitable organizations. As Christians, we are responsible to remember the poor (Galatian 2:9-10). God promises blessing and happiness to those who are generous in these endeavors (Proverbs 22:9, 14:21). In fact, God says that we honor Him when we have mercy on the poor (Proverbs 14:31). Proverbs 22:9 says, "He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor." There has to be balance in giving to the poor. If someone is able to work, but are unwilling to work, they should not eat (2 Thes. 3:10). Giving them food does not help them, it promotes their laziness. If instead someone is lacking basic necessities because of unforeseen circumstances, wants to work but does not have a job, or is not physically able to work. These are people that are genuinely poor and should receive assistance. All giving ought to be guided by the Holy Spirit’s leading. Jesus said we will always have the poor with us (John 12:8). Be ready and willing to give to the poor. In fact, Jesus’ brother James said that pure religion and undefiled was to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world (James 1:27).

Do you want to dishonor God, be unhappy, and cursed? Then forget about the poor.

Do you want to honor God, be happy, and be blessed? Remember the poor. Be led by the Holy Spirit. Pray for them and give them help. In what ways can you and are you hearing and responding to the cry of the poor with Christ’s love?

Greedy or Generous? – Proverbs 21:26

Proverbs 21:26 "He (sluggard) coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous (just, lawful) giveth and spareth not."

I have enclosed the Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries word meanings for the English words in parentheses in the verse to make the verse easier to read and more readily understandable. Definitions elaborated on appear below.

Slothful (H6102) – sluggard, indolent.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines "indolent" as, "Habitually idle or indisposed to labor; lazy; listless; sluggish; indulging in ease; applied to persons."

Coveteth (H183) – long, lust, desire, greatly desire.

Greedily (H8378) – dainty, desire, lust, pleasant. This word is derived from the H183, the Hebrew word for "covet."

Spareth (H2820) – keep back, hold back, hinder, refrain, withhold.

This verse is a part of a two verse snippet on the slothful man. Verse 25 says that the slothful’s desire kills him because his hands refuse to labor. The life of a lazy person is a life of misery. There is no contentment, only a overwhelming desire to have that which he cannot obtain. There is certainly no concern for others, only a selfish concern for himself.

Obviously, the righteous man is a stark contrast to the sluggard.

  1. While the soul of the sluggard desires and has nothing, the soul of the righteous will be made fat (healthy, satisfied) (Proverbs 13:4).
  2. The sluggard focuses on himself while the righteous are concerned with the needs of others.
  1. The righteous are sacrificial in their giving. They put others needs before their own while the lazy does not give to others.
  1. The righteous gives without grudging while if the slothful gives anything, he gives it with grudging.

Though logically it seems if you gave away what you had to the poor you would lose what you had, but God always pays you back (Prov. 19:17).

This Christmas season is a season of giving, because God gave us the example through giving us the best Christmas gift of all, Jesus. What is your heart attitude like, especially around this time of year? Are you greedy or generous? In what way can you demonstrate the love and generosity of Christ to someone without Christ or lest fortunate than yourself? Have you asked God to direct your giving? Do you give and spare not?

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." James 1:27

Your Pleasure Controls You – Proverbs 21:17

Proverbs 21:17 "He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich."

What Solomon is addressing here is the heart attitude, the love of pleasure and luxury. The one who loves it, will be impoverished by it. What is interesting, is that in verse 20, Solomon says that the wise have treasure and oil to be desired (delighted with) in their house. The Hebrew word for "oil" relates to richness and plenty. Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible states this oil or ointment was very costly and would have been worth about three hundred day’s wages. This oil was probably similar to the ointment of spikenard with which Mary anointed Jesus.

The one that loves pleasure ultimately becomes the slave of his love of pleasure, luxury, and/or alcohol. Thus, what your pleasure is, controls you. If you want to be controlled by the Lord, find your pleasure in Him. God has given us all things richly to enjoy; however, we are not to trust in the uncertainty of riches, but in the Lord (1 Timothy 6:17).

What do you take pleasure in? Do you take more pleasure in material things or people more than you do in the Lord? What your chief pleasure is will be your chief. What chief pleasure controls you now? Is Christ your chief pleasure? Or, does this world’s temporal pleasures have your attention?

Psalm 37:4 "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart."