Thursday after the Feast of the Holy Trinity
Scripture: Proverbs 22:1-21 (NKJV)
1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold. 2 The rich and the poor have this in common, the LORD is the maker of them all. 3 A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished. 4 By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life. 5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards his soul will be far from them. 6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. 7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. 8 He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow, and the rod of his anger will fail. 9 He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor. 10 Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; Yes, strife and reproach will cease. 11 He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend. 12 The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, but He overthrows the words of the faithless. 13 The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!” 14 The mouth of an immoral woman is a deep pit; He who is abhorred by the LORD will fall there. 15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him. 16 He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty. 17 Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; 18 For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; Let them all be fixed upon your lips, 19 so that your trust may be in the LORD; I have instructed you today, even you. 20 Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge, 21 that I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?
Ear, head, heart; they are all in today’s reading. But why are they there, and what do they have in common? Verse 17 sets the stage: “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge….” It all starts with the ear. Without it we cannot receive outside input. And without outside input there only exists “dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matt.23:27). But we can not just listen to anything. Our readings earlier in the week cautioned us to stay away from foolish input. Rather, as verse 17 puts it, we are to “hear the words of the wise.” And what are “wise” words? They are simply words from Scripture. For only Scriptural words can make us wise unto salvation (see 2 Tim. 3:15).
Through such input we become knowledgeable about our sinful condition and our redemption in Jesus Christ. But ears and minds are not enough. For even the devil knows the Bible, but does not take it to heart (see James 2:19). There must be faith. Again from verse 17, “apply your heart to my knowledge.”
We need all three, ear, head, and heart. And once the Word is absorbed, it needs to come out in the right way: “For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; let them all be fixed upon your lips….” The Gospel is too great a gift to keep to ourselves. We should all be dying (and living) to get the Word out. God grant us a hunger to hear, and willing lips to speak.