Proverbs 13:12-19; 14:1-15; 15:11-17 (ESV)
12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
13 Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself,
but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.
14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.
15 Good sense wins favor,
but the way of the treacherous is their ruin.
16 Every prudent man acts with knowledge,
but a fool flaunts his folly.
17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
but a faithful envoy brings healing.
18 Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is honored.
19 A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
but to turn away from evil is an abomination to fools.
1 The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down.
2 Whoever walks in uprightness fears the LORD,
but he who is devious in his ways despises him.
3 By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back,
but the lips of the wise will preserve them.
4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
5 A faithful witness does not lie,
but a false witness breathes out lies.
6 A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.
7 Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
8 The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way,
but the folly of fools is deceiving.
9 Fools mock at the guilt offering,
but the upright enjoy acceptance.
10 The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.
11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
but the tent of the upright will flourish.
12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and the end of joy may be grief.
14 The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways,
and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.
15 The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
11 Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the LORD;
how much more the hearts of the children of man!
12 A scoffer does not like to be reproved;
he will not go to the wise.
13 A glad heart makes a cheerful face,
but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,
but the mouths of fools feed on folly.
15 All the days of the afflicted are evil,
but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.
16 Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
than great treasure and trouble with it.
17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is
than a fattened ox and hatred with it.
Day 1: Loving God
The word “cheerful” is repeated in verses 13 and 15, and the word “better” is repeated in verses 16 and 17, and the two words are variations of the same Hebrew Word. So, then, verses 16-17 explain how is it that while all the days of the wicked are afflicted with evil, “the cheerful of heart has a continual feast” (v. 15): “[Cheerful] is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it. [Cheerful] is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” In other words, “the cheerful of heart has a continual feast,” even when he only has meager “herbs” for dinner, even when he only has “little” treasure, because his heart is satisfied in the “fear of the LORD,” because his heart is characterized by his “love” for God and his neighbor. The “cheerful heart” that loves the LORD does not depend on health and wealth for its cheerfulness, and, therefore, overcomes all affliction. So then, the days of the wicked are afflicted with evil, even when they enjoy health and wealth, but “the cheerful heart has a continual feast” even when he is sick and poor, because the delight of his heart is in the LORD.
- “Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the LORD; how much more the hearts of the children of man!” (15:11). Our hearts lie open before the LORD. Therefore, confess freely your sins and ask His forgiveness, especially the ways in which have delighted in the things of this world more than in God Himself.
- Praise God and give thanks to Him for His love toward you and for His faithful presence in your life.
- Pray for increased trust in God, and for abiding joy.
- Pray that God would align all of your purposes and priorities with His.
Day 2: Loving One Another
The heart has its own secrets that no one knows. It says in 14:10, “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.” “Bitterness” and “joy” represent the full range of human emotions, and a person’s heart has its own secrets that are known to no one else but him or her. There is a sense in which everyone is a “stranger” to one’s emotions.
14:13-14 continue this teaching on the human heart, “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief. The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.” Even those who are laughing and partying and living it up might be hiding deep heartache. A smile on one’s face might hide deep bitterness of heart. The backslider in heart will be repaid for his backsliding, but the person who perseveres in good works will be rewarded for his perseverance.
Hebrews 12:13-14 says, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”
- Pray for brothers and sisters in our church who are experiencing deep heartaches that no one else knows of. Pray for they would share their burdens with others. Pray for healing and for the renewal of their joy of salvation.
- Pray for specific brothers and sisters that the Spirit prompts you to pray for. Pray that their hope would be in God and not in the things of this world.
- Pray that our church family would regularly exhort one another, so that, instead of being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, we hold our original confidence in Christ to the end.
- Pray that God would provide a meeting space for us that is large enough to gather safely at. Pray for wisdom and resourcefulness for the Search Committee and the Leadership Team.
Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors
14:13 says, “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.” For some, the end of all the joys of life is grief, because their life ends finally in the futility of death. As 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Apart from Christ, all of our unbelieving neighbors and friends are headed toward that end. Their way seems right to them, but it leads to death, which is the end of all their joys.
This is why we must be faithful messengers of God’s truth. 13:14 says, “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death,” and 13:17 says, “A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful envoy brings healing.” We must faithful relay the good news of Jesus Christ to our neighbors, so that they find healing that wells up into eternal life.
- Pray that God would increase our faith in Jesus, so that we have greater urgency and boldness in sharing the gospel.
- Pray for the salvation of neighbors and friends by name, and pray for opportunities to tell them about Jesus.
- Pray that God would empower our Alpha Course, starting up on July 13th, and bring people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ through it. Pray that God would bring to mind people you can invite to this.
- Pray for revival in Cambridge/Boston and New England, that the Spirit of God would make people aware of the death that awaits us all, and prompt them to seek the hope of eternal life found in Christ alone.