Right Relationships Part III
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Proverbs, chapter 27, that portion of the Word of God that we are studying together. We have been studying that portion of the book of Proverbs that we referred to as The Gleanings of Hezekiah's Men , which begins with chapter 25 and concludes with chapter 29. In the last few lessons we have been looking together at chapter 27, which we have suggested to you presents right attitudes and right relationships for anybody to follow, particularly the believer; for if ordinary men are expected to live a certain way, certainly those who are filled with the Holy Spirit of God should be more so.

I want to point out to you the relationships of this entire chapter which will be in part review, then we will be ready to discuss that which we have not had the opportunity of looking at up to this point.

The first relationship that was drawn to our attention was that of the contentious woman. Then the relationship of the challenger. Then the relationship of the conscientious servant, and then the relationship of the compassionate man. Following in the chapter is the relationship of the covetous man, the relationship of the conceited man, the relationship of the calloused rebel, and then the relationship of the careful man.

The Covetous Man

Because we have already considered a portion of this chapter, we would like to suggest that we center our thinking on that portion of the chapter which will deal with the covetous man, the conceited man, the calloused rebel, and the careful man. With that thought in mind, I am going to suggest that we begin our reading of the Word with verse 20 and see if you are able to gather from the chapter the suggested characteristics which we have suggested to you up to this particular point. Follow, then, as we read from verse 20:

Proverbs 27:

20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
21 As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.
22 Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
23 Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.
24 For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?
25 The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.
26 The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.
27 And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

I would like for you to notice particularly verse 20, as we call to your attention the covetous man. Notice the words very carefully:

Proverbs 27:

20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

The covetous man is poor by comparison for very few people would want to be compared with Hell and destruction. I think it would be wise for us to recognize the words in the text so that we will get the full meaning of it, understanding that actually in the text there are two places mentioned which are never satisfied and they are the illustration of the greed of man.

The first place that is mentioned is Hell, and of course this word Hell is the translation of the Hebrew word Showl , which is the place of the departed dead. We have pointed out to you at other times that thirty-one times in the Old Testament the word S howl is translated by the word grave . Thirty-one times it is translated by the word Hell , and three times it is translated by the word pit .

The reason we are drawing these things to your attention is that there are a number of people belonging to false cults who interpret the translation of this word Showl by the word grave , indicating that when people die, they sleep until Resurrection Day. For example, David said, “There is no remembrance in the grave,” and the English translation of the word Showl by the word grave led people to believe that men sleep an eternal sleep when they are in the grave because people cannot visualize unconsciousness in the grave except through soul sleeping. Actually, what David was saying was, “There is no remembrance of things on the earth. There is no way to praise. There is no way to glorify God once a man has gone to Showl, the place of the departed dead.”

Notice the word destruction here in our text. That does not seem like an apt translation because it is difficult to see how destruction could be personified to the extent that one could say that it is never satisfied. So we call to your attention that the word destruction is the translation of the Hebrew word Abaddon , which is really the reference to the pit in the center of the earth which gives its name to the angel that is described in Revelation, chapter 9.

Turn in your Bibles to Revelation, chapter 9, in which there is presented a description of the pit, a great hollow place in the center of the earth which is the place of incarceration for disobedient creatures of God other than human beings. In this chapter there is the description of a great host of evil demons described in a very picturesque way which we will not take the time to notice. These scorpions are to be let loose during the Tribulation that man might be endlessly tormented. Men will pray to die and will not be able to die after they have been stung by these scorpions. Notice in verse 11:

Revelation 9:

11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

The word Abaddon is translated by the word destruction in our text, so going back to Proverbs, chapter 27, we notice:

Proverbs 27:

20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

We recognize that we are talking about the two places that are places of incarceration for those who are disobedient to the Lord. Of course, we will not take the time to present to you the discussion that has been presented at other times, that before the Cross, in Showl there were two divisions—one of them called Paradise, which was the place of those who knew the Lord. The other, Showl, the place of those who did not know the Lord; the whole of the place to be known by the word Showl. Destruction is the word that is a reference to the other place of incarceration to which we have already made reference, more familiarly known in the light of the Scriptures to which we have turned thus far as the pit. So, looking again at verse 20:

Proverbs 27:

20 Hell and the pit are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

Turn to Isaiah, chapter 5, that you might recognize this truth in related Scriptures, for the proper way to understand the Word is to compare Scripture with Scripture that you might have before you what the Holy Spirit would have you notice. Notice, beginning with verse 13:

Isaiah 5:

13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst [speaking of the disobedience of the nation of Israel].

Now notice verse 14:

Isaiah 5:

14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.

Notice particularly the words of verse 14: “Therefore hell hath enlarged herself…” This would indicate that it was necessary to build an annex on Hell to verify the point that we are making, that Hell and the pit are never full.

In Isaiah, chapter 14, you will notice the reaction of various people in Hell, as various people come down to Hell. In the first part of chapter 14, there is a song of triumph over the destruction of the King of Babylon and what happens when he goes to Hell. Notice verse 4:

Isaiah 14:

4 That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!
5 The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.
6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.
7 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.
8 Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.

Because the King of Babylon, the oppressor of Israel, had at last been dealt with by God, the whole earth, figuratively speaking, was rejoicing, and the trees were pictured as rejoicing together and singing praise because no feller —that is, one who cuts down trees—had come up against them any more.

What happened to the feller of trees? We are told in verse 9. Notice as we read:

Isaiah 14:

9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
10 All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.

You see, people in Hell are not unconscious. They know every time somebody enters the portals, and when somebody important like the King of Babylon, who had such tremendous success that it seemed that no one could stop him, enters the portals of Hell, they rise up to greet him. There is a great stirring of the crowd, and they say, “Look who has come. It is impossible that he is here.”

Of course, prophetic students know that Isaiah, chapter 14, continues its discussion to include Satan himself. The last great tormenter of men will eventually come to Hell and people will rise up to meet him and say, “Can it be true that the Devil himself has at last come here?” You see, the Devil is not in Hell. He is not ruling things down there. He will be welcomed someday in the same manner that the King of Babylon was. Back to Proverbs, chapter 27: “Hell and the pit are never full, for people are constantly going there. Hell and the pit will never be satisfied until the last great tormenter of man has actually arrived there.”

Looking again at verse 20, centering our attention on the covetous man, you read the last part of the verse:

Proverbs 27:

20 …so the eyes of man [the eyes of the unregenerated man] are never satisfied.

Notice the words Hell and satisfied . Those two words both come from the same Hebrew word—the Hebrew word Showl . What is the lesson? Simply this: It would be as sensible to think that Hell will be satisfied before every doomed person arrives there as to think that it is possible for the unregenerated, covetous, greedy heart to be satisfied. The eyes of men are never satisfied and never will they be satisfied until they are fastened upon the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the reason Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, suggests to people that had been greedy and found much in the flesh to satisfy temporarily, that they should set their affection on things above where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.

If you are spending your time and your efforts to satisfy the flesh, you are engaged in an endless and unsuccessful quest. Nothing will satisfy. Sometimes men say, concerning their wives, “There is no way in the world to satisfy her. Nothing satisfies her. Nothing meets her needs.”

What do they mean by that? The person in question is the individual who is constantly wanting something. They find no happiness until their every need has been met, but the thing that needs to be emphasized is that they never will find happiness if they are seeking for happiness in things because the eyes of men are never satisfied.

The Conceited Man

Look at the second man that we brought to your attention in our initial discussion. We called him the conceited man . Look at verse 21:

Proverbs 27:

21 As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.

When I suggest that this verse describes the conceited man , I am thinking really only of one kind of man because it would be impossible to put down all the kinds of men who are affected by praise, but the man who seems to have the most trouble with praise, either all of it or the lack of it, is the conceited man. Since he is the most needy, I have suggested him and his relationship as the characteristic of this particular verse.

I think the verse will be clearer to you if you will notice with me another rendering of the verse that gives us the full sense of it. Notice the words from The Living Bible rendering: “The purity of silver and gold can be tested in a crucible, but a man is tested by his reaction to praise.” That gives you a better understanding of what the Spirit of God had in mind when He said:

Proverbs 27:

21 As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.

How do you react to the praise of men? The way in which you react to the praise of men will be the test of the kind of man that you are. We all have different situations which we must face and we are all facing different kinds of problems, and it would be difficult if not impossible to try to suggest everything that might be included in the idea of man's reaction to praise. So I have selected some passages of Scripture which represent the examples of how praise can be a crucible in which the average man is tested. I would like for you to keep in mind that the evaluation of praise in relation to mankind is emphasized on the basis of the fact that men love the praise of men more than they do the praise of God. They are showing what kind of men they are. There comes the need for men to reach the place where they deny themselves and what men think and follow on to know the Lord.

Turn to Romans, chapter 2, verse 29, and notice a suggestion about praise. This is related to the Jewish nation. In this chapter the apostle is dealing with the false front that the Jewish nation put up; that is, they had a form of godliness, but they denied the power thereof. Their great forte, of course, was the physical act of circumcision. The apostle said, in verse 28:

Romans 2:

28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is [now notice] not of men, but of God.

Here we have two kinds of praise: the praise of men and the praise of God. In our first illustration men did not do what they knew in their hearts they should do because they loved the praise of men more than they loved the praise of God. In this passage of Scripture, two things are mentioned: men who are circumcised in the flesh—Jews without benefit of regeneration—and men who were circumcised in the heart—Gentiles who knew nothing of physical circumcision. The Jew who emphasized physical circumcision, who stood by it, who was very careful to observe it, was interested in the praise of men. The individual who was interested in the praise of God was more interested in the circumcision of the heart than he was the circumcision of the flesh. Today we have the same problem in that individuals are thinking constantly of the praise of men by good deeds, worried about what men will think if they don't do this and don't do that and absolutely unconcerned about the condition of their own hearts before the Lord. They are not interested in the praise of God.

We want to compare another passage of Scripture found in Luke, chapter 6, verse 26, one of the woes which the Lord Jesus Christ pronounced during His earthly ministry:

Luke 6:

26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

Praise which means so much to man is a crucible in which he is tested. How do you react to praise?

We brought to your attention a moment ago the conceited man. We did that because the man who is conceited feeds upon praise. If he doesn't have it, he cannot live, and yet the Scripture says: “Woe unto you if all men speak well of you. Woe unto you if you are constantly in the need of the praise of men.” This can mean but one thing. You are not taking a stand for the things that God has led you to have convictions about, for the man who stands for the truth will not have all men speak well of them, and the man who stands for the truth will not be a conceited man because he will have already humbled himself before the hand of God.

The Calloused Rebel

Go back to Proverbs, chapter 27, and notice the third man. This man I have referred to as the calloused rebel . He is described in verse 22. It is a rather interesting verse in unique language, to say the least. Notice:

Proverbs 27:

22 Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.

This is an accumulation of unfamiliar words. We are familiar with the word fool , and we are familiar with the word foolishness , and we have learned in our study of the book of Proverbs that the fool is a man who is in open rebellion against God. We are told in this verse that even though this rebel is put through a certain process, which we will be noticing in a bit, his foolishness (this doesn't mean his jesting or his joking; it means his rebellion) will not be driven from him. This is why we have used the words calloused rebel . He is so hardened in the way in which he is going that he will not yield to anything that God will do to cause him to change his ways.

Let us look at the words within the text itself that we might find the idea that is presented by the Holy Spirit in the verse. The first word we call to your attention is the word bray . What do you do when you bray a fool? The word bray comes from the Hebrew word kathash , which means “to pound.” You pound a fool when you bray a fool.

Notice that you are going to bray this fool in a mortar. What is a mortar? The English word mortar has several connotations, but this particular word mortar comes from the Hebrew word maktesh , which simply means “a hollow place,” and it can be any hollow place. You put a fool in a hollow place, and you pound him.

That it can be any hollow place is illustrated by the story in the book of Judges, chapter 15. We will not take the time to turn there, but you remember that Samson had slain the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. He was very thirsty after this ordeal, and God performed a miracle. He made a hollow place in the jawbone of the ass and made the water come rushing up in this hollow place, and Samson had a cool and refreshing drink of water. God made a mortar in the jawbone of an ass and so God is quite capable of making any hollow place in which He can bray a fool; He is quite capable of making any hollow place in which He can pound the fool.

Glance at the verse again and you will find another word with which we are not too familiar. It is the word pestle , and it comes from the Hebrew word alah , which literally means “to lift up,” and it refers to anything. For example, if you were a druggist of another day, you would take a mortar and a pestle and some powder and you would grind the powder with the pestle in a bowl.

In the text that is before us here, you will notice a definite kind of mortar that was used for the illustration. Notice the verse again:

Proverbs 27:

22 Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.

Here the picture is presented of a hollow place or a hole in the ground in which the wheat is placed and some heavy instrument, neither designated nor described, is lifted up and put down on the wheat in the hollow place and the chaff is separated from the wheat.

God said, “If you take a fool, a calloused rebel, and put him in a hollow place like that and literally pound him, he will still go on in his own way.” Some Bible dictionaries insist that this is a form of punishment among some Oriental countries even to this day. There is a difference of opinion about it, but this we can be sure of: God has His hollow places for calloused rebels, and when God makes a hollow place and puts a calloused rebel into it and pounds him with the pestle, the purpose is to drive his foolishness from him; but there are some who continue on in their ways. There are some so calloused in their own way of doing things that though God severely beats them in the hollow place of His choosing, they continue on in their way.

Another rendering of this verse: “You can't separate a rebel from his foolishness though you crush him to powder.”

What should we be thinking? We should be thinking, Beloved, that there are some men so bent in their rebellion against God that all the praying and all the preaching and all the begging and all the tears and everything else that we could mention will not avail in changing them. They are bent on going to Hell, and there is nothing that anybody can do about it.

I would not suggest by any means that we attempt to be the judge and decide if a person is calloused in his way and say, “As far as I am concerned, he is a calloused rebel and I am through with him,” but I would suggest that you keep this in mind so that you will not be discouraged to the point of giving up, for the fact remains that some men are so calloused that they will not yield to God.

I would like to add this other thought. Thank God there are some rebels who are not so calloused, and when God puts them in whatever hollow place He creates for them, and when He pounds them with whatever heavy instrument He uses to pound them, they will respond, and they will not be ground to powder before they do.

I would say this: God will not permit His children to walk in continued disobedience. Did you notice what I said? His children. Not all men are His children. Some men are the children of the Devil, and God does not bother the children of the Devil. Oh, yes, eventually, God will deal with the children of the Devil in eternal judgment; and as people pray for the children of the Devil, God, in His mercy and in His grace, brings them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but the creatures whom God chastens are His children.

I would say to you that if you are a born-again believer out of fellowship, you are in a dangerous position because you are God's child. He is not going to let you get away with continued disobedience. He will find a hollow place, and He will lift the heavy instrument, and it will fall and you will be back in fellowship; but you may be back in fellowship with some broken bones, figuratively speaking, because you insisted on going your way instead of God's way.

The Careful Man

The last man that I would like for you to notice with me I have described in the words the careful man . I described him as the careful man because of the description which is given in the last portion of the chapter. I would like for us to read those verses again that I might point out to you several things about them, and you will see why I refer to the careful man. Notice verse 23:

Proverbs 27:

23 Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.
24 For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?
25 The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.
26 The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.
27 And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

I would like for you to notice first the principle upon which God operates. It is a principle of nature for all men. Notice verse 24 again:

Proverbs 27:

24 For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?

Riches are not eternal. They come and they go. You may have money today; you may not have it tomorrow. Of course, our text does not speak of money because that was not the principle of exchange in that day, but what you have will not last forever. To emphasize it, the illustration of royalty is brought into the picture with the question, “Doth the crown endure to every generation?”

We have lived to see what Solomon only anticipated, for royalty is a rare thing now, where the crown is handed down from generation to generation without interruption. Royalty, generally speaking at least, is almost a thing of the past, so the principle is: There is no certainty in material things. Just because God has given is no sign God will continue. Therefore, He has made a provision which must be followed if we expect our needs to be met.

The illustrations of wealth in the Scripture are usually related to pastoral scenes because wealth in those days was in crops and in cattle. You will notice how God makes the provision in the course of nature. Notice verse 25:

Proverbs 27:

25 The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.

That is, there is a time when you can go out and mow and bind the hay into bundles. You don't stop there. Nature doesn't cease to operate. In due time the tender grass sheweth itself, and on the mountain tops the herbs of the mountains are ready for gathering.

Then passing over into the animal portion of the pastoral scene, notice verse 26:

Proverbs 27:

26 The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.

God has provided the wool of the lambs for clothing to use and the goats were a very prominent medium of exchange in that day. Not only were the goats the price of the field, but in verse 27, we see:

Proverbs 27:

27 And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

Even a large household God could provide for through the ordinary processes of nature. God made the provision, but keeping the principle in mind, Solomon calls to our attention a price that has to be paid. That price is found in verse 23:

Proverbs 27:

23 Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.

Notice carefully what God is saying to us. It does not matter how many fine harvests there may be if man is not careful in the reaping of the harvest. Eventually God's provision will come to an end. It doesn't matter the abundance of the flock; if man is not diligent, eventually the flock will play itself out. Therefore, man must pay the price, and the price is emphasized in two phrases. Look again at verse 23, and notice the phrase “be diligent to know.” The word know comes from the Hebrew word yada , and it means “understand.” The word diligent is presented elsewhere in the book of Proverbs, but it comes from an entirely different word. It speaks of physical energy. It speaks of putting forth an effort to work hard, but here this word diligent is not a reference to hard work. It is diligence in knowing the condition of your flock, not taking for granted that everything is all right, not assuming that everything is going to be all right, but recognizing that you must put forth an effort to see that everything is all right.

Notice the phrase, “look well.” It is an interesting phrase for people who live in this part of the country. The phrase, “look well,” comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to mark or to brand,” and the suggestion is that you brand your herds so that you will know what belongs to you and you will know exactly what condition in which they may be found.

Conclusion

This all boils down to the simple suggestion that God has been very generous in His provision for mankind, and God has kept in order certain laws in nature which, if not abused by man, will provide amply for the needs of all mankind; but if man abuses God's provision by being careless in looking after it, then it cannot continue forever, for God will not let things continue without the diligence of man.

A welfare state could not possibly be in the will of God for any nation because man has a responsibility of looking well. Man has the responsibility of diligently knowing. God may have entrusted you with some of this world's material goods. Don't fool yourself. It will not continue forever any more than any royal person can be sure of the crown that rests uneasily upon his head.

If you are a careful man, you will take what God has entrusted to your care. You will make the very best profit that you honestly can with what He has given you and expect to multiply for His glory.


Home Contact Us Bible Studies Books King James
Abilene Bible Church Living Bible Studies
Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
Some icons on this site used courtesy FatCow Web Hosting

www.livingbiblestudies.org