Could You Repeat That?

by Rusty Taylor | via

We know well the importance of certain sayings that the biblical authors saw fit to state not once but twice. Paul says in Galatians 1:8-9, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Similarly, Jesus repeats himself word-for-word in Luke 13:3, 5, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

The Book of Proverbs is full of repetitions like these. In this article, we will give attention to some wise sayings that are worth repeating.

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:11-12; 24:33-34)

The message here is that the key to success, both physical and spiritual, is hard work. No, we can’t earn our way to heaven. But, what we find in the scriptures is that life is not only about the goal, it is about how we get there. Proverbs describes young men who chose to cheat, lie, and steal their way to prosperity. Leisure had become their goal, and they were eager to cut any corners necessary to get there. Are we merely living for the weekend? Or are we living every single day for the glory of God.

“’Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ To him who lacks sense she says” (Proverbs 9:4, 16)

Here wisdom itself is calling out to us, no matter where we may be in life right now. You may feel stronger spiritually than you ever have before, or you may be in the very depths of despair. Wherever you are, now is the time to begin listening to God’s wisdom, and living his way. The first time wisdom calls out in Proverbs 9, her message is one of hope. “Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight” (Proverbs 9:6). The second time, her message is a warning: “Stolen water is a sweet, and bread eaten in secret in pleasant. But he does not known that the dead are there” (Proverbs 9:17-18).

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25)

Perhaps the most well known of these repeated proverbs, these verses say clearly what the previous one implied. We cannot make it on our own. We need God. The harder we try to rely on our own strength and intellect, the closer we will bring ourselves to death. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

“The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body”
(Proverbs 18:8; 26:22)

This proverb about gossip and all kinds of foolish speaking is not a pleasant one. The latest bit of gossip may give us some sense of satisfaction as we listen to or repeat it, but like that tasty food, it will soon be digested and turned into something we’d prefer not to think about. So are the consequences of our words. “A fool’s lips walk into a flight, and his mouth invites a beating” (Proverbs 18:6).

“Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger, and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for foreigners” (Proverbs 20:16; 27:13)

This is one of the more enigmatic statements in the Book of Proverbs. Putting up security is consistently viewed as a negative thing in the book: “Be not one of those who give pledges, who puts up security for debts” (Proverbs 22:26). So, it may be that this is an abomination to hold those who act foolishly accountable for their actions. No doubt, any such action should be done in love, not out of spite. But it is possible as well that the message here is one of compassion. If someone is acting nobly by helping out a stranger, don’t prevent him from doing so. Either way, our interactions with others must be governed by God’s command that we love one another.

“It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife” (Proverbs 21:9; 25:24)

The proverb in these verses is not merely a complaint about wives. It is a warning to the young who still have an opportunity to choose whom they will marry. The book continually admonishes the young to let wisdom be at the center of the decisions that will last the rest of their lives. There is, additionally, a message here about the affect that my actions can have on my spouse. I must continually reflect on how my behavior can be brought closer in line with God’s wisdom, especially in my marriage.

“The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it” (Proverbs 22:3, 27:12)

This sums up quite nicely the proverbs that we have considered in this article. We need God’s wisdom in every area of our lives. Whatever area I may need to correct, I can be sure that if I go on living my way rather than God’s way, I will suffer for it. That is why at the first hint of trouble I must immediately run away from foolishness and sin. But this proverb adds that we don’t have to wait until the trouble arrives. If we are wise, we will be prepared. Let’s continue to read and apply God’s word to our lives, so that in every circumstance we will be prepared to honor him.


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