Bible Reading: Proverbs 31:1-31

The epilogue to Proverbs is about a wife of noble character [31:10-31]. In Hebrew it is a beautiful acrostic poem, in which each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

As a young Christian I read the amazing story of John and Betty Stam who were missionaries in China. As a young woman Betty Scott wrote down the characteristics of the man she wanted as a husband. Inspired by that story, I did the same and wrote about the kind of wife I wanted to marry. In doing so I read todays passage and noted several characteristics of a godly wife:

She is trustworthy [verse 11]. Just as a chair has four legs, and if a leg or two are removed it is no longer safe to sit on, so relationships are built on four building blocks, and if one or more are removed it is in danger of caving in. The four blocks are love, the enduring quality; trust, the most fragile quality, honour, the most neglected quality, and understanding, the quality that takes the longest time to develop. A godly wife is totally trustworthy.

She is industrious [verse 13-19,22,24,27b]. She is hard working, feeding and clothing her family. If she is in business she is prudent and wise. She diligently watches over her household.

She is compassionate [verse 20]. She cares for and reaches out to the poor and needy.

She is encouraging [verse 23]. The text says that her husband has a position of responsibility and respect. In my experience the encouragement of a godly wife helps her husband to be successful.

She is wise and kind [verse 26]. When she speaks it is with wisdom and words of kindness.

She walks with God [verse 30]. She loves the Lord and honours and has reverence for Him. This woman is a tremendous blessing to her husband and her children. So much so that they rise up and bless her and praise her. I am reminded of the story of Susannah Wesley. She had seventeen children but each day spent time with God. She would cover her head with her apron and for that hour she communed with God and her children knew that she was not to be disturbed! It is hardly surprising that two of her sons, John and Charles Wesley became the leaders of a Christian movement that brought revival to the United Kingdom and possibly averted the kind of revolution that caused such havoc in nearby France.


Why do you think that this passage is applicable and important to both men and women?

As you have read this devotional what has been your reaction? Is there anything that you have read in this passage that challenges you to think about your own attitude and lifestyle?


Bible Reading: Proverbs 30:1-33

“Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonour the name of my God” [Proverbs 30:8-9]

God’s daily provision should be enough for us! In the wilderness He provided manna each day, and there was enough for everyone. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day, our daily bread” [Matthew 6:11]. David wrote, “I have never seen the righteous forsaken, or their children begging bread” [Psalm 37:25]

In our text today, a man called Agur is praying and asking two favours of God: that God will help him not to lie, and that God will not give him too much or too little! It is not sinful to be rich [Proverbs 3:9-10,15-16; 10:15,22] or poor [Proverbs 11:24; 28:27; 29:7,14], but Agur wisely wants to avoid the pitfalls of both wealth and poverty.

Someone has said that poverty can be a result of circumstances, but it can also be a result of sinful attitudes and actions in a person’s life. In Proverbs seven reasons are given for material poverty – laziness [6:9-11; 10:4-5; 14:23; 20:13]; stinginess [11:24]; failure to trust God [11:28]; an undisciplined life [13:18]; injustice [13:23] – especially to the poor [22:16; 22:22-23]; foolishness [17:6; 21:17] – especially chasing fantasies [28:19] and spending money on illicit sex [6:26]; lack of planning and acting hastily [21:5]. The reason poverty can be hazardous to spiritual life is because of the temptation to be envious or to steal, and in doing so to dishonour God.

Moses made it clear that because of wealth Israel would forget God when their food was plentiful and their herds large [Deut. 8:12-17; 31:20]. Abundance tempts people to feel self-sufficient. Isn’t it amazing how we cry out to God in our need, but often forget God when we have sufficient! The poor are tempted to dishonour God and the rich tempted to forget God – no wonder Agur says better to be neither rich nor poor.

Would you pray the prayer of Agur, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread”? What difference would this make to your present lifestyle?

Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19. According to Paul, what should be the right attitude of those who God has blessed with abundance?

See Philippians 4:12 and 1 Timothy 1:6,8. What do these verses say about being content?


Bible Reading: Proverbs 29:1-27

“The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” [Proverbs 29:25]

This morning we received a message that said, “I have overcome the fear of man and said what needed to be said.” This is quite remarkable because I had just sat down to write about the fear of man.

When you are afraid of people and their opinions you are not trusting God. King Saul began to lose everything in his life when he became afraid of what people thought of him. When challenged by Samuel as to why he had not obeyed God, Saul replied, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of men and gave in to them” [1 Samuel 15:24].

Fear paralyses people. The people of Israel listened to the negative reports of ten spies who returned from Canaan and were filled with fear. Because of this none of the people who had come out of Egypt except Joshua and Caleb entered the Promised Land. Their fear paralyzed them – When you fear men, even if they are giants, you will never achieve much for God!

Jim Elliott, one of the five missionaries martyred in Ecuador wrote in his journal that the degree he most wanted in life was an AUG. It stands for “Approved unto God!” Paul summed it up when he wrote to the Christians in Galatia, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” [Galatians 1:10]. It is impossible to be afraid of men and to serve God! When you fear [reverence, honour] God, you do not need to be afraid of men.

If you will trust Him God will take care of you, but if you allow the fear of man in your life, then He cannot take care of you because you do not trust Him. Isaiah said, “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker….” [Isaiah 51:12-13]. We honour men who deserve honour, we submit to others, and speak the truth in love, but we fear no one!


The Bible says, “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” [1 John 4:4]. How is this relevant to the fear of men?

Psalm 118:6 is repeated in Hebrews 13:6. What are the three keys in Hebrews 13:5 that give us the confidence we need so that we do not fear men?


  1. If you have lived in someone else’s shadow and never really been free to

be the person God wants you to be, will you now seek God’s forgiveness

and ask Him to set you free?



Bible Reading: Proverbs 28:1-28

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” [Proverbs 28:13]

Sadly the word prosper has, in many circles, come to mean financial success, but actually the word means far more than this. The word prosperous comes from a Latin word meaning “doing well,” and includes to flourish physically, grow strong and healthy, and to be successful.

Our text today makes it clear that concealed sin hinders prosperity. If you have concealed sin in your life you will not be able to grow strong and healthy spiritually. David writes about this in dramatic style in Psalm 32:1-5

“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess
 my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

Do you see how David suffered, both physically and emotionally, as long as he concealed and kept silent about his sin, but when he confessed it to the Lord he found freedom and forgiveness. David uses the words “confesses and renounces.” To renounce means to abandon them and not to do them any longer. When we do that God shows us mercy, and doesn’t treat us with the judgment that our sins deserve!

Many men especially struggle with the sin of looking at pornography. An elder of a church came to me and shared with me his struggle in this area. We prayed together. Twelve years later he shared publicly in a meeting about that time, and said that ninety percent of the deliverance came when we prayed. There was a battle over the last ten percent and that took a little longer before freedom came, but it was total freedom, release and forgiveness. God sees our secret sins that we think we can hide, but has made for us a way of escape.



Are there secret sins in your life that you know are there but try to hide? Will you bring them to the light, confess and renounce them, and find freedom from the bondage that these sins bring

According to Psalm 32:1-5 what were the specific effects of the sins that David tried to cover up in his life?



Bible Reading: Proverbs 27:1-27

“Don’t boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth”

[Proverbs 27:1]

It has often been said that the past has gone forever so leave it behind, and the future is unknown so don’t go there. The only time we are guaranteed is the present. Today is the most important day of the rest of your life! Be careful what you do with it!

I will never forget an evening in the Midlands of England, many years ago. A young man, one of a group of bikers, came up to me after the short epilogue from God’s word that evening. He called me a fool, spat at me, and said, “I haven’t got time for that now – I am going to enjoy myself!” He left the youth club at the church and was tragically killed in an accident that night.

The “boast” of Proverbs 27:1 is pride. The dictionary defines it as talking with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one’s achievements, abilities or possessions. In our text it is the sense of acting as though we, not God, are in control of the future. Jesus told the parable of the rich fool to warn against this kind of boasting [Luke 12:16-21]. The farmer had been successful and spoke of having plenty of good things laid up for many years. Everything seemed perfect but he was not aware that he would die that night.

It is right that we make plans but we also need to recognize that it is the Lord who determines our steps [Proverbs 16:9]. James emphasizes this when he says, And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, ‘Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.’ You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that” [James 4:13-15 The Message].

The most important thing that we can do in life is to prepare for eternity. Don’t put off for another day what you should do today! Many times people have said to me that they will think about salvation and eternal matters when they are older. That is the kind of boasting that the writer of Proverbs is writing about. How do you know that there will be a tomorrow in this life? Today is the day of salvation in Jesus and today is the day that we should live for His glory!


John Wesley was once asked the question, “What would you do differently if you were told that Jesus was coming back in the next twenty-four hours?” What would your answer be to that question?

What did the apostle Paul say about boasting in Galatians 6:14?


Bible reading: Proverbs 26:1-28

Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops” [Proverbs 26:20 NLT].

Quarrels and strife are likened to fire and they can be devastating. What feeds strife is tale bearing or gossiping, and just as not putting wood on the fire causes it to go out, so stopping gossip stops quarrels and strife.

According to Proverbs 16:27-29, scoundrels, a troublemaker and violent people all disrupt relationships with their harmful actions. Gossip is also called whispering and is linked to dishonesty [Proverbs 16:28]. Proverbs 22:10 says that strife, quarreling and abuse will cease when the scoffer is driven out. A scoffer is someone who speaks about someone in a scornfully derisive or mocking way. We can see how evil gossip is when we realize that the Bible links it to scoundrels, troublemakers, the violent, the scoffer and dishonesty.

Gossip separates friends and betrays confidences. Twice in Proverbs we read that gossip is like a tasty trifle that goes down to the inmost part [18:8 & 26:22] – it is enjoyable even if it is deadly! Twice Paul includes gossipers in the list of those who are unrighteous [see Romans 1:29; 2 Corinthians 12:20]. Gossip is idle talk or rumour about the personal and private affairs of others, and Jesus made it clear that we will have to give an account for, and will be judged for every idle word that we speak [Matt.12:36]

Gossip is so evil and yet we all have a tendency to do it, and even excuse it under the cover of false spirituality – “I am sharing this for prayer!” How can we personally stop gossip? Firstly, make a decision to never talk about anyone else or their weaknesses to another person. Secondly, if someone talks to you in this way, stop them, and gently tell them that you don’t wish to hear negative comments about someone else. Thirdly, when you stop them suggest, “Let’s pray for them right now!” Ruth Graham said that it is impossible to sincerely pray for someone and have a wrong attitude towards him or her! Fourthly, seek to make words you speak about someone else only positive and encouraging. Fifthly, stop talking so much – “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut” [Proverbs 10:19 NLT]. Sixthly, if this is a weakness that you have, follow the counsel of James 5:16 – “Confess your faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”


On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is the worst, where are you on your gossip level? Why did you answer this question in the way that you did?

Why do you think that Scripture takes such a serious view of the sin of gossip?



Bible reading: Proverbs 25:1-28

“Don’t demand an audience with the king or push for a place among the great.
It’s better to wait for an invitation to the head table than to be sent away in public disgrace”
[Proverbs 25:6-7 NLT]

If you have a gift or ability, then wait for it to be recognised and don’t push yourself forward to be seen or gain the attention of others. If you push yourself forward or invite yourself then you might find you become an unwanted embarrassment or even experience disgrace.

If you feel that God has given you a particular gift or ability, then first commit that gift to the Lord. Don’t be concerned if people don’t recognise your gift – that is God’s responsibility, not yours. Work at that gift to improve it but remember that the Bible says, “Promotion comes from the Lord” [Psalm 75:6]. The context of this verse is of boasting and self-effort and is therefore in the realm of the flesh and not of living in the Spirit.

Have you wondered why it is that people push themselves forward and try to gain acceptance especially where it involves well-known people or being seen to be successful? Perhaps it has to do with a deep-seated feeling of rejection, whether the person is conscious of it or not. There was a time when I so longed to be loved and accepted that I would do anything to gain approval. To be with people considered successful would give me a kind of kudos or prestige. I longed to be successful so that I too would find acceptance. It was all about performance, not grace and a compensation for deep wounds of rejection.

Little by little God has healed me of those deep wounds of rejection as I have given him the right to change my heart, attitudes and motives. There were times when a very powerful word would bring change. One such word came from a book by Oswald Chambers, who wrote, “Maturity is having nothing left to prove!” What freedom came in that statement – I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Another word came from the apostle Paul, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands.” How releasing is the ambition to lead a quiet life! Not limelight but quietness! I don’t even have to be successful – just rest in Jesus and walk with Him. It is then that He opens the doors and takes me where he wants me to go rather than me having to push myself forward.


Everyone experiences rejection of some kind. Jesus was the most rejected man who ever lived. Why is the way we handle rejection so important to growth in our Christian walk?

Why do you think that forgiveness is so important in healing the wounds of rejection?


Bible reading: Proverbs 24:11-12

“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering towards slaughter.  If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?” [Prov. 24:11-12]

An old hymn, written by Fanny J. Crosby reflects the meaning of our text:

Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.

This is a challenge to those who have found salvation in Christ, are enjoying His riches and blessing but do not share it with others.

In 2 Kings chapter seven the king of Aram had besieged the city of Samaria. The siege had gone on for a long time and food was running out. People were desperate. Elisha prophesied that a miracle would happen. Four lepers who were outside the city gate were facing death and had to make a decision. They decided to go to the camp of the Arameans and seek mercy from them. When they got to the camp it was empty because the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of a great army and they fled in fear. The four lepers found food, drink, gold, silver and clothing. They went from tent to tent enjoying the abundance of the spoil. They began to hide the abundance that they had found but their conscience was pricked. They said, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let us go at once and report this to the royal palace” [2 Kings 7:9].

If we keep the good news of the salvation and the abundance we have found in Christ to ourselves while those around us are dying then like the four lepers we are not doing right.


We are not all called to be evangelists but we are called to be witnesses. If you have received salvation in Christ, then how are you sharing it so that others who are lost will also come to salvation in Christ?

You do not lose your salvation by not sharing the good news with others but what do you think the consequences might be for you if you fail to share the good news?

What do you think is the meaning of “He that wins souls is wise” in Proverbs 11:30?


Bible Reading:  Proverbs 23:1-35

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off”

[Proverbs 23:17-18]

Have you ever looked at sinners who seem to have a good life and then considered your own discipline and wondered if it is really worthwhile? The very fact that our verse today shows that this may be a distinct possibility! The discipline that is necessary for living a wise, balanced and godly life is clear in our chapter today. Overindulgence in drink [drunkards, verse 20-21, see also Proverbs 23:29-35], food [gluttons, verse 20 see also Proverbs 23:1-3], sleep [verse 21, see also Proverbs 10:15; 19:15] results in poverty. Even the excessive attempts to get rich indicate a misplaced discipline [verses 4-5].

Sometimes the best way to study God’s Word is to compare Scripture with Scripture. Let’s look at Psalm 73:1-13 in the New Living Translation:

“Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else. They wear pride like a jewelled necklace and clothe themselves with cruelty. These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. “What does God know?” they ask. “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?” Look at these wicked people — enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?”

Let’s get back into focus. The wicked are lost and will be cut off. The things that they put their trust in will pass away. To keep your heart pure and to be zealous in honouring and reverence for God is the only way to be sure of a happy ending to life. Don’t look at others, however tempting it may be, because it will lead to envy! The wealth and glory of the ungodly are simply a vain show, but the more of heaven there is in our lives, the less of earth we shall covet. Even though Abraham was a wealthy man, he was still focusing on a heavenly home, a city whose builder and maker is God!

A Question:

Have you been giving into to the temptation to imitate those who are not followers of Jesus but seem to be successful? Has it compromised your walk with God? Come to the Lord today, ask for His forgiveness and get back into His way.

“Lord teach me Your way. Purify my heart and my motives.”


Bible Reading:  Proverbs 22:1-29

“Train up child a in the way that they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” [Proverbs 22:6]

One of the most important issues in life is parenting. It is particularly important that children are lovingly given clear parameters that they cannot go beyond without hurt and pain. In order to enforce those parameters discipline is required. A good father disciplines his children. Proverbs says that whoever spares the rod hates their children and that an evidence of love is discipline.

Discipline may be painful, especially for the one who has to administer it, but it has to be done, and in a right spirit. The right time for discipline is not when anger and emotion are high. To physically punish a child in anger is abuse! Discipline requires a cool head and a loving heart. An old African proverb says, “If you punish your child with one hand, then draw him to your heart with the other hand.” When a child has been given a clear command, understands, and refuses to obey, then that is the time to discipline. Do not wait any longer. Our son, Timothy, still remembers the wooden spoon! His testimony is that if it was not for loving discipline and prayer he would be in prison today!

Nathan’s parents needed a break and so they left him with us for a few days. He could be naughty and they gave us permission to discipline him if necessary. He deliberately did something very naughty in order to test us. I told him that if he did it again I would smack him. He deliberately disobeyed and so I kept my word and smacked him on his bottom. He cried a lot, but after a short time he came to me with arms outstretched and said, “I love you, Uncle.” Then he asked for a hug. He knew that he was loved. From that moment his attitude changed and we did not have to discipline him again. It may not always be as easy as that and it will be necessary to be both persistent and consistent.

This may not be politically correct but it is Biblically correct and a lot of anger and rebellion would be avoided if we would lovingly discipline our children in the way that God teaches us in His Word. Sometimes children do go astray, but they will never forget the training that was given to them in a spirit of love. Rob Parsons says that you may have to keep your head down for a while and pray for them, but they will come back.

A Question:

Why do you think that the Western world has generally rejected the Biblical injunction and method of disciplining a child?

Read Proverbs 13:24; 23:13; 29:15,17. What do these verses say about the importance of discipline?

What do we learn from God’s example of discipline in Hebrews 12:4-11?