Proverbs 23 10-23-19

What would you trade for a close relationship with the LORD? Anything? Everything?

12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

15 My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed;
16 my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.

19 Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path:

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

As I read about dining with a ruler (1-3), trying to get rich (4-5), eating with a stingy host (6-8), envying sinners (17-18), joining drunkards and gluttons (20-21), adulteresses (26-28), and party-ers (29-35), I am reminded once again that this world is NOT our home, so don’t get comfortable. I am also reminded that our actions here on this earth have major blessings or consequences in heaven.

You may ask, “Why? I thought it was about our relationship with Jesus.”

And it is. Our actions show just where our heart is. We spend our time, our money, our effort, and our attention on that which is most important to us. Everything listed in the verses above is all for worldly pleasure and comfort. Where is the devotion to Christ? Granted, He doesn’t call us to give everything away and live in destitution, but He DOES call us to be willing if He asks. Instead of trying to gain, maybe we ought to try to give.

Asaph* struggled with the age-old question of worldly blessings vs. spiritual blessings. We find his struggle in Psalm 73. We don’t know with what he struggled (v. 14), and as a Levite, we don’t know if he was paid for his work or if it was voluntary. In any case, his struggle is our struggle: Why do sinners prosper while saints suffer?

I think Satan has a lot to do with the answer to this question. He is the prince of this world (John 14:30, Luke 4:6, 1 John 5:19). He gives power to whomever he likes. By making people succeed in their sin, he keeps them from seeking something–or Someone– else. Jesus, on the other hand, calls us out of this world and worldly mindset and tells us to seek first His kingdom (Matt. 6:33). His objective is for us to be made into His likeness (Romans 8:29), not for us to have every desire met (that’s what got Eve in trouble).

Lest we despair as Asaph almost did (v. 13), let us read on:

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
    and have washed my hands in innocence. (his near-despair)
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
    and every morning brings new punishments. (his daily struggle)

15 If I had spoken out like that,
    I would have betrayed your children. (his near-catastrophe of dis-heartening his fellow worshipers)
16 When I tried to understand all this,
    it troubled me deeply 
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
    then I understood their final destiny. (his reference point: God)

18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
    you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
    when you arise, Lord,
    you will despise them as fantasies. (They chose poorly)

21 When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you. (been there, done that)

23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand. (YOU take care of ME, my Shepherd!)
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory. (the daily walk)
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you. (compared to knowing Him)
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. (our comfort, our solace)

Let’s orient our thinking so that Jesus is our focus, our Center. When we do this, we know that we are in the center of His will because we are in the center of His attention.

Abba, thank You for loving us beyond this life. Help us to keep our eyes focused on You. Amen.

Asaph- a prominent Levite singer and seer in David’s court and was the son of Berachiah of the tribe of Levi. (1Chr 6:391Chr 15:171Chr 15:191Chr 16:4-72Chr 29:30). He is the ancestor of the Sons of Asaph, one of the great family guilds of temple musicians.

*Asaph is featured prominently in Chronicles. He is described as the chief of the Levites appointed to minister before the ark of the Lord, and he and his brothers are appointed to sing the songs of thanksgiving to the Lord (1Chr 16:4-7). His description as a seer (2Chr 29:30) also suggests a connection with cultic prophecy. Asaph’s descendants formed an important guild of temple singers in the reconstruction following the exile. In Ezra 2:41 and Neh 7:44, the temple singers are simply referred to as the “sons of Asaph.” It is also an Asaphite, Uzzi, who is established as the overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem during the temple’s reconstruction (Neh 11:22-24). Asaph and the Psalms

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