Song of the Drunkards


JESUS FACED A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF OPPOSITION FOR HIS HARD WORDS AND UNFLINCHING DEVOTION TO YAHWEH. NO SURPRISE THEN IF WE FIND OUR NAME FESTOONED IN BARROOM BALLADS (CF. PS 69:12).


The Faithful Worker & the Wicked Schemer

October 9, 2022 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations

Proverbs 12:12–14 

12The wicked covet the catch of evil men, But the root of the righteous yields fruit. 13The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, But the righteous will come through trouble. 14A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth, And the recompense of a man’s hands will be rendered to him. 

Paul writes in Romans 8:29 that God has predestined His people to be conformed to the image of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Proverbs assist us in that process, directing us in the way of wisdom and teaching us what it is to imitate our Lord’s character. While last week constrasted the faithful worker with the idle dreamer, this week contrasts the faithful worker with the wicked schemer.

On the one hand is the wicked schemer. He covets the catch of evil men. The wicked schemer uses the gifts and skills that God has given him – he is not an idle dreamer; he is willing to work. However, rather than work honestly and devote himself to fruitful labor to the glory of his Creator, he emulates the actions of evil men: he covets their catch. He studies how, by their cleverness, they manage to swindle, steal, murder, and rob for personal profit. So who are such men? This would include gangsters and thieves, rapists and murderers, adulterers and homosexuals. It includes politicians who use the power of the civil government to take that which lawfully belongs to others. It includes unscrupulous lobbyists that pressure politicians for handouts. And it includes those who hide their sin, hoping that their spouses or parents or friends will not uncover their gambling, their porn use, or their spending spree. But the schemes of such men will inevitably be thwarted by the God who rules and reigns over heaven and earth. The wicked schemer will be ensnared by the trasngression of his lips. He will inevitably trip up and get caught – his own lips will betray him. His deceitfulness will be turned back against him. He will lay a net for his own feet. Don’t be him.

On the other hand is the faithful worker. The faithful worker is rooted deep in God Himself – trusting in the Lord who has given him the ability to work and using his abilities to the honor and praise of his Creator. Such a man’s labor will yield fruit. Though he faces hardship and struggle – the common infirmities of this life – yet he will come through these troubles by the grace of God. Whether in this life or the next, his labor will yield good fruit. His honest lips and his hard work will have their reward: A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth, And the recompense of a man’s hands will be rendered to him. God will bless him according to his labor and he will have no cause to be ashamed even in times of trouble. By his honest speech and diligent hands, he earns the respect of his neighbors and a profit from the Lord.

So what of you? Whose work do you emulate? Do you covet the catch of evil men, studying those who deceive and scheme to advance their cause? Or do you study the work of those who are honest and hard working, speaking only what they know to be right and true and looking to God to bless the work of their hands? Our calling is to emulate the latter; indeed to be the pattern that others, especially those in the next generation, can follow.

So reminded of our calling to work with our hands that we might be satisfied with good, let us confess that we and our neighbors often scheme and plot instead of pursuing honest labor. And as you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sin to the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletins.

The Faithful Worker & the Idle Dreamer

October 2, 2022 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations

Proverbs 12:11 

11He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, But he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding. 

Paul writes in Romans 8:29 that God has predestined His people to be conformed to the image of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Proverbs assist us in that process, directing us in the way of wisdom and teaching us what it is to imitate our Lord’s character. Today our passage contrasts the faithful worker with the idle dreamer.

On the one hand is the faithful worker. “He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread…” Scripture reminds us that “all hard work brings a profit but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Pr 14:23). So the wise man is a faithful worker. He sets himself diligently to his labor knowing that it is God Himself who has called him to it. Work is a gift from God, given to us as human beings prior to our fall into sin. While toil is a result of the fall, work itself is part of our design. Hence, God calls us to labor and blesses us with bread as the fruit of our labor. Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you…” (2 Thes 3:7-8). Our calling is to support ourselves with our work.

How perverse, therefore, the one who is an idle dreamer; who follows frivolous schemes rather than setting himself to faithful work. Solomon is not forbidding ingenuity and risk here. Rather, he is forbidding idle dreams – the man who lives in his parent’s basement and mooches off them while failing to develop his vocational skills; the college student who takes on tens of thousands of dollars in college debt to study feminist studies and then wonders why she can’t find a job; the young man who thinks society owes him a job, owes him a car, owes him a house but who has no marketable skills. He who follows frivolity is void of understanding. He doesn’t understand that it is the one who is excellent in his work who “will stand before kings” (Pr 22:29). Like the fool in “The Big Rock Candy Mountain,” he sings of the place “Where they hung the jerk That invented work.” But God invented work and the one who fights against work, who wants to eat without labor, is a fool.

So what of you? Are you committed to work? Do you give thanks that God has placed you in this world that you might love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength – and that loving Him with your mind and strength involves using the gifts that He has given you to bless your neighbor by developing the latent potential of the world? Do you work with your mind and hands? Do you rejoice that he’s given you another problem to solve, another job to do, another meal to fix, another nose to wipe? Or do you want the fruit of labor without the labor? I fear that we often desire that, do we not? We are often, like the Cretans in Paul’s day, liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons. 

So reminded of our calling to work with our hands that we might have bread to eat, let us confess that we are often lazy, that we want the fruit of labor without the labor. And as you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sin to the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletins.

The Cruel Mercies of the Wicked

September 25, 2022 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations

Proverbs 12:10 

10A righteous man regards the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. 

Paul writes in Romans 8:29 that God has predestined His people to be conformed to the image of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Proverbs assist us in that process, directing us in the way of wisdom and teaching us what it is to imitate our Lord’s character. Today our passage contrasts the conduct of the righteous and the wicked. While a righteous man has care even for the life of his animal, the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

So who is the righteous man? The righteous man is the one who, aware of his own sinfulness, confesses his sin to God, trusts in the forgiving mercy of God in Christ, and then lives in the fear of God, endeavoring to conform his life to God’s holy character as revealed in His moral law. The righteous man thus acknowledges that there is a moral law to which he is accountable. Unlike Adam who strove to be a law unto himself and rebelled against his Creator, the righteous man submits to God’s law. He strives to be humble, recognizing his propensity to sin and treating others the way he would want to be treated. Hence, the righteous man cares even for the life of his animal. He knows his place in God’s hierarchy, knows that he has been created to rule the earth, but he rules in such a way as to honor even the lesser creatures whom God has likewise created. And if the righteous man cares for the life of his animal, how much more will he honor other humans who like him are made in the image and likeness of God?

The wicked man, however, believes that there is no God – or at least he acts like there is no God. He imagines that there is no heaven; no transcendent moral law to which he is accountable; no God who sees and hears his plans and deeds; no God who will judge him for his deeds. He believes, like the atheist Richard Dawkins, that “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference” (MSYW, 68). Hence, he has no basis for distinguishing kindness and cruelty. He bemoans the rise of suicide and self-harm among today’s youth but threatens surgeons who refuse to perform sex-change operations on perfectly healthy bodies. He declares that legitimate sexual encounters must be consentual but uses force to compel bakers and flower arrangers to praise his perversities. He objects to the racial profiling of pre-Civil Rights America but insists that every white person must repent of his whiteness. The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. The wicked man has no basis for distinguishing kindness and cruelty and so he often practices cruelty in the name of kindness.

So what of you? Have you acknowledged that you are created by God and accountable to your Creator? Have you striven to submit yourself to His moral law revealed in your own conscience and in the Bible? If so, then are you respecting others who are made in the image of God and even caring for the lives of your animals? Children, are you caring for your pets? Or have you instead pretended that you are a law unto yourself? Pretended that there is no God who will judge you and hold you accountable? Practiced cruelty in the name of kindness?

Reminded that we are all called to submit to the Lord of all, the Creator of heaven and earth, whose law stands over us all and defines good and evil, let us confess to the Lord that we have often failed to care for the life of our animals and, even more so, failed to honor the image of God in our fellow man. And as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.