March 6, 2014
Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“What time I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You. By the help of God I will praise His word; on God I lean, rely, and confidently put my trust; I will not fear. What can man, who is flesh, do to me?”
Psalm 56: 3, 4, Amplified Bible
“Do not fear circumstances. They cannot hurt us, if we hold fast to God and use them as the voices and ministries of His will. Trust Him about every one and everything, for all times and all needs, earth and heaven, friends and children, the conquest of sin, the growth of holiness, the cross that chafes, the grace that stirs.”
Anthony W. Thorold
Today’s Study Text:
“You may do wisely and “prosper” in all that you do.”
I Kings 2: 3
“Words of Blessing – You Will Prosper”
“No man (or woman) is prudent who is ignorant of God“
How do I think “prudence” and “prosperity” relate to one another?
When I read in 1 Kings 2: 3 where God will “prosper” those who follow and obey Him, what do I think this means?
“Few pay attention to prudence because few possess it.”
St. Bernard of Clairvaux
“Prudence must precede all our actions since, if prudence is lacking, there is nothing, however good it may seem, that is not turned into evil.”
Basil, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia
(In what is modern Turkey)
The words above were written in ancient times as an instruction regarding the virtue of prudence. For many of us, the word “prudence” has a rather old-fashioned sound to it.
I’ll never forget, as a young girl, meeting a dear elderly woman who introduced herself to me and she said, “Hello, my name is Prudence.” Honestly, I found this to be a rather strange name, however, as time has passed and I’ve had time to do some study on what the word “prudence” means, I think it is not only a beautiful name but a tremendous virtue. As Vincent Voiture wrote, “The richest endowments of the mind are temperance, prudence, and fortitude. Prudence is a universal virtue, which enters into the composition of all the rest; and where she is not, fortitude loses its name and nature.”
At this point in time, you may be going back to our study text for today, and asking yourself the question, “What does ‘prudence’ have to do with 1 Kings 2: 3?” The answer is simple, “a whole lot!”
As we find in 1 Kings 2: 3, David told Solomon that there were four essentials God longed for this young man to have in his life. But David didn’t stop there. He continued by sharing with Solomon the fact that when we are on God’s way, showers of blessings result. Yesterday, we found the first of the heavenly showers was the gift of wisdom. Not just knowledge that makes us smart, but heaven’s understanding and insight that opens our minds to God’s truth.
Today, we find that in addition to wisdom, David told Solomon that he would “prosper in all that you do.” At first glance, and with all the talk we hear today about God’s “prosperity” falling upon us when we do the right thing or give the right amount of money, it might be easy to enter this passage in the Bible under the headline: “Prosperity Theology.” To do so would be completely wrong and would be misconstruing what God’s blessings are all about.
In order to correctly understand and to have complete knowledge of what David meant when he told Solomon God would “prosper” him, it is useful for us to go to the Hebrew translation and find out what the meaning of the Hebrew word, “sakal” or “sawkal,” which means “prosper” in 1 Kings 2: 3, really means.
This is not the only Hebrew word which you can find that means “prosper.” However, it is the Hebrew word which is used seven times in the Old Testament, and is used in our text for today. Since the word “prosper” is tossed around rather carelessly today, sometimes giving people the false notion that God is going to give me a big mansion and a Ferrari if I do what He says or if I plant a big enough “seed” when I give, I think we would be “wise” here in the Garden to receive some clarity from God’s word as to what God’s prosperity means in our lives. I want to lay out all seven texts in the Old Testament where the Hebrew word, “sakal”, is used:
1. Deuteronomy 29:9 (K.J.V.) – “Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may “prosper” in all that ye do. (Advice from God given to Moses to give to the children of Israel).
2. Joshua 1:7 – “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest “prosper” whithersoever thou goest.” (God’s words to Joshua when he took over leadership of the children of Israel).
3. 1 Kings 2:3 - “Thou mayest “prosper” in all that thou doest.” (David’s instruction to Solomon).
4. Jeremiah 10:21- “For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not “prosper”, and all their flocks shall be scattered.” (God’s words to the children of Israel through His prophet, Jeremiah).
5. Jeremiah 20:11 – “But the Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed: for they shall not “prosper”: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.” (Words of Jeremiah after being put in stocks and persecuted).
6. Jeremiah 23:5 – “‘Behold, the days come,’ saith the Lord, ‘that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and “prosper”, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.’” (Promise from God through Jeremiah).
7. Lamentations 1:5 – “Her (Zion) adversaries are the chief, her enemies “prosper”: for the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity from the enemy.”
If we look at what the word “prosper” means in the Hebrew, specifically the word “sawkal,” we find that rather than meaning you’ll have all the money in the world, the word “prosper” means, “to make one circumspect and intelligent. To make one prudent. Understanding what is taught. To guide wittingly.” To further help me understand what this word “prosper” means, I looked up several of the defining words in the dictionary, such as “circumspect,” “prudent,” and “wittingly.” Here’s what I learned: First, a person who is circumspect is one who “takes heed.” Does this sound familiar? It should, for this was the very first essential element that David told Solomon was present in the life of a person whose life was God-purposed. They took heed of what God said. They paid attention.
Second, a circumspect individual behaves in a way that takes into consideration that what they do and how they act not only have consequences now, but very likely in the future, too.
When you and I act “prudently,” we are using good judgment. We are careful and wise about the way we conduct ourselves. And finally, the word “wittingly” is an archaic word which also means that I think carefully before I act. I have a knowledge and an awareness that what I do has consequences.
What I find so instructional in the Bible is that as we begin with the first time the word “prosper” or “sawkal” is used in Deuteronomy 29:9, Moses is telling God’s children that they will prosper as they walk God’s way. Then when Joshua takes over as God’s leader, he is assured that as he leads God’s children in God’s way, he will “prosper.” He will be given the knowledge and understanding and guidance from above that is needed to stay in God’s way and do His will.
In 1 Kings 2:3, we find David giving this same assurance to his young son. Doing God’s will is the way to have “prosperity” – or as we have learned, it is the way to have heavenly knowledge, understanding, prudence and a teachable spirit. In other words, staying within the hedge pays heavenly dividends!
But by the time we get to the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations, where God’s children had trampled down the hedge and walked in their own way, not only were their “prosperity,” their wisdom and prudence and judgment gone, but in Lamentations, Jeremiah tells us that it was the “wicked” who were exhibiting better judgment, better prudence, and better understanding than God’s own children. No wonder Jeremiah has been called the “weeping prophet,” for the essentials that God longed to see present in His own children’s lives were so destroyed that rather than God’s special people being a witness to the wisdom imparted by following God, the surrounding heathen nations, at times, showed more understanding of the God of heaven and earth than the people who thought they were on the inside track.
It gives us a lot to reflect on in the world we live in today. When you and I choose to heed our Father’s voice, to walk in His way, to understand His commands and obey His word, how blessed we are for the wisdom from above will provide us with heaven’s knowledge and we will act prudently, making certain that we consider the consequences of not only what we do but what we say. As Solomon, himself so beautifully wrote:
“The Wisdom (Godly Wisdom), which is comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God, of the prudent, is to understand His way.”
May Your spirit give me wisdom that I may know Your will, that I may honour You, and find pleasure in obeying You.”
“And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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