Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Strong Tower, Part Three

This is the final Part of Three posts on Proverbs 18 and 19 that reflect on the Lord as a strong tower, a fortress, a rock, a shield (Proverbs 18:10):

10The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.
One of the many ways we are distracted from a healthy respect and “fear of the Lord,” is that either riches or poverty can distract us from a proper reliance on the Lord.

Proverbs 18

11The rich man's wealth is his strong city,
And like a high wall in his own esteem.
16A man's gift makes room for him,
And brings him before great men.
Proverbs 19

6Many entreat the favor of the nobility,
And every man is a friend to one who gives gifts.
When wealth and privilege can give a person complete physical security, comfort and opportunity, it is easy for them to lose sight of “He from whom all blessings flow.” We cab begin to overvalue our role and contribution to our own success. Our esteem can be great, so great it crowds out any consideration of the source or the means of provision. Others help foster our illusions, however well intended. The fawning words, the overpraise, the fame and adoration or others may bring us great glory in a worldly sense.

Likewise, we may win over others by the same fawning attention or gifts. This may win us “summer-weather friends,” who more greatly esteem us as we show generosity to them.

As this may build a “high wall in [our] own esteem,” it breaks down the fortress that is the provision and protection of our God.

Proverbs 19

4Wealth makes many friends,
But the poor is separated from his friend.
7All the brothers of the poor hate him;
How much more do his friends go far from him!
He may pursue them with words, yet they abandon him.
17He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD,
And He will pay back what he has given.
Perhaps it is in the nature of our sins that we spurn those who seem most in need, but it isn’t the way God wants us to respond. We may shy away from friends in need, or avoid them in case they might make requests or demands upon us. Family may turn away from a burden felt too heavy, friends may be wary.

God is very clear, that as we receive the least of these, we receive the Son He sent as payment for our sins. We are to know that whenever someone is in need, whenever we see want or despair, how we respond is our demonstration to God of how we intend to respond to Him.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower, a fortress, a rock, a shield. But pride and selfishness can lead a person to do for themselves what God would do, or fear or sorrow may cause them to lose all hope. Stubbornness of spirit can blind them. True friendships require investment, but enmity and strife can bind us to violence.

We need to recognize that God uses the people around us as part of His conversation and provision, and uses us as conversation and provision for others. Rather than build a “high wall in [our] own esteem,” we need to esteem value in the way God esteems: as part of His timeless purpose for ourselves and others.

Strong Tower Part One

Strong Tower Part Two


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