Sunday, 24 May 2020
Proverbs 24:15-16 ESV
15 Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous;
do no violence to his home;
16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
Proverbs 24:15-16 NLT
15 Don’t wait in ambush at the home of the godly,
and don’t raid the house where the godly live.
16 The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.
But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.
Can bad things happen to good people? The answer is yes. Many of us are God-fearing. We love God and obey his commands. We have done nothing wrong to be where we are now? Covid-19, has put many Godly people in trouble. Some are forced to close their business; take pay cuts; voluntary separation; no jobs to go back too. Our college-going children’s dreams are shattered because circumstances prevented them from going overseas or even continuing to study. Some of us are fighting with severe or life-threatening diseases. Calamity just strikes us without any warning or explanation. Good people will also go through bad times, but the only difference is that “he may trip seven times, but he will get up again”.
Somehow many have taken Proverbs 24.16 out of context. When I was a young Christian, I witnessed to many of my classmates. Non-Christian friends used to laugh at me saying, “You Christians are very smart; you sin in the morning and at night you ask God for forgiveness. You are off the hook.” This verse is taken out of context. In fact, God hates daily confession for the same sin. It will be like, “a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Pro. 26.11, and also 2 Pet. 2.22. Repentance is a change of heart, a turning away from sin and walking towards God. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV.
We must read scripture in its context. These two verses must be linked together. Solomon is still comparing the wicked and the righteous. When he says “the righteous may trip or fall seven times”, he is referring to the wicked waiting in ambush for the righteous. This verse is given as an encouragement to the righteous who live in a wicked world. We have to deal with the wicked and their evil intentions. The righteous do fall, that is a reality! One scholar noted that this fall is not due to moral failure or sin, but rather falling into unfavourable circumstances. Yes, when the righteous fall into calamities and difficult times, they will rise again. The point is, the wicked can wait and pounce on us, our wealth may be taken, our reputation, our property, our children, even our health. The wicked may be successful in stripping us of all that we have. But they cannot keep us down. We can see this in the life of Job. Daniel’s three friends have gone through fire and Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. They came out unscratched. The wicked Haman built the gallows for Mordechai, instead, it was used for Haman, himself. Yes, “one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.”
God’s grace gives us the strength to continue to go on even when we are down. The Psalmist says, “Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psa. 37.24. When we walk with the Lord, his grace is more than sufficient for each day. His grace enables us to rise up above the unfavourable circumstances that keep us down. This is certainly true of Paul’s life, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” 2 Cor. 4.8-9. What an encouragement for all of us! We have now fallen into very difficult circumstances, none of us in our living memory have encountered such a situation. I believe the situation can get even worse before it gets better. Do not assume when we are down, we will not be able to bounce back again. Even if we do fall, the Lord will never forsake us nor leave us. His grace is sufficient for us daily. His Almighty hands will enable us to get back on our feet, to go forward in His strength.
WHAT GOD HAS PROMISED
By Annie J. Flint, 1902
God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
Refrarin: But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.
Yes, we are living in challenging times like never before. We may be down for the moment. God will raise us up again in due time. Let us turn to God and keep going, He will make a way when there seems to be no other way. Amen.
Prayer for today
Dear heavenly Father, we thank you for being our Fortress, our Refuge and our strength, our very present help in time of trouble and uncertainty. The Coronavirus is still foaming and roaring globally but we are not fearful. We come face-to-face with so much uncertainty. Lord, you know the details of this situation, and you know how it will end before it ends. We are grateful you love and care for us, you guide our thoughts, our steps each day. Help us to focus on you daily in the midst of uncertainty. Grant us faith and trust when we do not see what the future will be like. We are of little faith. Increase our faith, that we can totally commit all our uncertainties into your capable hands, for in you all things are possible. Help our unbelief, grant us your strength for today. We thank you and rest in your loving hands.
Lord, we thank you for the Lord’s day. We are grateful we can still worship you Online as your people. Be gracious to us, allow us to have a fresh encounter with You. Speak to us through songs, prayers, reading and preaching of your word Through our brother Wong Yoke Ming. Refill our empty spiritual tank, so that we can have strength to run and not be weary in this uncertain time. We praise and thank You, In Jesus’ Precious Name Amen.
Pastor Isaac Yim
不知何故，很多时候我们对箴言24：16断章取义了。当我还是年轻的基督徒时，我对许多同学做见证。非基督徒的朋友曾经嘲笑我说：“你们基督徒都很聪明；你在早晨的时候犯罪，然后在晚上你祈求上帝的宽恕。你就可以摆脱困境了。”这节经文被断章取义了。实际上，上帝不喜悦我们每天为同样的的罪过忏悔。就像是“愚昧人行愚妄事、行了又行、就如狗转过来吃它所吐的。”箴言26：11，及彼得后书 2：22所记载的。悔改是一颗转变的心，转离罪恶而走向神。 “你们所遇见的试探、无非是人所能受的、 神是信实的、必不叫你们受试探过于所能受的．在受试探的时候、总要给你们开一条出路、叫你们能忍受得住。“哥林多前书10:13 。
上帝的恩典赋予我们力量，即使我们沮丧时也能继续前进。诗人说：“他虽失脚、也不至全身仆倒．因为耶和华用手搀扶他。” 诗篇 37：24。当我们与主同行时，祂每天所给予的恩典绰绰有余。祂的恩典能够让我们在不利的环境中被打击时再次的兴起。保罗的一生确实是如此：“我们四面受敌、却不被困住。心里作难、却不至失望。遭逼迫、却不被丢弃。打倒了、却不至死亡。” 哥林多后书 4：8-9。这对我们所有人来说是何等大的鼓励！我们如今陷入了非常困难的境地，在我们的记忆中从未有人遭遇过如此的情况。我相信不经历黎明前的黑暗，就难以见到灿烂的朝阳。不要以为当我们跌倒时，我们将无法再次反弹。即使我们跌倒了，主也永远不会舍弃我们或离开我们。祂的恩典够我们日常需用。祂的全能之手将使我们重新振作，以祂的力量前进。
安妮•弗林特（Annie J. Flint），1902年