The ancient practice of non-retaliation

If we recognize that only God is truly able to judge others, we relieve ourselves of that burden and responsibility.

Matthew 5:39 – “But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

While many people claim that Yeshua began a revolutionary concept of non-retaliation in his day, it was actually a godly principle from ancient times, evidenced by the narrative of Scripture.

1 Samuel 24:12-13 – “May Yahweh judge between me and you, and may Yahweh take vengeance on you for me, but my hand will never be against you. “As the old proverb says, ‘Wickedness comes from wicked people.’ My hand will never be against you.

As David was confronted with the continuing persecution of Saul, he makes the commitment that he would never do Saul harm as Saul was attempting to do to him, since Saul is God’s anointed ruler. David fulfilled that commitment.

What I find fascinating from an historical perspective is that David quoted “an old proverb” regarding how wickedness in action stems from those who are wicked. As far as we know, this is not a quote from Moses or any biblical writer prior to David, but it was a quote that had become common enough to be routinely mentioned as proverbial within that culture. This idea of non-retaliation appears to be very ancient, indeed.

Ironically, or perhaps because of David’s parenting influence, his son Solomon would become associated with thousands of proverbs. Likely influenced by that same godly motivation of his father, Solomon would ultimately pen the following proverb:

Proverbs 24:29 – Don’t say, “I’ll do to him what he did to me; I’ll repay the man for what he has done.”

This is a line of thinking carried all the way down to New Testament writers. Even beyond the life and teaching of Yeshua, the apostle Paul expands on this perspective that was modeled by his Lord and Master and the ancient forefathers.

Romans 12:17-19 – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says Yahweh.

That vengeance belongs to God is a statement that is an echo of David’s words to Saul. If we recognize that only God is truly able to judge others, we relieve ourselves of that burden and responsibility, and allow him to do whatever is appropriate in regard to our situation. This takes a strong measure of faith on our part, as we may have an opportunity to “right” a wrong, or provide a retaliatory measure of what we would consider justice.

By staying our hand and allowing God to work, we may endure injustice for the moment but in the process God can be glorified. When others see that we are willing to suffer an injustice at the hands of others and yet not retaliate, we provide a strong witness to our faith that God is in control and that only he is the true judge.

When we choose to forego those opportunities and instead trust God for ultimate judgment, we also demonstrate our like-minded discipleship and faithfulness to our Lord and Messiah and can rightfully assume our place in a long line of historical and spiritual ancestors before us.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Learning about integrity by reviewing its opposites

Contrasts in the Proverbs help to provide clarity.

The Proverbs of Solomon provide us some insight into the life of integrity by contrasting integrity with its opposites. By viewing what integrity is not, we can gain a better understanding of what it is and how it is beneficial to those who practice it.

Proverbs 10:9 – The one who lives with integrity lives securely, but whoever perverts his ways will be found out.
Proverbs 10:29 – The way of Yahweh is a stronghold for the honorable, but destruction awaits the malicious.
Proverbs 13:6 – Righteousness guards people of integrity, but wickedness undermines the sinner.

In these three proverbs, we see integrity and the way of Yahweh contrasted with those who are responsible for twisting and distortion, those who make trouble or sorrow, and wickedness that overturns those who are sinful.

However, on the positive side, it can also be noted that integrity is associated with security and protection. Living and acting with integrity can provide safety from the consequences of those who are sinful and willing to cause pain and suffering to others for their own benefit.

Proverbs 19:1 – Better a poor person who lives with integrity than someone who has deceitful lips and is a fool.
Proverbs 28:6 – Better the poor person who lives with integrity than the rich one who is crooked in their ways.

In these proverbs, the one who lives with integrity is contrasted with two other types of individuals: those who are arrogant, foolish, and who distort the truth with their speech, along with those who are twisted in their ways. One of the common negative characteristics of these individuals is this idea of crookedness, twisting their speech, distorting the truth. People who act like this cannot be trusted because they will simply manipulate situations to their advantage.

It is interesting that these negative characteristics are generally, though not exclusively, associated with those who are rich, while integrity is associated with humility of circumstance.

Proverbs 2:7 – He stores up success for the upright; He is a shield for those who live with integrity
Proverbs 20:7 – A righteous person acts with integrity; his children who come after him will be happy.

Here we see the benefits associated with living a life of integrity. Those who have integrity are considered righteous. There is protection and longevity of benefit for their families associated with doing what’s right, extending even to their children.

From this brief survey of integrity in the Proverbs, we can glean the advantages of living righteously according to the way of Yahweh over those who exploit others and busy themselves with constantly striving to gain advantage for themselves. Solomon encourages humble circumstances with doing what’s right over wealth and subterfuge.

These positive traits of integrity are consistent with what Yeshua presented in the Sermon on the Mount regarding purity of heart, doing what’s right, and magnifying God. In his way of thinking, to individuals such as these belong the kingdom of God.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Hope that comes from faith in God

His commands are sure and faithful, leading to his kingdom.

Proverbs 23:17-18 – Let not your heart envy sinners: but be in the fear of Yahweh all the day. For if you should keep these things, you shall have a future; and your hope shall not be removed.

In this passage of Proverbs, Solomon conveys that when it comes to trusting in Yahweh, there is a promise of continuance, a future where posterity thrives and hope lives.

by contrast, the wicked will not maintain hope in any recognizable future.

Proverbs 24: 19-20 Rejoice not in evil-doers, neither be envious of sinners. For the evil man shall have no future: and the light of the wicked shall be put out.

Hope is a rare and precious commodity, especially in our current day. People are longing for any thread of optimism to cling to. Many are convinced that things are only getting worse and that society as a whole is headed toward some sort of climactic shift or end where a renewal will take place. For the secular among us, crises of all proportions loom on the horizon, from global warming to over-population to mutual nuclear destruction. From the religious camps are touted apocalyptic endings within this generation, with the destruction of the wicked and the establishment of a reign of subsequent peace.

Yet God’s Word remains steadfast in its declaration of faithful continuance. The kingdom of God that was established with the coming of the Messiah two millennia ago will continue to increase, ebbing and expanding in synchronous harmony with the faithfulness of each generation until it fills the earth. There will be good times, and there will be bad times, but all times are moving steadily toward its fulfillment in reality.

As individuals, when we faithfully trust God and enact his principles in our lives, we shine a light within our circles of influence. As these lights grow and move, they can overlap and spread, increasing with luminosity as hope and truth spread.

In the proverb above, the simple admonition of Solomon captures the essence of all of the ten commandments by stating its first command and its last: “Let not your heart envy sinners: but be in the fear of Yahweh all the day.” The tenth commandment is not to covet or “envy sinners”; the first is to not have any other gods but Yahweh, to “be in fear of Yahweh all the day.”

By following these commands personally, we can have a future and a hope. This hope and future can be communicated to those around us, thereby carrying the light of truth a little further out into our world. When other hearts become committed to Yahweh and his principles contained within his commandments, the kingdom grows, and we grow steadfastly toward the ultimate reality of his kingdom together. When we share faith and trust in Yahweh, we share hope.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

What type of lamp is within you?

Illuminating aspects of biblical obedience and sinfulness.

Luke 11:34-36 – Your eye is the lamp of the body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is also full of light. But when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness. Take care, then, that the light in you is not darkness. If, therefore, your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be entirely illuminated, as when a lamp shines its light on you.

Yeshua appears to be drawing this imagery of lamps and light from the rich veins of the Psalms and Proverbs. All throughout this literature are references to lamps as representing the inspiration and guidance of God and purposeful actions. Most famously are some passages referencing the guiding influence of God and his Word.

Psalm 18:28 – Yahweh, you light my lamp; my God illuminates my darkness.
Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
Proverbs 6:23 – For a command is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way to life.

If, according to Yeshua, “the eye is the lamp of the body,” then from this background of language it is not difficult to connect our view of God’s Word, what we focus on, as being directive in our manner of living.

Contrasted with the illumination that comes from God and his Word is the “guiding lamp” of those who choose not to obey God.

Proverbs 21:4 – The lamp that guides the wicked — haughty eyes and an arrogant heart ​– ​is sin.

To Solomon, the path of the wicked is illuminated only by the sinfulness of pride and arrogance. In Matthew’s narrative on this same teaching, Yeshua is quoted as confirming the depths of darkness attached to sin:

Matthew 6:23 – “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness [i.e., the light that guides the wicked], how deep is that darkness!

To this condition, Solomon spares no flowery language and gets right to the end result of this manner of life.

Proverbs 24:20 – For the evil have no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
Proverbs 13:9 – The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is put out.

On the positive aspects of the righteous, Yeshua, like Solomon, draws out the illuminating aspects of the righteous having a single focus on God’s Word and his commands.

Luke 11:36 – “If, therefore, your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be entirely illuminated, as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

The end result of this type of obedient life to God’s Word is that it can become set apart as a positive influence on the lives of others, and will not only be illuminated within, but shine brightly for others to see.

Matthew 5:15-16 – “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Following the path, the Way of Life

The “pleasant paths” that Yahweh leads us on are considered the Way of God, the message of the kingdom, and the hope of rest.

Core of the Bible podcast #41 – Following the path, the Way of Life

Today we will be exploring the topic of trust using one of the most widely familiar passages of the Bible.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in Yahweh with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct you on pleasant paths.

The word for trust in this famous passage has shades of meaning which include confidence and boldness, running to a secure place for refuge, being free of care or worry, having a steadfast hope. All of these are different ways of representing the believer’s inner reliance on Yahweh.

It’s important to recognize that this is not an admonishment that we are to abandon all reason and understanding. We are simply not to have our own wisdom as the primary source of our planning and our actions. We must leave room for direction from God, maintaining a view to his kingdom and purpose in this life.

Pulpit commentary

“[The Hebrew word] signifies “to lean upon, rest upon,” just as man rests upon a spear for support. Its metaphorical use, to repose confidence in, is derived from the practice of kings who were accustomed to appear in public leaning on their friends and ministers…”

For example, Naaman, a foreign commander, after being healed of leprosy, requested forgiveness of Elisha the prophet.

2 Kings 5:18  – “However, in a particular matter may Yahweh pardon your servant: When my master, the king of Aram, goes into the temple of Rimmon to bow in worship while he is leaning on my arm, and I have to bow in the temple of Rimmon ​– ​when I bow in the temple of Rimmon, may Yahweh pardon your servant in this matter.”

Again, when Elisha pronounced a prophecy regarding the release of a siege famine from Samaria, the king’s aid was in disbelief.

2 Kings 7:1-2 CSB – Elisha replied, “Hear the word of Yahweh! This is what Yahweh says: ‘About this time tomorrow at Samaria’s gate, six quarts of fine flour will sell for a half ounce of silver and twelve quarts of barley will sell for a half ounce of silver.’ ”  Then the captain, the king’s right-hand man (upon whose hand the king leaned), responded to the man of God, “Look, even if Yahweh were to make windows in heaven, could this really happen? ” Elisha announced, “You will in fact see it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat any of it.”

So we see the practice since ancient times was to have the king supported by a close aid, one who provided physical, moral and tactical support and advice. While trusted counsel is not a bad thing, it is this type of worldly wisdom that is contrasted with trusting in, that is leaning on, Yahweh.

Pulpit commentary

“The admonition does not mean that we are not to use our own understanding, i.e. form plans with discretion, and employ legitimate means in the pursuit of our ends; but that, when we use it, we are to depend upon God and his directing and overruling providence.”

Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthian congregation, writes;

1 Corinthians 2:12, 14 – Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. … But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.

There is a worldly type of wisdom that is helpful in worldly things, but if that is true then there is also a spiritual type of wisdom that is helpful (in fact, necessary) in judging spiritual things.

In Proverbs 3:5-6, the language used here of trusting in God that he will “direct you on pleasant paths” can be likened to a traveler who is trekking through a wilderness in fog. He uses his natural wisdom and understanding to find the path that will take him where he needs to go. However, once he is on the path, he places his confidence in the path that it will carry him to his destination, even though because of the fog he cannot see the full length of where the path is heading. When he is following the path, he is carefree from having to choose his own potentially hazardous way through the wilderness.

Our wisdom instructs us to find the path; the path is that in which we place our trust, since it has been provided by God. We have confidence the path that God provided will lead us to the destination God has in store for us. God promises the path will be smooth and pleasant compared to the directionless wilderness ways of our own choosing.

Job 12:13, 23-25 – Wisdom and strength belong to God; counsel and understanding are his.  … He makes nations great, then destroys them; he enlarges nations, then leads them away.  He deprives the world’s leaders of reason, and makes them wander in a trackless wasteland.  They grope around in darkness without light; he makes them stagger like a drunkard.

The trackless wasteland is a place where no one wants to be. There is no direction, no indication of the right way, just sameness and harsh wilderness in each direction.

In a description of the Biblical wilderness over at www.environmentandsociety.org/, they describe it in these terms:

“The wilderness is a locale for intense experiences—of stark need for food and water (manna and quails), of isolation (Elijah and the still small voice), of danger and divine deliverance (Hagar and Ishmael), of renewal, of encounters with God (Moses, the burning bush, the revelation of the divine name, Mount Sinai). There is a psychology as well as a geography of wilderness, a theology gained in the wilderness.

“Linguists will make the point that the Hebrews did not have an exact equivalent of the contemporary English word ‘wilderness.’ Nevertheless, the Hebrews evidently knew the experience of confronting the wild.”

The Bible is filled with imagery and examples of those who have wandered away from God; they have gone off the path he has provided. Being off the path is straying from God, and is an indication of not trusting in him with your whole heart. Here are some examples:

Psalm 119:176 – I wander like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commands.

Proverbs 10:17 – The one who follows instruction is on the path to life, but the one who rejects correction goes astray.

Proverbs 12:26 – A righteous person is careful in dealing with his neighbor, but the ways of the wicked lead them astray.

Proverbs 14:22 – Don’t those who plan evil go astray? But those who plan good find loyalty and faithfulness.

Proverbs 21:16 – The person who strays from the way of prudence will come to rest in the assembly of the departed spirits.

Isaiah 53:6 – We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way…

Jeremiah 50:6 – My people were lost sheep; their shepherds led them astray, guiding them the wrong way in the mountains. They wandered from mountain to hill; they forgot their resting place.

When one has gone astray, they have left “the path to life,” (Prov 10:17), or “the way of prudence,” (Prov 21:16). Jeremiah says those who wander have forgotten “their resting place,” (Jer 50:6).

As believers, unfortunately it’s not uncommon for us to go astray, to forget who we are, where we are going, or where to find true rest within the will of God. We get caught up in our circumstances and distracted from our purpose. For non-believers, the picture is an even wider perspective where God is a distant or non-existent resource for guidance through life. All of us need to know and understand God’s ability to guide us where he would like us to go which can only happen when we keep our eyes on him and trust his direction with all of our heart.

—–

That this trust in God directs people in the way of life is a theme all through the Bible. This has been recognized by Jews throughout the centuries and is expressed in many different ways.

One of the most popular examples of this is brought forward from the mid-1700’s in Jewish literature. At that time, a respected rabbi by the name of Moshe Chaim Luzatto wrote a book entitled the Derech Hashem; the Way of God. In it, he details a spiritual perspective of life, God, and human responsibility from a deeply Jewish, mystical perspective. This book has become a Jewish classic, much like Pilgrim’s Progress might be to the Christian faith.

However, he was not the first to coin the term, the Way of God, or the Way as being the path of life. We can go to the teachings of Yeshua and find this same type of “path of life” imagery present.

Matthew 7:13-14 – “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

We have reviewed these verses in detail in a previous episode, but in summary Yeshua is conveying that this narrow way to life is a cramped and difficult passageway, surrounded by obstacles; it takes determination, effort, and persistence to find one’s way through.

Ellicott in his commentary writes:

“The meaning of the parable here lies on the surface. The way and the gate are alike the way of obedience and holiness, and the gate is to be reached not without pain and effort; but only through it can we enter into the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem. A deeper significance is, however, suggested even by our Lord’s own teaching. He Himself is the “way” (John 14:6), or with a slight variation of the imagery, He is the “door,” or gate, by which His sheep enter into the fold (John 10:7). Only we must remember that His being thus the “way” and the “gate” does not mean that we can find, in union with Him, a substitute for holiness, but indicates simply how we are to attain to it.”

To break this down a little further, let’s look more closely at these other references that Yeshua makes to the Way.

John 14:4-6 – “You know the way to where I am going.”  “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where you’re going. How can we know the way? ”  Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Interestingly, Yeshua didn’t point Thomas and the disciples to an expected place like the Temple or Jerusalem as a further place of learning, but claimed that he himself is the Way. He specifically said that “no one comes to the Father except through me.” This would be a hugely conceited statement were it not true. The exclusiveness of Yeshua’s teaching is here revealed with no apology from the Master himself. Whatever this Way is, it is represented solely by his life, his practice, and his teaching, all of which make up who he is. This is why Yeshua is so central to Christian thought and practice, because he has placed himself there on purpose. The life of Messiah is one that is to be followed and imitated; this is how one stays in the Way of God.

In Yeshua’s other reference to exclusiveness, he relates that he is the gate or the door to the sheep pen.

John 10:6-9 – Jesus gave them this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.  Jesus said again, “Truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.”

In rapid-fire succession, the context of this passage reveals that Yeshua was likening his life and ministry to practices surrounding the tending and herding sheep. On the one hand, he relates that he is the gate, or the single entry point into the sheep pen, but on the other hand that he is also the good shepherd, the one who cares so deeply for his sheep that he is willing to lay his life down for them to protect them, if necessary. Through these examples, Yeshua is conveying the supremacy of his own teaching over the “thieves and robbers,” (i.e., false teachers) who had come before him, as well as his unique position as being the only one qualified to effectively protect the sheep with his own life.

That Yeshua is conveying the true Way of God was a concept that was picked up by his disciples and considered a summary of distinguishing their belief in Messiah from the broader context of popular first-century Judaism. The Way or the Way of God was an ancient title for the true spiritual understanding of the kingdom, mentioned several times in the book of Acts.

Acts 18:24-26 – Now a Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was competent in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately about Jesus, although he knew only John’s baptism. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately.

Acts 19:8-10, 22-23 – … But when some became hardened and would not believe, slandering the Way in front of the crowd, he [Paul] withdrew from them, taking the disciples, and conducted discussions every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord. … After sending to Macedonia two of those who assisted him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself [Paul] stayed in Asia for a while.  About that time there was a major disturbance about the Way.

We find that this term, the Way of God, or the Way, was simply becoming shorthand for the teaching about Messiah and the kingdom of God. Paul even uses this terminology in his defense before Felix when he was accused of the Jewish leaders of leading a rebellion.

Acts 24:14, 22 – But this I admit to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the law or written in the prophets… Since Felix was well informed about the Way, he adjourned the hearing, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.”

The Way was considered a sect within Judaism at that time, the way of worshiping the God of the Bible in truth according to all of Torah. Paul saw no conflict in this understanding, and struggled to convey this over-arching unity of purpose to his fellow countrymen, along with his detractors.

Acts 24:24-25 – Several days later, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and listened to him on the subject of faith in Messiah Yeshua. Now as he spoke about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix became afraid and replied, “Leave for now, but when I have an opportunity I’ll call for you.”

So we can see from this brief review that the Way of God consisted of faith in Messiah Yeshua, the law and the prophets, righteousness and self-control as disciplines, and the warning of impending judgment on those who would not believe.  These are all aspects of the Yeshua’s life and teaching; hence he is the Way.

Coming full circle to our verse in Proverbs 3:5-6 today, we can see that leaning solely on our own understanding can lead us astray. When we place our trust in Yahweh, we are thereby placing our faith in the law and the prophets, the practices of righteousness and self control, and the teachings of Yeshua as his Messiah. The “pleasant paths” that Yahweh leads us on are considered the Way of God, the message of the kingdom, and the hope of rest. Though the narrow way may be restricted and difficult, in the end it is considered a pleasant path to the alternative of striving through the “trackless waste” of the wilderness without God. However, when we choose to acknowledge him “in all our ways,” we demonstrate we are trusting in him with all of our heart, and he will lead us instead in that pleasant Way, the Way of the Messiah, the Way of God.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Guarding the source of life

The Proverbs provide a template for guarding our hearts against wickedness.

Vigilance in the believer’s life takes intentional thought and effort, which is why it is likely so rarely witnessed. GK Chesterton is quoted as saying “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

Proverbs 4:23 – Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life.

“Keeping” of one’s heart means to guard, watch and observe. The word for vigilance implies confinement and custody as if imprisoned with a posted guard.

In the Bible, the heart has extreme value; it is the inmost person, the repository of all influence and insight. According to Solomon throughout his Proverbs, the qualities surrounding the heart demonstrate why it is so important to guard and watch over it.

  • 2:2 the heart can be pointed to understanding
  • 3:1 the heart keeps commandments
  • 3:3 instruction is written on the heart
  • 3:5 the heart is the root of trust in Yahweh
  • 4:4 the heart holds onto instruction
  • 6:21 instruction is to be bound and tied to the heart
  • 7:3 instruction can be engraved there
  • 23:12 the heart is the place of discipline
  • 23:15 the heart is the place of wisdom
  • 23:17 the heart can envy sin
  • 23:19 the heart can be directed
  • 23:26 the heart can be given (submitted to truth)
  • 24:17 it is the place of secretive emotion
  • 27:23 the heart is the source of attention

With the centrality and potential influence of the heart in all of these things, it is little wonder that the heart is something to be guarded, confined, and watched over with all vigilance. 4:23 sums up the essence of the heart when it says, “from it flow the springs of life.”

A clean spring is an enviable source of fresh water in a culture of the desert. If the heart is the source of this type of refreshing and nourishing life, then all of the things mentioned in the context of the heart must be central to ensuring the righteous life experience: instruction, commands, discipline, wisdom, truth, focus, and trust in Yahweh.

Proverbs 25:26 – Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who falters or slips before the wicked.

The vigilance required in keeping the heart safe and pure is a safeguard against the wickedness that is encountered in this world. If one gives in to the destructive perversions around them, they have relinquished the safe-guarding of their heart. In that instance, their heart then becomes as a muddy spring or a polluted fountain, good for nothing but casting up mire and dirt. It no longer has the ability to refresh or nourish anyone or anything.

If we treat the commands and instruction of our heavenly Father as Solomon asked of his own son to follow his parents’ commands, we have a template for guarding our hearts against all wickedness we may encounter.

Proverbs 6:20-23 – My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart always; tie them about your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life…


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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Becoming a lighthouse of integrity on the foundation of God’s wisdom

For thousands of years, the wisdom of God has successfully guided the righteous.

Proverbs 4:18-19 – The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday. But the way of the wicked is like the darkest gloom; they don’t know what makes them stumble.

When we as believers are operating from a place of integrity, the way through situational obscurity can become clear. When we are obligated to do what’s right, there are limited actions, if not a singular course of action, available to us.

But how do we know what’s right? If we keep to the context of this proverbial wisdom, we find that wisdom is the key. Throughout the various chapters of Proverbs, we see they are based on a father who is imparting wisdom to a young child.

Proverbs 4:10-13 – Listen, my son. Accept my words, and you will live many years. I am teaching you the way of wisdom; I am guiding you on straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction; don’t let go. Guard it, for it is your life.

The key to “not stumbling” through life is to have a repository of wisdom from which to draw insight and understanding. We all must have some sort of foundational knowledge that serves to uphold our decision making processes. In ancient times, this was the common practice for parents to pass on to their children.

Proverbs 4:3-6 – When I was a son with my father, tender and precious to my mother, he taught me and said: “Your heart must hold on to my words. Keep my commands and live. “Get wisdom, get understanding; don’t forget or turn away from the words from my mouth. “Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will guard you.

In today’s information-overloaded life, parents struggle to not only find their own way but to successfully impart any type of personal wisdom to their children. There are so many sources of opinion that are available on any topic these days that newer generations are being involuntarily raised by the collective angst of a worldwide mentorship. Rather than having an historically based heritage of proven familial insights, they are basing decisions by the shallow opinion of a hollow, aggregate new orthodoxy.

As believing parents, we need to caution our children that “the way of the wicked is like the darkest gloom; they don’t know what makes them stumble.” Even to declare today that anything, or anyone, could be wicked is in itself a transgression against this neo-orthodoxy of popular opinion. However, a biblical worldview does not hesitate to name wickedness and foolishness, along with righteousness and the source of all true wisdom.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 2:3-9 – furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of Yahweh and discover the knowledge of God. For Yahweh gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up success for the upright; He is a shield for those who live with integrity so that he may guard the paths of justice and protect the way of his faithful followers. Then you will understand righteousness, justice, and integrity ​– ​every good path.

The “good path” of integrity springs from a heart formed with true wisdom. The Bible teaches that wisdom comes from Yahweh. For thousands of years, the wisdom of God has successfully guided the righteous, and been faithfully passed to their children to provide them the right way amidst the chaos of their respective generations.

An ancient Hebraic proverb states: “Those who fear the Lord will form true judgments, and they will kindle righteous deeds like a light.” Our proverb today is filled with a similar sentiment: “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday.” Yeshua also taught that righteous deeds of integrity can shine amidst a world of darkness that does not know God, and that the doing of those good and righteous deeds can provide a beacon of hope for others.

Matthew 5:14-16 – You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The holiness of fidelity

Our holiness is maintained when we keep our focus on God and his word, seeking to be filled with his spirit.

It is the very definition of irony then a meaningful lesson on fidelity should come from the hand of Solomon who is famous for seducing a multiplicity of women in the later years of his reign as king over Israel. Yet, who better to warn of danger than one who has seeing the depths of disobedience?

In giving instruction to his son, Solomon yearns to instill in the young mind of his child the significance of remaining faithful to one’s spouse.

Proverbs 5:18-19: “Let your spring be blessed. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe and a graceful deer— let her breasts satisfy you at all times. Be captivated always with her love.”

This type of love for one’s spouse, Solomon says, should be one that is captivating. The word itself has broader meanings to include exhilaration, or intoxication, or being led away by your senses. Different Bible versions may make use of some of those various terms.

  • may you ever be intoxicated with her love
  • always be enraptured with her love
  • be exhilarated always with her love
  • be lost in her love forever

But as strongly as Solomon urges to maintain that feeling with one’s spouse, he equally cautions his son to avoid that feeling with another. This leads us to understand how Solomon may have been let astray by so many women in his later years.

Proverbs 5:20: “For why should you, my son, be captivated [exhilarated, intoxicated, enraptured] with an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another?”

This same term for captivation, exhilaration, or intoxication is also used as the end result of the one who experiences this type of relationship indiscriminately with others, or who stops listening to the words of knowledge.

Proverbs 5:23: “He will die for lack of instruction. In the greatness of his folly, he will go astray [be lost, be captivated or intoxicated].”
Proverbs 19:27: “If you stop listening to instruction, my son, you will stray [be lost, captivated, intoxicated] from the words of knowledge.”

It’s as if the desires and lusts of this world are represented as a villainous folk-tale witch, casting a spell on the prince who yields to her ways, leading him in a haze and stupor, oblivious to the reality of the world around him.

This is why Yeshua also urged extreme caution around others that one is not married to. This captivation or intoxication can easily cause one to stray from the path of righteousness.

Matthew 5:27-28: “”You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery;” but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Holiness is about maintaining a clear head, a mind focused on the instruction of God, and an obedient and thankful heart filled with his spirit.

Ephesians 5:18-20: ” Don’t be drunken [intoxicated] with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing, and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father…”

If we keep our focus on God and his word, seeking to be filled with his spirit, only then we can avoid in the distraction, captivation, and intoxication of worldliness. This is how we maintain our fidelity and our holiness before him.

1 John 2:16-17: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, isn’t the Father’s, but is the world’s. The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God’s will remains forever.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Guarded by integrity

Doing the right thing is usually doing the simplest thing.

Psalm 25:21: “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.”

Proverbs 13:6: “Righteousness guards the way of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.”

Individual integrity is a theme that runs throughout scripture, and is a primary focus of the Wisdom literature of the Bible. A contemporary English definition of integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” But it also conveys the wholeness of something, as in solidarity or unified strength, or soundness of construction.

The biblical definition has similar overtones of wholeness, but comes from a root word meaning “complete or finished.” In this sense, integrity is a characteristic that demonstrates maturity and simplicity, as something that is complete is not complex; it is a fully integrated wholeness, and therefore unified and simple.

As this term is explored in scripture, those who exhibit this characteristic of integrity are shielded from wrong paths. The integrity they have actually influences their ability to withstand the ebb and flow of ethical morality that swirls around them every day. In Psalm 25:21, the David wrote that integrity and uprightness preserves him. In Proverbs 13:6, Solomon writes that “righteousness guards the way of integrity.” Like father, like son. This principle can be seen being passed generationally in these great documents of the faith.

The same root word is used in these passages which has the meaning “to preserve, watch, guard, or keep.” Those who act with integrity are kept from wrong action; it’s as if their integrity actually shields them from wrong paths.

Proverbs 2:6-8: “For Yahweh gives wisdom. Out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He lays up sound wisdom for the upright. He is a shield to those who walk in integrity; that he may guard the paths of justice, and preserve the way of his saints.”

The simplicity of this principle is often overlooked due to the many complex issues we face in our current era, and the multitude of ethical choices available to us at any given point in time. However, Yahweh himself maintains and watches over the way of those who demonstrate integrity. As we follow his knowledge and understanding, we mature. And as we grow in the completeness of our integrity, we find that the right thing to do is typically a very simple thing, and we will be guarded in the doing of it by the One who is glorified in it.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Goodness and blessing follow those who trust in God and his word

Goodness and happiness are not rights as some would contend, but a privilege. They are a privilege afforded to those who trust in God, who abide by his word.

He who wisely heeds the word will find good; whoever trusts in Yahweh, happy is he.

Proverbs 16:20

One of the things that I find fascinating about the Proverbs is their construction. Sometimes the proverb will highlight a contrast; other times it will provide two supporting statements, both saying the same thing but stated differently for emphasis. In this case, this proverb falls into the latter category.

The admonition of this proverb involves paying attention to or heeding the word of God. The emphasis is stated in the second half of the proverb so that the halves can be equated. One who heeds the word is equated with trusting in Yahweh. The attainment or finding of good is equated with being blessed or happy. Therefore, trusting in Yahweh by heeding his word will result in good, blessing and happiness.

Most people seek to have this hope of goodness and happiness as much as possible in their lives. However, goodness and happiness are not rights as some would contend, but a privilege. According to this verse, these are a privilege afforded to those who trust in God, who abide by his word. This is not a guarantee in every single situation, but a theme or pattern that will prevail in the lives of those who trust in him.

If this equation is true, then highlighting the opposite carries a logical conclusion, as well. Those who do not heed God’s word will not find good; whoever does not trust in God will not be happy. This also does not mean that they will never experience any good or any happiness, but these will not be the predominant characteristics of their lives.

Coming openly to God’s word we are confronted with his power and majesty, a mighty Creator who guides the nations. Established as the ultimate authority over his Creation, and demonstrating this in vivid detail with his people time after time, we are drawn into a vivid understanding that he is worthy of our trust, respect, and honor. We see how his purposes are designed for the good of his people, not their harm. His word therefore fosters our trust.

But we are also struck with the reality of those who disobey his instruction, and they do so at their own peril. Many times their disregard for the wisdom of God brings their misfortune back on their own heads.

The more we remain in his word and seek to understand his will, the more our lives are characterized by the goodness and blessing that he seeks to provide us when we place our trust in him.

Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.