October 8—Destruction’s Pit
Read Psalm 40: 1–2
Imagine you are walking through mud so thick and deep that you can hardly walk. Your feet skid and sink, and the heavy mud cakes on your shoes until you lose them altogether: they stay stuck when you wrench your feet free. Now imagine you’re staggering through mud like that at the bottom of dark, dank pit. The walls of the pit are made of the same slimy mud! How will you ever get out? The psalmist begins Psalm 40 by remembering a time in his life in which he was stuck in a deep, muddy pit. This pit was not a physical pit: he was trapped in the terrible, slippery pit of sin. Sin is deceitful, you see: the devil, the world, and our own sinful hearts continually lie to us, attempting to convince us that what God has called evil is actually good. The psalmist had turned aside to sin’s lies, and now he was in trouble. So what does he do? He cries to Jehovah, and then he patiently waits for the Lord to help him.
In what sin are you trapped today? What lies are you tempted to believe? Pray to Jehovah, and he will help you.
Sing or pray Psalter #111.
October 9—Master of Disguise
Read Hebrews 3:12–13
How does our three-fold enemy deceive us? By disguising sin. This is a poem that I wrote after reading Chapter 5 of John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation. The “he” in this poem is sin. As you read it, see if you can decipher the different ways he would deceive you.
First, he’d have you believe his Demise is actually a probability
—which it isn’t, though at times you chose to believe it, scraping
by as you are on your own self-righteousness and quasi-strength.
If playing dead doesn’t work, there’s Dissimulation—slander
masquerades as concern, pride plays as prudence. You’re convinced
your heart is cleaner, too: in reality, it’s only more cunning.
Then there’s his intent to maintain an appearance of Dignity—
to persuade you that as long as you present a sedate
exterior, the wickedness within is of no consequence.
If you rally on one front, he will attack another; you celebrate
at the northern border, only to be conquered from the west,
sin’s servant still—your master has merely Diverted.
At your periodic disgust or pain-fueled determination, he may
withdraw under pretense of defeat: but Discontinuous will strike
as soon as your alert abates, in full strength to seek your death.
Sing or pray Psalter #111.
October 10—Upon the Rock
Read Psalm 61:1–2
When the psalmist is deceived by sin and trapped in its pit, he cries to Jehovah to help him. The Lord doesn’t just pull him out of the pit and set him on the dry ground near its mouth: he brings him to the top of a cliff that offers a breathtaking view. That’s what Psalm 40:2 refers to when it reads, “and set my feet upon a rock.”
The Bible speaks often of this mighty rock on which the righteous stand. We’ve already read of the rock in Psalms 18, 27, 28, and 31. The New Testament confirms that rock is Christ. He is the rock in the wilderness from which flows living water (John 4). He is the cornerstone on which his church is built, the rock cut without hands that will crush the nations and grow to fill the earth. To those who seek to merit righteousness by the works of the law, he is a rock of offence. But whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed (Rom 9:32–33). Do you hear his words and do them? Then you are like a wise man, who built his house upon the rock (Matt. 7:24).
Sing or pray Psalter #111.
October 11—A Cliff with a Breathtaking View
Read 1 Peter 1:1–9
Rocky Mountain National Park lies just west of our home. As you drive along its winding roads, clinging to mountainsides and climbing to more than 12,000 feet in elevation, you see some breathtaking views. When we stand on the rock who is Christ, we are given an eternal view. That perspective enables us to look beyond our troubles and temptations to the glory that awaits God’s saints. It’s the view of “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4).
That eternal view was the hope of Old Testament saints who endured physical pits. When he reflected on the evil his brothers had done to him, Joseph said, “But God meant it unto good…to save much people alive” (Gen. 50:20). Jeremiah extolled the Lord’s faithfulness and confessed, “Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee…thou hast redeemed my life” (Lam 3:57–58). And Daniel was given a vision of the day when, “The Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” (Dan 7:22). Is that the breathtaking view on which you set your gaze?
Sing or pray Psalter #36.
October 12—Many Shall See
Read Psalm 40:1–3
Jehovah lifts the psalmist out of a horrible pit and sets him on the mountaintop that is Christ. But he doesn’t leave him there alone: he establishes his goings, makes his steps secure. Do you remember 37:23a: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord?” What about Psalm 17:5: “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not”? “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). It’s when you and I succumb to sin’s deceit that we fall back into destruction’s pit. Let’s pray for sure footing today.
Jehovah does something else for the psalmist: he puts a new song of praise in his mouth. The psalmist has been filled with the Spirit, and his gratitude for what God has done for him spills from him in song. Let’s also pray today that being filled with the Spirit, we might speak to ourselves “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:19–20).
Sing or pray Psalter #311.
October 13—Exhort One Another
Read Colossians 3:12–25
God saves the psalmist from a horrible pit, and his gratitude spills from him in a new song. Others observe these things, are filled with holy reverence for the Lord, and put their trust in him.
We live in an individualistic and self-centered society. But Jesus saves us as parts of a body. You and I must use our experiences of sin and deliverance and our praise of God to encourage and build up our fellow saints. Negatively, that means that we must reprove our brothers and sisters who have been deceived by sin: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:12–13). Positively, we must follow the commands that we just read in Col. 3:15–16: “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…”
Sing or pray Psalter #112.
October 14—Love My Children
Read 1 John 4
As a mother, the expressions of kindness that I find most touching are not intended for me: they are directed toward my children. Nothing pleases me more than seeing someone go out of their way to engage my children in conversation, comfort them when they’re hurt, or encourage them when they are dejected. The same is true of God: he delights in those who love their fellow saints, his children. “If a man say, ‘I love God,’ and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20).
We’re called first of all to love those of his children who are closest to us. If you’re married, that person is your spouse. I read once that Christians who are married should think of God not only as their heavenly Father, but also as their heavenly Father-in-law, who is most delighted when they love their spouses— his sons or daughters— well. Yesterday we considered our calling to exhort, teach, and admonish one another. It’s important that we do those things in love and humility, “in honour preferring one another” (Rom 12:10). That kind of fervent love “shall cover the multitude of sins” and be the defining characteristic by which all men will know that we are Jesus’ disciples (John 13:35).
Sing or pray Psalter #370.
October 15—“Look at me!”
Read Psalm 40:1–4
Imagine you’re talking to a friend or your mom or dad. You want their full attention, but they’re preoccupied, so you demand, “Look at me!” Now suppose that they’re preoccupied because they’re driving on an interstate highway. The speed limit is 75 mph, and looking at you may mean that they veer into the other lane of traffic and cause a deadly car wreck. In that situation it would be best that they not look at you, wouldn’t it?
The man who penned Psalm 40 says this about the one who observes his experiences and consequently trusts the Lord: that person doesn’t respect the proud. The idea of that phrase is that the believer doesn’t look at the proud, he doesn’t turn to face them. He’s like the person driving down the freeway: the sinful actions of proud men are in the passenger seat, begging his full attention. Their images are plastered on the billboards that line the highway, but he refuses to avert his eyes from the road in front him. Is that the intensity with which you’re focused on the path to heaven, or do you respect the proud?
Sing or pray Psalter # 108.
October 16—Those Who Turn Aside to Lies
Read Proverbs 30:1–9
Psalm 40:4 defines “the proud”: they are those who turn aside to lies. Several months ago we considered the truth that at the root of every sin is pride. That pride comes to expression when in the belief that men have the right to determine for themselves what they may or may not do, what is good and what is evil. The proud are not only endlessly deceived by sin; they delight in propagating sin’s lies as well. Have you ever watched a dog frantically zig-zag from one side of a trail to the other, lured first by one scent and then another? That’s what Christians are like when they follow after those who turn aside to lies. Don’t chase those who are intent on empty pursuits! Instead, make the earnest prayer of Proverbs 30:8 your own: “Remove far from me vanity and lies.” And when you’re tempted to give them your attention–at work, at school, or online–grip the steering wheel and refuse to turn your head.
What characterizes those who don’t respect the proud or such as turn aside to lies? They are blessed: that is, happy.
Sing or pray Psalter #108.
October 17—God’s Precious Thoughts
Read Isaiah 55
The psalmist’s recollection of God’s deliverance prompts him to praise: instead of speaking about God in the third person, he addresses him directly in Psalm 40:5. Imagine you are lying outside under a starry sky, echoing his praise to God. First praise God for his works in history and creation. He “alone spreadeth out the heavens…which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades.” He alone “doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number” (Job 9:8–10). Then praise God for the thoughts that drive his counsel: they are thoughts of peace toward his people. To our human minds, the value of those thoughts is incalculable. Nor can they “be reckoned up in order”; like the stars, they are innumerable.
Since God cannot be comprehended, should we be silent? No! “My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof” (Ps. 71:15).
Sing or pray Psalter #112.
October 18—From Deliverance to Dedication
Read Psalm 40:5–10
The psalmist’s deliverance leads to dedication: he commits himself to the service of his Lord. Though he lived in the Old Testament, he recognized that outward sacrifices were no substitute for obedience. God delights in the praise of repentant, obedient people: “O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God…Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips” (Hos. 14:1–2). The psalmist also recognized that his open ears and willing heart were God’s work. He could say with Isaiah, “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear…” (Is. 50:4–5).
Jesus often used this exhortation to obedience: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15). Have you been given ears to hear? Then “by [Jesus] therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Heb. 13:15).
Sing or pray Psalter #109.
October 19—To Obey is Better
Read 1 Samuel 15
In 1 Samuel 15 God through Samuel commissions Saul to fight Amalek. He commands Saul to kill every Amalekite and all of their animals, but Saul spares the Amalekite king as well as the best of their herds. When Samuel confronts him regarding his disobedience, Saul insists that he spared the sheep and oxen to sacrifice them to the Lord. Samuel replies, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (v. 22b).
You and I are just like Saul. Instead of cleaning up our bedrooms when we’re told, we decide to draw a picture for Mom instead. We refuse to ditch the grudges we hold toward a brother or sister, but we ease our consciences by volunteering to teach Sunday school. We won’t stop gossiping, but we try to compensate by preparing meals for fellow church members. We don’t stop looking at pornography, but we think that the long hours we put in at work will make up for it. Dear Christian, our obedience must be total, immediate, and from the heart; otherwise it is no obedience at all. When you’re tempted to disobey today and sacrifice instead, remember: to obey is better.
Sing or pray Psalter #109.
October 20—All of Me
Read Romans 12:1–2
We recently read Leviticus 8 recently in our family devotions. In verses 22–23 of that chapter, Moses dips his finger in the blood of the ram of consecration and puts it on the tip of Aaron’s right ear, the thumb of his right hand, and the great toe of his right foot. That passage elicited some amused glances around our table, but the picture that is makes is a beautiful one. That ceremony symbolized that as a priest, all of Aaron was consecrated for God’s service. He must be ready to hear and obey Jehovah’s word and willing to fulfill the holy duties of his office.
We who live in the New Testament have been anointed to be priests by the Holy Spirit. We’re called to present all of ourselves as living sacrifices of thankfulness to Christ, our high priest, “who by the one sacrifice of his body has redeemed us, and makes continual intercession with the Father for us” (Heidelberg Catechism, L. D. 12). Be mindful today that your hearing, your willing, what you do, and where you go all belong to Christ. All of you has been consecrated to his service.
Sing or pray Psalter #109.
October 21—Ears Dug Out
Read Exodus 21:1–6
Several of the commentaries that I use noted that Psalm 40:6b–“Mine ears hast thou opened”–can be translated literally this way: “Two ears thou hast dug out for me.” You and I are not only priests, we are slaves! Like the man in Exodus 21, we’ve been brought before the judge by our master, Jesus Christ. There he bored our ears through with an awl: we shall serve him forever. To confess that Jesus is Lord is to confess that he owns you. You must obey him in everything.
The beautiful paradox is that one who belongs to Christ is free. Free from the curse. Free from sin. Free to obey God. 1 Corinthians 7:22–23 puts it this way: “He that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” Knowing this, and knowing that “your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19–20).
Sing or pray Psalter #109.
October 22—Dedication with Direction
Read Isaiah 51:1–16
The psalmist has been delivered, and in gratitude he dedicates his life to Jehovah’s service. That dedication is not without direction: he knows God’s law. That law is written in two places: in the scriptures and on his heart.
Sometimes Christians deceived by sin can convince themselves that they have dedicated their lives to God, but they don’t follow his direction. They deny that they’re owned by Christ, deciding instead to do things their own way. These allow the fear of man to dictate their decisions, and they are able to convince themselves that they can determine how God should be worshipped and which parts of the scriptures apply to them and which are obsolete. This perspective becomes apparent when those who call themselves Christians ordain female office-bearers or condone homosexual activity. But “dedication without direction is delusion.” Only the man who delights to do God’s will, whatever the cost, has truly dedicated himself to the Lord. To them God says, “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings” (Isa. 51:7).
Sing or pray Psalter #325.
October 23—You Don’t Need to Pray That
Read 2 Timothy 2
Several months ago two young men rang our doorbell on a Sunday afternoon. They were Mormons, and they had one request for us. Receive a free copy of the book of Mormon and pray that God would reveal to us whether or not it is true. They became flustered when my husband refused. “I don’t need to pray that,” he said. “Scripture is sufficient. In fact, Jesus taught that anyone who adds to it or subtracts from it will go to hell.”
Those who have God’s law written on their hearts pray according to his will. Are you wondering whether it’s God’s will that you accept a retail position that requires you to work on Sunday? You don’t need to ask him that: he commands us to keep the Sabbath day holy. Are you wondering whether it’s God’s will that you date an attractive but unbelieving acquaintance? You don’t need to ask him that either: he commands that we marry—and therefore date—only in the Lord.
When we rightly divide God’s word and pray according to his will as revealed therein, we can be confident that our prayers are heard (1 John 5:14).
Sing or pray Psalter #325.
October 24—The Vow of the King
Read Hebrews 10:1–18
In Deuteronomy 17 God commanded that the future kings of Israel read in the book of the law all the days of their lives, “That [they] may learn to fear the Lord…to keep all the words of this law and these statues, to do them.” For that reason, some commentators designate Psalm 40 a royal psalm, attributing the psalmist’s vow as a response to that command. Hebrews 10 makes it clear that the words of Psalm 40 are the words of the King, for it finds its fullest meaning in Jesus’ incarnation as our high priest. By his singular offering we are sanctified. “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,’ said the Lord, ‘I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them’” (vv.15-16).
Jesus is superior to any other: not only did the law instruct him, it foretold him! There remains in you and me the law of sin that wars against our delight in the law of God, but he delighted in God’s will perfectly and fully. Praise him!
Sing or pray Psalter #109.
October 25 – From Praise to Prayer
Read Psalm 40
Psalm 40 begins with psalmist’s recounting of God’s deliverance from a horrible pit. That memory inspires praise, praise that was perfectly fulfilled in Jesus, who delighted to do God’s will. In verse 11 the focus of the psalmist shifts from praise to prayer. He bases his prayer on the truth that God is merciful. “Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me,” he pleads.
What is God’s mercy? We tend to equate mercy with pity—pity that we desperately need. But God is first merciful in himself. Before pity, mercy is “the desire to see someone happy and blessed” (Doctrine According to Godliness). God in his perfect being desires his eternal blessedness and glory above all. God’s mercy is powerful, and it is definite: he has mercy on his elect, and them he saves (Rom. 9:15).
What has caused the psalmist to so suddenly implore God’s mercy? Contrition for his sins, which he acknowledges are more than the hairs of his head. Have your iniquities taken hold of you today? “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” (Prov. 16:6).
Sing or pray Psalter #110.
October 26—Two Kinds of Vessels
Read Rom. 9:14–32
The Psalmist begins his prayer in Psalm 40:11 by pleading the Lord’s mercy. He pleads that Jehovah will once again deliver him, and then he makes this two-fold request: he asks Jehovah to punish his enemies and to bless his fellow saints. Do you remember that God’s mercy is above all a desire for his own eternal blessedness and glory? God is glorified in the redemption of his elect (Isa. 49:3) and in the judgement that he brings upon the reprobate (Ez. 28:22). That’s not a popular teaching today, but it’s the truth. Just as God raised up Pharaoh to show his power in him, that his name “might be declared throughout all the earth,” so, too, he uses the wicked today. And a day is coming when he will exalt Jesus Christ, who delighted to do his will, before them all as judge. Then “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:11).
What a comforting truth to all those who are in Christ Jesus!
Sing or pray Psalter #137.
October 27—Magnify the Lord
Read Acts 19:1–20
How does the psalmist desire that the righteous be blessed? He wants them to say continually,
“The Lord be magnified.” What does it mean to magnify Jehovah? Well, a magnifying glass makes something small look big. As sinful human beings, we tend to make God smaller than what he is. We minimize his greatness and instead vainly attempt to glorify ourselves. The psalmist wants God’s people always and forever “to feel, think, and act in a way that will make God look as great as he really is” (Piper). In Acts 19, the name of Jesus is magnified by the fruit that the gospel produces in the lives of the Ephesians. One of the fruits that magnifies God is worship (see Ps. 29). Another fruit that magnifies him is gratitude. Psalm 69:30–31 reads, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.” We noticed just a few days ago that to obey is better than sacrifice. To be grateful is better, too!
“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (Ps. 34:3).
Sing or pray Psalter #110.
October 28—The Lord Thinks on Me
Read Psalm 139
Eleven days ago, we considered God’s precious thoughts: they are as innumerable as the stars. Since I wrote that meditation, our family vacationed in the San Juan mountains. My husband and I watched the Perseid meteor shower there in a night sky so clear and vast that the misty arc of Milky Way seemed closer than the trail of smoke from our own campfire. As we sat there with our necks craned back, I thought of Psalm 40:17 with awe. Not only do God’s thoughts direct all of history and creation, and not only are they thoughts of peace toward his people as a whole: Jehovah thinks on me. Me. Poor and needy me. His thoughts are “thoughts from all eternity, thoughts of my fall, my restoration, my redemption, my conversion, my pardon, my upholding, my perfecting, my eternal reward; the list is too long for writing, and the value of the mercies too great for estimation” (Spurgeon).
“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand” (Ps. 139:17–18).
Sing or pray Psalter #387.
October 29—A Broad View
Read Psalm 41
While in the San Juans, we took a jeep trail to a remote mountain basin. I put a wide angle-lens on my camera, intent on capturing as much of the view as I could in a single photograph. The man next to me took out his macro lens and stooped to capture the detail of the columbine flower at his feet. We considered Psalm 40 through a macro lens; today we’re going to look at Psalm 41 with a wide-angle one.
The psalmist first declares that the man who cares for the poor is blessed. “Whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:18). He then pleads for forgiveness, describes his evil enemies, and recounts the painful treachery of his “own familiar friend.” Jesus again speaks clearly in this psalm. He cares for his people in their spiritual poverty. Though sinless himself, he endured the great burden of the sins of his elect, and he was betrayed by his own disciple. But God raised him from the dead and has highly exalted him. Blessed be Jehovah from everlasting, and to everlasting!
Sing or pray Psalter #113.
October 30—Not the Holiday You Might Think (1)
Read Ephesians 5:1–21
Tomorrow, October 31, is a holiday. Do you know what holiday? Most people refer to the day as “Halloween.” Halloween originated before Jesus’ birth as part of a pagan festival. Later, a pope moved the Roman Catholic “All Hallowed Evening” to coincide with the festival. Eventually, “All Hallowed Evening” was condensed to “Halloween” and came to the U.S. along with immigrants in the 1800s. In recent decades Halloween has become a multi-billion dollar industry, a day that more and more adults are celebrating. On the surface Halloween may seem fun and harmless, but at heart it celebrates death, the just and terrible punishment for sin. What a horror.
Ephesians 5:8–12 reads, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.” Paul originally wrote those inspired words to the Ephesians, who had once practiced pagan magic but burned their books in response to the gospel (Acts 19). What’s your response to the gospel? Will you spend tomorrow celebrating darkness or walking as a child of light?
Sing or pray Psalter #128.
October 31—Not the Holiday You Might Think (2)
Read Acts 17:15–34
October 31 is a day of opportunities. The apostle Paul took advantage of the altar on Mars Hill to preach Jesus Christ. We can take advantage of Halloween’s fascination with the morbid to witness to our neighbors: death and the grave are real, but those who know Christ need not fear, for he has conquered both. We have the opportunity to teach our children that Satan is not a character dressed in red and sporting horns, but a very real and powerful adversary who prowls like a lion–yet he is a lion whose head our King has crushed. We also have the opportunity to teach our children about the Reformation, which, in God’s providence, was instigated by Martin Luther on October 31. We can tell them that thanks to God’s work through the Reformers, we are free from heresies that teach that we must work or even pay money in an attempt to justify ourselves before the holy God.
Today is a day we can dedicate to remembering our God’s faithfulness to His saints throughout history and His preservation of the glorious Word that saves us from this dark night of sin. Today is a holiday: it’s Reformation Day.
Sing or pray Psalter #128.
November 1—The Beginning of Knowledge
Read Proverbs 1:1–19
We end our public worship services by singing a doxology, “a brief ascription of praise to God…and an expression of his infinite nature.” Psalm 41 concluded with a doxology as well: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.” That doxology not only marked the end of Psalm 41: it concluded Book 1 of the five books of Psalms. Before we begin Book 2, we’re going to spend two months in the book of Proverbs.
My children and I read from the book of Proverbs every day. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, and most months have 31 days. Each morning we read part of the chapter that corresponds to the date. When we are finished reading, all but the youngest children select part of the passage and apply it to daily life or ask for clarification regarding its meaning. My verse for today is verse seven. I pray that you desire to grow in wisdom. Know that the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of all wisdom. Do not despise the instruction of your godly parents, and take heed to the proverbs we will consider in the days ahead: they will impart to you knowledge and discretion.
Sing or pray Psalter #322.
November 2—Seek Her as Silver
Read Proverbs 2:1–9
How do you approach your reading and studying of God’s word? What about your catechism or Sunday school lessons? Jehovah gives wisdom to those who earnestly desire it: “He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6). That’s why the wise writer of Proverbs enjoins us to seek wisdom like a man searches for silver (Heb. 11:6).
The San Juan mountains are mining country. While we were there we heard stories about men who gave their lives for silver and gold. There is a chapter in the Bible that speaks about mining. In Job 28:1–11 Job describes the work of the miner in the dark, deep recesses of the earth, and then he says, “Where can wisdom be found, and where is understanding located? It cannot be found in the land of the living; neither gold nor silver can be exchanged for it. But God understands the way to wisdom: he knows its location. And unto man he says, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding’ (Job 28:28).
Would you give your life to seek so great a treasure?
Sing or pray Psalter #40.
November 3—Jehovah’s Chastening
Read Proverbs 3:1–20
How does God chasten us? My study Bible notes that “The Hebrew word, ‘chasten,’ is also translated ‘instruction’ (Prov. 8:33), ‘correction’ (Prov. 22:15), and ‘rebuke’ (Hos. 5:2). We’re chastened not only through difficult circumstances, but also by the very word of God, which is living, “and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
We tend to respond to any kind of rebuke in pride. But we must “hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not” (Prov. 8:33). Jehovah chastens as many as he loves: that is, all of his elect (Rev. 3:19). His chastening yields the fruits of peace or righteousness in its recipients (Heb 12:11). It ensures that they will not be condemned with the world (1 Cor. 11:32). Therefore, “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: for whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Prov. 3:11–12).
Sing or pray Psalter #329.
November 4—With All Your Getting
Read Proverbs 4:1–13
What are your plans for today? My day is going to be spent washing clothes and dishes, preparing and cleaning up food, changing diapers, and storybook reading. The day will be full of activity from sun-up to sun-down for my husband, too, full of the work that provides for our family, full of the production and acquisition of goods we will shortly consume. Here’s a text to consider as we begin this day: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” In other words, you and I should “be more in care and take more pains” to get wisdom than anything else (Henry).
Fathers, as you work today, be mindful of Ecclesiastes 7:12: Wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense, but wisdom is better: it “giveth life to them that have it.” Dear mothers, so quick to be troubled about many things, make time for the one thing needful today (Luke 10:42). And children and young people, as you go about your day, muse on Mark 8:36: “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
Sing or pray Psalter #339.
November 5—Obey Your Teachers
Read Proverbs 5:1–14
The wise father pleads with his son to heed his instruction in Proverbs 5. He tells him to flee fornication, and warns him that if doesn’t listen, at the end of his life, when his money and his body have been squandered, this will be his lament: “How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!” (vv. 12-13).
We live in a day in which submission to authority is rare. This shouldn’t surprise us. 2 Tim. 3:1–2 alerts us: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…” Children and young people, do you honor your mother and father? What about your teacher or teachers? Adults, are you willing to heed the instruction of others? Do you submit yourself willingly to those in authority over you? If your answer to those questions is yes, this promise is yours: your days will be long in the heavenly land which the Lord your God will give you (Ex. 20:12b).
Sing or pray Psalter #215.
November 6—Do You Need an Overseer?
Read Proverbs 6:1–15
Solomon praises the ant in 6:6–8. He does so in order to instruct the sluggard, the slothful, the slacker. How responsibly do you employ your time and talents? Do you always need someone looking over your shoulder, keeping you on task, holding you accountable? The ants don’t need a guide, overseer, or ruler: they are diligent even when no one’s watching, and so they have provision when they need. But “an idle soul shall suffer hunger” (Prov. 15:19b). Not only that: he will stand before God to give account for his indolence.
We’re warned throughout Scripture not to be slothful, but to redeem our time and talents for the benefit of others and to the glory of God. Do you remember Jesus’ parable of the unprofitable servant? The man who buried his talent in the ground was cast into hell (Matt. 25:30). So I beseech you, brethren, “that ye increase more and more; and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing” (1 Thess. 4:10-12).
Sing or pray Psalter #90.
November 7—Thanksgiving Instead
Read Proverbs 7
The book of Proverbs is replete with warnings against sexual sin. Sadly, sexual sins define our society. Thanks to television, the Internet, and filthy literature, the accessibility to pornography and all sorts of perversions in our day is unsurpassed. Men, do not be like the youth “void of understanding.” Don’t frequent the house–literal or figurative–of the immoral woman. Young women, do not take your cues from her: the godly woman is not brazen, loud, stubborn, or flirtatious.
At the heart, sexual sin is covetousness, and covetousness is idolatry. When we wander in that way, we show that we’ve been deceived by the lie that God isn’t our greatest need: sex is. But the cost of sexual sin is high: the price is that of your life. How do we keep ourselves from straying down that deadly path? By heeding to God’s Word and by displacing the covetousness in our hearts with thankfulness: “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks” (Eph. 5:3–4).
Sing or pray Psalter #330.