1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
5 A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
6 The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings ruin.
7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not upright.
8 The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
9 The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path; the one who hates correction will die.
11 Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD— how much more do human hearts!
12 Mockers resent correction, so they avoid the wise.
13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.
14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.
16 Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.
17 Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.
18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.
20 A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.
21 Folly brings joy to one who has no sense, but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course.
22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word!
24 The path of life leads upward for the prudent to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead.
25 The LORD tears down the house of the proud, but he sets the widow’s boundary stones in place.
26 The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked, but gracious words are pure in his sight.
27 The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live.
28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.
29 The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
30 Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.
31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.
32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.
33 Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honor.
What I thought would be another mundane afternoon turned out to be more like a wild west adventure.
As a teenager, I spent some time living on a ranch in northern Arizona that was almost 900,000 acres. It was a historic old ranch where the cattle grazed freely on the high desert range.
I had heard stories that wild horses roamed the land, but was told I would probably never see them. These spirited, untamed animals saw and heard humans before we could ever know they were there, and would be long gone before we could even catch sight of them.
The stories seemed to grow as they were told. Stories of whole herds of horses galloping freely across the desert, with one such herd being led by a white stallion.
It sounded more like folk-lore than fact.
Until that afternoon, when I saw the white stallion with my own eyes!
My dad and I were creeping along a rugged dirt path in a Ford four-wheel-drive truck, inspecting water lines, when we crested a hill. About a hundred yards directly ahead of us stood the white stallion, with a few other wild horses trailing him. The ears of the stallion suddenly perked straight up as it looked in our direction. Instantly, the white stallion burst into a full gallop in the opposite direction, with the other horses following fast in a whirlwind of dust.
My dad down-shifted and set out across the rough desert terrain in pursuit, but within about ten seconds we temporarily lost sight of the beautiful white stallion and the small herd he was leading. The stallion put a huge distance between us and him in just a matter of seconds. We didn’t stand a chance of closing the gap. A couple of times the stallion, now looking more like a white dot on the horizon, seemed to stop as if measuring the growing distance between us and him, almost as if telling us he was in charge. Then he turned and broadened the gap between us until he finally disappeared from our sight.
That story comes to mind when I read Proverbs 15:29, which states, “The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”
There’s a platitude bandied around the church that says, “God accepts you just as you are.” That sounds nice, but it isn’t true.
God loves us just as we are. God receives us just as we are. But He doesn’t “accept” us just as we are. Instead, God will receive us, but insists on transforming us into the likeness of His Son.
A holy God has nothing to do with that which is unholy. Light has nothing to do with darkness. Although God keeps His watch on both “… the wicked and the good” (Proverbs 15:3), there is a distance that separates a holy God from those who choose to be wicked.
As much as those who pursue sinful living may also want to occasionally include elements of holiness in their lives, they cannot have both. Sin doesn’t mix with holiness. “The LORD is far from the wicked …” And so a distance remains between the wicked and a holy God.
Kind of like chasing a white stallion.
That gap between holy God and wicked humanity disappears when we turn from chasing sin to pursue the holiness of God. Verse 29 states, “…he hears the prayer of the righteous.”
Instead of an imposing gulf of separation, God is attentive to those who run with Him instead of running from Him; to those who seek after righteousness and abandon sinfulness.
God has spent all of human history bringing about the means of closing the separation that exists between us and Him. He desires an everlasting communion with us. We can draw close to Him by pursuing the righteousness He offers us through Christ.
What’s your choice?
With degrees in theology and psychology, Dr. James Scott, Jr. (“Scotty”) has diverse experience in ministry, serving for more than 25 years in the roles of pastor, clinical pastoral counselor, church planter, life/executive coach, writer, and even a stint as an executive. He is also a Certified Personal Trainer. He blogs regularly on topics that include the church, Christian living, leadership, and fitness. His greatest passion is to help people better understand, and apply, God’s Word to their lives.
You can follow Scott on Twitter @ScottyJWS and be sure to check out his blog Extraordinary Living – http://bit.ly/aBszcd