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. (Prov. 15:7-12 NIV)
7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
but the hearts of fools are not upright.
There is a contrast here between the lips of the wise and the heart of the fool. The contrast of the lips with the heart ought not surprise us because we have already seen the strong association between the heart and the lips. What is in the heart will be expressed on the lips. Because the heart of the wise is full of wisdom and knowledge then it is understandable that their lips will spread knowledge. Today we spread the wisdom of the Gospel, but we should also speak out the whole counsel of God. The fool is not silent, they are most vocal in promoting their views, but because the heart is not upright what they promote is not upright. This is not a wise and healthy way to live, but fools keeping rushing headlong towards further misery and unhappiness and eventual eternal punishment.
8 The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
What sacrifice might the wicked offer? It is perhaps surprising given everything that we have read that we find the wicked anywhere near wanting to offer anything to God. Paul speaks of a people who:
having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (2 Tim. 3:5 NIV)
There are many within the ranks of Christian churches who go through the motions of faith, service and sacrifice but deny the Gospel of Christ. Recently we mentioned three NT sacrifices, offering of our bodies, offering praise and offering our finance. When the heart has not been cleansed by the blood of Christ these offerings are meaningless and detestable.
We find the same idea in the OT
“The multitude of your sacrifices– what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations– I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! 16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. (Isa. 1:11-16 NIV)
In contrast, the prayer of the upright is pleasing to the Lord. What makes the prayer of the upright pleasing to the Lord? It is because that prayer comes to God the Father through the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our hearts don’t make our prayer acceptable, our crafting of poetic words don’t make our prayer acceptable, it is the sweet smelling savour of the mediation of the Lamb of God who gave Himself to take away our sins that renders it pleasing in the sight of God.
9 The LORD detests the way of the wicked,
but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
Everything about the way of the wicked is detestable to the Lord. The heart of the wicked that conceives and plots sinful behaviour, the lips that broadcast what is upon the heart, and the direction in life that they have chosen to pursue are all detestable to the Lord. The Lord loves those who pursue righteousness. We are loved because He first loved us. God changes our stony hearts and gave us hearts that wanted to do things His way. The cause of God’s love upon us today is God’s love upon us eternally. We did not win the right or privilege of experiencing God’s love – that was won for us through Christ’s death upon the cross.
10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path;
the one who hates correction will die.
Anyone who leaves or forsakes the wise way to live will receive stern discipline. It is incumbent upon all to listen and pay heed to the ways of wisdom. A failure to listen and a failure to learn is forsaking the path of righteousness. All who do this will be held accountable. Because we are God’s creatures we are designed and morally obliged to seek that path. The one who hates correction will die. These are people who are confirmed in their path of disobedience, their destiny is sealed.
11 Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD
— how much more do human hearts!
Death and the place of punishment are not places to hide from the Lord. There is no hiding place. If death and destruction are fully open to the Lord, fully seen and fully understood, then how much more do human hearts lie open before the Lord. Some people are manipulators and when you are talking with them you get the feeling that they are nudging you towards some conclusion or decision. They are not fully open about what they are doing and you don’t quite know what is in their heart or what their agenda is. But we can never do that to the Lord. God knows our hearts and there is no hiding place within our hearts where we can keep desires or thoughts hidden from the Lord. The fact that our hearts are fully open before the Lord is both a challenge and a blessing. It is a challenge because at times we would like to hide but can’t, and it is a blessing because when we struggle to explain ourselves in prayer it is comforting to know that the Lord understands.
12 Mockers resent correction,
so they avoid the wise.
A mocker resents reproof or correction therefore they will avoid the company of the wise. Even when the wise don’t say anything the mocker can get angry. The lifestyle of the wise is judgement in itself upon those who are wicked. They resent that you don’t join them in their ways and they get angry that this seems like a judgement on them, even though you may not have spoken.
Lord we live in a day when the wisdom of Your word is greatly needed. Help us to speak out wisely and share the wisdom of Your word. Lord preserve our nation from the depravity that we are constantly walking towards. Preserve our children and grandchildren as they grow up in a world that has lost any sense of the difference in right and wrong. Help us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.