Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 27 2019 - Proverbs 18 – A strong tower

The church that we attend always includes one song for the children – a song with actions. One of the favourites begins "Blessed be the name of the Lord" and has a chorus, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and they are saved."  The chorus is taken directly from Proverbs where it stands in strong contrast with the verse that follows:

 The name of the LORD is a fortified tower;
   the righteous run to it and are safe.
 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;
   they imagine it a wall too high to scale. (Proverbs 18:10-11)

Jesus was once asked by a rich young man what he should do to be saved. Jesus told him to sell what he had, give the money to the poor, and follow him. The rich man went away sad. Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved.

The problem is not with riches themselves – they are a gift from God. The problem lies in what we do with them and what they do to us. Like the fool in Jesus’ parable, riches may seduce us into a sense of self-sufficiency; whatever life throws at us we will be able to buy our way out of it. We imagine that our riches are our security; a wall around our world that nothing can penetrate. But riches cannot buy off disease or death, either in ourselves or in those we love.  Nor can money bring happiness or contentment; we were created for more than passing material pleasures.

It is the Lord himself who is a place of safety and security to all who seek refuge in him. This is a continual theme in the Psalms (see, for instance, Psalms 46:1-3; 59:16-17; 61:1-4). I am reminded also of the lovely words of Boaz to Ruth:

May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge. (Ruth 2:12)

God has become our refuge by providing us with a Saviour in the Lord Jesus. He is the one "under whose wings" we "have come to take refuge". He is our security and place of safety, no matter what may happen to us in life or in death.

But what are the practical implications of this contrast between seeking security in possessions and seeking security in Christ? How will these words shape the way we live and the decisions we make?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us that we should not always be worrying about what we will eat or drink or what we will wear. "Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?" he says. God cares for the birds we see in our gardens and has clothed wild flowers with more splendour than that of Solomon. Surely we can trust God who is our heavenly Father to care for us.

This chapter is full of pithy sayings that call for careful consideration such as, "To answer before listening – that is folly and shame" (v. 13). We have all come across people like that and they can be infuriating. Or again, "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favour from the Lord." (v. 22). We shall pick up that theme in tomorrow's reading. It is well worth reading proverbs like these slowly and thinking carefully about the wisdom each contains and how our lives are to be shaped by such wisdom.

Father God, I echo the lovely words of the psalmist, "you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to … take refuge in the shelter of your wings." (Psalm 61:3-4) I have run to Christ for refuge; may he always be my help, my strength, my hope and my boast. May I encourage others also to find their refuge and salvation in him.

Peter Misselbrook