In our last study on the fool, one of you asked:
“Since fools are so dangerous, why would we ignore the warning signs?”
I thought about the young woman who saw the warning signs weeks before the wedding
that she might, indeed, be marrying an abusive fool.
All the preparations had been made for this destination wedding.
It was too late to cancel:
the airplane reservations,
Her idols of comfort and approval rose up.
So she deceived herself, justifying
his temper tantrums,
and his abuse.
She kept silent and married him.
TO HER GREAT REGRET.
WHY DO WE IGNORE ANY OF THE WARNINGS OF PROVERBS?
It’s always a heart idol.
The sin beneath the sin that causes us to deceive ourselves
and sail into disaster.
This week, for example, we’ll study this proverb:
But her “comfort idol” balked and so her heart deceived her:
I’m too young, that could not happen to me.”
Her wise doctor persisted, giving her a case study of a woman just like
her who had had a devastating stroke.
By becoming alert to our heart idols, we can help ourselves
to be alert to our deceitful hearts, to our propensity to denial,
and to thereby heed the Word of God as Rebecca did.
So let us consider this week how heart idols affect our response to Proverbs. We must begin with a brief review of what Ezekiel calls “idols of the heart.” You cannot see heart idols, but you can see the bad fruit they produce. When anything bad comes out of your mouth or life, it is because you are looking to a heart idol to rescue you. Tim Keller has given three primary categories of heart idols which Leslie Vernick has diagrammed with this chart:
The Lord promises to be in control, to be our security and comfort, and to love us. But when we do not look to Him, do not run to Him, we run to something else to meet those soul needs. That is idolatry. And idols promise to rescue us but always lie. If this is new material for you, or if you need a review, please watch this short clip from David Powlison.
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
Monday-Wednesday Bible Study
Boasting and Idols of the Heart
2. Read Proverbs 27:1-2.
A. What do these two bad behaviors have in common?
B. When you are tempted to let someone know about an accomplishment or honor, what heart idol lurks beneath?
C. How could replacing that heart idol with the truth of God’s approval of you help you remain quiet?
D. In Paul’s famous love chapter, it says, “Love does not boast.” Why not, do you think?
E. What else do you learn about this topic from Proverbs 27:21?
Receiving praise is a tricky thing — for to diminish it can crush the encourager, and to say “to God be the glory” can sound off-putting too. What do you do?
3. Read Proverbs 27 in its entirety. Note anything that quickens you, and be alert to topics we’ve already studied, such as friendship and fools.
PREPARE YOUR HEART WITH THIS:
I have always felt there is something sacred about the break of day — a time to be with the Lord and confess, praise, and meditate on His Word. Since idols cannot be removed but only replaced by the Lord, I feel this sacredness of the morning time with God should be honored by ourselves and by others. Ellen Davis has a penetrating commentary on Proverbs 27:14 which says: “Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.” Davis writes: This is practical wisdom, humorously offered, for anyone who lives in lose proximity to others…from a college dorm to an Israelite village…Moreover it has a depth of dimension that goes beyond consideration for others’ sleep, and that has to do with the special quality of the morning’s silence. Many religious communities practice a rule of silence for the first few hours of the day.
4. What thoughts and applications do you have concerning the above?
5. What similarity do you see between Proverbs 27:14 and 15? What heart idol is beneath nagging, do you think? How could this be replaced by the Lord?
6. Read through Proverbs 28 and find, in particular, the warnings for heeding the Lord and not hardening our hearts and running instead, to our heart idols.
7. Read through Proverbs 28 again and find anything that quickens you and comment.
While the Parable on the Talents seems to fit here, I fear overloading you so I will stop.
You have a choice. If the concept of Idols of the Heart is new to you, you must listen to this Keller classic.
If you have heard the above, I found this sermon from one of Keller’s mentors, Dick Lucas, delightful. He addresses many of the proverbs in this lesson.
8. Share your comments or notes from the above.
9. What is your take-a-way and why?