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God’s Word for You

Proverbs 27:20 Death and desire

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, June 12, 2020

20 Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied,
  neither are the eyes of man.

The Hebrew words capitalized here are sheol and abaddoh (the latter is a form of Abaddon, see Revelation 9:11). Sheol, “death,” comes from the verb “to ask” (sha’al). Death, or the grave, asks and asks and asks, and it never stops asking. “Destruction” in this context is just a parallel term, but it helps us to understand the word in Revelation 9:11. Since the fall into sin, death cannot be stopped. All of creation is under its power. “Creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:19-21). Mankind was set free from the bondage of sin and death by Christ on the cross, and through faith we apprehend this freedom personally, but the world, nature, the trees and grass, the seas and rivers, and other things, are still subject to death. This includes Moses’ five classes of animals: flyers and swimmers, domestic animals, wild animals, and things that crawl on the ground. All are as much subject to death and destruction as are the planets and the stars. Every meteor that falls, as beautiful as it may be, is a death; it is destruction.

The point of the proverb is that, like death, the eyes and desire of men, are never satisfied. We want and want and want, and we never stop wanting. Give a man shelter, and he will want a nicer shelter. Give him a home, and he will want a bigger one, a better one, or a different one. Give a lonely girl a boyfriend and, as content as she might seem, she will desire at least a little bit to have a more handsome one, a wealthier one, a more prestigious one. Or, if he is all of these things, then she will discover that she wishes for a gentler one, a kinder one, one who pays attention to her, or who is faithful to her. For no man is without sin, and therefore no man is a perfect match for any girl. In the same way, no girl is truly a perfect match for any man, although a wise man will overlook little flaws and see in his wife the jewel God has given to him. We might say, “Well, that’s just natural,” but that is the point. Our nature—both the nature outside our windows and the nature behind the windows of our eyes—are fallen and corrupt, subject to sin.

Solomon succeeds in preaching the law to us here. He condemns precisely what is wrong with us, which goes all the way down through the flesh and bone and into the very nature of the way we think and act. Everything about us is every bit as subject to sin as it all is to death and destruction. Praise God for the insight of Solomon, who in matters of the law preaches as clearly as Paul. Paul said, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). And David said, “No one living is righteous before you” (Psalm 143:2). Who can save us from this miserable condition? Even apart from our actual sins, which are nearly infinite, there is still an infinite amount of guilt we are born with; conceived with. But God “gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:17). Jesus is the one who made atonement for the sins of mankind (Hebrews 2:17).

Recognize the temptations that plague you as little traps set by the devil. You might think that it is your flesh that is weak, and this is true, but the devil is also your enemy at all times and most especially at moments of weakness. Cling to Jesus and if it is possible and helpful, keep the cross physically before your eyes to remember the one who rescued you. Through the devil came death and destruction and desires of every kind. Through Jesus came forgiveness, hope, peace, and everlasting life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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