The Troublemaker and the King
May 13, 2018
Many Asian-American churches love to play games. And perhaps the most popular one of all is Mafia. On the surface, Mafia is a basically a game about the good guys versus the bad guys. But underneath the surface, Mafia is all about suspicion and deception, accusations and manipulations, spying and lying, making friends and then stabbing them in the back. Churches enjoy playing Mafia because of all of these things and certain individuals enjoy the challenge of being the token troublemaker. And that’s all fine. Because Mafia is just a game.
But life is not a game. And if one’s life is all about suspicion and deception, accusations and manipulations, spying and lying, and making friends and then stabbing them in the back, then one is truly… a troublemaker.
In the opening chapters of the book of Proverbs, we see a father speak to his son about how to be a good and wise king for Israel. And here in today’s Scripture text, the father warns the son not to be a troublemaker.
A troublemaker is someone who sows discord. This means that he plants seeds of conflict and division among people. He is a farmer and cultivator of hostility and bad blood. And his goal is to bring destruction to relationships. It’s interesting. A foolish surety sows easy money. A lazy sluggard sows long naps. A troublemaker sows evil discord.
And this is how he does it. The troublemaker goes about with crooked speech. This means that his words are shady and dishonest. The troublemaker winks with his eyes and signals with his feet and points with his finger. We see that the fire of his tongue sets ablaze his entire body in crafty wickedness (#james3). And the troublemaker devises evil in his perverted heart. He actually takes the time in his sinful heart to think and plan and dream and design all kinds of evil against others. This is how the troublemaker sows discord. This is his work. This is how he does it.
So this is who the troublemaker is. This is what the troublemaker does. And the person and work of the troublemaker is so terrible and messed up that the father uses a special word to describe him: worthless.
The word in the original Hebrew is used throughout the Old Testament as a label for the worst of the worst. These were people like the evil men of Gibeah in Judges 19, who violated and abused a woman from night until morning. These were people like the wicked sons of Eli in 1 Samuel 2, who by force took parts of sacrificial burnt offerings that were meant for worship and kept and ate the parts for themselves. These were people like those who opposed King David, people who conspired with Jezebel, and people who in general sowed discord. In the Old Testament, such people were called worthless. They were the worst of the worst.
But in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul takes all of this to a whole new level. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul addresses the issue of Judaizing heretics in the church who opposed him and ultimately the gospel of Jesus Christ. He urges the Corinthian church not to follow such people, not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, not to have partnership with lawlessness, not to have fellowship with darkness. And in chapter 6 verse 15 he says this: “What accord has Christ with Belial?” It is widely understood that Belial is used here as a reference to the name of the devil. But here’s the thing: the original Hebrew word for “worthless” in Proverbs 6:12 is beliyya’al. It turns out that there is a profound link between the worthless troublemaker and the devil himself. To sow discord as a troublemaker is to oppose God as the devil opposes God. To sow discord as a troublemaker is to be as worthless as the devil is worthless. This is a very, very, very dark image. And this is a very, very, very strong warning from the father to the son here in Proverbs 6.
So again, this is who the troublemaker is. This is what the troublemaker does. But in verse 15, the father tells the son what will happen to the troublemaker. Calamity will come upon him suddenly. And in a moment, he will be broken beyond healing. You could say that the troublemaker will receive some trouble of his own. He will receive disaster. He will receive it swiftly. And it will be final.
And the father gives the son the most amazing reason as to why this will happen to the troublemaker. This will happen to the troublemaker because there is a God, and God hates who the troublemaker is and what the troublemaker does.
The father goes on to share six things that the Lord hates. Seven that are an abomination to him. This six-to-seven language is a literary device that draws special attention to the final item on the list as an ultimate summary of the entire list. First, the Lord hates haughty, prideful eyes. Second, the Lord hates a lying tongue. Third, the Lord hates hands that shed innocent blood. Fourth, the Lord hates a heart that devises wicked plans. Fifth, the Lord hates feet that make haste to run to evil. Sixth, the Lord hates a false witness who breathes out lies. Seventh and finally, the Lord hates one who sows discord among brothers.
Notice how everything that the Lord hates is mirrored or paralleled in everything that the troublemaker is. The Lord hates haugthy eyes? That’s because the troublemaker winks with his eyes. The Lord hates a lying tongue? That’s because the troublemaker goes about with crooked speech. The Lord hates hands that shed innocent blood? The troublemaker points with his finger. The Lord hates a heart that devises wicked plans? The troublemaker with perverted heart devises evil. The Lord hates feet that make haste to run to evil? The troublemaker signals with his feet. The Lord hates one who sows discord among brothers? The troublemaker is continually sowing discord.
God evaluates the troublemaker. The Lord knows who he is and the Lord sees what he does. The Lord sees all the winks and signals. And this is God’s evaluation: the troublemaker is a disgrace, a horror, a monstrosity, an abomination. This must have been eye-opening to the son of the father in Proverbs. It is the simplest lesson about the fear of the Lord. The troublemaker may sow discord, but the Lord will stop him and end him.
God is a God of love. But God is also a God of hate. He hates sin because it is contrary to his holiness and righteousness. He hates haughtiness because it goes against his kingship and sovereignty. He hates lying because it is at odds with his truth and goodness. He hates the troublemaker because there is no trouble, no evil, no wickedness in him.
And his hate is a very old hate, a hate that goes all the way back to the fall. For in Genesis 3, the ultimate troublemaker, the worthless serpent, sowed a discord, an ultimate discord, between Adam and the Lord. And there was nothing but disgrace, horror, monstrosity, and abomination. The Lord cursed Adam and Eve with suffering and death. But the Lord also cursed the serpent. And in that curse was the beginning of a wonderul gospel promise for Adam and Eve and all sinners who would repent and believe in it. In Genesis 3:15, God said these words to the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” These words were an expression of judgment and anger and hate for who the serpent was and what the serpent did. And this is why God hates the troublemaker who sows discord.
God is a God of love. But God is also a God of hate. And if you don’t know how both can be true of God, then look no further than the cross and the death of Jesus Christ.
As the eschatological son of Proverbs 6, Jesus was without sin. He was not wicked. His speech was not crooked. His heart was never perverted. He had no pride in his eyes. He did not shed innocent blood. He never devised wicked plans. His feet did not run to evil. And he never sowed discord.
In other words, Jesus Christ had the fear of the Lord in Proverbs. In other words, Jesus Christ was no troublemaker.
And yet, for our sake, Jesus was made to be a troublemaker, so that in him we who are troublemakers might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
And on the cross, Jesus was forsaken for us. On the cross, Jesus received the wrath of the Father that was meant for us. On the cross, innocent blood was shed for us. On the cross for us was a God-man who had no form of majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. On the cross was a sacrifical lamb who was despised and rejected for us. On the cross was our second and final Adam who was stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted for us. On the cross, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ became an abomination for us. He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
Praise the Lord! Praise be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ because he died for troublemakers like that of Proverbs 6. For us who repent of our sins and believe in the death and resurrection of Christ, there is no more danger of calamity. We will never be broken beyond healing. Praise be to our God that the devil has lost. The promise of Genesis 3:15 has been fulfilled. And praise be to our King that he changes our hearts so that we can grow in wisdom and in the fear of the Lord.
I would like to close now with two simple points of application.
First, brothers and sisters, let us fear the Lord. Today’s Scripture text is simple but profound: we hate what God hates, and we love what God loves. This is the beginning of wisdom. Let us take of the old and put on the new. Let us say no to worthlessness. Onesimus was once useless. But later he became useful. At one point, Euodia and Syntyche did not agree in the Lord. But now they are both in heaven together. All of this is by God’s grace. May you grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Second, brothers and sisters, let us not sow discord. Listen to God’s word in Romans 16:17-18. “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”
Let us leave suspicion and deception, accusations and manipulations, spying and lying, making friends and then stabbing them in the back - let us leave all of that to the game of Mafia. Let us not be troublemakers who sow discord. Instead, let us be peacemakers who sow unity. This is the wisdom of Christ our King. And he is returning soon.
Summary of Sermon
A father speak to his son about how to be a good and wise king for Israel. The son is not to be a troublemaker.
A troublemaker is someone who sows discord. His whole body is used for wickedness and evil.
The troublemaker is described as worthless. His person and work is profoundly connected to the devil. This is a very strong image and warning from the father.
Judgment will come upon the troublemaker. There is a God. And God hates the person and work of the troublemaker. God evaluates him as an abomination. And God stops him and ends him.
God is a God of love. And God is a God of hate. God hates the person and work of the troublemaker because it is all contrary to who he is and what he does. And God's hate for the troublemaker is an old hate that is rooted in the fall of Adam and the curse upon the serpent.
God's love and God's hate is clearly understood at the cross where Jesus died. As the eschatological son of Proverbs 6, Jesus was without sin. He was no troublemaker. And yet, for our sake, Jesus was made to be a troublemaker, so that in him we who are troublemakers might become the righteousness of God. Jesus took the wrath and punishment for us. And he did this because he loves us.
Praise the Lord!
Let us fear the Lord. Let us hate what God hates and love what God loves. Let us say no to worthlessness. Let us grow in wisdom.
Let us not be troublemakers who sow discord. Instead, let us be peacemakers who sow unity and love and grace and truth.
This is the wisdom of Christ our King who is returning soon.
Questions for Discussion & Sharing
Have you ever gotten into trouble because you were a troublemaker who sowed discord? Take a moment to share a (hopefully funny) story of such foolishness in the past.
What makes being a troublemaker so profound? What goes on in the heart and mind of a troublemaker?
How does God's hatred for sin in general and the troublemaker's person and work in particular affect you? How might the hatred of God change the way that you live and wait for Jesus?
How does God's love for us in general and the troublemaking heart in every one of us in particular affect you? How might the love of God change the way that you live and wait for Jesus?
What are some ways in which we can grow in wisdom and the fear of the Lord and be peacemakers who sow the things of Christ?