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Summary: Proverbs 27:23-27 portrays the wondrous interplay of diligent work on our part & faithful watch-care [or providence] as God's part. God has placed return in our work but has given man the responsibility to be diligent in order to extract it. Because God'

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PROVERBS 27: 23-27

THE GOOD RETURN FOR A DILIGENT LIFE

These five verses are a brief lesson on life in an agricultural society. We read of flocks and herds, of hay and tender grass, of mountain herbs, lambs and goats. This cluster represents everyday industry and life in Palestine. We are given a picture of the pre-occupations of life, the advantages of diligence and our responsibility to our given work.

Proverbs 27:23-27 portrays the wondrous interplay of diligent work on our part and faithful watch-care [or providence] as God's part. God has placed return in our work but has given man the responsibility to be diligent in order to extract it. Because God's provision in life is sufficient, opportunity for gain is there but man must work to gain it (CIT).

When God puts work into your life, He expects you to put life into your work. Whatever your job, do it diligently and gratefully. Through it you will find satisfaction and experience God's blessing.

I. MAN'S RESPONSIBILITY, 23-25.

II. GOD'S PROVISION, 26-27.

Verse 23 advises us to diligent attention to our work and substance. "Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds;"

The passage begins with emphatic imperatives "be diligent to know" [lit., "knowing, know," repetition of the verb root gives the command intensity] and give attention [lit., "direct your heart/mind"] to the well being of your flocks and herds. Goats and sheep are animals that played a large role in the life of Israel. Our good God continuously gives substance to man through the reproductiveness of nature. He requires though that man diligently look after His blessings to preserve them so that God might continue to multiply them according to His goodness

[No one exemplifies this better than our Good Shepherd, who meets our every need (Psalm 23:1) and calls us by name (John 10:3). The Good Shepherd cares for us throughout our life and never losses even one of His sheep (John 10:28-31).]

Several years ago in the South African territory of Kwa-Zulu, the government dug IRRIGATION DITCHES on both sides of a river. This allowed the rich land to be farmed. The Christian Zulus on one side of the river produced lush crops and prospered. The traditional animist worshipers on the other side continued to live in abject poverty, producing almost nothing on the same kind of soil.

Why? The Christians believed they were responsible before God to work hard and live soberly. Their pagan neighbors, on the other hand, viewed work as the women's responsibility, while the men spent their time drinking and fighting.

The Bible urges us to work with our hands so that we can provide for ourselves and others (Eph. 4:28; 1 Thes. 4:11). Work, when performed with the right attitude, can be enjoyable and rewarding.

An application for us today is that diligence is always necessary in financial matters, especially now, when the world has become so complex we must watch over even the small expenditure.

Verse 24 indicates the reason for due diligence and responsible stewardship. "For riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations."


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