Howard Mooney - Proverbs 30 - Ronan, Montana Convention - 1972

Maybe we could open our Bibles to the book of Proverbs, Chapter 30. In this chapter, we find six groups of four things. Three of these groups apply to the sad conditions in the world around us; the other three groups apply to the wonderful conditions in the Kingdom of God.


Before we look into these six groups, I would like to tell you a little about this book of Proverbs. Sometime ago, a professor told us that in the university where he taught, they were teaching this book of Proverbs as one of the courses in literature. He said they had all been amazed at the fact that in this book was some of the most down-to-earth basic teaching. He went so far as to say that if there were no other book in the world but this book, and everybody lived up to its teachings, this world would be a utopia. My companion and I felt that if an ungodly man could see so much virtue in this book, how much more should we see in it. We began making a study of this book of Proverbs, and we encouraged our friends in that field to study this book, and I would encourage you to make a study of this book, also.


We would especially ask our young people in the near future to read through the book of Proverbs. Don’t try to get a deep spiritual meaning the first time. Just read it over for its simple practical teaching. There is so much about the steps we take, the paths in which we should be walking and other paths we should be avoiding. There is so much practical, down-to-earth, common sense teaching, we would like everybody, especially young people, to read it over and take notice of the practical teaching in this book.


This book of Proverbs is a book of life. Forty times in this book, you read of life and what makes up life. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” I don’t know of any better book that helps me understand what this life is like. It mentions four things that are a tree of life. You think of a tree that produces more and better fruit with the passing of time. You look up these four things and you will find they are wonderful trees to be growing in anyone’s garden.


Thinking of life, it occurred to me that this is my spiritual birthday and that of my sister, Rose. It was on the 17th day of June, 1917, about four o’clock in the afternoon that we stood to our feet and received the first taste of this abundant life God is able to give to His People. It is wonderful to know we are recipients of a life that becomes more wonderful every year. There is so much in this book of Proverbs about this abundant life and the things that it is made up of.


It cannot say, “I have enough.” It pictures the world reaching out for satisfaction; and as we have been told, satisfaction is not found in the world. Satisfaction is not found on the outside. You can’t reach out to anything in the world and find satisfaction. The only satisfaction men and women know is what they have in the human heart. The reason why there is so much dissatisfaction in the world is because people are reaching out to where satisfaction can never be found.


In the 21st verse, it mentions another group of four things. This is the reason why there is so much dissatisfaction, why there is no tranquility, peace of mind, and rest of soul. You could sum up these four things by saying; there is no Godly control. I would just like to say, in passing, that another great difference between God’s people and the people of the world is that God’s hand is upon His people. Basically, you and I have nothing to boast of; we are made up of the same elements as the people of the world. The difference between us and the world is that the hand of God is heavy upon us.


When we think of the dissatisfaction, the unquietness, the sad conditions that have developed in the world because of the lack of the hand of God, it would make us pray that the hand of God would be upon us. The first chapter of Romans describes the depths of degradation the world had sunk to, the reason why the depth of degradation we can sink to if it was not for the hand of God upon us.  When I read these verses, I pray to God, “Oh God, don’t give me up!” I don’t want to end up in this disquieted state of people who have no restraint upon their lives.


Now, over to the positive side, the wonderful things in connection with the Kingdom of God. 30:18, “There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not.” Here we read of four wonderful things evident in the fellowship of God’s people because the hand of God is upon them.


He spoke of the way of the eagle in the air. This is associated with Isaiah 40, the way of prayer. I suppose you know the eagle in itself is not very strong. Some people talk about the flying ability of the eagle, but it has very little ability. The eagle weighs so much, it cannot fly high. At the face of every mountain there is an up draft. That eagle uses its limited strength to get this God-given life, and that unseen power enables it to mount up with wings and get the proper elevation, and then it goes on to its destination. I watched some golden eagles soaring in the air, not moving a wing, not using their own strength, but the up draft, that unseen God-given source of power. The thing that amazed me was when those eagles took off; they all took off in different directions, yet they all used that God-given lift to get there. “Even the youths shall faint and be weary and the young men shall utterly fall; but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” You think of the young as the most energetic and young men as having the most strength. But even the most energetic would utterly fall trying to do it in their own strength. If you wait upon the Lord, you are like the eagle; you are in the place where you can get strength. The strength you get in prayer is like that unseen current that enables you to rise above the highest obstacles. “Out of weakness were made strong.” It is wonderful to see a person who is weak by nature, but they get into His presence and get that God-given lift and rise to higher heights, gain objectives that would be otherwise impossible.


He mentions the serpent upon the rock. He is hidden, and when you look there, all you see is the rock. That is what Jesus meant when He said, “Be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” The world hates serpents; they will do everything they can to kill a serpent. The secret of the serpent’s survival is to keep hidden in the Rock. Some time ago, I was in a convention meeting with an old brother worker, ninety-four years old, and in the work seventy some years. He spoke in two meetings; and all the time he spoke, all you could see was the Rock. If anyone would have a reason to vaunt himself, and impress people with his ability, he would have. To think of all those years in the service of God, but during those two meetings, all we saw was the Rock, Jesus. He was like a magnifying glass helping us to see the beauty of Christ as we have never seen it before. I had the privilege of several other conventions with another older brother, and I got the same impression. There is something wonderful beyond comprehension when you see a person in the ministry sixty or seventy years, so able, used by God so mightily, and yet keeping himself so hidden in the background that when he presents the Gospel, all you can see is the Rock, Christ Jesus.


“The way of a ship in the midst of the sea.” There is something wonderful about this also. It is wonderful to see a ship, way out in the ocean among all those storms, yet sailing triumphantly. That is wonderful to see. In the days of old sailing vessels, there was something even more wonderful, and that was these ships capitalized on the storms. These storms, which most people would avoid, were the propelling force of the sailing ship. The wonderful thought we get from this is that we don’t need to fear the storms. It is the storms that help us onward. I talked to an old sailor that used to be on the seas in the days of the old sailing vessels.  He told me that the thing they feared was the calm. They dreaded those seemingly good times because then they weren’t making any progress. It was the storms that helped propel those ships on. We can’t avoid the storms. They are there. They will always be there. Isn’t it wonderful that you and I are in a position where we can capitalize on the storms? Every storm helps propel us closer to the goal. Every storm can be numbered among the “All things that work together for good.” We are going to face storms, it is inevitable, but we do not need to go forth to fear the storms; they are God-given benefactors; they are something that will help us make greater headway toward this goal we are all aiming at.


“The way of a man with a maid.” This speaks of the wonderful results that come about when love is working. It is true naturally speaking and doubly true spiritually speaking. Love will compel people to do things you could not force them to do. We visited a home in California. These folks were the caretakers of this home for the real estate company for which they worked. I didn’t know how many thousand dollars that home was worth. I didn’t know there was such elaboration contained within four walls. I didn’t know there could be so many mirrors on the walls, or that rugs could be so thick, or that so many luxuries could be contained in one home. A few weeks before we went there, a young woman, the only daughter of these people, had left that home and married a young man on the other side of the city. She was a very godly young girl and he a hearty young man. She went across the city to live in a little cracker box apartment. The whole apartment wasn’t nearly as big as the room she had called her own in that home. I saw her afterward. Was she feeling that she had given up so much? No, she was just like a bird that has found her worm. She was singing at the top of her voice. That is why we are so anxious to see the love of God shed abroad in the hearts of God’s people. It will do something for you that we can’t force you to do. If love is in your heart as it should be, it will make you want to be in close fellowship with your Bridegroom. You won’t bemoan the fact that you have to give up this or that. That language won’t ever come into your mind. That love will make you want to be near your Bridegroom no matter what you might have to give up along the way.


One of our brothers was telling about a young man who professed in the meetings. He had been in the depth of Hippie-ville, the son of a lawyer. This man came to some meetings, and in the process of time, he professed. With the love of God coming into his life, his whole life and appearance changed. The thing that had identified him with the hippie attitude of the world was gone; everything about his life adorned the Gospel of Christ. The father of this boy came to these brothers and said, “What power do you have over people? For months we have been trying to force this boy to do what you have gotten him to do. Now he enjoys doing what we could not force him to do.” Our brothers were glad to tell him that it was the power of love. You can’t force people. All the force in the world couldn't change the passions of this young boy’s heart, but when Christ came in and the love of God possessed his soul, there was something about that love that was making him want to do what they could not force him to do. That is why, as God’s servants, we long to labor and pray so that the love would be enhanced. Love will move a person to do what normally you couldn’t force them to do.


These are some wonderful things in the Kingdom of God. They are like looking at the Kingdom from four different sides. We see the things that make it the most wonderful thing in the world. When Isaiah preached concerning Jesus, those who laid the government of their lives upon His shoulders, and His name shall be called “Wonderful.” I don’t know of any word used more among God’s people.


The next group of four things is often referred to in the Gospel Meetings. It refers to the wisdom of God’s people. It speaks of them being little people upon the earth, yet, exceeding wise. We have all heard these verses spoken on; we have all understood the lessons of Godly wisdom these little creatures are teaching us. They are four of the greatest Gospel preachers in the world.


The ants prepare. The wisdom of God has taught them that there is a winter coming. What they prepare in the summer determines what they will have in the winter. The wisdom of God tells us there is an eternal winter coming, that our summer time is so short, so brief. What we have in the countless ages of eternity is what we put into the summer. It is wonderful to think of the wisdom that God puts into those ants. He also puts into His people the same wisdom, and it enables us to use the time while we have it. Jeremiah 8:20, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” The saddest part of this is these were people who wanted to be saved, and they fully intended they would get saved. Little by little the months of their summer slipped by and when they awakened, it was too late, the harvest was past, the summer was ended, and they were not saved.


The conies use the wisdom God gives them to make use of salvation. They know that they are a feeble folk. They know they can’t do anything in their own strength. They know God placed salvation for them in the rocks, and they use that. We, in ourselves, are feeble. We cannot do it in ourselves, but God has made a way of salvation in the “Rock that is higher than I.”


The locusts have learned the secret of unity. This enables them to go forth by bands; and they can accomplish what, by themselves, they could never accomplish. This is a picture of the wisdom that binds us together. Unity should be our chief concern. The things that make for unity are the most important things in the world. The wisdom of God helps us do that.


“The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” The wisdom of God enables that creature to take advantage of its opportunities. It can’t get into a home unless the door is open. It can’t open the door itself; but when the door is open, the wisdom of God enables that creature to get in through that open door while the opportunity is there. The wisdom of God teaches us to take advantage of those openings, of the passing opportunities, like an open door that opens for a moment and then is closed forever. We have all had the heartache of knowing we have passed by opportunities that were so advantageous for us and for the kingdom and we have let them pass by. The wisdom that God has given His people is just like that wisdom of the spider, seeing the need of taking advantage of the opening when it is there. This is a cross section of the wisdom God gives His people that makes them different from all other people.


Verse 29, “There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going.” These four things picture the comeliness of God’s people. What makes them attractive? It is in our going. The Lord’s people are an action people. The only time we are comely is when we are making use of the opportunities presented to us.


“A lion, which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any.“ This lion just speaks of a person who has the determination to go ahead in spite of everything. He has the assurance that God has endowed him with power that will enable him to go ahead in spite of everything. The reason the lion is king among beasts is that he realizes, "God has endowed me with strength greater than anything else, regardless what comes around the next corner of the jungle trail." What is it that makes the Lord’s people so bold as they look into the future? God has endowed them with a power greater than anything that can rise up against them. None of us knows what lies beyond the next bend of the jungle trail but come what may, if we avail ourselves of the power of God, that power is greater than anything that can rise up against us. That is why the Lord’s people can meet the future with peace in their hearts, unafraid and unshaken.


Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Then you can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, and I shall not fear what man shall do unto me.” Sometimes people are afraid of what people will say about them. These verses carry the thought further; if you come boldly before the throne of grace and avail yourself of His strength, then you can turn around and boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what people do to me.” We don’t know what we are going to face in the future, but we shouldn’t have an ounce of apprehension. The people in the world around us are in that situation. If we avail ourselves of the power of God, we are going to go forward, not turning to the left hand nor the right; we don’t need to deviate in our purpose.


The greyhound would associate our thoughts with a race. A greyhound is only comely in a race. You see him lying down, and he is about the most uncomely thing you have ever seen. We, as God’s people, are in this race. It is our activity in the race, our willingness to run the race that makes us comely. I Corinthians 9:24, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain.” That used to puzzle me. I knew he didn’t mean we would be running in competition with each other. Paul warned against those who were measuring themselves by themselves. I understood it was not a race of competition with each other. I used to wonder, we are all running but only one receives the prize. Paul was referring to our individual race. Each of us is running a race against the world, flesh, and devil. Only one is going to win. In my case, it is either a case of me outrunning the world, flesh, and devil, or they are going to outrun me. Paul said, “Run that ye may obtain.” When I see a child of God running in this race, resisting the power of their opponents against them, with one thought in mind that I am going to win this race, I see the same comeliness seen in this greyhound.


The goat is never satisfied until he gets to the top. You see him going up the side of the mountain, and he is not content part way or two-thirds. He is not satisfied until he gets to the top, to the pinnacle of the mountain. That is one of the comeliness of God’s people. They are not satisfied with the height they have attained. They know there are more steps they can take that will bring them closer and closer to the God of heaven. There are wonderful things enjoyed on the way up, but they are not satisfied until they get to the top. When I see the Lord’s people going on forty, fifty, sixty, seventy years, and they are still striving to get higher, I see the same comeliness as is seen in this goat, not satisfied until he gets to the top of the mountain.


“A king against whom there is no rising up.” The only king which there is no rising up against is the king that does more for his subjects than the subjects are able to do in return. When we think of the king like that, we think of Jesus. Is there anyone who thinks of rising up in rebellion because of what He has done for them? We hang our heads in shame because He has given us so much and there is so little we can do in comparison. Jesus told about a man who had a servant. He did all that was expected of him. Then Jesus turned the limelight to His disciples and He said, “After you have done all you could do, you will have to admit you are unprofitable servants.” An unprofitable servant is one which is getting more than he can give back. It is like one putting their best into it, but they realize that doing the best I can, I am still getting more than I can give back in return. Isn’t that a wonderful picture of a king against which there is no rising up. When we think of all the benefits He is loading us with, instead of rising up against Him, it makes us want to do more for Him.


If I am a king like that, if I keep my own selfish desires in subjection, if my purpose is to do more for my brethren than my brethren can do for me, then I am a king against whom there is no rising up. If I take advantage of you, and you take advantage of me, then there is trouble. But if I do everything I can for you, and you do everything you can for me, there is no trouble there, is there? If my purpose is to give you more help than you can ever give me, which is the kind of king Jesus is, there is no room for trouble in a picture like that. That is the kind of king Jesus is. When I see the same reflection in my brother and sister, I see the comeliness of God’s people.


I don’t know if this has been the help to you that it has been to me. This is the first time I have spoken on this, but it was so fresh to me. It is no wonder the world is in the shape it is in. When you see the spirit of disquietness and dissatisfaction, you can understand why the condition of the world is as it is. When you see the other side of the picture - the wisdom and the comeliness worked into the hearts of God’s people - that helps us understand why this fellowship is the most wonderful thing in all the world, why it is getting better and better with the passing of time. I hope this book of Proverbs can mean to you what is has to me, spiritually and naturally. I hope God will help us to continue ourselves so that we would be like a king against which there is no rising up.