Is anyone else as dorky as me when it comes to wordplay? I'm just tickled with the "Proverbs 21 Worshiper" derivation from the "Proverbs 31 Woman". I suppose it would be cooler if it rhymed or something. Nonetheless, in vv. 2-4 we learned that if we are going to be true worshipers, true followers of Jesus, we must get off our high horses and surrender our lives entirely to the mission of God. Although the next section does not speak directly to acts of "church worship" (temple sacrifice), there is major worship application.

WARNING: the following interpretation contains some extreme demands that will heap guilt and condemnation on readers if left to themselves to fulfill. However, conviction and grace will come to those who trust in Jesus Christ alone.

7. The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
because they refuse to do what is just.
8. The way of the guilty is crooked,
but the conduct of the pure is upright.
13. Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself call out and not be answered.

We saw in verse 3 that the evidence for true worship is doing righteousness and justice, and so this is one of the first things we should look for in our actions to determine whether our worship is acceptable to God. If we find little or no activity of ministering justice and righteousness, there's a good chance we're spending our time pursuing wicked and worthless things. We need to look no further than the life of Jesus to see the perfect ministry of justice and righteousness; do what He did and even greater things.

When I read v. 7 an old Charlie Hall song comes to mind. The refrain simply says "Sweep me away" over and over again (at least twenty times). I can hear God asking, "How many times will you say it? If you want Me to sweep you away, do what is just! If you don't, something else will sweep you away, the violence of your wickedness." Let's not be fooled by the word "violence" here. We think of violence as a cruel, physical beating of some kind, but God says if you refuse to act justly, you are inflicting violence. Negligence is violence. Hiding your eyes from the poor is violence.

Look at v. 13 above. This is serious stuff. If we close our ears to the cry of the poor in their need, then when we are need of help, it will be refused to us. This is the violence we will receive in return: God's refusal to help us, His refusal to accept us. I can't help but think about the implications of this in our Sunday worship. I have often gone through an entire week without seeking God, secluding myself to my own selfish pleasures, isolating myself from any opportunity to share God's love with others. And then I stroll into church on Sunday, wearing a church smile, thinking church thoughts, and singing church songs. I join God's people in celebrating the story of His salvation. But why should God give ear to my cry for Him to save me when my life looks like the week I described above, actions that do not reflect Jesus' ministry? I recall the difficult words of Amos 5:23-24: "Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

See, when I am disconnected from God, half-committed in my devotion to Him, by default my life is full of sin, my way is crooked, I am guilty (v. 8). And not only is my way crooked in refusing to do what is just, but my worship is crooked. Being "guilty" means being full of sin. The only way to be pardoned is through atonement. In the Old Testament the regular guilt offering took care of this. Now, only Jesus can take care of our guilt. If we want our worship to be acceptable to God, if we want our lives, our works, to reflect Jesus, then Jesus must make us pure and upright. The only way for our conduct, our actions, our worship, to be holy and acceptable to God is through Jesus Christ, the eternal guilt offering.

If I have taken too much liberty in this application of Scripture, if I am too extreme once again, someone please balance me out. My flesh would gladly receive any words that would justify my comfortable lifestyle and lukewarm pursuit of God.

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