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Earnestly Seek What is Good

Wouldn’t it be nice to know how to be in Yahweh’s favor more of the time? And wouldn’t it be nice to know how to avoid as much heartache in life as possible?

Living a life that pleases Yahweh is not easy. There are many requirements. However, there are some principles that help. For example, Proverbs 11:27 says that “if” we will earnestly seek what is good, we will find Yahweh’s favor. However, if instead we look for what is bad about our lives, then trouble is sure to come to us (i.e., Yahweh will send even more trouble). Here is how the New King James Version (NKJV) reads.

Mishle (Proverbs) 11:27 (NKJV)
27 He who earnestly seeks good finds favor,
But trouble [or evil] will come to him who seeks evil.

We want to go a little bit deeper, so let us look at this in Hebrew. One thing we find is that there are two different words used for “seek.” The one associated with seeking good requires diligent effort. In contrast, it does not require any special effort to seek evil.

 שֹׁחֵר טוֹב יְבַקֵּשׁ רָצוֹן וְדֹרֵשׁ רָעָה תְבוֹאֶנּוּ(27)

Here is a breakdown of the words (from right to left):

Sho-kjer: (He) who diligently seeksשֹׁחֵר
Tov: (what is) goodטוֹב
Ee-va-kesh: will findיְבַקֵּשׁ
Ratz-ohn: (Yahweh’s) favorרָצוֹן
V’do-resh: but (he) who seeks (habitually)וְדֹרֵשׁ
Ra’ah: evil, (what is bad), i.e., troubleרָעָה
T’vo-eh-nu: It will come to him.תְבוֹאֶנּוּ

The word in the first clause is shokher (שֹׁחֵר). This word refers to seeking something with extreme diligence. The root of this word speaks of getting up early, at dawn, to accomplish a task in earnest. Therefore, by extension, the word shokher means to search in a painstaking way. Here is how Strong’s Hebrew Concordance defines the root of this word.

OT:7836 shachar (shaw-khar’); a primitive root; properly, to dawn, i.e. (figuratively) be (up) early at any task (with the implication of earnestness); by extension, to search for (with painstaking):

If we will reflect on this, the implication is that if we want Yahweh to bestow His favor (ratzohn) on us, then we should diligently search for what is good, count all our blessings, and then give thanks to Elohim for them all. If we will do this diligently, then Yahweh will be pleased, and He will be more likely to give us even more reasons to thank Him. This is like what the Apostle Shaul tells us to do, which is to focus exclusively on what is good, and to thank and praise Elohim for it.

Philipim (Philippians) 4:6-9
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to Elohim;
7 and the peace of Elohim, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Messiah Yeshua.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.
9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the Elohim of peace will be with you.

That is not to say that we should be ignorant of any evil that is in our lives. Maybe we are surrounded by evil, and our lives are a mess. It doesn’t matter. Because Yahweh is King over all of life’s circumstances, no matter how bad things might seem in the natural, the very best thing we can do is always to focus on whatever is noble, and good, and just, and pure, and that which is lovely, and of good report. If we will retrain ourselves to make this positive spiritual focus our spiritual second nature, then the Elohim of peace will see that we are diligently cultivating a positive attitude (i.e., a positive spirit), and He will want to bestow His favor on us.

The second word used for “seek” in Proverbs 11:27 is doresh (דֹרֵשׁ).

Mishle (Proverbs) 11:27
27 He who earnestly seeks good finds favor,
But trouble will come to him who seeks [doresh] evil.

Unlike shokher, which implies that we are seeking the good with diligence, doresh does not imply any diligence (or resoluteness of effort). Rather, it only indicates that we are trodding what has become for us a frequent or well-worn pathway. In other words, we are following in the trail of a bad fleshly habits.

OT:1875 darash (daw-rash’); a primitive root; properly, to tread or frequent; usually to follow (for pursuit or search); by implication, to seek or ask; specifically to worship:

When we consider these things altogether, what we see is that to be in Yahweh’s favor, first we must take stock of all the many blessings He has given us, and then we must thank and praise Him for them. This shows Him that we realize He oversees all things, and this also honors Him. This may be one reason the Apostle Shaul tells us always to rejoice, and that in everything we should give thanks, because this is His will for us.

Thessaloniquim Aleph (1st Thess.) 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of Elohim in Messiah Yeshua for you.

What If We Can’t Find the Good?

Sometimes otherwise faithful believers search for the good, but they cannot identify it. Because they cannot identify the good, they don’t know how to thank or praise Yahweh for it—and so they don’t. However, because they don’t thank and praise Yahweh for all the many good things He does for them, He sees no reason to do any more, and so a downward spiral begins. The cause of this negative spiral is typically wrong expectations.

It is natural for the flesh to want to focus on itself. All that is in the world is the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and pride (or ego).

Yochanan Aleph (1 John) 2:15-16
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world.

When we don’t get the things that our flesh wants, or that our eyes want, or that our pride tells us we should have, we can get very sad, and feel very sorry for ourselves. When our focus is on ourselves like this, then all we may see is all the problems that beset us. What we may not see is all the good refinement that comes out of our trials, and how that refinement makes us more pleasing to Elohim.

Yaakov (James) 1:2-4
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Consider the example of David. In the flesh, David did not have much to give thanks for when King Shaul was chasing him around the wilderness, trying to kill him. Yet David knew that so long as he stayed faithful to Yahweh he had a great hope and a great expectancy in the Spirit, and so he focused on that instead.

Tehillim (Psalms) 63:1-5
1 O Elohim, You are my Elohim; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.
2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You.
4 Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

Perhaps ironically, because David thanked and praised Yahweh for his refinement in the flesh (and declared his steadfast love for Yahweh no matter what happened), Yahweh could see that David loved Him, and so He gave him greater blessings. It must have pleased Yahweh that David was not swayed by the things that could be seen, choosing instead to keep his focus on the invisible things of Elohim, which are eternal.

Qorintim Bet (2 Corinthians) 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

When we keep our focus on Yahweh, and we maintain a positive mental attitude, then we can see our cup as being “half full”, rather than “half empty.” And, when we see our cup as being half full (and thank Elohim for it), Elohim is more likely to fill our cup to the brim, and even overflowing. However, when we see our cup as being “half empty”, Elohim is more likely to cause us to drink of its dregs.

Tehillim (Psalms) 75:8
8 For in the hand of Yahweh there is a cup, And the wine is red; It is fully mixed, and He pours it out; Surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth Drain and drink down.

The Negative Cycle of Self-Pity

Sometimes those who had unhappy childhoods or an unhappy past can find it easy to have a sour attitude (i.e., a sour spirit). Sometimes they have difficulties in seeing all the good things Yahweh gives them, because their focus is still on their inner hurts and pains. Their focus is still on themselves, and their negative experiences in the past. From Yahweh’s perspective, it could be said that they love themselves more than they love Yeshua Elohim, because they continue to focus on themselves, rather than focus on Yeshua.

Mattityahu (Matthew) 14:27-31
27 But immediately Yeshua spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
28 And Kepha answered Him and said, “Adon, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29 So He said, “Come.” And when Kepha had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Yeshua.
30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Adon, save me!”
31 And immediately Yeshua stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

The story of Kepha (Peter) walking on water is historical, but it is also allegorical. It was only when Kepha looked on Yeshua that he could walk on the water. As soon as he took his focus off Yeshua (and put his focus on the wind and the waves) that he began to sink.

This is also how it is with us when we get wrapped up in self-pity. We are not focusing on Yeshua (but on ourselves), and so we begin to “sink” spiritually. Because we have focused on that which is bad, more of it comes to us.

Yeshua tells us that if we will diligently seek out the good things of Elohim, we will find them, because Yahweh will show them to us.

Mattityahu (Matthew) 7:7-8
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Rather than complain and grumble about the things in our lives that we are not happy with, why not diligently seek after those good spiritual things that Yahweh has placed in our lives, and thank and praise Him for them? Then Yahweh will want to give us more of His unmerited favor.

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Nazarene Israel
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