First in His Own
He that is
first in his own cause seemeth just
His Own Cause
- His own
strife, controversy, quarrel, case at law,
13:7 – strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the
herdsmen of Lot’s cattle.
21:5 – priests appointed to judge legal matters and disputes
meaning here: he that is first to present his side of the story in a
- The one
who shares his side of the story FIRST
- Thus, it
is his OWN cause that he presents…
there is always one person who is FIRST to present his own
cause… his own side of the story.
- As King,
Solomon often had to settle difficult disputes.
- The King
sometimes had to perform the duties of a judge when the lower courts were
unable to settle the matter.
- The king
was like their Supreme Court.
the case of two women who came to Solomon each claiming to be the mother
of a baby… and each claiming the other woman was the mother of the dead
had to hear that case – and no doubt many other difficult cases.
- He was
very familiar with disputes and strife between people…
- He heard
many cases in court… and in doing so, he noted that each one had
something in common.
noted, that in every case, somebody was always FIRST to present his or
her side of the story.
- There was
something else that Solomon noticed… in EVERY case.
- The first
one to present his own side of the story – his own cause – always seemed
just… lawful… right…
- Nobody ever
came before the king with their legal case and “esteemed others better
ever came before the bar of justice and tried to put the opposition in a
they put themselves in a good light…
- JUST: has both a legal and ethical
sense to it.
first one to present his side of the story seemed ethically superior…
seemed legally correct and right…
- In other
words, if you heard ONLY this side of the story – the FIRST person to
present his case would always win the court case!
first person’s case was presented as so legally correct… and so ethically
and morally correct - why bother hearing the other side?
- If you
believed the FIRST person’s story, you wouldn’t NEED a legal system.
first one was always right… or so it seemed.
probably NEVER saw an exception to that rule…
always try to make themselves “look good” when presenting their case.
who present their cause first are always careful in HOW they word their
- They go
to great lengths in thinking through HOW it will sound…
- They may
not lie… but they have discovered lots of other ways, short of lying,
that will make them look good and the other guy look bad.
rarely is their wording as careless as the little boy who came running in
to his mother crying, “Johnny hit me back!”
children haven’t learned the fine art of subtlety… and deception… but
adults have… and use it to their advantage.
- An adult
would simply say, “Johnny hit me.”
i. His side would be true and accurate…
ii. However, it would also be
iii. But it would also be misleading and
learned through observation (as a king and judge) that ANY case can be
worded in such a way as to make it SEEM right and just.
- Thus, the
first part of the proverb is a WARNING.
- Beware –
things aren’t always as they SEEM.
can make themselves look good…
deceptive people can make themselves SEEM righteous… by the way they WORD
leaving out key details… by re-arranging the chronology of events… by
using carefully chosen terms… the FIRST one to give his cause can SEEM
like an angel… and make the other guy look like a demon!
- This is
a warning to us all – when someone presents their side of the story –
listen with a grain of salt… a bit of healthy skepticism…
But his neighbour cometh and searcheth him
Solomon gives us another warning: After the first man in the dispute
speaks, there will always be his NEIGHBOR’S side to the dispute!
warning is: Be aware that there is always ANOTHER side to
that same story… and his neighbor’s side may be very DIFFERENT from what
you first heard.
- The term
“neighbor” is a broad term translated in lots of different
ways: friend, lover, companion, neighbor, fellow citizen, associate, and
(as best fits here) “another person or second party.”
first person presents his own cause and he seems RIGHT.
- But then
ANOTHER person comes along – the other person in the conflict – and he
has a very different spin on events.
- The second
party will eventually COME (meaning to enter the scene; to arrive).
it is a good idea to WAIT until the neighbor… the second
party arrives on the scene… and you have heard HIS side of the story,
before you make up your mind.
gave his story and it seemed believable – UNTIL Samuel came and cross
examined him… & exposed his rebellion! (I Sam.15:17-23)
by hearing only ONE side.
though a person may be exceptionally convincing!
- Ex: when
a person portrays himself as the perfect angel and the other guy as a
demon – it is not so believable.
i. People know that that is not very
ii. Hence, to be convincing they usually
resort to a tactic that is more believable… more convincing.
iii. “I wasn’t perfect either… I did such
and such. But you wouldn’t believe what she did… or he did!”
iv. It is a convincing tactic to take 2%
of the blame to make yourself believable… but that leaves 98% of the blame on
the other side!
- When a
person is really GOOD at this kind of deception, he is able to present
the facts in such a way that one might conclude, “Why bother hearing the
other side!” If she did that… or if he said that… then let’s hang him! I
don’t need to hear any more.”
warns, “Yes you DO need to hear more in order to make a wise decision!”
one side of the story is exceptionally foolish.
Neighbor Comes and SEARCHES Him
- Searches: search out facts; examine;
investigate; explore, probe; inquire, dig a little deeper…
OTHER party in the controversy will surely not accept the spin… the
perspective… the manner in which the first person presented the facts of
i. “I was driving down the highway
minding my own business when this lady crashed into my car. She was flying at
65 miles an hour!”
second person will dig a little deeper…
neighbor comes along and confront the first person and cross-examines
them… calls into question what he said and how he said it…
i. But sometimes cross-examination
brings out some important details…
ii. “He was going 80 miles an hour, reading
a newspaper, with a coffee in one hand and an electric razor in the other hand
– steering with his elbows!”
neighbor comes along and adds important details that the first person
carefully left out…
another controversy, the neighbor might describe the demeanor, behavior,
attitudes, tone of voice… from a very different perspective.
- He may
put the chronology in a different order which can change everything… (I
wasn’t there until the day AFTER it happened…)
- Tone of
voice can change the meaning of words. For example, the words, “I’m
really sorry” can mean the total opposite depending upon tone of voice.
second party is able to fill in some seemingly minor details that can
change the meaning of everything.
listening to the second party… hearing only ONE side of the story is foolish
and shameful! (Prov.18:13)
- To those
who make up their minds after having heard only one side of the story,
Solomon says, Shame on you! You are fool!
it happens – all too often.
up our minds without knowing all the facts… judging a brother without
knowing all the facts… is part of our human nature… but it is a foolish
and shameful part!
warns us: don’t do it!
- I have
had to deal with it as a pastor in dealing with disputes among believers…
in marital counseling… and with all the THIRD parties who tend to polarize
around one side or the other in such controversies.
are greatly complicated when third parties enter into the fray… for invariably
they are hearing only one side of the story.
folks do that, they often manifest (in their minds) righteous
indignation against the “other side.”
often look down at the other side as ungodly… foolish… an unintelligent
dupe… hoodwinked… uncaring… unloving… and even (as foolish as it may
- To hear
one side and make up your mind is foolish and shameful!
warning has almost limitless application… for controversies
are with us for good… till glory.
- Parents would be wise to consider
this warning in dealing with disputes among children…
- Elders would be wise to consider
this warning in dealing with disputes among the saints at church.
- Teachers would be wise to consider
this with disputes in school…
- Employers with disputes among the
- Landlords dealing with disputes with
- This can
even be applied to political candidates… so dig a little deeper…
a product by
listening to their ads… (After hearing a Chevy ad, why buy anything
hearing a diagnosis and treatment from the doctor…
beware… we have been warned. It would be foolish and shameful to ignore
Solomon’s wise warning here.
- One man
noted that God gave us TWO ears so that we could hear both
sides of the story!