Proverbs 13:12

Hope Deferred

Introduction:

1. In this proverb, Solomon makes an observation from an occurrence in life that we have all experienced… perhaps many times over: deferred hope.

2. This proverb comes to us not in the form of an exhortation, a command, or a warning… but a simple observation.

a. It doesn’t draw any conclusions from the observation either.

b. It doesn’t even give us any advice or counsel. It is simply an observation about life on earth.

3. No doubt Solomon had observed this truth in his own life—and also in the lives of many others.

4. He saw it occur so often, that he decided to write it down in a proverb… for us all to understand what he observed.

5. Like many of the Proverbs, the truth he declares here is self evident…one of those things that are “common to man”… and so much so that one might argue it to be unnecessary to record it as a proverb…

6. However, it is good for us to know that this is an ORDINARY experience of life… and that when it occurs in our lives, we are not the only one… we are not alone… it is not some strange thing that happened unto you and you alone.

7. Perhaps that is the real reason behind writing this proverb.

12a Hope deferred maketh the heart sick…

A. Hope

1. Defined: always translated “hope”… from a word that means “to wait for; hope for; expectation of a positive future prospect”

a. The term is generic enough to include ALL the hopes and dreams and wishes that enter our hearts.

b. It speaks of all the inner longing and hungering of our soul for something better… an expectation of good for the future…

2. Hope is a wonderful thing…

a. Hope is encouraging… uplifting…

b. It is GOOD to have a “bright hope for tomorrow”.

c. In fact, spiritually, we have a BLESSED hope—the coming of Christ!

d. When focused on a good hope for tomorrow, we are encouraged and motivated to endure through today’s trials. Hope springs eternal! Life is good!

e. When we give up on hope… we sink into discouragement… and all is dark and dreary… life is miserable.

3. We all have hopes… hopes that keep us going… hopes of a better tomorrow…

a. hopes for our kids… to have wisdom; to walk with the Lord; to make sensible decisions; to turn out right; to find a godly spouse; to do well in their careers…

b. hopes for this assembly… for unity; growth; spiritual strength;

c. hopes for the salvation of souls… friends; family; neighbors; spouse; co workers;

d. hopes for doing well at school…

e. for promotion at work…

f. hopes of finding a mate…

g. for others, their hope is having a baby…

h. for buying a house… to fix up a house; to pay off a house…

i. for losing weight…for getting physically fit… for a disease to remain in remission…

j. for finishing college… for landing a good job

k. for restoring a broken relationship…

l. Hope for a backslidden believer to return to the Lord…

m. hopes for getting victory over a besetting sin…

n. Hopes for getting out of debt…

4. The proverb is not speaking about any one particular KIND of hope… but rather is general enough to include ALL kinds of hopes that reside in the human breast… hopes that are common to man.

5. Heb. 6:18-20 – in the spiritual realm, CHRIST is our hope…

a. He is the hope of glory…

b. As our hope He is the anchor of our soul… which gives stability in the rough seas of earthly life… until we reach our eternal home in glory.

c. He is our BLESSED hope… a truly bright hope for tomorrow.

d. It is HE who keeps us going today… otherwise, we might grow weary and quit!

e. We all NEED hope… an expectation of good to come… light at the end of the tunnel…

B. Hope Deferred

1. Deferred: the basic meaning relates to linear motion… something being dragged along… born along…

a. It is translated in many different ways in the Old Testament… according to the context.

b. Here it speaks of that which has been drawn out, dragged out; goes on an on… to be postponed, be deferred; put off…

2. Hope deferred…

a. Bright hope for tomorrow is a wonderful thing… but when tomorrow comes… and the next day, and the next day—and our hopes never seem any closer to fruition… there comes a point when we no longer HAVE good expectations for tomorrow…

b. We have all been there—we have our heart set on something… that looks like it might come to pass… but it doesn’t… time goes on and opportunity is lost…

c. Our hopes are dashed…

d. There sometimes comes a point where we stop hoping… when it seems fruitless… pointless to continue to hope for that which seems to elude us…

3. Examples of hope deferred…

a. We had our heart set on getting that big promotion at work… and Fred got the job instead of you…

b. We had hoped and dreamed that this certain relationship would develop into marriage… and our hopes are dashed… she goes off with someone else…

c. We had hoped for our son to do well at college, and after his first year he quits…

d. We had hoped that this new medication would put our disease into remission—only to discover that it didn’t work and the disease has returned…

e. We had hoped that our wayward son would return to the Lord, but instead he moves in with his girlfriend and becomes a Unitarian…

f. Perhaps a woman had longed to have a child and is told that she will not be able to…

g. We had hoped to pay off our loans and get out of debt, but another huge, unexpected expense comes along…

h. All too often in life we discover that the things we had such bright and vibrant hope for… after time, seem so elusive.

C. Maketh the Heart Sick

1. Sick:

2. When the heart becomes “sick” in this sense, it means that the man becomes discouraged… disappointed… despairing that his hopes may NEVER be realized.

3. That bright, encouraging, uplifting hope can soon turn to bitterness… the bubble of anticipation is popped… our hopes dashed… our hearts become “sick.”

4. We all know that feeling… all too well. Heart sick…

5. And to compound it—we have prayed and prayed for our hope to be realized… but nothing happens… the heart becomes sick over it.

12b But when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

1. But when that desired hope DOES come to fruition… when their hopes are realized… it is like a tree of life.

2. Tree of life:

a. Implies life with all its fullness and richness… an abundant life… a fruitful life…

b. It speaks of LIFE… abundant life… a fruitful life… vibrant, encouraging life… health, strength, vitality,

c. The sun begins to shine in your life again… after an extended period of gray, dreary, darkness and gloom… LIFE begins to spring up once again…

3. There are lots of examples of the desires fulfilled in the Bible too:

a. Gen. 21:5-7 – Sarah had hoped for a child for so long… decades… and finally, the desire came!

b. Gen. 46:29-30 – Jacob’s hope was to see his beloved son Joseph again… and when he saw him—he was ready to die. His life was now fulfilled…

c. Psalm 40:1-3 – David waited patiently and hoped in the Lord—and finally his hope was realized. He then had a new song in his heart!

d. Consider the hopes of the Jews during the period of captivity:
• Ps. 137:1-4 – they wept and longed for their hopes of returning to their beloved homeland to be realized…
• Ps. 126:1-3 – when the Lord finally DID turn around their captivity—it was like a dream come true! The hearts that had been sick… were now filled with laughter!
• This became to them a “tree of life.”

4. There are various seasons in life… seasons of waiting for hopes to be fulfilled… and seasons of fulfillment.

Applications:
• Solomon doesn’t draw any conclusions from this fact. Nor does he give advice or make any commands.
• He expects US to draw our own conclusions and make our own applications… to all kinds of situations.

1. Be careful what you set your hopes on…

a. If we KNOW that dashed hopes make the heart sick—be careful about what we hope for…

b. Don’t set yourself up for a big fall… don’t set your hopes on that which is unattainable… unrealistic…

c. If GOD sets our hopes on something big—then go for it.

d. But be careful—often our hopes get confused with selfish desires of the heart…

e. Sometimes we pray for these hopes to be realized—and we ask amiss that we may consume it on our own lusts…

f. Sometimes we bring heart sickness on ourselves.

g. Our real hopes ought to be on spiritual things… things God has promised… hope thou in GOD… my hope is in THEE.

h. When our hope is in the Lord, we will NOT be disappointed. Those hopes will NOT be dashed. He is faithful.

2. With our kids…

a. Be careful with what you promise your kids. They set their hopes on what dad or mom say to them.

b. If you tell them they are going for an ice cream—don’t dash their hopes. Keep your word! God keeps His word to us!

c. If you tell them you are going to take them to Canobie Lake—don’t frustrate them. They aren’t going to forget that promise. They will set their hopes on it.

d. Don’t promise them things you can’t come through on…

3. In marriage…

a. It’s no secret that marriages are breaking up all around us today.

b. While the reasons are various and sundry, one reason has to do with the truth described in this proverb: raised expectations that are never fulfilled… and bring sickness to the heart!

c. Young people today have some silly notion of married life…
• They expect to be instantly adjusted…
• They have expectations of going right into purchasing a home… fully furnished… with two cars in the garage… and a pool would be nice too…
• They go out and spend like crazy only to discover that they are spending beyond their means…
• That leads to cutting back… expectations dashed… heart sickness setting in…
• And suddenly, the marriage isn’t what you thought it would be…
• The bliss has turned bust…
• Why? Too many young people set unrealistic expectations…
• They expect to change their spouse as soon as the honeymoon is over…
• Expectation after expectation gets dashed against the wall… and two people end up with sick hearts and are sick of each other!

5. In the local church…

a. Sometimes we expect marital bliss forever in our homes… only to discover that not every day is bliss… the honeymoon doesn’t last forever.

b. The same is true in the local church. Some folks come expecting a perfect church—only to discover that the church has as many flaws as it has people…

c. And the expectations they had are sometimes dashed… when they begin to see the feet of clay displayed by its members.

d. A healthy, realistic, balanced set of expectations will go a long way to preventing such heart sickness.

e. Solomon didn’t draw these conclusions in the proverb—but he hoped we would be able to…

f. And there are scores of other applications as well.

g. This is a good proverb to revisit from time to time—at various stages of life.