Saturday, April 16, 2011

Proverbs for Parents - Proverbs 1.8-19

The TNIV is a very dynamic (aka interpretive) translation which can be helpful in places like Proverbs 1:17-19.
"How useless to spread a net
where every bird can see it!
These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they ambush only themselves!
Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the life of those who get it.

The wording here emphasizes two things. First, greed blinds us to it's dangers. That is an insidious side affect, because is causes us to miss the next danger. Second, it "takes away their life." What does it profit a man to gain the the whole world and loose its own soul? It slowly sucks the life out of us and can result in eternal death.

A lesson here seems to be to demonstrate caution, be extra suspicious of our motives, and seek the cousel of others when we want something too badly. So, how do I do that and how do I show my kids how to? Maybe that is part of the thinking for the advice to "sleep on it."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fundamentals for Preaching the Book of Proverbs, Lecture 4

Fundamentals for Preaching the Book of Proverbs, Lecture 4
Bruce K. Waltke
This lecture includes
And some expositing of Prov. 30: 32-33; 10.6-13; and 2:1-5

Thank you Dr. Baily and faculty for inviting me.  It’s been a wonderful week.  You just embraced me with love and affection, and it’s been wonderful.  The first day Chaplain Bill made mention that half the faculty had been my students, but there’s one person on this faculty who was my teacher and exemplifies 2 Timothy 2 of a faithful teacher.  That’s Dwight Pentecost.  Thank you Dwight.
It’s also fitting that I honor those who helped me with the power point presentation.  It’s the first time I’ve ever done it and probably the last time.   Linda Tomchalk [sp?] prepared them and Jim Hoover and I along with Linda edited them because I had mistimed myself so badly.  So we’ve been up here every morning at 8:30 tring to adjust, and they’ve just been terrific.  Would you join me in expressing appreciation to them. 
The preamble to Proverbs we have been arguing teaches the expositor the code that opens the lock to the gated paradise of Proverbs.  In the past two lectures we learned the first four numbers of the code: (1) understanding the literary genre, assuring the expositor that God's authority is stamped on its coined and relevant proverbs; (2) understanding its human authors, especially Solomon, challenging the expositor to sympathize with the King’s commitment to Israel’s covenant and with his witt; (3) understanding its concept of wisdom, namely, social skills that produce an abundant life of health, wealth, and peace; and (4) understanding its intended audiences: originally the royal court, then democratized to Israel's youth, and finally extended in the cannon to all the people of God.
We now learn the last two numbers of the code; understanding its words (1:6), and understanding the concept of "the fear of  I AM " (v. 7).  [3:44]

Understanding its words comes from, “For obtaining wisdom, Understanding words of insight.”  Well, that’s verse two in the summary statement.   The preamble's summary statement of purpose includes the words, "for understanding words of insight" (1:2b). In Hebrew, unlike English, "word" refers to a whole sentence—in this case to the  proverb or saying—not an isolated term within them. Verse six at the end of the preamble’s purpose clauses expands this introductory summary statement to, “For understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings of the wise, and their riddles.” 
“Words of insight” of the summary (v. 2) are now specified as proverbs which refers to Solomon’s proverbs exclusively and sayings which refers to the sayings of others than Solomon. Words of insight are now collected as proverbs and its parallel sayings of the book’s seven collections.  The proverbs and sayings are further specified as parables and riddles.  The terms proverbs, parables, and riddles are used together in Habakkuk 2.6 for the same poem suggesting that the parallel synonyms parables and riddles are coreferential terms for the parallel synonyms proverbs and sayings.  The proverbs of Solomon and sayings of the wise are parables and riddles because they demand the noetic* and existential** function to relate the proverb to one’s own situation. 
*noetic: 1. of or pertaining to the mind. 2. originating in or apprehended by the reason.
** existential:  1. of or relating to existence, esp human existence 2. philosophy  pertaining to what exists, and is thus known by experience rather than reason; empirical as opposed to theoretical (
The book’s aphorisms call upon their audience to make a critical, intuitive judgment on their own situation.  Consider, for example, Agur’s numerical saying in chapter thirty.  “The sayings of Agura, son of Jakeb, an oracle.” and then one of his numerical  sayings, "Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; badgers are people of little power, yet they make their home in the crags; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings' palaces."
According to the superscript of Agur's inspired sayings in 31 he addresses his sayings to Ithiel, a court official, whom he warns not to exalt himself above his superiors in 30: 32-33. Agur, a moral teacher and prophet, is not aiming to teach zoology through this numerical parable about weak creatures. Rather, the small animals in his riddle represent a weak and vulnerable official such as Ithiel, and Ithiel represents all God's people. Yet the vulnerable creatures (in Hebrew literal, "people" to point us to the metaphor) functions as a parable, an allusion on survival. From the weak ant, learn to prepare for the future by making provision ahead of time. A possible allusion is to store the inspired proverbs and sayings to have them ready on one's lips when needed (22:18), as Jesus did in having the Book of the Law on His lips to defeat the devil.
From the defenseless hyrax or rock badger learn to find protection in the crag of a rock, such as trusting God, Who revealed Himself in Proverbs, with all our heart (3:5; 22:19). And from the locust learn not to be a maverick but to prevail in community. And yes, wonder of wonders, though nothing more than a lizard, you may live in a royal palace, even the ivory palace of heaven.  
This interpretation is not allegorical; it is the intention of the riddle to be applied in such a way.  [9:32]
Whether the riddle like nature of Proverbs refers as well to rhetorical criticism is uncertain, but the expositor of Proverbs must master the book's rhetoric. Consider the grouping of proverbs in Collection 2 found in 10.6-13. This grouping  pertains to communication.
6 Blessings crown the head of the righteous,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked”
(The mouth of the wicked in Hebrew is p̄î  rešā·ʿîm , overwhelms is yeḵǎs·sě(h),  and violence is ā·mās)
7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings,
but the name of the wicked will rot.
8 The wise in heart accept commands,
but a chattering [and in TNIV, literally "lippy".  It’s the word for lips, a lip of fools, but a chattering fool would be a good dynamic equivalent.) fool comes to ruin.
9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
10 (Literally whoever winks the eye, which is not like our winking and flirting, but it means to wink maliciously.)
Whoever winks maliciously causes grief,
and a chattering fool (a lippy fool) comes to ruin.
11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence
(Now its saying …Hebrew words)
12 Hatred stirs up dissension,
but love covers over all wrongs.
13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,
but a rod is for the back of the one who has no sense.
14 The wise store up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool is immanent terror.
On first reading the collection seems a willy-nilly lumping together of unrelated proverbs, but a knowledge of rhetorical criticism suggests that the demarcated unit falls into two equal halves, each having four proverbs consisting of antithetical parallels. Note the “but” in verses  6-9 and 11-14 around a proverb that functions as a janus.  Janus in the technical word in rhetorical criticism for a transition. It’s the Roman god of doorways, one head two faces, looking back, looking ahead.  It’s like the month of January from this god. So the janus, you look back; you look ahead.  Around a proverb that functions as a Janus separating the two halves and consisting of a synthetic parallel.  Note the “and” not “but” (v. 10).  [13:20]
The unit is unified and made more memorable by mentioning two body parts in the first verse of each quatrain (a quatrain being two verses). Note the two body parts in the first verse of the quatrains of the two verses, the two quatrains in the first half, “Blessings crown the head of the righteous, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked.  Verse eight, “The wise in heart accept commands, but a lippy fool comes to ruin.” The pivot also mentions two body parts.  “Whoever winks the eye causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin. Now note the mentioning of two body parts in the first part of the quatrains in the second part.  “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”  “Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who lacks sense.
Of these body parts the focus is on those involved in communication. Note the fourfold mention of the mouth in verse six, twice in verse ten, verse fourteen.  The treefold mention of the lips, verses eight, ten and thirteen, and the reference to the sinister eye (v. 10). In sum six of the nine verses mention body parts and of the eleven mentioned body parts, eight refer to organs of communication. The key word "mouth" and "lip" point to the unit's topic, "speech," or more broadly, "communication."   [15:33]
Thematically the first half of the unit focuses on the effects of good and bad communication on oneself. “Blessings—(That means people will pray God’s blessings on this person) Blessings crown the head of the righteous, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.”  That means is boomerangs and destroys them.  Verse seven, “The name of the righteous is used in blessing,”  (That is as one blesses others they invoke God’s blessing that that person will be like the memory of this person),  “but the name of the wicked will rot. The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.  Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
            The second half focuses on the effect of good and bad speech on others. 
“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.
Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of the one who lacks sense. “
The synthetic center verse (v. 10) chiastically reverses the pattern, pointing to the pain of communication on others in 10a and its pain to self in 10b.Whoever winks maliciously causes grief to others, and a chattering fool comes to ruin to self”  [17:42]  The connection between the pivot and the first half and its unexpected reversal is clearly signaled by repeating verse 8b and  10b.  “The wise in heart accept commands, but the chattering fool comes to ruin.”  “Whoever winks maliciously (or winks the eye) causes grief, and a chattering comes to ruin.”  In light of the pivot that divides the focus on the good and bad effects of communication on oneself and on others other patterns emerge. "Mouth" occurs in the two verses that introduce the unit's two halves. “Blessings crown the head of the righteous, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.”  Verse eleven, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” 
Moreover, both introductions, verses six and eleven, juxtapose "righteous" versus "wicked." Even more striking is the play in sound and sense in these introductions: "but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked" (v. 6b) and "but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence" translate the same Hebrew (reading Hebrew). The chiastic parallelism in verse 6 shows that hamas "violence" is the subject. kacah means "cover," and [Hebrew words] "the mouth of the wicked" is the object. But in verse 11 the chiastic parallelism shows that hamas, "violence" is the object (kacah now means "cover"), and "the mouth of the wicked" is the subject. The initial pun both links the two halves and signals that the first pertains to the effects of communication on oneself (w. 6-9), and the second on its effects on others.   [20:12]
Moreover, "mouth," a key word in the semantic domain of communication, frames the unit.  “Blessings crown the head of the righteous, but violence overwhelms the  mouth of the wicked.”  “The wise store up commands (verse 14), but the mouth of the fool is like a cherry bomb amid terror.”  By the way, this translation will be found only in the TNIV and that was voted for unanimously by the committee.  [laughing]  Rare moments.
Unless the expositor the wears the glasses of rhetorical criticism in reading the Hebrew text, he cannot see clearly its meaning and its message. To coin a proverb, "To know what a text means, one must know how it means."  
Having solved the riddle, the expositor in now in a position to state his big idea.  Good communication heals; bad communication hurts. Of course there is a pun in the thesis: good speech heals Self and others, and bad speech hurts Self and others. From that, the message becomes, Learn to speak well and heal yourself and your community; avoid bad speech that destroys your life burns down the community.
     Moreover a sermonic outline can be developed that faithfully represents the exegetical outline of the text. 
I. The beneficial and baneful effects of speech on oneself (w. 6-7)
A. Beneficial effects of good speech
1. People will crown you with blessings during your lifetime   
2. Your memory will bring blessings on others for generations  
      3. You will walk securely and not be tripped up   
B. Baneful effects of bad speech
1. Your violent speech will boomerang and come back upon you
2. Your memory will rot and stink
3. You will come to ruin
Note the alternating parallelism between one (crown you) and one prime (come back on you); Two (memory a blessing) and two prime (memory a stench); Three (walk securely) and three prime (come to ruin).
Now the second half,
II. The beneficial and baneful effects of speech on others (w. 11-14)
A. Beneficial effects of good speech on others
1. Your righteous speech will be a fountain of life
2. Your discerning lips will yield wisdom   
3. Your wise speech will be a storehouse of knowledge   
B. Baneful effects of sinister speech on others
1. Sinister speech causes grief (v. 10a)
2. Hateful speech causes quarrels (v. 12a)
3. Foolish speech is like a cherry bomb.  You never know when is going to explode and destroy a community.
III. Conclusion
A. Accept these commands (v. 8a)
            Β. Live by them constantly (v. 9a)
C It is a matter of the heart: hate versus love (v. 12)3
In my commentary of Proverbs pages (47-48) I give the expositor the glasses of rhetorical criticism to enable him to read, and I also give the expositor the Hebrew that most of us don’t have time to master, and that’s why I wrote the commentary.  [24:40]

Let us know learn the final number of the code to unlock the door .  NUMBER SIX: UNDERSTANDING THE FEAR OF "I AM"
According to the preamble the final code number for the expositor to unlock  Proverbs is his mastery of the concept of "the fear of Ί Am.' "
The preambles to the Egyptian instruction literature contain a code similar to the first five numbers, but this sixth number, understanding "the fear of Ί Am" is unique to the Bible. Many call this number the key to the Book of Proverbs. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." [25:30]
"Beginning" means the fundamental, the foundation, on which all else is built; it may be likened to the first step of a ladder on which the other steps are built, not to a starting block that the runner leaves behind. Elsewhere "the fear of Ί Am' " is said to be founded on wisdom, not on its coreferential term "knowledge" as here. Probably the corelative term "knowledge" was used in 1:7 to make the pun and inclusio with 1:2, as we noted HOìDì nùDn ηζπ.  To know widom and instruction and then the different six syntax "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge [nin]; but wisdom and instruction fools despise.”
The expositor can gain mastery of the concept of "the fear of Ί Am" by 1) noting that the expression is a collocation of two Hebrew terms, 2) by defining the collocation from its uses, and 3) by exegeting 2:1-4, which analyzes the psychological-spiritual components of "the fear of Ί Am.'"
One, "The fear of Ί Am' " is a collocation.  It is a collocation of two words (mrr ηχτ), whose combination yields a distinct meaning. The formula H20 is not the same as the differentiated two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen. Even as one will not understand "butterfly" by analyzing “butter” and “fly” independently, so also "the fear of Ί Am' " cannot be understood by studying "fear" and "I Am" in isolation.
Two, uses of the “fear of I AM,”  From the collocation’s uses it can be deduced that “the fear of I AM” involves both rational and nonrational aspects of the human psyche. On the one hand "fear of Ί Am" entails a rational aspect, an involvement with words of an objective revelation that can be taught and memorized.  Note Psalm 19:7-9. 
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
Making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
Giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
Giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
Enduring forever
The ordinances of the Lord are sure
And altogether righteous.
In these four quatrains "the fear of Ί Am'" is equated with "law," "statutes," "precepts," "commands," and "ordinances."
 On the other hand "the fear of Ί Am" also entails a nonrational aspect, an emotional response of fear, love, and trust. The unified psychological poles of fear and love come prominently to the fore in a surprisingly uniform way. Deuteronomy treats "love of Ί Am' " and "fear of Ί Am' " as coreferential terms in many texts [cf. 5:29 with 6:2; and 6:5 with Josh. 24:14; cf. Prov. 10:12, 20; 13:5]. This emotional response finds expression in humility, that is to say a brokenness that obeys the I AM. "Fear of Ί Am' " and humility are parallel terms in Proverbs 15:33.   "Wisdom's instruction is to fear Ί Am and humility comes before honor." And in 22:4 “fear of I AM” is in apposition to humility.  22:4 reads, literally, "The wages for humility—the fear of Ί Am’ sort—is riches, honor, and life." TNIV glosses uniquely the awkward grammar by, "Humility is the fear of I AM…" [30:10]
The emotional link connecting God's objective revelation and with meekness is "the fear of Ί Am.' " The wise humble themselves before God's revelation because they fear and stand in awe of Him,  who holds their lives in His hand. For the wise "the fear of Ί Am'" and the love of "I Am" are coreferential terms for their spiritual disposition. Both aspects of their psyche are rooted in their faith. They believe I AM is, that He has spoken in the Bible in such a book as Proverbs, that He says what He means, and that He means what He says. They believe His promises and love Him; they believe His threats and fear Him. In sum Charles Bridges says that the fear of the Lord is "that affectionate reverence, by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father's law."
Exegesis of Proverbs 2:1-5
We now exegete 2:1-5 which analyzes the psychological spiritual components that comprise “fear of I AM.”  "My son, if you accept my commands, (store up my words rather which are my proverbs and sayings) and store up my commands within you, by making your ear attentive you will apply your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of I AM  and find the knowledge of God."  [40:53]
 First then, accepting the catechism.
All  four verses that comprise the condition for understanding "the fear of Ί Am,' " mention the objective revelation that the mind must engage wisdom’s expression in its words.  The wisdom in view is the seven collections of Proverbs.  I will refer to their proverbs as sayings by "the catechism."
            Let us now look at the words that unpack the psyche of one who fears I AM.   The first is to accept the catechism, laying the foundation for the heaping up of other terms. "To accept" entails a faith commitment to the catechism. The philosopher of science, Michael Polanyi argues that true knowledge flows from personal commitment to a set of particulars, as tools or clues, to shape a skillful achievement, not from mere detached observation of them. From a set of clues the scientist commits himself to a theory that leads to new knowledge. Somewhat analogously, a child knows, discovers, learns, and experiences the skill of riding a bicycle by risking and committing himself or herself to the ride and using skillful actions—not by acquiring facts about a bicycle. One understands "the fear of Ί Am' " and knows God not merely by reading and/or hearing the catechism but by accepting it, that is to say, by entrusting one's life and behavior to the God who stands behind the catechism. This commitment is counterintuitive because it calls on the catechumen to serve others, not self.  In fact that commitment with the faith that God rewards that lifestyle. In fact that commitment may involve taking up a cross, that is to accept death, to serve God and others.  [34:22]
B. By memorizing the catechism with religious affection.
In the second condition, "if you store up my commands within you," "commands" escalates "words," and "store up" escalates "accept." "Store up" means to hide or conceal something for a definite purpose.  It also implies that one prizes and treasures what is being stored. The metaphor alludes to memorizing with religious affection the catechism. The prologue to the Thirty Sayings of the Wise reaffirms this second component of what it means to fear "I Am," that is to say, to memorize the catechism with religious affection.  It’s prologue, "Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips." If you want a pure life this is how to do it.
C. By paying attention to the catechism.
But, memorization is not enough. One must pay attention to what is memorized. Verse two breaks the syntax between the conditional clauses of verse 1, 3, and 4 and the consequence in verse 5 and so constitutes an aside. Literally verse 2 reads, "by making your ear attentive to wisdom you will incline your heart to understanding." The aside has its own condition and consequence, for it implies, "If you pay attention to the wisdom taught in these sayings, you will incline your heart to understanding.”  That is piety and ethics.
"To make the ear attentive" is a vivid way of saying "to pay attention." Simone Weil and others argue that moral improvement does not come about by the exercise of the will. "Moral change,” she says, “comes from an attention to the world whose natural result is a decrease in egoism through an increased sense of the reality of someone or something.”  Again, “Change of behaving, metanoia, is not brought about by straining and 'will-power,' but by a long deep process of un-selfing."5 The psychological process "inclines the heart," a metaphor meaning "to win over the heart." When a student has an increased sense of the reality of attention to the catechism, the truth of the catechism wins over the heart from self-absorption to experiencing the fear of "I Am."
D. By passionate desire for the truths of the catechism.
The fourth component in this heaping up of parallel terms to hear stereophonically what it means to fear of I AM is to desire the catechism passionately.  Indeed if you "Call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding." “Cry aloud” glosses a Hebrew term that refers to a fervent and emotional situation, as such when Joseph wept so loudly in his own chambers that Pharaoh's whole household heard him.    [38:01]
Finally, earnestly studying the catechism.
The fifth component achieves the desired extension of the conceptual range of what is meant by "the fear of Ί Am.' " "If you seek for it as for silver,  search for it as for hidden treasure."    "To seek" means to search for something lost or missed, and when that something is silver and the crown jewels, the desire to fulfill a wish or realize a plan, that searching has an extreme emotional nuance.  It means "to strive after something, be busy, be concerned." The metaphor also may also imply that a great deal of effort and sacrifice must be expected to get it. "Though it cost all you have, get understanding" (v. 7).       [38:58]
          In Conclusion, the Christian expositor recognizes that the initial condition leading to "the fear of Ί Am'" to accept is God's good gift.  “Every good and perfect gift,” including faith, “comes from God.”  In other words expositor too depends on God's grace to empower his preaching. Moreover, the Christian expositor takes note of the progress of revelation. In the God encountered His people in the catechism of these seven collections, their memorizing it with religious affection, their "deselfing" themselves in their paying attention to it, and their passionate yearning and willingness to make sacrifices to realize its truth.
           In the New Testament God encounters His people in His own person, in His Son. "The fear of Ί Am'" for the Church now entails their engaging in these spiritual/psychological processes with reference to Jesus Christ and His teachings. His teachings extend those of the catechism to their fullest range. Now righteousness is seen to entail dying for sinners as He had.  In Christ's resurrection the abundant life promised in Proverbs reaches its full conceptual range. Jesus Christ brought the full light of the day  and the expositor preaches the Book of Proverbs in the zenith of the day.  Thank you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Genesis 19--

19.19  but I cannot dwell in the mountians...
19.30  Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains...  Hmmm.  So he ended up doing what God asked him to in the first place.
21.20  So God was with the lad...  Even though he was not the son of promise.
22.2 love...  I think this may be the first mention of love in the Bible.
22.8  provide for himself...  not for Abraham and Isacc...  A lot to think about there.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Genesis 16-

16. 15  You are the God who sees...  Great name for God, but I am wondering a little about the exact wording and wished I could just pick up the Hebrew and understand it.
17.8  Also I will give your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger...  I still can't figure out how you "figurative" that promise away and apply it to the church.  There are physical descendants of Abraham, flawed and unbelieving as they are, who have a promise to receive.  Oh that they would turn to Jesus and be blessed.
17.17  fell on his face and laughed...
18.12  Sarah laughed within herself and said...  The laugh of faith and the laugh of disbelief.
18.14  This is an inspiring question to keep in mind.
18.19  to do righteousness and justice...  I wonder how many of us have this on our parenting list.
18.25b  This is a great question to keep in mind when life seems all "topsey turvey" and confusing..