Saturday, October 27, 2012

Proverbs 15.13-19 - The Heart's Superiority to Circumstances

8. Importance of Instruction (15.5-19)
     (a) Consequences of Accepting or Rejecting Instruction (15.5-12)
     (b) The Overcomer's Superiority to Circumstances (15.13-19)

 The Heart's  Superiority to Circumstances

This subunit consists of two proverb pairs (vv. 13-14, 16-17) and a janus verse linking them (v. 15).  In the Hebrew text, the line-initial anaphora "heart" verbally links vv. 13-14 as well as the topic of the heart's favorable or unfavorable manifestations (v. 13) and its source in being or not being discerning (v. 14).  Verses 16-17 are linked by the anaphora in each verset of "better...than" as well as the epiphora of "with it" at the end of each verse and by the notion that spiritual attitudes are more important than circumstances.  The janus verse binds the whole by the catchwords "a cheerful heart." ... Read holistically, the cheerful heart that adorns the face (v. 1) does not depend on health and wealth but daily overcomes any kind of affliction or deprivation (vv. 16-17).  ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT

A.  Internal Substance cheers.

13 A joyful heart makes a cheerful face
But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken
15.13b  But heartache (10:10) denotes the pained and troubled psyche that comes from living in folly, not wisdom (see 15:5-12).    ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT

14                                  But
The mind [heart]       the mouth
of the intelligent         of fools
seeks                             feeds on
knowledge,                  folly          
15.14a  intelligent...  Strong's H995 - biyn (Niphal) to be discerning
15.14b feeds...  Its poetic image of feeding (a hypocatastasis) would signify the acquisition of folly – the fool has an appetite for it.    ---NET Bible translation notes

B. Janus: (The Bridge) Line one reaches back while line two looks forward.

15 All the days of the afflicted are bad
But a cheerful heart has a continual feast.  
15.15 a-b  The contrast in this proverb is between the “joyful heart” (Heb “a heart of joy,” using an attributive genitive) and the “painful heart” (Heb “pain of the heart,” using a genitive of specification).    ---NET Bible translation notes
15.15b  continual feast...  The image of a continual feast signifies the enjoyment of what life offers (cf. TEV “happy people…enjoy life”). The figure is a hypocatastasis; among its several implications are joy, fulfillment, abundance, pleasure.    ---NET Bible translation notes

C.  Internal Substance Overcomes Adversity
One of the frequent characteristics of wisdom literature is the “better” saying; it is a comparison of different but similar things to determine which is to be preferred. These two verses focus on spiritual things being better than troubled material things.    ---NET Bible translation notes  
Better is                                  Than
a little with                             great treasure and
the fear of the LORD         turmoil with it. 

...the cause-consequence nexus may be turned upside down for a season.  ...  Eventually, however, since the LORD upholds the moral order, the world must be righted so that the righteous are rewarded with material gain and the wicked with material loss in a future that outlasts death.      ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT
15.16b  turmoil...  Turmoil refers to anxiety; the fear of the Lord alleviates anxiety, for it brings with it contentment and confidence.    ---NET Bible translation notes 
15.16b  with it...  Not all wealth has turmoil with it. But the proverb is focusing on the comparison of two things – fear of the Lord with little and wealth with turmoil. Between these two, the former is definitely better.    ---NET Bible study notes  

Better is                              Than
a dish of vegetables          a fattened ox served
where love is                     with hatred.  
...replaces "fear of the LORD" with "love" toward others, and "turmoil" with "hatred."   ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT
15.17b  hatred...  ...loathing the others at the choice banquet...    ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT

Here are two kinds of people who overcome their circumstances.
18                                       But
A hot-tempered man      the slow to anger
stirs up                               calms
strife,                                  a dispute
15.18a  hot-tempered...  The notion of "hate" in v. 17b forms the transition to the first contrast of persons, who rule or do not rule their circumstances.     ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT
15.18b the slow to anger...  But a patient person (see 14:29), who rules his passions (16:32; 19:11; Eccl. 7:8-9) pacifies (ie causes or brings about a state of peace and tranquility") a dispute, which is associated with anger in Prov. 30:33; Isa. 57:16, and the occasion for all sorts of wrongdoing.    ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT
15.18b  dispute...  The fact that רִיב (riv) is used for “quarrel; strife” strongly implies that the setting is the courtroom or other legal setting (the gates of the city). The hot-headed person is eager to turn every disagreement into a legal case.    ---NET Bible study notes 

19                                       But
The way                            the path
of the lazy                         of the upright
is as                                    is
a hedge of thorns,           a highway.
15.19a  lazy...  his spiritual disposition prevents him from doing anything: in his eyes everything is too difficult, painful, and/or dangerous to expend the effort (22:13; 26:13).   ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT
15.19a  hedge...  The point of the simile is that the path of life taken by the lazy person has many obstacles that are painful – it is like trying to break through a hedge of thorns. The LXX has “strewn with thorns.”    ---NET Bible study notes   

Discussion for Proverbs 15:13-19•    Identify the characteristics or qualities in these verses that impart the "substance" that cheers and overcomes adversity. 
•    Which ones are the biggest challenges for your children?  Have you seen your children grow in any of these areas?  What do you think prompted or facilitated that growth?

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