Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Musings on Proverbs and a Few Tidbits

Two things are front and center in these verses. First is the moral/spiritual component of wisdom and foolishness. Second is the primary role parents have of blessing their children (and grandchildren) with a teachable Godward orientation that will guide them safely through sinner's Siren's songs.
Proverbs 1.7-9
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
My son, hear the instruction of your father, ...

And do not forsake the law of your mother;
For they will be a graceful ornament on your head,
And chains about your neck."

A Shield:
Proverbs 2.6-8
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; ...

He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
8 He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
What is the Lord protecting us from? We can imagine all sorts of calamities, but the context seems to have something specific in mind. The wisdom God gives protects us (as the following verses make explicit) from deviating from the paths of justice and failing to walk uprightly. Isn't that what we are most hoping to be protected from?

We envy those who succeed through oppression when we lose focus on and desire for God's grace and eternal blessings.
Proverbs 3.31-33
"Do not envy the oppressor,
And choose none of his ways.
For the perverse person is an abomination to the LORD, ...

But His secret counsel is with the upright.
The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the home of the just.
Surely He scorns the scornful,
But gives grace to the humble.
The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools."
Lord, help me live in humility (in faith) before You and treasure your grace, intimate counsel, and blessing on my life.

Proverbs 4.18-19
"But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know what makes them stumble."...

These verses remind me of Paul's prayer for the Colossians "...giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness..." and reminds us that left to ourselves without God's wisdom we don't really even understand why we are stumbling.
Lord, give me the moral acumen to walk in understanding.

The words "preserve" and "keep" point to the need to continually give and pay attention to wise, godly instruction. Since the temptations are persuasive and will not stop, we must continually hear and heed sound instruction. Sin is crouched in the grass waiting for an opportunity.
Proverbs 5.1-3
"My son, pay attention to my wisdom;
Lend your ear to my understanding
That you may preserve discretion, ...

And your lips may keep knowledge.
For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey,
And her mouth is smoother than oil;"
Lord, keep me continually in your Word and Your way.

Proverbs 6.30-33
"People do not despise a thief If he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; He may have to give up all the substance of his house.
Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away."

These verses compare the sins a of stealing a man's material wealth and his wife. Both are wrong, b...ut adultery leaves it's mark on a man (and woman) that goes much deeper. It takes someone who really lacks sense to get tangled up in that.
Lord, please make my good judgement always outweigh my wayward desires.

The seductress of Proverbs six comforts the simple that it is unlikely that he will encounter the wrath or shame from the husband. Being simple, he does not realize that it is her and in the sin itself where the deadliest danger lies. I am not superman who can sin without it affecting my soul and destiny whether I am caught or not. Even in private...immoral thoughts and actions are deadly.
Proverbs 6
19 For my husband is not at home;
He has gone on a long journey;

25 Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways,
Do not stray into her paths;
26 For she has cast down many wounded,
And all who were slain by her were strong men. (or lots of men)
27 Her house is the way to hell,
Descending to the chambers of death.

Have a blessed day!
Proverbs 8.34-36
Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at the posts of my doors....

For whoever finds me finds life,
And obtains favor from the LORD.
But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
All those who hate me love death."

So, lady wisdom is not the only one crying out to people passing by. The foolish "woman" calls the simple to what she believes in.
Proverbs 9.13-15
"A foolish woman is clamorous;
She is simple, and knows nothing.
For she sits at the door of her house, ...

On a seat by the highest places of the city,
To call to those who pass by,
Who go straight on their way:"

Proverbs 10.27-29
"The fear of the LORD prolongs days,
But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
The hope of the righteous will be gladness,
But the expectation of the wicked will perish. ...

The way of the LORD is strength for the upright,
But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity."

The fear of the Lord, expectation of the righteous, and the way of the Lord stand in sharp contrast to the shortened existence and ultimate destruction of the wicked.
Lord keep me focused on You, hoping in You, and walking with You.

Verse 22 presents a powerful image that parents often use as a reminder for their daughter. The broader context of the proverbs around it this proverb paints the picture of the foolish wicked who have a distracting desirable quality in spite of being fundamentally unsound.
Proverbs 11.22-23
"As a ring of gold in a swine's snout,
So is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.
The desire of the righteous is only good, ...

But the expectation of the wicked is wrath."
Lord, create and strengthen in me a new heart so Your new man dominates and defines all of me.

Proverbs 12.22-23
"Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD,
But those who deal truthfully are His delight.
A prudent man conceals knowledge,
But the heart of fools proclaims foolishness."...

I am thinking about the similarities between some one who lies and someone who says too much foolishness about someone or something. Let our words be few and true.

In chess when you have the right pieces deployed to the right parts of the board at the right time in the game good things tend to happen. In life good friends and a righteous life put you in circumstances were good things tend to happen.
Proverbs 12.20-21
"The one who associates with the wise grows wise,
but a companion of fools suffers harm.
Calamity pursues sinners, ...

but prosperity rewards the righteous." [NET]
Lord, help me have friends and a life that put me in the path of your blessing.

Proverbs 14.7-9
"Go from the presence of a foolish man,
When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.
The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way,
But the folly of fools is deceit....

Fools mock at sin,
But among the upright there is favor."

This string of proverbs teaches us that the foolish live in deception about the seriousness of their sinful ways. When you hear them make light of their sin steer clear! The "prudent" understand the eternal nature of their way (choices and habits) and are viewed favorably in the Galatians 5.23b sense.
Lord, give me an eternal understanding about my choices and the humble desire to value righteousness with the wise.

"...for He [the Most High] is kind to the thankful and evil." Luke 6.35b
And the opposite of thankful is... Hmmm.

While verse 26 seems to provide the wholesome contrast of honest work, the way of the man that seems right is seen in three progressions in verses 27-30.
Proverbs 16.25-30
25 There is a way that seems right to a MAN, But its end is the way of death.
26 The person who labors, labors for himself, For his hungry mouth drives him on.
27 An ungodly MAN digs up evil, ...

And it is on his lips like a burning fire.
28 A perverse MAN sows strife,
And a whisperer separates the best of friends.
29 A violent MAN entices his neighbor,
And leads him in a way that is not good.
30 He winks his eye to devise perverse things;
He purses his lips and brings about evil.

Proverbs 17:10-11
"Rebuke is more effective for a wise man
Than a hundred blows on a fool.
An evil man seeks only rebellion;
Therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him."...

A foolish and evil man is predictably stuck in his wicked ways. Lord, give me a tender conscience and tender heart that turns with your gentle prompt.

Proverbs 18 begins with a proverb about the foolishness of being independent of the good counsel from friends.
"A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He rages against all wise judgment."
The last three complement it with a theme of the value of good "friends."
"22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing, ...

And obtains favor from the LORD.
23 The poor man uses entreaties,
But the rich answers roughly.
24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
Lord, thank you for my wife that shows Your favor on me, and help me have and value friends that speak truth to me.

Your financial advisor will tell you what to do for future financial success. In these proverbs we learn how to prepare ourselves to be kind, satisfied, and wise in our old age.
Proverbs 19.20-23
"Listen to counsel and receive instruction,
That you may be wise in your latter days.
There are many plans in a man's heart, ...

Nevertheless the LORD's counsel—that will stand.
What is desired in a man is kindness,
And a poor man is better than a liar.
The fear of the LORD leads to life,
And he who has it will abide in satisfaction;
He will not be visited with evil."
Lord, help me to listen and store up a heart of wisdom, kindness, and blessing for my old age.

The attentiveness, diligence, and shrewdness described in these verses are more valuable than gold and rubies. They are the means to obtain and keep success in many spheres of life.
Proverbs 20.12-15
"The hearing ear and the seeing eye,
The LORD has made them both....

Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty;
Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.
'It is good for nothing,' cries the buyer;
But when he has gone his way, then he boasts.
There is gold and a multitude of rubies,
But the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel."

These two proverbs help flesh out Ephesians 4.28 with the idea that a desire to give is the best motivation for honest work.
Proverbs 21.25-26
"The desire of the lazy man kills him,
For his hands refuse to labor.
He covets greedily all day long, ...

But the righteous gives and does not spare."
Lord, give me and my family generous, hard working hearts.

Proverbs 22.17-19 are the first half to the prologue of thirty wise sayings. Wisdom (any teaching) that does not lead to trust in the Lord is hollow. It is a lovely, beautiful thing to learn, remember, and think about that kind of wisdom. Let's do something lovely today.
"Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise,
And apply your heart to my knowledge;
For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you;
Let them all be fixed upon your lips, ...

So that your trust may be in the LORD;
I have instructed you today, even you."

From the Howard Hendricks tribute page...
My favorite Prof quote. . . "Gentleman here in class we are building a strong foundation upon which you will build your ministry. Today we are pouring concrete, yet most of you have shown up with a paintbrush." --Danny Hays

First things first: This is about as close to an admonition about being a workaholic as you will find in Proverbs. The focus here is more on what you devote yourself to. Don't expend to much time and energy on things that are not eternal.
Proverbs 23.4-5
"Do not overwork to be rich;
Because of your own understanding, cease!
Will you set your eyes on that which is not? ...

For riches certainly make themselves wings;
They fly away like an eagle toward heaven."

Proverbs 24 does teach us to look at the "deserved" misfortune of others and learn a lesson.
"30 I went by the field of the lazy man,
And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;
31 And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles;
Its stone wall was broken down....

32 When I saw it, I considered it well;
I looked on it and received instruction:"

But earlier in the chapter it warns us against taking pleasure in another's downfall.
17 "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;"

Lord help me be wise, but not smug.

These two cerebral cartoons work together to teach the importance of moderation and self-control.' Bragging on yourself too much will make everybody around you sick, and not moderating your ego and emotional responses can leave you open to serious attacks.
Lord, give me the humility, wisdom, and the steady patience I need today.

Proverbs 25.27-28
"It is not good to eat much honey; ...

So to seek one's own glory is not glory.*
Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls."

* "Heb. 'and the investigation of their glory is not glory.' This line is difficult to understand but it forms an analogy to honey—glory, like honey, is good, but not to excess." (NETBible trans. Notes)

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