Friday, March 11, 2016

Proverbs in December 2015

As I read these verses it struck me as sounding very much like an "altar call," especially in light of verses 7-9. I am increasingly aware of how theological Proverbs is.
Proverbs 1.22-23
"How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? 
For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge.
Turn at my rebuke; 
Surely I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.

Proverbs 2.20-22
20 So you will walk in the way of good people, 
and will keep on the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will reside in the land, 
and those with integrity will remain in it,

22 but the wicked will be removed from the land,
and the treacherous will be torn away from it.
We really see the book of Deuteronomy shine through in the words "the land" and the warnings to Israel if they were treacherous (unfaithful to their Covenant). Note, that the righteous are also the good.
Lord, make me good and faithful to You.

Wisdom takes pleasure in integrity, generosity, and peace. 
Lord, help Your heart to be my heart.
Proverbs 3.27-30
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, 
When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
28 Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,"
When you have it with you.
29 Do not devise evil against your neighbor,
For he dwells by you for safety's sake.
30 Do not strive with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.

Proverbs 4.14-17
"Do not enter the path of the wicked,
And do not walk in the way of evil.
Avoid it, do not travel on it;
Turn away from it and pass on. 
For they do not sleep unless they have done evil;
And their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall.
For they eat the bread of wickedness,
And drink the wine of violence."

I am struck by how consumed the wicked are in thinking about and doing wickedness.
Lord, give me that same intensity and preoccupation with You.

In the midst of all the focus on what NOT to do, here are some verses that rejoice in how to righteously fulfill these desires. Remember to do the do's. smile emoticon
Proverbs 5.18-19
Let your fountain be blessed, 
And rejoice with the wife of your youth. 
As a loving deer and a graceful doe, 
Let her ,,, satisfy you at all times;
And always be enraptured with her love.

Proverbs 6.23-25
"For the commandment is a lamp,
And the law a light;
Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,
To keep you from the evil woman, 
From the flattering tongue of a seductress.
Do not lust after her beauty in your heart,
Nor let her allure you with her eyelids."

This chapter warns the son (and us) against debt, worthless men, immorality, and their dire consequences. Using the law as a guiding principle is presented as an effective deterrent.
Lord, make me a man of the book who meditates on and follows Your law day and night.

The impulsive and unwise decision of the naive/simple young man in this story had lasting consequences. 
Lord, help me be intentional about doing good and thoughtful in my decisions.
Proverbs 7.22-23
"Immediately (or suddenly) he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, 
Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks,
Till an arrow struck his liver.
As a bird hastens to the snare,
He did not know it would cost his life."

Wisdom is not some cryptic, unwilling secret whose design is to be difficult and odious. God desires to reward our efforts to understand His ways, and for us to be blessed by following them.
Lord, give me a heart that seeks You and your wisdom.
Proverbs 8.17-19
17 I love those who love me, 
And those who seek me diligently will find me.
18 Riches and honor are with me,
Enduring riches and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold,
And my revenue than choice silver.

The contrasts between deceit and truth in these verses highlight the simple joy and healthily effects of truth telling.
Proverbs 12
17 He who speaks truth declares righteousness, 
But a false witness, deceit.
18 There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, 
But the tongue of the wise promotes health.
19 The truthful lip shall be established forever,
But a lying tongue is but for a moment.
20 Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,
But counselors of peace have joy.

Even lawless men unknowingly accomplish what God had planned all along. That's one to sit and think about for a while.
Acts 2.23 "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

Faithful and prudent are a good combination. Lord, help me to reflect Your faithfulness.
Proverbs 13.15-17
15 Good understanding gains favor, 
But the way of the unfaithful is hard. 
16 Every prudent man acts with knowledge, 
But a fool lays open his folly.
17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
But a faithful ambassador brings health.

The awareness that God is watching, weighing, and rewarding all that I do, say, or think is a terror to those who sin, but for those who walk with the Lord it is...
Proverbs 14.26-27
In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, 
And His children will have a place of refuge.
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, 
To turn one away from the snares of death.

Proverbs 15.6-7
In the house of the righteous there is much treasure,
But in the revenue of the wicked is trouble.
The lips of the wise disperse knowledge,
But the heart of the fool does not do so.

I wonder if we miss the point when we immediately associate the treasure with material wealth. Verse seven seems to clarify the primary focus.
Lord, make my house an abundant treasury of Godly wisdom.

Proverbs 16.18-20
Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.
Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly,
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
He who heeds the word wisely will find good,
And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.

The one who heeds the Word wisely has a humble trust in the Lord that makes him happy even when he rejects an opportunity to prosper with the proud.

A life engulfed in sin and deceit creates strife and children who follow that sad heritage breaking their parent's hearts. 
Lord, help me love honest righteousness that my children will embrace with wisdom and peace.
Proverbs 17.19-22
19 He who loves transgression loves strife, 
And he who exalts his gate seeks destruction.
20 He who has a deceitful heart finds no good,
And he who has a perverse tongue falls into evil.
21 He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow,
And the father of a fool has no joy.
22 A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones.

The diligent work of the wise is contrasted with the hasty path to riches fueled by deceit. The American proverb, "Haste makes waste," (a fine proverb) does not quite capture the spiritual foundation these two proverbs lay.
Proverbs 21.5-6
5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, 
But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty. 
6 Getting treasures by a lying tongue Is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.

Proverbs 22.3-6
3 A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,
But the simple pass on and are punished.
4 By humility and the fear of the LORD
Are riches and honor and life. 
5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse;
He who guards his soul will be far from them.
6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

A prudent man sees that humility and fear of the Lord has a good end and guards his heart against straying in the the thorny way that results in punishment. A wise parent trains their children' hearts to walk in that way.
These two sayings of the "Thirty Wise Sayings" complement each other. The unpleasant task of disciplining and training children has the satisfying reward of adult children with wise hearts.
Proverbs 23.13-16
Do not withhold correction from a child,
For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.
You shall beat him with a rod,
And deliver his soul from hell.

My son, if your heart is wise,
My heart will rejoice—indeed, I myself;
Yes, my inmost being will rejoice
When your lips speak right things.
(A point of clarification on 13b, the "will not die" doesn't mean "it won't kill them," but rather with deliver them from "death" as a reperesentation of what happens to unruly, undisciplined adults.)

Proverbs 24.13-14
My son, eat honey because it is good,
And the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste;
So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul;
If you have found it, there is a prospect, 
And your hope will not be cut off.

Here, wisdom is described in terms much more lasting than one would use for cleverness. I am reminded is Psalm 19.7-10.

The timely word, wise rebuke, and reliable messenger are contrasted with an empty boast. Lord, make my words a meaningful blessing and positive reflection on You today.
Proverbs 25.13-16
11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver. 
12 Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear. 
13 Like the cold of snow in time of harvest Is a faithful messenger to those who send him, 
For he refreshes the soul of his masters.
14 Whoever falsely boasts of giving Is like clouds and wind without rain.

This reminds me of the kind of thing you would hear in a safety class. It reinforces the care we should take especially with our close neighbors and friends. As wise ambassadors of our Lord, we should be thoughtful and cautious about unintended consequences even of practical jokes, etc.

Proverbs 26.18-19
Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death,
Is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, "I was only joking!"

These proverbs unite around the truths in Lev. 19.17-18. Wise people resolve conflicts and misunderstandings and keep short accounts.
Lord, help me keep open communication and short account with You and others.
Proverbs 27.3-6
3 A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, 
But a fool's wrath is heavier than both of them.
4 Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent,
But who is able to stand before jealousy?
5 Open rebuke is better
Than love carefully concealed.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Lev. 19.17-18
17 'You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 17 "You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.
18 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Here is a caution to those who would disregard the Scriptures / God's laws and encourage others to enjoy their "freedom." Lord, help my listen to your Word and lice blameless before You,

Proverbs 28.9-10
One who turns away his ear from hearing the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination.
Whoever causes the upright to go astray in an evil way,
He himself will fall into his own pit;
But the blameless will inherit good.

These two sets of proverbs tie wise discipline and, by implication, Scripture instruction of children with the long term well being of families and the larger society.
Lord, make me and my family obedient students of the Scriptures.
Proverbs 29.15-18
15 The rod and rebuke give wisdom, 
But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
16 When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increases;
But the righteous will see their fall.

17 Correct your son, and he will give you rest;
Yes, he will give delight to your soul.
18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;
But happy is he who keeps the law.

Position To Pray
Three preachers sat discussing the best positions for prayer, while a telephone repairman worked nearby.
"Kneeling is definitely best," claimed one.

"No," another contended. "I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to Heaven."
"You're both wrong," the third insisted. "The most effective prayer position is lying prostrate, face down on the floor."
The repairman could contain himself no longer.
"Gentlemen," he interrupted, "the best praying I ever did was hanging upside down from a telephone pole."
Received from

These verses begin with maligning a servant, end with devouring the poor, and describe people who are so blindly full of their own importance that they even "trash talk" their parents.
Lord, hep me to have a gracious spirit that respects and cares for people of all socio-economic statuses.

Proverbs 30.10-14
Do not malign a servant to his master, 
Lest he curse you, and you be found guilty.
There is a generation that curses its father,
And does not bless its mother.
There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes,
Yet is not washed from its filthiness.
There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes!
And their eyelids are lifted up.
There is a generation whose teeth are like swords,
And whose fangs are like knives,
To devour the poor from off the earth,
And the needy from among men.

The contrast here between those who need to stay sharp and NOT forget, and those who could use something to numb their senses is thought provoking.
Proverbs 31.4-7
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine, 
Nor for princes intoxicating drink;
Lest they drink and forget the law,
And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.

Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to those who are bitter of heart.
Let him drink and forget his poverty,
And remember his misery no more.

Mark 10:32-45 Jesus foretold His death followed by the disciples arguing about who is the greatest. I guess some things never change. God, please keep me focused on my Savior who came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.

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