Thursday, March 31, 2016

Proverbs in February 2016

I don't think it is a mistake that the fear of the Lord is right next to verse about listening to your parents' instruction. I am thinking of applications for children and parents
Lord, help me listen to those you've put into my life to speak wisdom into my life and help me instruct others in a way that encourages them to have a health fear of you.
Proverbs 1.7-9
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, 
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

8 My son, hear the instruction of your father,
And do not forsake the law of your mother;

9 For they will be a graceful ornament on your head,
And chains about your neck.
Proverbs 2.1-2
1 My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you, 

2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
The first eight verses of this "sermonette" are the conditional "if," and verse nine begins the "then" part. It is worth noting that Solomon'a first condition could be described as a teachable spirit that embraces and seek's God's wisdom and instruction.
Lord, give me a heart that is desirous and receptive to your wise ways.
Proverbs 3.27-28
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it," 
When you have it with you.
Proverbs paints a picture of wisdom and understanding that takes pleasure in kindness and the ability to pay promptly. It's an orientation that our good God demonstrated in Christ's ministry then and now.
Lord, make me more like You.
After chapter three's impassioned pleas to GET wisdom we see a focus on the importance to KEEP wisdom. Loyalty, devotion, and commitment to this principled way of life are just as key as seeking it in the first place.
I am thinking about the mechanisms in my routine that help me remember and follow wisdom. Lord, save AND keep me.
Proverbs 4.5-6
Get wisdom! Get understanding! 
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.
rachaq That's how far we should stay from temptation. "How close can I get and still be safe?" is almost always the wrong question.
Proverbs 5.7-8
Therefore hear me now, my children,
And do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Remove your way far from her,
And do not go near the door of her house,
"I want a principle within of watchful, godly fear,
A sensibility to sin, a pain to feel it near"
It is interesting that two of the sins are closely related. I am thinking about how Christ's life and ministry was characterized by the opposites.
Lord, make me more like Jesus!
Proverbs 6.16-19
These six things the LORD hates, 
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

1. A proud look, 
2. A lying tongue, 
3. Hands that shed innocent blood, 
4. A heart that devises wicked plans, 
5. Feet that are swift in running to evil, 
6. A false witness who speaks lies, 
7. And one who sows discord among brethren.
I remember reading something to the effect that the action of a command was like the body, and the belief in the truth of the command was its soul. A body without a souk is dead, There may not be a better illustration of that than the immoral woman here.
Proverbs 7.13-15
So she caught him and kissed him;
With an impudent face she said to him: 
"I have peace offerings with me;
Today I have paid my vows.
So I came out to meet you,
Diligently to seek your face, And I have found you.
Lord, help me to keep AND believe your commands.
Proverbs 8.6-8
Listen, for I will speak of excellent things,
And from the opening of my lips will come right things;
For my mouth will speak truth;
Wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are with righteousness;
Nothing crooked or perverse is in them.
Excellent, right, true, and righteous--not not wicked and perverse. 
Let my words be like that too.
Wisdom is primarily a disposition to receive correction and instruction. It's about being more concerned with doing right than looking right.
Lord, thank you for putting wise people in my life. Help me grow in humility and the desire to be like You.
Proverbs 9.6-8
Forsake foolishness and live, 
And go in the way of understanding.
"He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
Verse one sets the stage with how a son pleases or disappoints godly parents. Then verses 2-3 begin to flesh out the description. It's not the rich wicked son who brings joy and will ultimately endure.
Lord, help me to be righteous and satisfied with your abundant blessings on my wife.
Proverbs 10.1-3
The proverbs of Solomon: 
A wise son makes a glad father,
But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.
Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, But righteousness delivers from death.
The LORD will not allow the righteous soul to famish,
But He casts away the desire of the wicked.
Verses 18-19 give the what and verse 20 the why. 
Lord, help me think and walk in the way you delight.
Proverbs 11.18-20
The wicked man earns an empty wage,
but the one who sows righteousness, a true reward.
Genuine righteousness leads to life,
but pursuing evil leads to death.
Those with twisted minds are detestable to the LORD,
but those with blameless conduct are His delight.
I am thinking about the sense in which false words are rash or reckless and how truthful wisdom promotes health.
Lord, help me take care to speak Your enduring truth.
Proverbs 12.17-19
He who speaks truth declares righteousness, 
But a false witness, deceit.
There is one who speaks [rashly is] like the piercings of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise promotes health.
The truthful lip shall be established forever,
But a lying tongue is but for a moment.
Proverbs 13.20-22
20 He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

21 Evil pursues sinners,
But to the righteous, good shall be repaid.

22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children,
But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.
I was struck by the strong sense of community, family, and legacy in these verses.
Those backsliders who are laughing it up may be hiding grief or haven't come into it yet.
Lord, make me a pleasant, beneficial person (Heb. towb) who is genuinely satisfied by you.
Proverbs 14.13-14
Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, 
And the end of mirth may be grief.
The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways,
But a good man will be satisfied from above.
Proverbs 15.15-18
All the days of the afflicted are evil,
But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.
Better is a little with the fear of the LORD,
Than great treasure with trouble.
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
Than a fatted calf with hatred.
A wrathful man stirs up strife,
But he who is slow to anger allays contention.
A pleasant disposition, long suffering, and a simple honest life are more central to joy than abundance. Stuff is temporary. Focus on the eternal.
Lord, make me a blessing!
Everybody grows old, but how sweet it is when that silver hair is testimony to the inner strength and righteousness that come from a long history of walking in the way of the Lord's wisdom.
I want to be like that when I grow up. Lord, please do that in me.
Proverbs 16.31-32
The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, 
[If] it is found in the way of righteousness.
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
Proverbs 16.27-28
He who has knowledge spares his words,
And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.
Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace;
When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.
Lord, help me have Your knowledge and understanding spirit that makes me quick to listen.

Proverbs 18.10-12
The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.
The rich man's wealth is his strong city,
And like a high wall in his own esteem. 
Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty,
And before honor is humility.
The old hymn says "My hope is in the Lord," but some have overconfident trust in their own resources.
Lord, you are my strong tower, give me the humble faith to keep my hope in you.
We can have many plans and ideas, but need a teachable spirit and commitment to the Lord's counsel in order to be kind and true.
My gracious and faithful Lord, I want to be like you.
Proverbs 19.20-22
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.
Proverbs 20.22-23
22 Do not say, "I will recompense evil";
Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.

23 Diverse weights are an abomination to the LORD,
And dishonest scales are not good.
Sometimes we are tempted to take matters into our own hands. But these proverbs encourage us to carry on with integrity and let the Lord prosper and defend.
Lord, increase my confidence in Your truth and faithfulness.
Self-control and cunning of the wise are contrasted with the brash irreverence of the Scorner.
Lord, help me to walk humbly before You.
Proverbs 21.22-24
22 A wise man scales the city of the mighty, 
And brings down the trusted stronghold.

23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles.

24 A proud and haughty man—"Scoffer" is his name;
He acts with arrogant pride.
I think we miss so much when we pluck individual proverbs out of their context. Here's another angle on parenting. It's keeping our kids out of the thorn patches of life. 8-9 are great too.
Lord, give me the good sense and character to stay out of the thorns and on the fairway.
Proverbs 22.5-6
Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; 
He who guards his soul will be far from them.
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Envy and zeal are to sides of the same word. We should keep that focus on the Blessed Hope and not get distracted my temporary temporal success.
Lord, keep my eye on the prize.
Proverbs 23.17-18
Do not let your heart envy sinners, 
But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day;
For surely there is a hereafter,
And your hope will not be cut off.
Proverbs 24.30-31
I went by the field of the lazy man,
And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;
And there it was, all overgrown with thorns;
Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down.
That reminds me that I need to work on that flowerbeds in my backyard.
Lord, help me make time for the things.that are important to You.
Proverbs 25.11-13
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.
Lord, who can I bless and encourage with my words today?
Proverbs 26.3-5
3 A whip for the horse,
A bridle for the donkey,
And a rod for the fool's back.

4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, 
Lest you also be like him
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest he be wise in his own eyes
Fools just don't get it and it takes a wise person to know the best approach for dealing with them in various situations.
Lord, give me hears to hear and a humble desire to do right in your eyes.
Knowledge does not save, but neither is biblical faith the proverbial "leap in the dark." --Duane Liftin in Word Vs. Deed
Proverbs 27.15-17
A continual dripping on a very rainy day
And a contentious woman are alike;
Whoever restrains her restrains the wind,
And grasps oil with his right hand.
As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
There is a difference between being an annoying and ineffective nag and being used by God to sharpen another's character. 
Lord, make me the latter.
 Proverbs 28.25-26
25 He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife,
But he who trusts in the LORD will be prospered. 

26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
But whoever walks wisely will be delivered.
This reminds me of that classic hymn, Trust and Obey. 
Lord, help me walk humbly before my God.
Proverbs 29.25-27
25 The fear of man brings a snare,
But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe. 

26 Many seek the ruler's favor,
But justice for man comes from the LORD. 

27 An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous,
And he who is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked.
It's a mistake to seek from people what ultimately only comes from God.
Lord, give me the faith put my hope and expectation in You.

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