Thursday, July 7, 2016

Proverbs in June 2016

When you walk with friends, you will end up where they a going.
Lord, help my ear be attentive to Your wise voice.
Proverbs 1.15-18
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them,
Keep your foot from their path;
16 For their feet run to evil,
And they make haste to shed blood.
17 Surely, in vain the net is spread In the sight of any bird;
18 But they lie in wait for their own blood,
They lurk secretly for their own lives.

Proverbs 2.4-6
4 If you seek her (wisdom) as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God. 
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
I was struck by the juxtaposition of the command to seek wisdom and reality that we will understand because the Lord gives wisdom. It kinda sounds soteriological.
Lord help the seek you. Fill me Your Spirit of wisdom.

Verses 5-6 are iconic favorites that are often understood in the sense of individual decisions like which car to buy. 7-8 seem to complement trusting the Lord with fearing the Lord, and pairing leaning on your own understanding with being wise in your own eyes, etc...
Proverbs 3.5-8
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding; 
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
8 It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.
Lord, keep me leaning on You and walking in Your paths.

Proverbs 4.20-22
20 My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
22 For they are life to those who find them, 
And health to all their flesh.
Another series of proverbs that encourages us in consistent and continuous Bible reading and meditation.
Lord, don't let me forget your wisdom.

Proverbs 5.5-6 (NASA)
Her feet go down to death,
Her steps take hold of Sheol.
She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable,
she does not know it.
The description of the woman the son should avoid is striking, especially in light of the mention in chapter seven of her offering purification sacrifices. She does not know she is on the path to Sheol because she doesn't ponder (to weigh, prepare) the way of life.
Lord, give me the Spirit of understanding to take the time and thought to truly contemplate on Your way, the way of life.

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.
Do I resent the "reproof of instruction" from the commandment more than the seductress (or fill in the blank with your besetting sin)?
Lord, give me a heart and desire for Your law that eclipses other things that seduce my affections.

The contrast between the opening call to wisdom in verses 1 & 2 and the senseless young man wandering thoughtlessly to his doom is heartbreaking.
Proverbs 7.1-2 & 7-9
1 My son, keep my words,
And treasure my commands within you. 

2 Keep my commands and live,
And my law as the apple of your eye.

7 And saw among the simple,
I perceived among the youths,
A young man devoid of understanding,
8 Passing along the street near her corner;
And he took the path to her house
9 In the twilight, in the evening,
In the black and dark night.
"I want a principle within of watchful Godly fear,
A sensibility of sin, a pain to feel it near."

How often do I sin against my soul by disdaining correction? Lord, help me to love Your wisdom, watch daily, and obtain your favor.
Proverbs 8.33-36
33 Hear instruction and be wise, And do not disdain it.
34 Blessed is the man who listens to me (Wisdom),
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at the posts of my doors.
35 For whoever finds me finds life,
And obtains favor from the LORD;
36 But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
All those who hate me love death."

Proverbs 9.10-12
10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you. 
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself,
And if you scoff, you will bear it alone."
Wisdom in this sense is grounded in our relationship with the Lord, The Holy One. I am thinking about how "fear" and knowledge fit together in a salvation sense.
Lord, help me respect you more and joyfully know You in Your holiness.

Proverbs 10:23-25
23 To do evil is like sport to a fool,
But a man of understanding has wisdom.
24 The fear of the wicked will come upon him,
And the desire of the righteous will be granted.
25 When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more,
But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.
The shortsighted fool's life has no enduring future.
Lord, grant me the wisdom to live for keeps.

Dishonesty and pride drive one to obtain riches, which have no eternal value of themselves, by any means, but, it is integrity, humility, and righteousness that have eternal value.
Proverbs 11.1-4
Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD,
But a just weight is His delight. 
When pride comes, then comes shame;
But with the humble is wisdom.
The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.
Lord, help me seek those things which are above where Christ sits at Your right hand.

These two antithetical proverbs contrast the rash, impulsive fool with the thoughtful listener who is wise.
Proverbs 12.15-16
The way of a fool is right in his own opinion,
but the one who listens to advice is wise.
A fool's annoyance is known at once,
but the prudent overlooks an insult.
Lord, give me the patient wisdom to patiently and thoughtfully response.thoughtfully

Proverbs 13.5-6
A righteous man hates lying,
But a wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame.
Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless,
But wickedness overthrows the sinner.
Verse 5 & 6b are pretty straightforward, but I am intrigued by the idea of how righteousness guards.
Lord, help me be the man that righteousness guards.

The awareness that God is watching and waiting and rewarding all that we do, say, and think can have a powerful and positive impact on our life when we are walking with the Lord.
Proverbs 15.26-27
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.
Lord, help me live for You and rest in You.

Three sayings contrast gentle, healing speech that uses knowledge correctly with a harsh, foolish tongue that breaks the spirit. In the middle is a reminder that the Lord is keeping watch on all we say.
Proverbs 15.1-4
1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger. 
2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,
But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place,
Keeping watch on the evil and the good.
4 A wholesome (healing) tongue is a tree of life,
But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Lord help me speak good words that heal and bring peace.

Three proverbs in a set of five about wisdom and our speech that end with a reminder about the healing potential of words.
Proverbs 16.22-24 (net)
22 Insight is like a life-giving fountain to the one who possesses it,
but folly leads to the discipline of fools.
23 A wise person's heart makes his speech wise
and it adds persuasiveness to his words.
24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Lord, let my tongue bring Your healing to others.

The evil person who is always causing trouble will continually have trouble and should be avoided.
Proverbs 17.11-13
11 An evil man seeks only rebellion;
Therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him. 
12 Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs,
Rather than a fool in his folly.
13 Whoever rewards evil for good,
Evil will not depart from his house.
Lord help we love goodness and kindness and have the discernment to avoid those that don't.

The foolish resistance to understanding wise council begins a downward spiral.
Proverbs 18.1-3
1 A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He rages against all wise judgment. 
2 A fool has no delight in understanding,
But in expressing his own heart.
3 When the wicked comes, contempt comes also;
And with dishonor comes reproach.
Lord, help me love and listen to Your wisdom.

These proverbs expound on the truth that there are few choices more important than choosing a wife (or husband) and few blessings better than a good one.
Proverbs 19.13-14
13 A foolish son is the ruin of his father,
And the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping. 
14 Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the LORD.
Lord, thank you for blessing me with my wife.

Proverbs 20.26-28
26 A wise king sifts out the wicked,
And brings the threshing wheel over them.
27 The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD,
Searching all the inner depths of his heart.
28 Mercy and truth preserve the king,
And by lovingkindness he upholds his throne.
Proverbs 20:27 (HCSB)
The Lord's lamp sheds light on a person's life, searching the innermost parts.

Prepare AND pray because it is the Lord and not our preparation alone that bring victory.
Proverbs 21.30-31
30 There is no wisdom or understanding
Or counsel against the LORD.
31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But deliverance is of the LORD.

Verses 3-5 help clarify "the way he should go." Teaching children prudence, humility, and the straight and true path will set them on course to a good end.
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.
Lord, help me stay out of the thorns and teach children to say on the way.

These two Sayings of the Wise balance the critical and eternally important duty of raising children to follow the Lord's way with the joy of having children who walk in the Lord's wisdom.
Proverbs 23.13-14, 15-16
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.

Revenge is not the way of wisdom, especially to a neighbor.
Proverbs 24.28-29
28 Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause,
For would you deceive with your lips? 
29 Do not say,
"I will do to him just as he has done to me;
I will render to the man according to his work."
Lord, help me experience and practice your forgiveness.

This concept makes a great prayer request for our country's leaders and those who lead large organizations.
Proverbs 25.4-5
Take away the dross from silver,
And it will go to the silversmith for jewelry. 
Take away the wicked from before the king,
And his throne will be established in righteousness.

Proverbs 26.16-17
The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes
Than seven men who can answer sensibly.
He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own
Is like one who takes a dog by the ears.
The lazy man who does not have the initiative and wisdom to tackle his own problems is quick with a solution for other's quarrels.
Lord, make me diligent to work on my challenges and wise to know which quarrels I should leave alone.

Proverbs 27.3-6
A stone is heavy and sand is weighty,
But a fool's wrath is heavier than both of them.
Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent,
But who is able to stand before jealousy? 
Open rebuke is better
Than love carefully concealed.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
We see a fool's silent wrath turning to jealously contrasted with the open relationship of friends who are willing to speak honest words that bring reconciliation.
Lord, give me those friends.

Proverbs 28.6
Better is the poor who walks in his integrity
Than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.
Proverbs is full of sayings that highlight the expected benefits of wisdom and righteousness. This one reminds us that integrity is better even if material prosperity hasn't come yet (or doesn't on this side of glory).
Lord, give me the grace to walk with you in Your way through thick or thin. (Philippians 4.12-13)

When the iconic phrase from Proverbs 29.18, "Where there is no vision the people perish," is seen in its context, it transforms from a mushy thought about some vague inspirational urge to a practical precept highlighting the need to correct and teach (especially your children) the Word.
Proverbs 29.17-18
17 Correct your son, and he will give you rest;
Yes, he will give delight to your soul. 
18 Where there is no revelation [prophetic vision], the people cast off restraint;
But happy is he who keeps the law.
Lord, help the correction of the Word make me and my children a delight.

Proverbs 30.32-33
If you have been foolish in exalting yourself,
Or if you have devised evil,
Put your hand on your mouth.
For as the churning of milk produces butter, 
And wringing the nose produces blood,
So the forcing (stirring up) of wrath produces strife.
We probably don't do that third line often enough. 

Hebrews 12.7-8
But if you are without chastening ... Then you are illegitimate and not sons.
I remember my mom warning me over and over that I should be concerned when I sin and do not get caught because getting caught was a sign of God's concern for me.
"All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on Him being with them.” Hudson Taylor

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