Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Proverbs - August 2016

Paths lead places. When we persistently reject wisdom's call and instruction, we are eventually given our desire to be foolish. Wisdom will not be there when it is too late.
Proverbs 1.24-26
Because I have called and you refused,
I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, 
Because you disdained all my counsel,
And would have none of my rebuke.
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your terror comes,
Lord, help me be a hearer and doer of Your Word and receive all the blessings of faithfully following your wise path.
A changed heart will change choices.
Proverbs 2.10-11
When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, 
Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
Lord, help me to love You, take pleasure in knowledge, and be preserved and kept in the way.
A changed heart will change choices.
Proverbs 2.10-11
When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, 
Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
Lord, help me to love You, take pleasure in knowledge, and be preserved and kept in the way.
Proverbs 4.5-7
5 Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. 

6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you. 

7 Wisdom is the principal (first, chief, choice part, best) thing; Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
1. Wisdom is communicated verbally, but is more than a group of sayings or lectures.
2. Wisdom, is not some kind of theoretical "mumbo-jumbo." Having and following it impacts our lives.
3. It is wisdom itself (for many reasons) not the benefits that are the principal thing. It reminds me of Matthew 6.33.
Lord, help me seek your wisdom first.
Proverbs spends a lot of ink warning the son (with applications for the daughter) about the danger of sexual activity outside of marriage. Here it is pictured as something precious and exclusive that should not be allowed to flow beyond his own house and garden.
Proverbs 5.15-17
Drink water from your own cistern,
And running water from your own well. 
Should your fountains be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
Let them be only your own,
And not for strangers with you.
Lord, help me be loyal to Your wisdom and the wife You have graciously given me.
These verses are an example of how God can use nature as a memorable illustration of how we should act. These verses on diligence and planning ahead are part of a fifteen verse section on "finances."
Proverbs 6.6-8
Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler,
Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.
Lord, help me be more like the ant.
Wisdom is personified as calling out like in chapter one. It is described as calling out to the simple and the fools, but not the scornful whose pride apparently makes it unlikely that they would be receptive to excellent/noble and right things.
Proverbs 8.4-6
"To you, O men, I call,
And my voice is to the sons of men.
O you simple ones, understand prudence,
And you fools, be of an understanding heart.
Listen, for I will speak of excellent (noble) things,
And from the opening of my lips will come right things;
Lord help me have the humble heart of a hearer (and doer) of Your wise words.
In the transition between the descriptions of Wisdom and Folly calling out to those who pass by we find this reminder. It is a good one to pound into our thinking since we are often not in the best frame of mind to receive correction when we need it. 
Proverbs 9.8-9
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. 
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
Lord, keep me humble and fearing You so that I will welcome the instruction and rebukes that make me wiser.
Proverbs 10.24-25
The fear of the wicked will come upon him,
And the desire of the righteous will be granted.
When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more,
But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.
Lord, help me build my life on the Rock, that will never be blown or washed away.
The greedy businessman who seeks only to enrich himself is contrasted with a generous soul who seeks to bless others even with his (her) business and is enriched in the process.
Proverbs 11.24-26
There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
And there is one who withholds more than is right, 
But it leads to poverty.
The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.
The people will curse him who withholds grain,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.
Lord, help me be an extension of your generosity.
Proverbs 12.8-9A man will be commended according to his wisdom,
But he who is of a perverse heart will be despised.
Better is the one who is slighted but has a servant,
Than he who honors himself but lacks bread.
Normally the wise are commended, but if not, substance is better than show.
Lord, make me a man of substance.
Proverbs 13.10-11
By pride comes nothing but strife, 
But with the well-advised is wisdom.
Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, 
But he who gathers by labor will increase.
The pairing of antonyms provides some good food for thought. Here we have the proud contrasted with the "well advised," and the resulting strife contrasted with wisdom. Why do the proud have strife instead of wisdom? What does the contrast between dishonesty and labor teach us?
At first glance these sayings don't seem to share much in common, but after you reflect for a while...
Proverbs 14:5-6
A faithful witness does not lie,
But a false witness will utter lies.
A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it,
But knowledge is easy to him who understands.
While wisdom and truth are not the same things, it Is the same faithful and wise person who will travel with relative ease in the spheres of wisdom and knowledge. Lord, I want to be that man.
Proverbs 15.28-29
The heart of the righteous studies how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.
The LORD is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.
Sometimes we get the idea that we should just gush whatever comes to mind to God in an effort to be real, etc. If we should be thoughtful in how we talk to others, how much more when we humbly approach our Maker.
Lord, help me be righteous and wise in my thoughts, conversations with others, and in my thoughts and prayers toward You.
A total lack of moral discernment and aptitude is described in these two sayings.
Proverbs 17.15-16
He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just,
Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD. 
Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom,
Since he has no heart for it?
Lord, give me a wise discerning heart that sees things the way you do.
There is the idea of "Dress for success," and here the idea is similar and less superficial. Am I clothed in humility, or is my "know it all" attitude preparing me for destruction?
Proverbs 18.12-13
Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty,
And before honor is humility. 
He who answers a matter before he hears it,
It is folly and shame to him.
Lord, grant me the humble spirit of a learner.
Proverbs 19.5, 9
5 A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who speaks lies will not escape.

9 A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who speaks lies shall perish.
Two practically identical sayings in close proximity gets me to thinking.
Lord, help me to be a model of Your truthfulness/faithfulness.
These proverbs are part of a short section on speech and commerce. They acknowledge the Lord as the one who enables perception with a couple examples.
Proverbs 20.12-15
12 The hearing ear and the seeing eye,
The LORD has made them both.

13 Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty;
Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread. 

14 "It is good for nothing," cries the buyer;
But when he has gone his way, then he boasts.

15 There is gold and a multitude of rubies,
But the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
Lord, give me hearing hears, seeing eyes and the wise words that are more precious than gold. Then help me use them for Your glory.
The first and last two verses in this chapter seem to form a frame around the chapter. These two sayings remind us that we (and even powerful rulers) are not as free and independent to think and do as we please as we might think.
Proverbs 21.1-2
1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD,
Like the rivers of water; 

He turns it wherever He wishes. 

2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
But the LORD weighs the hearts.
Lord, I want to think thoughts that please You and welcome your direction in my life.
provide an insightful contrast to the love for moral purity and compassionate words that attract the friendship of godly rulers.
Proverbs 22.10-12
10 Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave;
Yes, strife and reproach will cease.

11 He who loves purity of heart
And has grace on his lips,
The king will be his friend. 

12 The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge,
But He overthrows the words of the faithless.
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, o Lord.
# 7 of the Thirty Sayings of the Wise reminds us that just because we can doesn't mean we should. A little wisdom and self-control can go a long way in many situations.
Proverbs 23.1-3
When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you; 
And put a knife to your throat If you are a man given to appetite.
Do not desire his delicacies,
For they are deceptive food.
Lord, give me a humble fear of You and desire for You and for Your ways that will eclipse all others.
Proverbs 24.28-29
Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause,
For would you deceive with your lips?
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."
It would be easy to only read these two sayings from the perspective of our own self-interest until we remember the second great commandment and Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan.
Lord, help my love for You to overflow to my neighbors.
Few things are as frustrating as the person who cannot be relied on and has no sense of what is socially appropriate for different situations.
Proverbs 25.19-20
Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble
Is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.
Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather,
And like vinegar on soda,
Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.
Lord, give me the faithfulness and wisdom to be a blessing to others.
These sayings describe the hateful enemy who hides their evil intentions. They serve as a warning about others and give a caution about our own hearts.
Proverbs 26.23-26
23 Fervent lips with a wicked heart
Are like earthenware covered with silver dross.

24 He who hates, disguises it with his lips,
And lays up deceit within himself; 

25 When he speaks kindly, do not believe him,
For there are seven abominations in his heart.

26 Though his hatred is covered by deceit,
His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.
Lord, help me to be wise and discerning and full of Christ's love for all.
In the middle of sayings about friends and relationships, we find this caution to be wise and prudent when money is involved.
Proverbs 27.11-13
11 My son, be wise, and make my heart glad,
That I may answer him who reproaches me.

12 A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself;
The simple pass on and are punished. 

13 Take the garment of him who is surety for a stranger,
And hold it in pledge when he is surety for a seductress.
Lord give me the prudence to anticipate and the wisdom to make appropriate provisions.
One of the reoccurring themes in the OT is the condemnation of those (esp. in power) who oppress the helpless.
Proverbs 28.15-17
15 Like a roaring lion and a charging bear Is a wicked ruler over poor people.
16 A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor, 
But he who hates covetousness will prolong his days.

17 A man burdened with bloodshed will flee into a pit;
Let no one help him.
Lord, give me a generous and compassionate spirit that does good for others.
These sayings contrast the greedy predators of Proverbs 1.10ff with thoughtful protectors of the poor.
Proverbs 29.5-7
5 A man who flatters his neighbor
Spreads a net for his feet.

6 By transgression an evil man is snared,
But the righteous sings and rejoices.

7 The righteous considers the cause of the poor,
But the wicked does not understand such knowledge.
Lord, give me a heart and perspective that considers the cause of the poor.
expected. We live in an imperfect and fallen world waiting on and looking for the One who will set things right.
Proverbs 30.21-23
For three things the earth is perturbed,
Yes, for four it cannot bear up:
For a servant when he reigns,
A fool when he is filled with food,
A hateful woman when she is married,
And a maidservant who succeeds her mistress.
Lord, thank you for your mercy when I don't get what I deserve. Help me believe and hope in You.
Proverbs 31.1
The words of King Lemuel,
the utterance which his mother taught him:
This reminds me of the iconic quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln. "All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."
Lord, thank you for my excellent mother and my children's excellent mother.
Matthew 15.25 seems to indicate that asking God for something with a humble faith is indeed an act of worship.
"Then she [the woman of Cannan with the demon possessed son] came and worshiped Him, saying, Lord, help me". 
Maybe if we resist the urge to explain things to God and come with faith and a sense of humble need, we are worshipping Him well during the request portion of our prayer time.

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