Saturday, March 12, 2016

Proverbs in January 2016

The most sobering word in these two verses describing the sad end of foolish ones who follow the enticing sinners is "when."
Proverbs 1.27-28
When your terror comes like a storm,
And your destruction comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.

Here is a great promise for everybody who is redoubling their efforts to ready the Bible this year. For condition / admonition verses and a result verse.
Proverbs 2.1-5
My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom, 
And apply your heart to understanding.
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures:
Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God.

Depending on who you read, most New Year's resolutions last a few days or weeks. After five sets of admonitions and corresponding benefits in chapter three we find this admonition to value God's love expressed through His correction when we loose focus and drift from the path of wisdom and from running and race that the Author and Finisher of our faith ran. (Hebrews 12)
Proverbs 3.11-12
My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor detest His correction;
For whom the LORD loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
God, give me the wisdom and grace to value Your chastening and correction in my life.

1. "Hear" The number of times Solomon says to listen make him sound like a parent or something.
2. The reception and firm grasp of these truths allows the son to move quickly without bumbling and stumbling.
Proverbs 4.10-12
10 Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, 
And the years of your life will be many.
11 I have taught you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in right paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hindered,
And when you run, you will not stumble.
Lord, I want to have a firm and competent grasp of your truth that allows me to be effective for You.

What is at the end of "the road" you take with immoral women (men)? Ruin and regret. 
Proverbs 5.11-14
11 At the end of your life, you will lament 
when your physical body has been consumed,
12 and you will say, “How I hated discipline, 
and how my heart despised correction.
13 I didn’t obey my teachers
or listen closely to my mentors.
14 I am on the verge of complete ruin
before the entire community.”

The " worthless man" is one of several described in this chapter. He is characterized by dishonesty, disregard for what is right, and sudden, devastating calamity.
Lord, help me to walk in integrity and honor.
Proverbs 6.12-15
12 A worthless person, a wicked man,
Walks with a perverse mouth;
13 He winks with his eyes,
He shuffles [gesturing with] his feet,
He points with his fingers.
14 Perversity is in his heart,
He devises evil continually,
He sows discord.
15 Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly;
Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.

Passing along the street near her corner;
And he took the path to her house
In the twilight, in the evening,
In the black and dark night.
And there a woman met him,
With the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart.
"And he took the path..." When I helped in a school chess club I learned that even if you don't have a great aptitude, having your pieces in the right place on the board for that part of the game puts you in a place where good things are more likely to happen. Choosing the right friends and right places to be can have a powerful effect in our lives.
Thank you Lord for surrounding me with people who are walking on Your path.

Proverbs 8.12-13
"I, wisdom, dwell with prudence*,
And find out knowledge and discretion.
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way 

And the perverse** mouth I hate.

* shrewdness, crafty
**from the root overturn ( here what is right implying foolishness or deceit)
I am thinking about the ways the fear of the Lord relates to prudence, knowledge, and discretion.
Lord, help me to hate MY evil, arrogance, and perverse mouth most.

" Forsake foolishness and live." This is a reminder of the tragic results of being foolish. This reminds me of the importance and benefits of godly wisdom. It almost sounds soteriological.
Lord help me and my family to put off the old man seek You and Your wisdom today.
Proverbs 9.4-6
"Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!"
As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,
5 "Come, eat of my bread
And drink of the wine I have mixed.
6 Forsake foolishness and live,
And go in the way of understanding.

Proverbs 10.21-23
The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of wisdom.
The blessing of the LORD makes one rich,
And He adds no sorrow with it.
To do evil is like sport to a fool,
But a man of understanding has wisdom.
Lord, cause my conversation to provide wealth and blessing to others.

Scrooge was described as grasping and clutching, but these proverbs endorse a wise generosity in charity and business that seek to be a benefit and blessing to others.
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 open my hands wide toward others and toward You.

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.
(NET Bible)
I am thinking about the relationship between listening to advice and overlooking an insult.
Lord, help me to be a betteri listener to the right things and good "forgetter" of others.

I think we miss some of the richness of the proverbs when we make them stand alone apart from the context around them. These three proverbs seem to tell the story of the righteous who shine by listening to advice and using honest work to gain their wealth.
Lord, let my light shine brightly for you through my honest hard work.
Proverbs 13.9-11
The light of the righteous rejoices (in the sense that it shines brightly),
But the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
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 wicked are sometimes full of laughter and mirth doing what way is right in their own eyes, but in the end...
Proverbs 14.12-14
12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
13 Even in laughter the heart may sorrow,
And the end of mirth may be grief.
14 The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways,
But a good man will be satisfied from above.
Lord, may your ways fill and bring joy to my heart.

Proverbs 15.15-17
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.
The strife and bitter results of the foolish, unteachable sinner is not compensated for by treasure and tasty truffles.
Lord, give me the love and joy that comes from walking with you in your way.

Proverbs 16.32-33
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.
Is it instructive to have a verse about controlling your temper and one about God's sovereignty over "random" turns of events next to each other?
Lord, let my growing awareness of your hand in life affairs dissolve my frustration and anger.

Proverbs 17.3-5
3 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the LORD tests the hearts.
4 An evildoer gives heed to false lips;
A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue. 
5 He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker;
He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
"Adam's likeness now efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place."
May you find integrity and kindness when you test and try my heart.

Three proverbs describe symptoms of a fool's "foot in mouth" disease.
Lord, help my words be charitable and wise,
Proverbs 18.6-8
A fool's lips enter into contention, 
And his mouth calls for blows. 
A fool's mouth is his destruction,
And his lips are the snare of his soul.
The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles,
And they go down into the inmost body.

These two proverbs seem to be related to the theme that time and training invested up front will pay off in the long run.
Proverbs 19.18-19
Chasten (discipline) your son while there is hope,
And do not set your heart on his destruction.
A man of great wrath will suffer punishment;
For if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.

These two proverbs remind us that we are not as smart as we think we are and should give careful consideration before we act.
Proverbs 20.24-25
A man's steps are of the LORD; 
How then can a man understand his own way?
It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, 
And afterward to reconsider his vows.

The contrast between the expedience of the briber in verse 14 and the man in the way of understanding in 15 who takes joy in doing right is followed by a serous warning in 16.
Lord, help me find joy in You and doing justice.
Proverbs 21.14-16
A gift in secret pacifies anger, 
And a bribe behind the back, strong wrath.
It is a joy for the just to do justice,
But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.
A man who wanders from the way of understanding
Will rest in the assembly of the dead.

The purpose of parenting in the last half of Solomon's thirty wise sayings.
Lord help me to know you and your wisdom in order to have a have dependable answer.
Proverbs 22.19-21
I have instructed you today — even you —so that your confidence may be in the LORD.
Haven’t I written for you thirty sayings (or excellent things) about counsel and knowledge, in order to teach you true and reliable words, so that you may give a dependable report to those who sent you?

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.
It seems that the general idea here is that we should not have second thoughts about our future following the Lord because of temporary temporal success of some sinners.
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief and help me to be driven by the confidence that You are watching, weighing, and rewarding all I do, say, and think.

Proverbs 24.23-25
These things also belong to the wise:
It is not good to show partiality in judgment.
He who says to the wicked, "You are righteous (innocent),"
Him the people will curse; Nations will abhor him.
But those who rebuke the wicked will have delight,
And a good blessing will come upon them.
When we judge, we are representatives (or should be) of God's justice.
Lord, you alone are all wise, all knowing, and just. Help, me understand and follow Your justice,

Is it random that proverbs about compromise, seeking glory for yourself, and the inability to rule your spirit are next to each other?
Lord, help me have the humble resolve to walk in Your way and stand for You.
Proverbs 25.26-27
26 A righteous man who falters before the wicked 
Is like a murky spring and a polluted well. 
27 It is not good to eat much honey;
So to seek one's own glory is not glory.
28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.

Many proverbs are not soaring inspirational thoughts. These are a poignant reminders that being a "know it all" and not learning from your mistakes makes you just about hopeless.
Lord, help me keep a humble teachable spirit that relies on you.
Proverbs 26.11-12
As a dog returns to his own vomit, 
So a fool repeats his folly.
Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

"Set it and forget it," is not the way relationships work. We should be faithful tending to our relationships like God does to us. I am thinking about who I need to check on.
Lord, help me reflect your diligence and faithfulness.
Proverbs 27.17-18
As iron sharpens iron, 
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
Whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit;
So he who waits on his master will be honored.

The connection between awe and dread of the Lord, honesty about sin, and prosperity, happiness, and mercy is both an instruction and admonition.
Lord, help me to live that way.
Proverbs 28.13-14
He who covers his sins will not prosper, 
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
Happy is the man who is always reverent,*
But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

*(Heb. pached: to be in awe or dread)

We always have such a good reason for our anger it's hard to imagine it being related to our pride. wink emoticon.
Lord , help me to be humble and holy before you and others around me.
Proverbs 29.22-23
An angry man stirs up strife, 
And a furious man abounds in transgression.
A man's pride will bring him low,
But the humble in spirit will retain honor.

Proverbs 30.32-33
If you have been foolish, exalting yourself,
or if you have been devising evil,
put your hand on your mouth.
For pressing milk produces curds, 
pressing the nose produces blood,
and pressing anger produces strife.
I'm thinking about how many of us should be walking around with our hands on our mouths and what church would look like. lol
Lord, help me to be wise, humble, and preparing to do the right things as I follow Your Son.

It is simple and profound how these proverbs begin the description of the valuable wife.
Lord, help me be trustworthy and good to and for others, especially to Christ as part of His Church.
Proverbs 31.10-12
10 Who can find a virtuous wife? 
For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.

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.