Monday, July 17, 2017

Proverbs - November 2017 meditations

Proverbs one concludes with a warning about the major indigestion that comes when the next course is the fruit of our ways and we have chosen to turn away from wisdom and be complacent.

Proverbs 1.31-33
31 Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way,
And be filled to the full with their own fancies.

32 For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
And the complacency of fools will 
destroy them; 
33 But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
And will be secure, without fear of evil."

Lord, give me ears to hear and an urgency to respond and walk in Your way.
The first four verses of this chapter provide the "if" you seek for wisdom and the balance of the chapter provides a "then it will." These two verses emphasize the asking and diligent seeking for wisdom.

Proverbs 2.3-4
3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, 
And lift up your voice for understanding, 
4 If you seek her as silver, 
And search for her as for hidden treasures;

Lord, Make me desperate for You and Your wisdom,

These verses wisely advise against betraying trusts and creating strife where none is called for.

Proverbs 3.29-30
Do not devise evil against your neighbor, 
For he dwells by you for safety's sake (or securely, unsuspecting, trusting) 
Do not strive with a man without cause, 
If he has done you no harm.

Lord, make me a faithful, loyal man of peace.


Proverbs 4.11-13
11 I have directed you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in upright paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be impeded;
And if you run, you will not stumble.
13 Take hold of instruction; do not let go.
Guard her, for she is your life.

A few observations...
The instruction of the father leads to paths that are described as both wise and upright.
Verse twelve mirrors the idea of the father's instruction being a "light unto my path" and clearing the paths of things that would trip the son up.
"Grab and guard" reminds us of the slippery nature of wisdom illustrated by Solomon. It takes vigilance and focus to keep it.

Lord, help me to be vigilant to grab and guard your ways.
Among the serious warnings about extra-marital sex and the immoral woman is this racy encouragement for husbands (and wives) to have some passion in their marriage.

Proverbs 5.18-19
18 Let your fountain be blessed, 
And rejoice with the wife of your youth. 
As a loving deer and a graceful doe, 
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; 
And always be enraptured with her love.

I'm thinking of the irony that it is the "worthless person" who is always one step ahead, scheming, and signaling associates who is blindsided when it all catches up with him.

Proverbs 6:12-15
A worthless person, a wicked man, 
Walks with a perverse mouth; 
He winks with his eyes, He shuffles his feet, 
He points with his fingers;
Perversity is in his heart,
He devises evil continually,
He sows discord.
Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly;
Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.

Lord, help me to walk honestly fearing/trusting you.


The immoral woman appeals to the simpleton with the classic presumptive pride that their sin will go undetected and that they are the special exceptions to normal cause effect consequences. Moses told the Israelites to be sure their sin would find them out.

Proverbs 7.18-20
Come, let us take our fill of love until morning;
Let us delight ourselves with love.
For my husband is not at home;
He has gone on a long journey;
He has taken a bag of money with him,
And will come home on the appointed day."

Lord, help me walk in the wise humility that is aware You are watching, weighing, and rewarding all I do, say, or think.
In chapter eight Wisdom personified cries out with a word for rulers of all kinds. It is by wisdom, not just by raw power, personality, or persuasion.

Proverbs 8.14-16
14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom;
I am understanding,
I have strength.
15 By me kings reign, 
And rulers decree justice.
16 By me princes rule, and nobles,
All the judges of the earth.

Lord, help me lead wisely as Jesus instructed us in Mark 10.42-45.
Proverbs 9.1-3
Wisdom has built her house, 
She has hewn out her seven pillars; 
She has slaughtered her meat, 
She has mixed her wine, 
She has also furnished her table. 
She has sent out her maidens, 
She cries out from the highest places of the city,

Will we hear and partake?

1. The repetition of "she..." does this or that highlights her industry, activity, and investment.
2. The lavish table reminds us of the "manifold enjoyment of the higher spiritual realities of Solomon's wisdom."
3. "Sends out" reminds us of the part we should have in bringing others to Wisdom's feast. (How beautiful are the feet...)


A pair of saying that reinforce the importance of diligence. 

Proverbs 10.4-5
He who has a slack hand becomes poor, 
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
He who gathers in summer is a wise son; 
He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.

Lord, help me to be diligent in Your harvest.

These verses go beyond the personal impacts of righteous to its effect on the larger social context.

Proverbs 11.10-11
When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; 
And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.
By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, 
But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

Lord, help me be the kind of upright man that brings blessing to those around me.

These three sayings contrast the righteous with the wicked who's lack of a good work ethic and enumeration with what the wicked have put him on a course where his words transgress and end up trapping him.

Proverbs 12.11-13
11 He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, 
But he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.
12 The wicked covet the catch of evil men, 
But the root of the righteous yields fruit.
13 The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips,
But the righteous will come through trouble.

Lord, give me a work ethic and contentment with what I need that results in righteousness.

Part of the difference between the righteous and wicked is the humility and teachable spirit,

Proverbs 13.9-10 [net]
9 The light of the righteous shines brightly, 
but the lamp of the wicked is put out. 10 Arrogance leads to nothing but strife, 
but wisdom is gained by those who take advice.

Lord, help me be quick and careful to listen.

After comparing the revelation of Wisdom to the discerning and the fool and contrasting their responses, a proverbial pair connects a nation's ethics and the king's responsibility to reward good officials and punish evil ones. --Waltke

Proverbs 14:33-35 [nkjv]
33 In the heart of the discerning wisdom comes to rest,
And in the midst of fools she reveals herself. [Waltke trans.]
34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people.
35 The king's favor is toward a wise servant,
But his wrath is against him who causes shame.

Lord, give me the discernment to follow righteousness that will exalt my neighborhood, city, state, and nation.

The tale of two sons. One heeds correction from his parents, enjoys a degree of success that wise living brings, and has wisdom to share. The other rejects his father's discipline, has trouble during his life, and never develops a heart for wisdom.

Proverbs 15.5-7
A fool despises his father's instruction, 
But he who receives correction is prudent. 
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.

Lord, help my life to be a positive tribute to your wisdom.

We have an encouragement for those tempted to "envy the wicked" and warning to those who think they are the exception who can sin with impunity. 

Proverbs 16.4-5 [net]
The LORD works everything for its own ends - 
even the wicked for the day of disaster.
5 The LORD abhors every arrogant person; 
rest assured that they will not go unpunished.

Lord, keep me looking into Jesus and the joy that is set before me. (Hen 12.1-3)

This section, 16.31-17.6, about righteousness and old age contain two sayings that remind us that peace is better than riches and character is better than birth order. And "God strips bare all pretensions and tests all human hearts." -- Waltke

Proverbs 17.1-3
1 Better is a dry morsel with quietness, 
Than a house full of feasting with strife. 
2 A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame,
And will share an inheritance among the brothers.
3 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the LORD tests the hearts.

Lord, help me grow wise and righteous as I grow older.

These two reminders about the power of our words conclude the section (13-21). "Whatever a person dishes out, whether beneficial or harmful, he himself will [likely] feed on through what his audience in return dishes out to him." --Waltke

Proverbs 18.20-21
20 A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; 
From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, 
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Lord, help my lips to give life and fullness.


This trio of sayings speaks to the parents and to the son in a caution against an uncontrolled temper. Parents should be diligent and undeterred in training there children who are also admonished to heed their parents discipling and discipline.

Proverbs 19.18-20
18 Chasten your son while there is hope,
And do not set your heart on his destruction.
19 A man of great wrath will suffer punishment; 
For if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.
20 Listen to counsel and receive instruction,
That you may be wise in your latter days.

Lord, help me and my children to be wise in our later days.
This first of four pairs of saying in the section 20.12-19 remind us that both a combination of aptitude for wisdom and a good work ethic will are necessary.

Proverbs 20.12-13
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.

Lord, give me the aptitude and diligence to learn your ways.
The contrasts between these two saying make for some good pondering.

Proverbs 21.3-4
3 To do righteousness and justice Is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. 
4 A haughty look, a proud heart, 
And the plowing of the wicked are sin.

Lord, l want my "plowing" to be characterized by a humble righteousness and justice that make my "sacrifices" a delight to you.

Note: There seems to be some question about the meaning of one of the words that results in some translation having "lamp" instead of "plowing."

Verses 17-22 provide an introduction for Solomon's thirty wise sayings and a key objective for parenting (or by extension discipleship).

Proverbs 22.
20 Have I not written to you thirty (or excellent) things 
Of counsels and knowledge, 
21 That I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, 
That you may answer words of truth 
To those who send to you?

And this just in time for the Thanksgiving gatherings... 

Proverbs 23:19-21
Hear, my son, and be wise;
And guide your heart in the way.
Do not mix with winebibbers,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.

This 16th of the "Thirty Wise Savings" reminds us of the influence our friends have on us.
1. The word "guide" reminds us of the importance of intentionally arranging our lives in ways that encourage us to live wisely.
2. The words "winebibbers and gluttons" are the stock descriptions of the "wrong crowd."
3. Choosing good friends is a vital part of walking in wisdom. They have a greater influence on us than we might imagine.

Lord, help me to arrange my life to walk in Your ways.

Proverbs 24.21-22
My son, fear the LORD and the king; 
Do not associate with those given to change;
For their calamity will rise suddenly, 
And who knows the ruin those two can bring?

1. I am thinking about what "fear" means in this context. It seems to have a practical side.
2. I noticed with interest that "two" can bring ruin.

Proverbs 25.17-18
17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor's house,
Lest he become weary of you and hate you.
18 A man who bears false witness against his neighbor Is like a club, a sword, and a sharp arrow.

These two sayings reinforce the importance of good rationships with our neighbors (the people we live next to, work with, go to church with, etc.). While it is always wrong to be dishonest, the cerebrial cartoon in 18 emphesizes the double wrong of betraying some who should be able to trust and depend on you.

Lord, help me to be a good and faithful "neighbor."
This pair of sayings that urge moderation and restraint are especially applicable at certain times of the year.

Proverbs 25.16-17
16 Have you found honey? 
Eat only as much as you need, Lest you be filled with it and vomit.
17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor's house, 
Lest he become weary of you and hate you.

Lord, help me to keep balance of just enough.

These three sayings in the midst of a section of twelve sayings about fools remind us of some liabilities of working with fools.

Proverbs 26.8-10
8 Giving honor to a fool
is like binding a stone in a sling.
9 A proverb in the mouth of a fool is like a stick with thorns,
brandished by the hand of a drunkard. 10 The one who hires a fool 
or who hires those passing by
is like an archer who wounds everyone.

Lord, help me to be wise and helpful to those I work with.
"Face of his friend" is a Hebrew pun since the working edge of a sword or knife is called its face in Hebrew. The wounds of a friend are faithful (v. 6) unlike the words of the fawning neighbor (v. 14). (Waltke)

Proverbs 27.17
17 As iron sharpens iron, 
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Lit and a man sharpens his friend’s face)

This saying infers 
1. Wise, righteous friends.
2. A strong enough relationship and the wisdom to endure and appreciate constructive criticism.

"Paradoxically, because the wicked do not fear God, they live in fear of man, but because the righteous fear God, they do not fear people. These different psychologies are because of their guilty consciences..." --Bruce Waltke

Proverbs 28.1
The wicked flee when no one pursues, 
But the righteous are bold as a lion.

Lord, help me have the confidence that comes from the walking in the paths of righteousness.

Proverbs 29.19-21
19 A servant will not be corrected by mere words;
For though he understands, he will not respond.
20 Do you see a man hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
21 He who pampers his servant from childhood
Will have him as a son in the end.

These sayings seem to highlight the importance of discipline in a young person's life to develop the character needed to succeed when older.
Proverbs 30.29-31
There are three things which are majestic in pace, 
Yes, four which are stately in walk: 
A lion, which is mighty among beasts 
And does not turn away from any; 
a strutting rooster (hcsb)
A male goat also, 
And a king whose troops are with him.

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