Friday, December 7, 2018

Proverbs Reflections: November 2017

A little real scary reading about sinners coming to entice sons (and daughters) to join them in their violent pursuit of easy money.

Proverbs 1.10-14
My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
If they say, "Come with us, Let us lie in wait to shed blood;
Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; 

Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
And whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
We shall find all kinds of precious possessions,
We shall fill our houses with spoil;
Cast in your lot among us,
Let us all have one purse"— 

Lord, help me to hear and follow wisdom's call over the clamor of enticing sinners.
It is both amazing and disturbing how good we are at convincing ourselves that we are the exception who can go down the wrong path and still end up at our desired destination. Here the warning is against easy sex with a "wayward woman" (CSB) with an obvious implied application for the daughter, too.

Proverbs 2.18-19
For her house leads down to death,
And her paths to the dead;
None who go to her return,
Nor do they regain the paths of life—

Lord, keep me seeking Your wisdom and walking down Your path.
There's a fictitious story told about a wealthy businessman who was able to negotiate with God to bring whatever he could fit in one briefcase to heaven with him when he died. When he arrived at the pearly gates, St. Peter was curious to see what he had brought. The man proudly opened the briefcase to reveal a briefcase full of the finest gold bars money could buy. Peter looked with confusion and replied, "Paving stones!? Why paving stones?"

Proverbs 3.13-14
Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.

Lord, I want Wisdom and understanding and their fine proceeds.
Two reasons for the wise son to avoid the wicked...

Proverbs 4.16-17
16 For they do not sleep unless they have done evil; 
And their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall. 

17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, 
And drink the wine of violence.

Lord, help me take firm hold of instruction and discern the wicked for who they are.
While the Lord is watching and weighing all we do, say, and think, we usually find a way to get tangled up in our sin and their consequences all by ourselves.

Proverbs 5:21-23
For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, 
And He ponders all his paths. 
His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, 
And he is caught in the cords of his sin. 

He shall die for lack of instruction,
And in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.

Lord, help me remember and live in your instruction.

While all sins are damnable, not all sins are equal in their seriousness and consequences. For example...

Proverbs 6.30-32
People do not despise a thief 
If he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. 
Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; 
He may have to give up all the substance of his house. 
Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; 
He who does so destroys his own soul.

In this tragic "case study" the young man lacking sense (csb) abandons his father's wise teaching and wanders down toward the immoral woman's location in the late evening. What could possibly go wrong?

Proverbs 7.7-9
And saw among the simple, 
I perceived among the youths, 
A young man devoid of understanding, 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.

Lord, give me a love for Your wisdom and the sense to stay away from places where and when extraordinary temptations are lurking.

Chapter eight depicts Wisdom crying out to people and describing herself as much more than clever life hacks.

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.

Wisdom is not the only one calling out to people. Folly is calling out to senseless people (csb) to engage in porn and easy sex, and they just don't have the sense to realize what a horrid trap it is.

Proverbs 9:16-18
"Whoever is simple, let him turn in here"; 
And as for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,
"Stolen water is sweet, And bread eaten in secret is pleasant." 
But he does n
ot know that the dead are there,
That her guests are in the depths of hell.

Oh! Lord, my God, please save me from being morally stupid.

Proverbs 10:4-5
4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor, 
But the hand of the diligent makes rich. 

5 He who gathers in summer is a wise son; 
He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.

Lord, give me the desire and ability to work hard and work hardest at the key times.
These three sayings contrast the righteous and the wicked and highlight the value of righteousness.

Proverbs 11.3-5
3 The integrity of the upright will guide them, 
But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them. 

4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, 
But righteousness delivers from death. 

5 The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way aright,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.

Lord, help me to seek, know, and practice righteousness.

A triad of sayings about the tongue speaking righteousness, health, and truth.

Proverbs 12.17-19
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.

Lord, give me a heart that overflows Your goodness and the good sense to keep my mouth shut when it doesn't.

These sayings combine ethical speech with diligence. Traits or character qualities often cluster.

Proverbs 13.2-4
2 A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth, 
But the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence. 

3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, 
But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction. 

4 The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing;
But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.

Lord, help me please You with my words (and thoughts).

We often focus on the aspect of the fear of the Lord that causes the wicked to cower and tremble, but the confidence that God is watching, weighing and rewarding can be a liberating force for good in our lives.

Proverbs 14.25-27
25 A true witness delivers souls,
But a deceitful witness speaks lies. 

26 In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence,
And His children will have a place of ref
27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
To turn one away from the snares of death.

Lord increase my confidence in You to reward good, and help me be bold to do good.
A humble, teachable heart is the evidence and fruit of the fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 15:31-33
31 The ear that hears the rebukes of life 
Will abide among the wise. 

32 He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, 
But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding. 

33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom,
And before honor is humility.

Lord, help me be humble.

I see echoes of Vanity Fair and By-Path Meadow in these verses. 

Proverbs 16.16-17
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold! 
And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. 

17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; 
He who keeps his way preserves his soul.

Lord, keep me pressing forward on the path and not getting sidetracked.
Sandwiched among a warning about fools and strife are two sayings that warn against turning justice on its head.

Proverbs 17.12-15
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. 

14 The beginning of strife is like releasing water;
Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts. 

15 He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just,
Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.

(Also, note the bonus nature tip.). (Also notice the implied relationship between strife and the perversion of justice.)

Lord, help me be a righteous steward of your justice.
These two sayings are more part of chapter 19 and 24a is difficult to translate with certainty. One lesson from these two sayings is the importance of good friends.

Proverbs 18.23-24
23 A poor person makes supplications, 
but a rich man answers harshly.

24 A person who has friends may be harmed by them, 
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Lord, help me be a faithful and compassionate friend.
I am thinking about the connections between despising God's commands and the poor.

Proverbs 19:16-17
16 He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, 
But he who is careless [or despises] of his ways will die. 

17 He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, 
And He will pay back what he has given.

Lord, help me take care with Your law and Your poor.
Proverbs 20.8-11
8 A king who sits on the throne of judgment 
Scatters all evil with his eyes. 

9 Who can say, "I have made my heart clean, 
I am pure from my sin"? 

Search me, O God, and know my heart; 
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Psa. 139

Proverbs 21:15-16
15 The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, 
But is terror to the workers of iniquity.

16 A man who wanders from the way of understanding 
Will rest in the assembly of the dead.

Lord, keep me on Your way so that Your justice will be my delight.
These are the first three of five sayings that form the introduction to the "Thirty Sayings of the Wise" and encourage the son to listen and apply himself to the words of the wise so his trust will be in the Lord. Parents and grandparents should teach their children wise sayings that help and encourage them tto trust the Lord

Proverbs 22.17-19
17 Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise,
And apply your heart to my knowledge; 

18 For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you;
Let them all be fixed upon your lips, 

19 So that your trust may be in the LORD;
I have instructed you today, even you.

Lord, help me trust You and lead others to do the same.

Saying of then Wise #18 for the obedient son. It is very thought provoking that the heart affection for the father's teaching competes against the draw of the promiscuous woman. There is a lot of food for thought there.

Proverbs 23:26-27 (nlt)
O my son, give me your heart. 
May your eyes take delight in following my ways.
A prostitute is a dangerous trap; 
a promiscuous woman is as dangerous as falling into a narrow well.

Lord, help Your ways to be the object of my thoughts and desires.
Sayings of the Wise # 26
There is no such thing as overeating when it comes to obtaining wisdom.

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.

Lord, help me love and enjoy Your wisdom more than any dessert.

Thoughtful and appropriate responses, even to our enemies are pleasing to the Lord.

Proverbs 25.21-23
20 Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, 
And like vinegar on soda, 
Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. 

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; 
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 

22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the LORD will reward you.

Lord, give me the wisdom and thoughtfulness to be a blessing even to my enemies.

An old twist on the modern understanding of combustion. There are three necessary elements to a fire: oxygen, heat, and fuel. In these sayings a gossip and / or a contentious man spirit fuel the fire.

Proverbs 26.20-21
20 Where there is no wood, the fire goes out;
And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.

21 As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire,
So is a contentious man to kindle strife.

Lord, give me the heart and self-control of a peacemaker.
Anticipating things that can go wrong and taking appropriate precautions instead of being naive...

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.

We ask the question, "Would you do some sin for a million dollars?" But the sad fact is we will usually compromise for much less, (even a piece of bread?)

Proverbs 28.21-22
21 To show partiality is not good, 
Because for a piece of bread a man will transgress. 

22 A man with an evil eye [a greedy man] hastens after riches, 
And does not consider that poverty will come upon him.

Lord, help me to be content and trust in you.
Proverbs 29.8-9
8 Scoffers set a city aflame,
But wise men turn away wrath.

9 If a wise man contends with a foolish man,
Whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace. 

10 The bloodthirsty hate the blameless,
But the upright seek his well-being.

At first glance, it is difficult to see (and not immediately obvious) what these verses have in common, but when you reflect, you see the common theme of aggressive self-interest and lack of self-control in all three verses.

Lord, help me to value peace and Your ways more than my natural urges.
This set of sayings make a point about a son who scorns his parents (a serious crime in the OT economy).

Proverbs 30.15-17
The leech has two daughters—Give and Give!
There are three things that are never satisfied,
Four never say, "Enough!":
The grave,

The barren womb,
The earth that is not satisfied with water—
And the fire never says, "Enough!"
The eye that mocks his father,
And scorns obedience to his mother,
The ravens of the valley will pick it out,
And the young eagles will eat it.

Lord, give me the shalom and contentment in my heart to honor my parents (literally and figuratively).

Proverbs Reflections: December 2017

Proverbs 1.15-16
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them (the sinners from verse 10),
Keep your foot from their path; 
16 For their feet run to evil, 
And they make haste to shed blood.

Why would we forsake wisdom to follow along with people who habitually do wrong things? Where will their path lead?

Lord, help me love your wisdom and follow along with people on your wise path.
When you seek wisdom and discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God...

Proverbs 2.20-22
20 So you will walk in the way of good men 
And keep to the paths of the righteous. 

21 For the upright will live in the land 
And the blameless will remain in it; 

22 But the wicked will be cut off from the land
And the treacherous will be uprooted from it.

Lord, help me walk in the way of and with good men.
A man is truly wealthy when he has the means and generosity of spirit to do more good than he has to do.

Proverbs 3.27-28
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.

Lord, make me generously rich.
These sayings reinforce they idea of john 8:12 and Ephesians 5:8.

Proverbs 4.18-19
18 But the path of the just is like the shining sun,[or light] 
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. 

19 The way of the wicked is like [deep] darkness; 
They do not know what makes them stumble.

Lord, help me walk as a child of the light.
This section of Proverbs five presents a wholesome contrast of the intimate marriage relationship between a man and woman with and against all the objectification of women, infidelity, and perversion of God's good gift.

Proverbs 5.18-19
18 Let your fountain be blessed, 
And rejoice with the wife of your youth. 

19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe, 
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; 
And always be enraptured with her love.
When lust so overwhelms us that we disregard people's relationships in order to gratify our desires we have become like beasts and will pay the price.

Proverbs 6.33-35
Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; 
He who does so destroys his own soul. 
Wounds and dishonor he will get, 
And his reproach will not be wiped away.

For jealousy is a husband's fury;
Therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
He will accept no recompense,
Nor will he be appeased though you give many gifts.

Lord, help me see people the way You do.

Proverbs seven is the story of a naive young man who wanders into the snare of a femme fatale. These verses describe the woman who meets him.

Proverbs 7.10-12
And there a woman met him,
With the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart.
She was loud and rebellious,
Her feet would not stay at home. 

At times she was outside, at times in the open square,
Lurking at every corner.

Lord, give my sons an eye for a 1 Peter 3.1-6 woman.
Last Wisdom describes herself in chapter eight. These verses highlight the importance of wisdom to leaders.

Proverbs 8.14-16 (net)
Counsel and sound wisdom belong to me; 
I possess understanding and might.

Kings reign by means of me, 
and potentates decree righteousness; 
by me princes rule, 
as well as nobles and all righteous judges.

Lord, help me lead with wisdom.
It is sobering that the two personifications in chapter nine start their appeals with the same words.

Proverbs 9:4&16
4 "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" 
As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him..."
A foolish woman:

16 "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here"; 
And as for him who lacks understanding, she says to him..."

Lord, give me and my family the ears to hear Your call and the grace to respond to You with whole hearts.
This is a quadrant of sayings about how the things we say reflect on who we are.

Proverbs 10.18-21
18 Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, 
And whoever spreads slander is a fool. 

19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, 
But he who restrains his lips is wise. 

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
The heart of the wicked is worth little. 

21 The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of wisdom.

Lord, help my words to be few and "feed" many.
The righteous are a blessing to those around them.

Proverbs 11.9-11
9 The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, 
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered. 

10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; 
And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.

11 By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted,
But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

Lord, make me a righteous blessing.
Next week will be 35 years with an excellent woman whose skill in her profession and home, tenacity and perseverance in difficulty, and heart for her children at school and home contribute to an extraordinary crown.

Proverbs 12:4
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, 
But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones. 

Lord, thank You for blessing me.
Proverbs 13:2-3
2 A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth, 
But the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence. 

3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, 
But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.

Lord, help me have fruitful and circumspect speech.

I am thinking about the relationships between these traits of the simple and foolish.

Proverbs 14.15-16
15 The simple believes every word,
But the prudent considers well his steps. 

16 A wise man fears and departs from evil,
But a fool rages* and is self-confident.

* unrestrained, reckless

Lord, help me be thoughtful, discerning, and reasonably cautious.
This pair of abominations sayings aim to identify the heart that pleases God. Sacrifice vrs real prayer and who (what the heart loves. 

Proverbs 15.8-9
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, 
But the prayer of the upright is His delight. 

9 The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But He loves him who follows righteousness.

Lord, help me really love You and what you love.

Righteous old age brings the wisdom to remember that it is pointless to struggle against what God is doing and the understanding that there are few things worth getting upset over.

Proverbs 16.31-33
31 The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, 
If it is found in the way of righteousness. 
32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city

33 The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.

Lord, help me grow in wisdom and righteousness as I grow in age.
Good sense guides us in prudent ways to help a friend.

Proverbs 17.17-18
17 A friend loves at all times, 
And a brother is born for adversity. 

18 A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge, 
And becomes surety for his friend. 

Lord, help me be a friend who loves faithfully and wisely.
Proverbs 18.4-5
4 The words of a man's mouth are deep waters; 
The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook. 

5 It is not good to show partiality to the wicked, 
Or to overthrow the righteous in judgment.

Since "deep waters" usually has a connotation of danger, so four is likely antithetical. And the second part of five gives a reason or result.

Lord, help my words to be a source of clear wisdom and just in their effect.
These three sayings see an escalation from a lack of integrity to fretting or raging against the Lord.

Proverbs 9.1-3
1 Better is the poor who walks in his integrity
Than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. 

2 Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge,
And he sins who hastens with his feet.

3 The foolishness of a man twists his way,
And his heart frets against the LORD.

Lord, help me have the confidence in You to treasure my integrity.
These two verses highlight the graceful wisdom of a teachable elder who no longer has to learn his lessons the hard way.

Proverbs 20.29-30
29 The glory of young men is their strength, 
And the splendor of old men is their gray head. 

30 Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, 
As do stripes the inner depths of the heart.

Lord, help me to have that wisdom long before I go gray.
Talk is cheap. The Lord is watching, weighing, and rewarding in all I do, say, and think.

Proverbs 21.2-3
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, 
But the LORD weighs the hearts. 

3 To do righteousness and justice Is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

Lord, help me "do righteousness and justice."
This pair of sayings juxtaposes the derisive scoffer whom the king rejects with the pure and gracious person that he holds as a friend. (Waltke)

Proverbs 22.10-11
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.

Lord, help me have the purity of heart and grace that makes me of value to the King.

Proverbs' "30 Sayings of the Wise" are typically 1-4 verses in length. This warning against the dangers of alcoholic drinks stands out as the longest of them all.

Proverbs 23.29-35 (net)
29 Who has woe?
Who has sorrow? 
Who has contentions?
Who has complaints?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has dullness of the eyes?
Those who linger over wine,
those who go looking for mixed wine.
Do not look on the wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly.
Afterward it bites like a snake,
and stings like a viper.
Your eyes will see strange things,
and your mind will speak perverse things.
And you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
and like one who lies down on the top of the rigging.
You will say,
"They have struck me,
but I am not harmed!
They beat me, but I did not know it!
When will I awake?
I will look for another drink."

Lord, keep me from anything that would compromise my witness and effectiveness for you.
This is the 21st of the 30 Sayings of the Wise." It is a reminder that through wisdom, not violence, injustice, or "get-rich-quick" schemes a lasting house is built.

Proverbs 24.3-4
3 Through wisdom a house is built, 
And by understanding it is established; 

4 By knowledge the rooms are filled 
With all precious and pleasant riches. 

Lord, help me apply and rely on your wisdom.
Proverbs 25.13-14
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. 
Whoever falsely boasts of giving Is like clouds and wind without rain.

*.H539 - 'aman: morally to be true or certain; (Niphal) to be established, be faithful, be carried, make firm

In 20:6 the sage asks, "Who can find a faithful man?" Lord, give me the desire and ability to be that man.

These three proverbs highlight the incompetence of a fool. (Verse 10 is apparently a very difficult verse to translate. I have used Bruce Waltke's translation.)

Proverbs 26.8-10
8. Like one who binds a stone in a sling
is the person who gives honor to a fool.

9. A thornbush in the hand of a drunkard,
and a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

10. An archer who pierces every passer-by,
and one who hires a fool, and one who hires those who pass by.

A reminder not to rest on past accomplishments and grow complacent.

Proverbs 27.23-24
23 Be diligent to know the state of your flocks,
And attend to your herds; 

24 For riches are not forever,
Nor does a crown endure to all generations.

Lord, help me apply this principle with renewed vigor this year.
These two sayings reinforce the danger of greed and injustice that can blind one to their ultimate futility.

Proverbs 28.21-22
21 To show partiality is not good, 
Because for a piece of bread a man will transgress. 
22 A man with an evil eye*hastens after riches, 
And does not consider that poverty will come upon him


Lord, give me a wholesome ambition that is always tempered by Your wisdom and justice.

The impulsive rush to judgment that gives way to anger can also make one gullible to lies.

Proverbs 19.11-11
11 A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back. 

12 If a ruler pays attention to lies,
All his servants become wicked. 

Lord, give me the discernment and consistency to lead well.
There are some things that are as puzzling today as they were in Agur's day.

Proverbs 30.18-20
There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Yes, four which I do not understand:
The way of an eagle in the air,
The way of a serpent on a rock,
The way of a ship in the midst of the sea,
And the way of a man with a virgin.
This is the way of an adulterous woman:
She eats and wipes her mouth,
And says, "I have done no wickedness."

I want a principle within of watchful godly fear.
A sensibility to sin, a pain to feel it near...
Proverbs 31 is rightfully remembered as the description Lemuel's mother gave him of a virtuous wife, but it also includes instructions about being King. It is noteworthy that we see this theme in both parts.

Proverbs 31:8-9
8 Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
[or ensure justice for those being crushed.-- nlt]
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy.

20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.