Monday, May 16, 2011

Proverbs 16

  1. In no uncertain terms, this chapter in Proverbs demonstrates that we are too often bent on getting our own way. We have ways that are 'pure in our eyes,' and ways that 'seem right' (16:2, 25). But both of theses verses remind us of two important things (a) the way of our choosing may result in death, and (b) that God tests our motives and intentions.
  2. Verse 17 speaks of "guarding our way." At some point in time, I heard someone give this wise advice for those who struggle and wrestle with sin, "Sometimes you must plan NOT to sin."
  3. Verse 24 reminds me of the powerful effect that positive words can have on others. Although Proverbs speaks so much of negative speech, I wonder how many opportunities we miss to build others up with our affirming speech.
  4. I cannot read too far in this chapter without being reminded of the total sovereignty of God (i.e. 1,3-4,9,33). And yet, God is not a distant sovereign, but One who is involved in every day issues of life.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A few more thoughts on Proverbs 10 from a friend

From my friend Bethany Bracht:

Starting with Proverbs 10, the next 12 chapters contain seemingly random pieces of wisdom that have the ability to convict, guide, encourage and warn. I didn't need to get very far into chapter 10 to receive that all too familiar conviction and unpleasant realization of my own self-righteousness. As I read Proverbs 10:1..."A wise child brings joy to a father, a foolish child brings grief to a mother"...I thought...EXACTLY! My kids soooo need to read this. And then I thought...."Oh...okay God...You're talking to me, aren't You?. How often do I behave like and have the attitude of a foolish child?

One of our family sayings is: Are you going to be like an Israelite OR are you going to obey with a happy heart and without complaining? Israel was a great example of the "foolish child" that is made example of in Proverbs 10. God, being our Heavenly Parent, delights in our obedience and attainment of wisdom. After all, He tells us to seek wisdom and even ask Him for it (James 1:5). So, how can I be a wise child of God who brings joy to my Father in Heaven?

Well, if wisdom is making the best use of our knowledge...and the foundation of knowledge is fear [respect] of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7)...then I suppose sitting at the feet of Wisdom Himself, seeking Him in all we do, asking Him for guidance and loving Him with all of our heart, mind and strength puts me on the path of being a wise child. Lord, help me walk that path!

So am I going to choose wisdom over foolishness? Reading Proverbs is a good place to start!

From Proverbs 10

Proverbs 10
  1. Count the number of times 'righteous' or 'righteousness' is used in this chapter. Clearly, God is trying to tell us something.
  2. It is also significant to me that there are so many words concerning speech (lips, mouth, etc.) that are connected to the instructions on being righteous. Verse 19 especially gives me some caution.
  3. I am reminded of the value of hard work in 10:3-4. Sometimes what is lost in our 'have-it-right-now-without-working-too-hard culture' is some of the wisdom found in these verses.
  4. Verse 25 speaks of the tempest coming and the results that come from it. As other Scripture teaches, things such as storms, disasters, pain, etc. come to not only the wicked but the righteous. Those who are believers aren't exempt from pain.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Some more thoughts on Prov 9

These are some words that Goodwin Cobb shared with me and our Facebook group.

The Ultimate Encounter: Wisdom or Folly Wisdom is the ability to see life from God's perspective and then to know the best course of action to take; the ability to make good use of knowledge; to recognize right from wrong.
When we read Proverbs, we will encounter over and over the cognate word for “folly” or “simple.” This particular word for “folly ”occurs nineteen times in the whole Bible and fifteen of them occur in Proverbs. We come to see that it is a major word for understanding Proverbs.
We hear two women call out. One woman is called “Wisdom.” (This is the wisdom of God that created the universe). The other woman is called “Folly.” The calls of these two persons are both calls for our maturity in whatever way we may be immature.
No matter how old we are, becoming a mature person in its truest sense is a topic that applies to us. In that sense then, what is written in the text should have something to do with every single one of us.

From Proverbs 9

Proverbs 9
  1. The imagery distinguishes two banquets. One prepared by 'Lady Wisdom,' and the other prepared by 'Woman Folly.' I think by using the banquet analogy, we are helpfully drawn into the discussion.
  2. The picture of the house that is well built by wisdom (9:1) certainly gives insight to the work done by wisdom. Wisdom seems to have an industrious quality about it.
  3. Concerning verse 10 Waltke says "The wise who deserve to sit at Wisdom's table, begin their educability with their submission to the highest Authority, the Lord." (9:10)
  4. When encountering God, the appropriate response is fear, as well as trust for those who are rightly related to Him. Both fear and trust then lead to a willingness to follow and obey what He says.
  5. Foolishness is pictured in so many negative ways. Not only is the "Woman Folly" loud and ignorant (13), but she is pompous and brash (14). There is no desire for her to leave her foolishness or ignorance.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Proverbs 5

From Proverbs 5...

  1. Verse 2 is a somewhat startling reminder that you have to guard discretion/wisdom. It is a commodity that could be lost if we are not careful. In what ways are we protecting this?
  2. The Bible often gives not-so-subtle reminders that the initial promises made by sin are really lies. The promises do not deliver, the heartache and ruin is the result that is often hidden.
  3. Verse 11-14 paint a pretty vivid of remorse/regret being verbalized. What a public spectacle! It would be hard to give a clearer picture of what that might look like than these verses do. As I read the verses it seems like these are the kinds of things that could result in many sleepless nights.
  4. This chapter also reminds me that part of the safeguard against immorality is an intimate marriage that is more than a mere 'business arrangement.' Few marriages begin that way, far too many devolve into that.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

From Proverbs 4

A few thoughts from Proverbs 4...

  1. It is hard NOT to notice the generational impact described in vss 1 and 3. One commentator portrayed this as 'grandpa's lecture.'
  2. I read this quote in Waltke's book on Proverbs, "Parental authority is a channel for communication of God's will." While sometimes we think of parental authority and God's authority as separate things, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
  3. Proverbs encourages us to 'get' or to 'buy' wisdom (vs 5). By understanding this, it is clear there is a cost to getting wisdom. However, the reward/benefit far outweighs the cost involved.
  4. Verse 15 reminds me that we should not just merely seek to avoid sin. Rather it is wise to plan NOT to sin. In other words, it would be good for our lives to foresee potential temptations or struggles, and plan in advance how we might be dependent on God and obedient and faithful.
  5. I appreciate Proverbs 4 because it makes things so concrete. It speaks of eyes, hears, feet, etc. Most importantly, it speaks of the heart as the director of all these things.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Proverbs 3

A few thoughts from Proverbs 3.

  1. We need to read Scripture in full rather than in isolation. If we were to only read vs 8 and vs 10, we could easily conclude that the gospel of God is only health and wealth. Yet, a reading of vss 11-12 remind us that God also disciplines and reproves.
  2. Bruce Waltke describes those who are blessed (13) as the ones who are "living life as the Creator intended."
  3. While most of the verses from 13-35 have the short-term or long-term future in view, that future depends on our current relationship with God. (W. Janzen)
  4. Verses 14-15 remind us that there are things that accomplish more than money. Money has its limitations, and yet because of its attraction we often believe the lie that just a little more money will make a better life.
  5. In Proverbs, wisdom seems to be often taken back to the creation of the world (19). I believe that God is encouraging us to take a good look at the Garden of Eden before the sin of Adam and Eve. "THAT is what I desire for men and women," God seems to be reminding us. I am grateful that we can live in light of the Paradise that will one day be restored according to Revelation 21-22. Eternity (future) will be life as God always intended for His creation.

Monday, May 2, 2011

From Proverbs 2

Here are a few thoughts/observations from Proverbs 2.

  1. As with many things in our Christian life, wisdom can be approached as both a gift and a task. This is clear from the first four verses. In vs 1-2, wisdom is something that is received and stored up. In vs 3-4 wisdom is something we should pursue with all of our strength.
  2. We are told to 'treasure the commandments' in vs 1. The meaning of treasure in this context is to store something up for its usefulness in the future. What would it look like in our lives if we treasured the instruction God has given to us? It would probably mean a lot more memorizing, reflecting, and meditating on it.
  3. The first part of this proverb seems to indicate that allegiance/loyalty to God precedes understanding, not the other way around. (4-5)
  4. Wisdom is not merely connected to facts, but also is strongly connected to morality as well. (9-15)
  5. Proverbs seems to speak not only to decisions, but also to their results. They are inseparable.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Observations / Questions from Proverbs 1

In the first installment of reading the book of Proverbs together...

From Chapter One
  1. Wisdom seems to have several ‘cousins’ described in vs 2-7. What do you think the nuances are of each word? Is there something worth learning in distinguishing between the synonyms?
  2. What does it mean that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge? Waltke has summarized it like this, “What the alphabet is to reading, notes to reading music, and numerals to mathematics, the fear of the Lord is to attaining the revealed knowledge of this book.” (Proverbs, 181)
  3. The application of acquired wisdom (8-9) seems to result in both beauty (pendant) and authority (garland for your head).
  4. What do you think it means to set an ambush for your own life (18)? Isn't it ironic that the the same people who are setting an ambush for someone else are actually ruining their own lives?
  5. The words of verse 19 seem to echo the message of Jesus that it is possible to gain the world but lose your own soul.
Any other observations?