An Idea Borrowed

Years ago on a radio program someone shared that they read a chapter in Proverbs every day. Since there are 31 chapters and the longest month has 31 days it allows you to read through Proverbs on a regular basis. I use it as the launch pad for my personal worship time and branch out from there. On this blog I will try to share some of the insights I have in the Word. I will try to organize them in the archive by reference.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Laughing at the Three Stooges

(Proverbs 17:5 KJV)  Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.

The second part of this verse reminds me of I Corinthians 13:6 where it says love “rejoices not in unrighteousness,...”  This is a key part of our faith.  We are not allowed to desire damage to our enemies.  I have been doubly aware of this being trapped in a room with perpetual television.  Do you realize how many lawyers advertise on TV?  And they don’t summon those who have been persecuted by the government.  They generally are looking for people who are in a situation where the other side has good insurance and would be glad to settle out of court.  When I hear the lawyer wanting my business on the radio he wants cases where you have been hit by an 18 wheeler, not the guy with no insurance.  I can’t help but believe they are glorying in my “calamity” (343) or at least hoping they can.

So?  As Christians we are to desire the best for others, even when we don’t like them and they can’t stand us.  It is an extension of turning the other cheek. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sweet Talk

(Proverbs 16:24 KJV)  Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Usually “honeycomb” (1706/6688) is presented in a positive light.  This is actually a compound word which literally means “comb of the honey”.  Only one other place has this combination.
(Psalms 19:10 KJV)  More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Here it talks about “words” (561); in Psalms, the Law.

Our speech is to be pleasant and true.  We are to be that rock in the middle of the stream where a traveler can put their foot and know that it will not turn under them.  We are to be that electrical appliance that is properly grounded so a touch will not kill.  We are the living representatives of Jesus.

So?  I sometimes shudder to think that people would hear some of the things I say in moments of weakness.  We are not like the animals.  We have mouths that can choose truth or falsehood.  We can heal or destroy.  I know which I want.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Respect for Both Parents

(Proverbs 15:20 KJV)  A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.

There are days when a verse catches my attention while reading the chapter and it ends up being the same one that I would have picked next by method.  I enjoy those days.  This is a verse that is designed to show how we should please our parents but something else hit me.  It also is one of the numerous places where the Bible points out the fact that we are not supposed to live in a male-only world.  Both parents are mentioned.  The approach is different but the result is the same.

The Bible sets up order in the family.  In that order there is no loss of importance, just different roles and duties.  In Israel women had much more freedom than they did in surrounding cultures.  It is an attitude that we also find in the New Testament.  Christians were at the front of movements like education for women and giving women the right to vote. 

So?  Read the Bible and take what it says as the final answer.  Don’t rely on the pastor, the politician or the blogger.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Portable

(Proverbs 14:11 KJV)  The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.

What are the lessons in the word pictures of these words?  The “upright” (3477) are given a “tabernacle” (tent NASB) (168).  I am not sure if the KJV gives more clarity or less.  The word is meant to carry emotional meaning.  This refers back to the tent of meeting or the Tabernacle, which was a tent.  The tent moves as God moves and is able to adapt to flexible needs.  Remember that each day the children of Israel would follow the cloud as God led.  Each time they stopped they would set up the Tabernacle and set up the Holy of Holies.  It was part of God’s promise to be where His people were.

So?  Keep in mind that God being with His people meant that they had to follow where He would lead.  It gave flexibility and variety but it also demanded obedience. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Find Your Fences

(Proverbs 13:8 KJV)  The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.

I really can’t figure out what this verse means, at least not enough to make a definitive statement about it.  I notice that you have the two extremes of society mentioned.  Look at this as a continuum or spectrum rather than two choices.  I say that so we can all be included.  Few of us will ever consider ourselves rich and even our welfare classes live in luxury  compared to the poor of the Bible or the rest of the world today.

It would seem we all have a need for something to keep us on the right path.  The rich who want to stay rich live to preserve their wealth.  Spendthrifts often end up in the poor house.  The poor are often ignored but they need correction just as much as the wealthy.

So?  Seek guidance.  Be aware of the fences that are around you to keep out the wolf and to keep you from straying. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Color Samples

(Proverbs 12:6 KJV)  The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.

How many “words” (1697) of the “wicked” (7563) are lurking in your home?  By that I mean how many books, videos, albums or games are in your house just waiting for an unsuspecting mind to open itself?  As a mature adult I don’t worry about the books on my shelf.  There are works of literature that I have read to be informed.  That is part of being wise, knowing what the other side thinks.  But there is a caution I would suggest.

Do you have any children around that are susceptible to nonsense?  I have read the Koran.  I have read Atlas Shrugged.  I have read a lot of science fiction.  If I had young children they would be among the titles I would not have in my house.  Be wise.

One reason Christians understand the world better is because we are totally surrounded by the thinking of the other side.  The pagan God haters control just about every source of information we have.  If we are on track we spend time each day in the word so we have a solid foundation to resist and interpret their nonsense but it does not happen automatically.

So?  Be alert when you pick up a book on history or a source of news.  Be like the home owner wondering what color paint to buy.  He takes a sample of what he is trying to work with and uses it as the basis of his decision.  The word is your color sample. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Boomerang Principles

(Proverbs 11:17 KJV)  The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.

A brief look at the Hebrew shows us a difference in the original text used by different translations.  If you have the cool software you can note two Hebrew words with the numbers 2617a and 1580.  The first is “merciful” in both the KJV and NASB but while the second appears in both translations it is associated with different English words.  It seems to be just a matter of the translators having issues because the meaning comes through the same for both. 

The point is that our attitude and intent tend to be boomerangs.  They eventually loop back and hit us in everyday life.  I don’t think this is a short term promise.  I think it is a long term principle.  Jesus put it this way,
(Matthew 5:7 KJV)  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
I like to think about how He had to Old Testament scriptures in mind when He spoke.

So?  If you want the best out of life, give the best. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Self Fulfilling Prophecy

(Proverbs 10:24 KJV)  The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.

There is a phrase that comes to mind, “self fulfilling prophecy”.  Here it relates to the state of our mind as we face life.  When your focus in life is on evil, and Proverbs has a very wide definition of evil, you are going to reap the harvest of that focus.  Have you noticed how animals seem to sense fear in humans?  I like horses but I am afraid of them.  They know it.  When I ride they pretty much ignore me. 

So?  Life will reward you, good or bad.  It will give you the desire of your heart.  Most people are determined to be lord of their own lives and God will honor that rejection. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What Do You Mean

(Proverbs 9:4 KJV)  Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

Often you can’t tell right from wrong by the words used.  Think of all the people talking about love.  We hear a lot about peace.  How about justice?  These are the obvious ones.  In education we have terms like “authentic assessment” and “cooperative learning”.  In politics we are told we need more “bipartisan” approaches.  The problem is in what the words mean. 

I remember having a long discussion once with some Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to my door.  They told me that they believed Jesus was the Son of God.  At least that is what I heard.  The words were fine but what they really meant was that Jesus was a son of god.  You had to know exactly what to ask and when to ask it.  They also believed that you and I are sons of god. 

So?  Be wary.  Always plug in your mind.  Don’t accept what people say at face value unless you know them well enough to trust them and even then be wary.  Wisdom and truth are available but not if we insist on being “simple” (naive NASB) (5493). 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Involving Trees in Worship

(Proverbs 8:31 KJV)  Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.

Christians are to have a different attitude toward the natural world around us.  Pagans tend to deify nature.  Some versions have spirits, demons and little gods located in each tree and rock.  You might not cut down certain types of trees because the tree gods would be unhappy and cause the wood in your bow to break when you needed it most.  To Christians this is a superstitious attitude toward nature. 

A Christian might also spare the tree but not because he is worried about the spirit of the tree or feels that the tree is his brother.  The believer spares the tree because he is a good steward and realizes that God enjoys the tree He created.  The tree is for man to use, not to waste.
(Genesis 1:28 KJV)  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Notice that we are to subdue the earth but also replenish it.

So?  Enjoy nature, don’t worship it.  Worship God through your enjoyment.  Glorify God in his creativity if you are a scientist delving into the complexities.  Praise God for his taste if you are an artist using it for inspiration. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Teflon Saints

(Proverbs 7:8 KJV)  Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,

There is a difference in the “through’s” of life and the “to’s” of life.  We must go through life.  It is the only way to get to the other end.  We need to be very wary of what we allow in this life to influence our choices and directions.  We have a goal and certain distractions can exclude us from success. 

But it works both ways.  Some people manage to walk through the garden of grace without being touched by the beauty.  I think back to my youth.  I sat under some of the most solid preaching anyone could hope for.  I had some awesome teachers.  I lived in a town of 100,000 that had seven libraries.  What a place to grow and get established.  Yet at least one in the group committed suicide.  Most rejected Jesus.  Many have been divorced.  They were the Teflon attenders. 

So?  What is God giving me as an opportunity today?  I have already decided to follow Jesus.  He continues to offer me choices that determine the path I will take.  I pray to be listening, learning and alert. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Forgiveness and Scars

(Proverbs 6:35 KJV)  He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.

America is the land of second chances and that is glorious.  I met a man last year who had dropped out of high school and been a total failure.  He got his act together, earned his GED and eventually was accepted as a student at Cal Tech.  He was given a second chance, big time. 

God is big on second chances.  We have the promise,
(1 John 1:9 KJV)  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
At the same time this passage implies that there are some results of our sin that might never go away.  We may be forgiven but still be forced to live with the consequences of our actions.  If you get high on drugs and have an accident that cripples you, God can forgive you.  What will usually not happen is the restoration of the use of your legs.  You may go to heaven but you can’t go up the stairs.

So?  Don’t assume.  Don’t play games with God.  Get serious.  Forgiveness waits but sometimes the scares won’t go away. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Be a Bucket

(Proverbs 5:15 KJV)  Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.

Modern Americans are generally ignorant of “cisterns” (953a).  Before the days of indoor plumbing water was always a problem.  You might get a lot of rain for half the year but nothing the other half.  Streams could dry up.  In some areas wells were impossible to dig but most people could dig a pit, which is the basic meaning of the Hebrew word.  I was listening to a TV program about houses in Central America that had cisterns holding enough water for a family of four for a year.  The modern equivalent might be the water towers that you see above many towns as you drive across the country.

This is a metaphor about being faithful in marriage.  Each person is to have their own sustaining relationship with one other person.  We used to call people butterfly when they went from relationship to relationship.  We are supposed to be buckets connected to one source.

So?  God’s plan is one man and one woman, for life.  This is just another expression of it. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Live the Speech

(Proverbs 4:4 KJV)  He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.

What is sad to me when I read this passage is that it didn’t work.  This is Solomon.  He is the one whom God gave the gift of wisdom.  He ruled Israel when it was at it’s greatest.  He wrote Proverbs and probably Ecclesiastes.  He shared his wisdom with his sons.  They didn’t listen, or if they did, they were like all children when they are told to take out the garbage.  How do I know?  Read how Solomon’s children broke up the kingdom and led Israel away from God.

I am thinking of one of the great preachers I have had the opportunity to hear.  He proclaimed truth and he did not water it down.  He is revered by millions.  He had three children and as far as I can tell, none of them are serving the Lord.  We all know examples of this.  My father had four boys and all of them are Servants of Jesus.  He was a blue collar worker.  He could interact well with clients but I would never think of him as a preacher.  We all know examples of this. 

So?  Might I suggest that it is the daily way in which we apply what we speak that makes a difference in the people around us.  Know the truth.  Speak the truth.  Live the truth. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Solid Foundations

(Proverbs 3:13 KJV)  Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.

Knowledge is a good thing.  It is used forty times in Proverbs.  Accurate information and a good reference library or data base are important.  But here it is talking about “understanding” (8394).  What is the difference?  A computer can have knowledge but at this point, no real understanding.  You might have flawless spelling but not know what the words mean. 

Of course the goal is wisdom.  Wisdom is more illusive but requires accurate information and the mental acuity to understand what you know. 

So?  Keep seeking the information you need but never forget that it requires the help of the Holy
Spirit to make the information yield wisdom. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Doctrine Matters

(Proverbs 2:13 KJV)  Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;

There is a doctrinal point here that I think is important.  It has to do with the possibility of leaving the fold of the saved.  Some call it backsliding.  Some call it apostasy.  Others call it impossible.  Many Christians believe that once you have been saved by grace there is no way you can depart from that grace.  Many of those people live upright lives.  It works for them.  I can’t help but believe though that there are people who look on that kind of doctrine as an excuse to live wild and dissipate lives.  Then people say they were never saved in the first place.

I find it hard to understand how you could “leave” (5800a) something without having been there in the first place.  There is a similar verse in Galatians with the same issues. 
(Galatians 5:4 KJV)  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
How do you fall from a tree you have never climbed?  How do you leave a party you never went to?

So?  For sincere believers it won’t make much difference in their eternity.  For those on the border it can have eternal consequences. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

First Fear

(Proverbs 1:7 KJV)  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I often hear that love is stronger than hate.  Is love stronger than “fear” (3374)?  Is it possible to really love God without fearing Him?  Although the context here is “knowledge” (1847) we are seeing a formula that is repeated several times in Proverbs.  A healthy fear of God is the basis for important spiritual growth.  I emphasize, “healthy”.  This is not the fear that holds a frog motionless while the snake slowly puts its mouth around it.  This is not the fear of the refugee creeping through barbed wire on a border.  This is the fear that is based on a desire not to offend a loving parent, the fear that keeps us from doing something stupid, even when no one is watching.

God is love.  We know that because the Bible tells us so.  He is also holy and His wrath burns toward those who defy Him.  He also wants us to serve Him out of the love of our hearts.  Sometimes it is fear which makes us aware of His love.  My wife still remembers a movie called “Thief in the Night” and reading The Late, Great Planet Earth.  The fear instilled by those tools brought her to love the God of the universe.

So?  Don’t turn into a bowl of quivering jelly but be aware that the God of love is also an awesome being whose wrath is only held in check by His love.