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.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Let It Lie

(Proverbs 17:9 KJV)  He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

A good way to ruin a friendship, poison a marriage or break up a family is to bring up some untouchable from the past.  The first part of the verse implies that a wrong has been done.  Whether it was resolved or allowed to fade from memory does not make any difference.  It is in the past and should remain there.

A good way to ruin things is to bring it up again.  It is always nice if people have confessed or the wrong was righted but it does not say that is necessary.  Sometimes the scar has just faded in time and is best left to rest.

So?  This probably goes with the admonition to be slow to speak that is given other places in scripture.  As believers we are to leave the ugliness of the past in its grave. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Yule Tide Aspirin

(Proverbs 16:28 KJV)  A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

When I think of people who are deviant my mind goes to things like molesting children and torturing animals.  I don’t tend to think of the family member who comes for Christmas and proceeds to get the family fighting, yet here they are labeled “froward” (perverse NASB) (8419).  This is the direct contrast to the person Jesus spoke of in the Beatitudes.  That whole passage addresses this and specifically,
(Matthew 5:9 KJV)  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
This is not talking about negotiators for the UN.  This is talking about the family member who doesn’t complain about the gifts they got, who doesn’t keep asking how much something cost, who doesn’t grab the best seat and leave grandma standing. 

So?  You all have seen this happen.  The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Has it been me?”  If you follow this word through Proverbs you notice a strong presence of volition.  People choose to be a pain.  We can work on being an anesthetic. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Road Hazards

(Proverbs 15:24 KJV)  The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.

When I am driving down the road and see some debris in the lane I try to avoid it.  That makes common sense.  It might just be an empty cup.  It might be a bag of nails.  It is just a good idea to be safe.  This verse implies that we can avoid or “depart from” (keep away NASB) (5493) from “hell” (Sheol NASB) (7585).  We don’t forget that we are saved by grace, not our own efforts.  We should also remember that God has tasked us with the responsibility to live upright lives.  That means avoiding evil.

I find that if I am paying attention and driving a reasonable speed it is easier to miss the board in my lane.  If I am daydreaming I might not even see it coming.  If I am going too fast I may not be able to swerve safely.

So?  Keep that in mind as you plan your day.  We can live in faith that God is in charge.  Just because the sergeant is not in charge does not mean he can march out of step. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Colonoscopy Anyone?

(Proverbs 14:14 KJV)  The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.

I am enjoying reading my old Living Bible this month.  I assumed it was almost the same as the New Living Translation but it is a different world.  The NLT pretends to be a translation.  The LB admits it is a paraphrase.  I have this verse underlined from thirty years ago,
“The backslider gets bored with himself; the godly man’s life is exciting.”
We are surrounded with bored people.  They are seeking thrills and spills.  I think of the coming Christmas season and the endless parties people will attend.  I have never made a habit of going to such gatherings because I have listened to stories.  They seem to be little more than an excuse to get drunk and convince yourself you are having a good time.  I remember years ago a guy talking about the great time he had, drinking and partying.  I asked him what he did.  He said, “I can’t remember but I had a great time.”  By that definition getting a colonoscopy is having a great time. 

So?  Being self centered is a sure recipe for boredom.  If you are bored go out and study a leaf on a tree and wonder how it was made.  Meditate on the miracle of the incarnation.  Ask yourself if Mary ever nagged Joseph. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Pual and Piel

(Proverbs 13:12 KJV)  Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

I find the sense of being “deferred” (4900) is different than I expected.  If you look at the basic meaning it is to draw or drag.  I get the impression of the way my feet shuffle in the morning as I am walking away from my bed.  There is no bounce, no enthusiasm.  My interest in the day is being deferred.  The Blue Letter Bible tells me this is a Pual participle.  Pual is the passive form of Piel in Hebrew.  Piel expresses intensive or intentional action. 

What does all that technical jargon mean?  I would guess that it is telling us that we are capable of keeping joy and fulfillment at arms length.  I think of times when I have been happy to sit around and feel sorry for myself.  That was a lot easier than moving forward in faith, trusting the barriers to God’s care and being obedient.  It is much easier to just blame others. 

So?  I can come up with plenty of reasons to feel stifled in life.  Since I don’t want a “sick” (2470a) “heart” (3820) I am going to put aside my pity party and live in joy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Donkeys Are For Riding Not Petting

(Proverbs 12:10 KJV)  A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

We are to be concerned with our “beasts” (animal NASB) (929).  Notice that it doesn’t say “pets”.  The concept of a pet in history seems to be focused on the idle rich or perhaps the familiars of those involved in the occult.  It says animal, it means animal.  These are the machines and power sources of the age.  We are to treat them well.  Jesus rode one into Jerusalem in the Triumphal Entry.  The Bible does not say that Mary rode one to Jerusalem for the birth of Jesus.

What was interesting to me as I looked at this today is that the Hebrew word is one that we are familiar with.  Actually we are familiar with the derivative.
(Job 40:15 KJV)  Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
In Job the word is masculine.  It is only used there in the Bible.  The feminine noun, used in Proverbs, is more common, over a hundred times.  You have heard speculation on what the behemoth was.  Some speculate on dinosaurs and such.  Notice how it is defined in the context of Job.  It eats grass like an ox.  That is God speaking, not me.

So?  Love your animals but keep them in their place.  They should not replace your neighbor, your children or your spouse in your concern or priorities. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

To the Rescue

(Proverbs 11:21 KJV)  Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.

This is another day in which the verse that stood out to me while reading was the one that would have come up in my routine.  I love these “coincidences”.  This month I am reading in my 40 year old Living Bible and the second half of this verse is paraphrased this way,
“And you can also be very sure that God will rescue the children of the godly.”
Part of my routine each morning is to be thankful for all my blessings.  That can take a long time because, really, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I know it is after Thanksgiving Day.  I can still be thankful.  One of the things I am grateful for is my children.

I will confess that every day of their lives I was not tickled pink to have them in my home.  Those years between 10 and 18 stand out in my mind as a continual question of “Why me, Lord?”  But even then they were worth keeping.  Sometimes all I had to do was compare them to what I worked with at school and I was good to go again.  But the overall consensus is that God is rescuing them on a daily basis. 

So?  I pray that I will be godly enough in my weaknesses to have God iron out the rough spots as they come.  I pray the same for you. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Days or Years

(Proverbs 10:27 KJV)  The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.

There is a contrast in the Hebrew that comes through in the KJV but not in the NASB.  The Hebrew has “days” (3117) [yom] and “years” (8141).  The verbs are opposites.  God “prolongs” (3254) one and the other gets “shortened” (7114a).  “Prolong” literally means “add to”.

This fits well in my observations.  It seems to me that the good things in life take a long time to build and consistent effort.  Raising godly children is a project that seems to go on forever and yet the evil side can come down like a ton of bricks in a moment.  I came to marriage with a really nice ukelele.  I bought it in Hawaii when I was in college on the advice of a friend who knew ukeleles.  I played it for years and let it sit for years but time does good things to a quality musical instrument.  Then one day my young child got hold of it.  It was no longer a ukelele.  It was now good for starting a fire.

So?  Don’t get discouraged when it seems like expectations are not being fulfilled.  It takes time for life to age properly and come together well.  God sees it even when we don’t.  Of course if you prefer pasturized process cheese food to a nicely aged baby Swiss, all bets are off. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Pop-Quiz

(Proverbs 9:8 KJV)  Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

Here we are told to “reprove” (3198) and told not to reprove, all in the same verse.  Others might contrast the words of Jesus to “judge not” and the words of Paul,
(2 Timothy 4:2 KJV)  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
This is another one of those times when we are reminded that as Christians we cannot turn off our minds and go on auto-pilot.  Thinking with discernment is always in order and sometimes necessary.  It is clear that at times we are expected to correct our brothers in the faith.  As parents we are expected to train our children.  As citizens of a republic we are expected to raise our voice when the king is naked.

It is not easy.  It will not always we clear.

So?  How do we know when and where?  Two necessary perquisites.  We must be listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit.  And before we can listen we need to take vocabulary lessons by reading the text book.  Think of it as a quiz with questions that are always fair.  If you have studied you don’t need to worry about your grade.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Tension of Wisdom

(Proverbs 8:35 KJV)  For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.

One of the constant questions in my mind is the tension between a sovereign God and the free will of man.  How do they work together?

Read Job.  He was upright and blameless and yet God allowed him to be tested.  In the dialogue with Job God brings out the fact that He is God, not Job.
(Job 38:4 KJV)  Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
It was like God was saying, “Just because I told Satan you were a good man doesn’t give you the right to question Me.”

And then we have passages like this that tell us we are to seek wisdom and God will reward us if we find it.

So?  The tension will not go away in this life.  Maybe in eternity we will understand.  I find the joy of knowing that in His sovereignty God has chosen to allow me awareness and free will.  At times of pain I wish I were a robot but overall I rejoice in the relationship it allows.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Just Around the Corner

(Proverbs 7:12 KJV)  Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)

Temptation is everywhere.  The context here is adultery but in real life it takes many forms.  The form will be different for each person and for that person it may change every day.  Temptation deals with actions and opportunities that are a normal part of every day life.  In the right context they may even be righteous.  Take gossip.  Sharing prayer concerns and gossip differ in attitude not always in content.  Have you ever picked an apple?  Did you have permission or just take one because it was there?

Also keep in mind the sin is not in the temptation but in the completion of the opportunity presented. 

So?  Finish the day knowing that Satan is out to get you but that he can be frustrated by simply living an upright life.  Acknowledge the temptation, turn away and get on with life. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Avoidance Behavior

(Proverbs 6:4 KJV)  Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.

Excuses abound in my life.  When there is something that I don’t want to do I can find limitless other important tasks that need to be done.  Often they do.  Often they don’t really.  We use them to keep from doing what we want to avoid.  Here we have a young man who has done something stupid.  In this case it was co-signing on a loan for a casual acquaintance.  He knows he needs to do something about it.  He is being told to go and beg to get out of the trap.  He doesn’t want to go so he thinks he will take a nap first.

Bad choice.  Avoidance behavior.  How many times have I decided to have a little snack instead of starting some task?  Look at my waistline and you will get an idea.  There are lots of good things to do but when used as substitutes for what is needed they become bad things to do.

So?  I keep working on telling myself, “Do it now.”  Sometimes I listen and life is better.  Some times I don’t and the hole I am digging gets deeper.  Profit from my mistakes.  I am trying to. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Get Ravished

(Proverbs 5:19 KJV)  Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.

My wife likes to tell the kids that what attracted me was the short red dress she wore.  Since it was an asset, I can’t argue.  I am wise enough not to point out all the long discussions we had about life and how we seemed so much on the same page in our commitment to the Lord and desire to serve.  Let her have her moment.  Solomon would have nodded his head and smiled.  He knew what she was talking about.

Physical attraction is part of how God built us.  It is part of the program and it is more than a gimmick to insure the existence of the next generation.  Paul put it this way.
(1 Corinthians 7:5 KJV)  Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
Is it any wonder that the Prayer and Fasting League never caught on?

So?  If you are married the attraction you feel for each other is holy.  If you are not married and feel the attraction then the answer is marriage.  Children are just an added bonus.  They will certainly change your Christmas season. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Be a Hugger

(Proverbs 4:8 KJV)  Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.

Are you a hugger?  I am not.  I can hug.  I have hugged.  I can hug well.  I am not a hugger.  Both translations I refer to use “embrace” (2263).  I am not an embracer either.

Just because I am not something by nature does not mean I cannot learn how and when to practice it.  I am not a runner by nature.  My advice to visitors in Boston years ago when cars were rushing toward them as they used a crosswalk, “Whatever you do, don’t lose your dignity.”  Yet I have been known to run when my children are in trouble.  I never chose to eat sushi.  If you have me to your house and serve sushi I will eat it with a smile on my face.  We can learn.

So?  Wisdom can be learned.  It is offered by God.  You have the Holy Spirit as a tutor as well as examples in living flesh around you.  Just because you are not a hugger does not mean you cannot learn wisdom.  Remember, this is a limited time offer.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Right Hand Blessing

(Proverbs 3:16 KJV)  Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.

Why is “long” (753) “life” (3117) something to be desired?  We could play with the KJV’s “length of days” which is more literal but that begs my question.  We could speculate that this includes eternity, and some day I might, but today I notice that the other hand has “riches” (6239) and “honor” (3519b) and, as they say, “you can’t take it with you”.  Why are we not told to hurry up and get out of this life and move on to a better world?

I think one good question deserves another.  Why did God create us in the first place?  I sometimes think that we bring joy to Him by the constant generation of new experiences.  The longer we are here on Earth the more we will have to add to the eternal stew and in some way God will savor it and allow us to join in the enjoyment.  I know there is heresy waiting just around the corner as I talk about adding to God in any way but keep in mind that the Bible seems to indicate our praise and worship are something He desires.

So?  Live long in righteousness.  Why?  This may be one of those places where God would just say, “Because I said so.” 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Boring Temptations

(Proverbs 2:16 KJV)  To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;

I feel a little let down.  I don’t think I have ever needed to be rescued from an aggressive woman.  I have come across the scene in books and probably seen it on the screen.  Two people meet by accident in a bar and within a few pages are having wild and improbable sex at her place.  I am still waiting to practice my self control.  Somehow I don’t think it is going to happen with all that drama.

I need wisdom to “deliver” (5337) me from more mundane things.  With me it is more meeting a box of Cheese-Its in a grocery store and within a few pages having wild and too common gluttony in the recliner at my place.  It isn’t quite as exciting.  Hollywood won’t make a movie about it.  I still need delivery.

So?  Wisdom will give us the focus to help us deal with the real challenges we face.  They may come in a box or in a conversation.  Help is not on the way, it has arrived. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Because

(Proverbs 1:11 KJV)  If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:

This compound word “without cause” (2600) is fairly common in the OT.  It should be telling us something about how we respond to people.  We have often been taught that certain things, such as killing, are always forbidden.  We get the idea that we should never get angry.  Maybe that is not true based on this term.

Obviously some things are always wrong.  There is never a legitimate reason to jump someone in the dark and rob them.  But there are many things in life which are acceptable, or even necessary, if the situation is right.  You would not normally go and pound on your neighbors door at 2:00 A.M. but if his house is on fire he would understand.  You don’t normally get up and walk out of church but you might if the pastor has just denied the divinity of Christ.

At the core is our motivation and the path of reasoning we have followed. 

So?  Make sure you don’t rationalize what God will punish.  Keep seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit and enrich your mind with the words God has given to us for that help.