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, January 18, 2018

Blood Brothers

(Proverbs 18:19 KJV)  A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

Are you familiar with the question the Pharisees asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”  Did anyone ever ask, “Who is my brother?”  Hold on while I run that through my software....

I can’t find it so let me repeat my theory.  Two words that come up frequently in scripture are “brother” (251) and “neighbor”.  Although there are probably exceptions, I think that a brother is someone who shares a blood connection with you.  That can be genetic blood or the blood of Jesus.  It is a bond that goes beyond neighbor.  A neighbor shares a geographical connection.

Although we receive general instruction about living at peace with all men, this tells us it is even more important with people of the blood. 

So?  Give extra allowance and consideration to those who have a blood connection with you.  Keep in mind that just as you may not know your neighbors well, a brother in Christ can also be a mystery to you.  That requires extra patience and discernment. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Fight, Flight or Figure

(Proverbs 17:10 KJV)  A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.

We don’t like it but “reproof” (rebuke NASB) (1606) is an important part of life.  It is also a positive part of life.  It is an agent of growth and the improvement depends on the rebukee, not the rebuker.

When someone gets on my case my first reaction is self-defense.  I raise my emotional fists and go into a psychological fighter poise.  I may not lash out at first, but I am ready.  Up to that point it is a natural response.  It is on the level of emotion and like temptation, is not a sin.  The sin comes when we begin to actively engage.  There is that moment in a confrontation when we either decide to fight or flee.  For us there should be a third response.  We should be open to correction and honestly consider the possibility that there is a lesson for us.

So?  People are going to criticize me.  I really want to grow from legitimate criticism.  The tendency is to get defensive and reject the potential maturity.  I need to take that moment of serious consideration before I go down the wrong path. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Target Demographic

(Proverbs 16:29 KJV)  A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.

I am trying to think of anyone I know who would fits this description.  Although “violent” (violence NASB) (2555) is the most common translation the definition given includes “wrong, cruelty, injustice”.  When you expand it that way it covers a lot more territory.  It might be stretching it a bit but it could include the salesman who is more concerned about his commission than about you balancing your budget.  It could include a husband who puts his wife to work and the kids in a day care so he could have more toys and leisure.

Obviously it is best for us to avoid such people.  Even more important is to make sure that we are not that person.  We may not be able to change our neighbors but we can change ourselves.

So?  We should live in constant self-examination.  When we read something like this we think of the other guy but maybe we are the target demographic.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Proud Definitions

(Proverbs 15:25 KJV)  The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.

“Proud” (1343) can be used in a positive or a negative sense.  Here it is obviously negative.  I got in scholarly mode and came across some great descriptions. 
“The precise charge is arrogance, cynical insensitivity to the needs of others, and presumption.  It is both a disposition and a type of conduct....
    “Sin enters the picture when there is a shift of ultimate confidence from God as object and source to oneself as object and source.”  TWOT, I, p. 143
Does that describe anyone you know?  I think of politicians, reporters, entertainers, waitresses, traffic cops, teachers...I guess the list could go on about all the people we can’t change. 

So?  The big question is, “Does this describe me?”  I think it starts small and puffs itself up.  Time to get a pin and start popping some balloons. 

Harris, R. Laird, editor.  Theological Wordbook of the Old 
       Testament, Volume 1.  Chicago:  Moody Press, 1980.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Choice of Simplicity

(Proverbs 14:15 KJV)  The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.

Notice the different words chosen by the KJV, “simple” (6612a) and the NASB, “naive”.  The modern choice is much more gentle.  It is also less to the point.  Naive can mean someone who is simply not experienced enough to recognize danger when it rears it head.  Simple says you can’t learn.  It is almost the same difference as between ignorant and stupid.  I wonder how it was understood in 1611.  It is not a trait that should be associated with God’s people.

As I look at the different translations on my software I see other choices:  Stupid, innocent, foolish, fool, unthinking person, and thoughtless.  The root word means wide open and spacious.

So?  We are to be focused.  We are to understand priorities and moral imperatives.  We are to be obedient servants of a Holy God.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Participation Trophies

(Proverbs 13:13 KJV)  Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.

Who “despises” (936) the “word” (1697)?  The context makes clear that we are talking about the word of God.  Who would despise the Bible?  The Hebrew is also translated “contempt” and “scorn”.  The noun form is once “laughingstock” in the NASB. 

Some people demean the word by praising it.  How often have you heard someone talk about the KJV being a great piece of literature.  It is true that you are not very well grounded in our culture if you don’t know the references that are always popping up from the Bible.  That is a long way from accepting it as Truth.  I am slowly working through writings of Plato and Aristotle.  I am currently half way through the history of Herodotus.  I acknowledge that they play a significant part in our cultural history.  But they are just books.  The Bible is not “just” a book.

Our problem is when we find these kind of people in the church.  Sometimes they are pastors.  Sometimes they are influential layman.  They are the ones who give out the participation trophies to every contestant.  They are the ones who don’t want to fail any students.

So?  Make sure that you don’t fall for the “yes, but” crowd who don’t really believe that the Bible is the word of God.  Proverbs does not think the reward for that is worth dying for.  (Posted, January 13, 2017, PP)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Till Then

(Proverbs 12:11 KJV)  He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.

I start looking at what I know about history and farming when I read something like this.  The people of Solomon’s time were mainly farmers.  That condition continued up to the industrial revolution and beyond.  In 1790 about 90% of Americans were on farms.  In 1987 it was 2%.  Up until modern times the vast majority of people would understand this.  The reference to bread is important because it underlines that this is talking about the basic farmer who grows grain.  Although I found some reference to tilling in vineyards and orchards it doesn’t seem to be a big factor.

This is telling us that there are certain basics in life that demand our attention.  Each of us has some area that could be considered “his land”.  There are ingredients to life that would be considered “bread” (3899).  Much of those foundational ingredients are consistent to all of us.  Some kind of work is required.  Attention to family is important.  Civic responsibility is expected. 

So?  Although we can dream and pursue our dreams we are expected to take care of the basics of life first.  Too many people today think that the government or their parents will take care of them while they become something great.  It may work for a few but it is not the Biblical model.  Get a job before you try to change the world.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Pig Humor

(Proverbs 11:22 KJV)  As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.

Humor is often based on the unexpected.  This is a form of humor that makes a point.  We have two contrasts based on the weakness we have to judge a book by its cover.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  If I am checking out a tall stack of books from the library I can afford to get a few wrong.  If you are buying a book for a long ride on an airplane you might want to look little farther than the cover.

I am sure that somewhere in the world there is a pig with a gold ring in its snout.  I doubt if it will effect the quality of the bacon produced.  The point is that precious gold does not change the stereotype of unclean animals into something blessed by God.  In the same way, outward beauty does not make up for lack of character in us humans.  Not being one of the beautiful people I have no trouble with this.

So?  After looking at the cover, dig a little deeper.  In selecting friends or spouses keep in mind that the gold ring still has value but the worth of the beauty is questionable. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January Implies Looking Two Ways

(Proverbs 10:28 KJV)  The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.

All right, which is it, “shall be” (KJV) or “is” (NASB)?  The key is found when you notice that the KJV put the verb in italics.  That means it is not in the Hebrew and is inserted for clarity.  It could be rendered in English,

“The hope of the righteous, gladness.” 

Or,

“The hope of the righteous?  Gladness!”

The problem that the Hebrew inserts that the translators are trying to interpret is the time frame of our “hope” (8431).  Do we have hope now or is it to come?  Is our hope something that applies in this life or is it for eternity?  Of course you know the answer is “yes”.  This is a both/and moment.

Hope is an assurance.  That starts the day you are redeemed.  Hope is an assurance.  We have read the book and we know who wins.

So?  Is the new year already looking like a disaster?  Your hope is rooted in yesterday and extends into forever.  Rejoice and be glad.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Package Deal

(Proverbs 9:9 KJV)  Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

What is the difference between a gift and a bribe?  I have asked myself this question at other times.  The two words seem to be used interchangeably in the Old Testament.  Here we have the verb “give” (5414).  This is the root word.  It would seem clear that a gift is acceptable and a bribe is not, at least in our modern, Western thinking.  This gives us another clue.

A gift that is a blessing makes the recipient “wiser” (2449).  I wonder if there is also an element of the character of the recipient.  In addition to being “wise” (2450) he is “righteous” (6662).  Personally I wonder if it is possible to be really wise without being righteous.  Righteousness is based in a fear of the Lord and that is where wisdom begins. 

So?  Do you desire the gift of wisdom?  Then one of your goals is to live an upright life and allow the Holy Spirit to straighten up your inner life.  It is a package. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Scurry of Roaches

(Proverbs 8:36 KJV)  But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

Christians are commanded to love.  We are told to regard others as more important than ourselves.  I struggle with the idea of turning the other cheek and going the extra mile, but I accept it because Jesus wants me to be that way.  In the wide spectrum of personalities and dispositions, that is a characteristic of Christians.  We embrace life because we embrace Jesus.

It is hard for us to accept that there are people who “love” (157) “death” (4194).  They hate life and light.  They may deny it but that doesn’t change the facts.  Have you ever walked into a dark room and turned on the light and heard the scurrying of tiny little feet as the roaches scurry for cover.  They love darkness.  When I walk across my house in Texas I am still wondering if I will step on some nocturnal pest.  They hate life and light.

So?  This helps me understand why so many will be going to Hell.  To tell you the truth, they prefer it that way.  Their eyes are like yours are in a dark room and someone flashed a bright light.  They love the darkness.  Jesus is light. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

XXX and OOO

(Proverbs 7:13 KJV)  So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,

Once again we see how glorious gifts of God can be turned into traps of the devil.  Who could be against hugs and kisses?  Think birthdays.  Think Christmas.  Think family reunions.  Think children.  Hugs and kisses are a wonderful part of life.  The problem is not in the action.  The problem is in the motivation and timing.

One of the techniques of dishonest researchers is to take a beneficial item and test it in such a way that it looks evil.  Take salt.  We have been under a deluge of criticism of salt.  It is a major evil according to the powers that be.  They have convinced people to cut down on their salt.  They have persuaded restaurants to stop putting so much salt in their food.  When you buy a bag of chips it has less salt in it.  The result is the food does not taste as good.  Does it lower blood pressure?  In some people but not in most.  Too much salt is bad for you.  Keep in mind that too much oxygen will burn out your lungs and too much water will drown you.

So?  Avoid the misuse of God’s gifts.  Avoid the extremes in just about everything.  The problem will not be high blood pressure but eternal damnation. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Blind Deliverance

(Proverbs 6:5 KJV)  Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

I am not a hunter and doubt if I ever will be.  I have nothing against hunters or hunting.  I think it is legitimate and for many people necessary.  My son wants to try it and so when a neighbor said he went hunting I suggested he take my son out.  He volunteered to put us in a blind together.  I know enough about hunting to know that he was politely suggesting that I not suggest again.

Hunting is often a matter of letting the game come to you.  In that case the gazelle of Proverbs is wandering along, minding its own business, and suddenly the hunter shoots.  The point for us is that we can never know when the forces of evil might be waiting in anticipation for us to wander into their sites. 

How does a deer “deliver” (5337) itself?  Constant awareness is a key.  Running the other direction would help.  Other places in Proverbs suggest righteousness (11:6), an upright mouth (12:6) and the discipline of a parent.  Paul makes a suggestion,
(Ephesians 6:16 KJV)  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
So?  Walk in faith which means in righteousness.  Deliverance is at hand. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Is That All There Is

(Proverbs 5:20 KJV)  And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?

Have you noticed the appeal of the exotic, or the imagined exotic.  Granted that often it is just a need to conform to what the “cool” people are doing.  It is often being the victim of advertising.  When the Volkswagen Beetle came out it was acknowledged as being an ugly creation.  That was part of its appeal.  The other part was that people thought it was cool.  Why do people spend thousands on a Rolex when a cheap Timex will keep time just as well?

There was a song in the sixties, “Is That All There Is”.  It is a song of desperation and futility.  It is a wonder to me why it did not start a revival in America because so many people are asking themselves that same question.  So we are warned against the “strange woman” (adulteress NASB) (2114a) and the “stranger” (foreigner NASB) (5237).  This could involve sexual sin but for most of us it is values and priorities that are antagonistic to the life of righteousness.

So?  Be alert to all the traps that are out in front of us.  Most are matters of gradual compromise.  A few are abrupt.  All can be avoided.  All must be avoided. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Contestants

(Proverbs 4:9 KJV)  She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

I am not interested in winning any “beauty” (8597) contests.  Notice that the KJV has “glory” instead of “beauty”.  Both translations have trouble deciding which translation to use in different places.  Our idea of beauty doesn’t worry me.  I am old enough to know that glory is not a word used to describe me.  Yet there is a quality of the righteous life that God wants us to have and it only comes through wisdom.

We have a saying that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.  This quality is that way and the Beholder is Jesus.  What we are striving for is to appear to Him in the judgment day clothed with a life of obedience and focus so He can say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

So?  This is a glory that is radiated because we have allowed Jesus to fill us and He shines in our lives.  There was a chorus we used to sing,
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wonderful passion and purity!
O Thou Spirit divine,
All my nature refine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me
I don’t care if I win the title as long as I am a contestant. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Even Keel

(Proverbs 3:17 KJV)  Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.

“Peace” (7965) [shalom] is a basic to wisdom.  Notice that this is one of those Hebrew words that are familiar to a lot of us.  It is one of those words, like “aloha” which can be used in many contexts and always has a positive connotation.  It also requires some understanding.  This is not the peace of no conflict.  This is not the god of the peacenik. 

Shalom may be expressed in our environment and our culture but ultimately it is an inner assurance.  We live in troubled times.  We have “wars and rumors of wars”.  We have seen earthquakes and hurricanes.  The corruption and perversion that we are seeing in the news is at flood levels.  In the midst of that we can have Shalom.  We can know peace.  It is because we know, and fear, God, which is the beginning of wisdom.

So?  I cannot assure you that the next big storm won’t take away your electricity.  I can assure you that you personally will never lose the power to keep an even keel. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

First Tweek

(Proverbs 2:17 KJV)  Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.

This verse begins to describe a slide into Hell.  It begins with mention of the people and influences of “youth” (5271).  This assumes that there have been some good people around who have taught and demonstrated what it means to live upright and holy lives.  Even for those who are raised in total paganism there are examples that can be followed.  The Holy Spirit always offers guidance and a conscience that will move us in the right direction.

The slide begins when this person abandons that which they know is right.  It always amazes me how much children know about right and wrong, even when they deny it.  When we read in the newspaper about someone who has met or caused tragedy they do not come from nothing.  If the reporter did the job he was paid to do you will probably find a long path of deviant behavior, many arrests and violent episodes. 

So?  Where are you on the road?  Some of us are getting near the end and changes will only have time for minor improvements.  We need to seek those improvements anyway.  Some are at the beginning and small tweaks can have major effects over the length of a life.  Then our tangents are taken into eternity. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Beginning

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

On New Year’s Day we talk about new years resolutions, or we used to.  I haven’t heard much about it lately.  The date is arbitrary.  We have Chinese New Year and the Jews have their own date.  Ours was probably something that grew out of the shortest day of the year toward the end of December.  It is a time of “beginning” (7225).  It is a time to start over.  It is a time to remind ourselves of our priorities and the basic principles that guide us.

It is a time to renew our “fear” (3374) of the Lord.

So?  We don’t know what the year holds.  There will be joy and disappointment.  There may be tragedy.  There may be serendipity.  Face it all with a healthy fear of God in your hearts so that you can face the year with hope.