21 May 2016

Stone 20 - Proverbs

This week we will take a look at the wisdom found in Proverbs.

**A note on Proverbs - as many are aware, Proverbs is a book of wisdom found in the Bible. However, it should be noted that the wisdom found within are not promises per se, but guidelines and attributes of godly character.

As Christians, one of our main goals is to be like Christ. Following the wisdom found in Proverbs is one way to make steps toward that goal.

Meet Wisdom
Proverbs begins with a short plea to avoid sin in a sort of parental tone. Proverbs 1:8 says "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction, and don't reject your mother's teaching."

**It is worth noting right away here that this is a good example of how important it is to discern right from wrong. Certainly we have situations where one parent  instructs their child in direct opposition to how another parent might instruct their child. The Bible presupposes that the instruction provided by the parents is godly instruction.

Verse 1:20 informs us about Wisdom as she calls out in the streets. Wisdom does not hide in the back alleys or lock herself up indoors making it difficult to find her - No - she calls out - let all who have ears hear... Wisdom can be accepted or rejected... Be diligent to seek, diligent to follow.

The way of the sinner is not all it is cracked up to be.

Verse 3:1 instructs us not to forget but to allow our hearts to keep the commands. Internalize and reflect on the wisdom - let it be ingrained in us that it may show when needed.
Chapter 3 also tells us not to lean on our own understanding but to trust in the Lord. We do not have the Mind of Christ - which is a good book by the way... - if we only consider our own understanding we are fated to fail.

To bask in wisdom is to be happy - as we avoid many problems associated with poor choices. Again, this is wisdom and not a promise 3:23 says that our foot will not stumble but this is not a promise that nothing bad will ever happen to us but that we can avoid the consequences of making foolish decisions. For example - I do not feel any restriction or burden by following the posted speed limits. I am freed from the stress of worry and financial loss that comes with getting a ticket.

Chapter 4 advises us to hold on to wisdom and cherish it for th benefit it brings - to avoid the path of the wicked and to carefully consider the path we do follow. Again, we should internalize and reflect on wisdom. Wisdom is not about following a bunch of rules.

Chapter 5 counsels choices related to sex and marriage. Avoid the infidelity and avoid the problems that come with it. Keep sex within the context of marriage.

Chapter 6 covers a few topics such as finances, laziness, and adultery. We are advised to be wise about entering into financial agreements with others. We are told to consider the hard work that the ant exhibits and to learn from that. We also see again that the act of adultery is something to be avoided. It is wise to avoid the self-destruction that this activity threatens.

Chapter 7 brings continued wisdome against sexual immorality. Focus on God and His truth rather than focus on sex. Surely, sex is enjoyable but the happiness of it is fleeting while the joy of the Lord is everlasting.

In Chapter 8 we see again that Wisdom calls out making herself available to all and pleads with us to listen and take heed.

Chapter 9 sort of wraps up the image of Wisdom as a woman who calls out and briefly points to the idea of attitude versus knowledge. We see that Proverbs tells us that trying to correct others who are foolish will lead to strife through persecution. Certainly this is not true in every single circumstance but it is certainly evident in many places where I have seen it... Just look at a comment thread or a political debate. Oh boy!

**Chapters 10 through 31 share many, many sayings too numerous to address individually. I would like to share one from each chapter and encourage you to meditate on the others. A good strategy is to read through the book of Proverbs every month. There are 31 chapters and for months that have 31 days you can read a chapter a day and for those that have fewer you can double up a couple at the end of the month.

Proverbs 10:12
Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses

Proverbs 11:3
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the perversity of the treacherous destroys them.

Proverbs 12:15
A fool's way is right in his own eyes, but whoever listens to counsel is wise.

Proverbs 13:20
The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 15:1
A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.

Proverbs 16:2
All a man's ways seem right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the motives.

Proverbs 17:28
Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent, discerning, when he seals his lips.

Proverbs 18:17
The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

Proverbs 19:3
A man's own foolishness leads him astray, yet his heart rages against the Lord.

Proverbs 20:11
Even a young man is known by his actions - by whether his behavior is pure and upright.

Proverbs 21:3
Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Proverbs 22:1
A good name is to be chosen over great wealth; favor is better than silver or gold.

Proverbs 23:23
Buy - and do not sell - truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

Proverbs 24:17-18
Don't gloat when your enemy falls, and don't let your heart rejoice when he stumbles, or the Lord will see, be displeased, and turn His wrath away from him.

Proverbs 25:12
A wise correction to a receptive ear is like a gold ring or an ornament of gold.

Proverbs 26:16
In his own eyes, a slacker is wiser than seven men who can answer sensibly.

Proverbs 27:5
Better an open reprimand than concealed love.

Proverbs 28:21
It is not good to show partiality - yet a man may sin for a piece of bread.

Proverbs 29:25
The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected.

Proverbs 30:12
There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filth.

Proverbs 31:9
Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.

**Again, so much wisdom to be gleaned from this book. Read it often and meditate on portions of it at a time. Remember that they are not promises per se but wise counsel that will help to develop your character. To try and become more like Christ daily, we should try to develop the character that exemplifies Him. We can help do this through the study of Proverbs.

Next week we will try to tackle our first set of two books together - Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs.
That will round out the wisdome books before we go back and look at the prophets.

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