Day 223: Jeremiah 15-17; Engraved on Their Hearts

Today Jeremiah is contrasting the judgment and punishment of the Lord with the way things could be and should be if they had not lived their lives in sin and rebellion against Him.  Jeremiah is also contrasting the nature of God with the actions that God is saying that He is going to take against His people.  We pick up the text in the middle of a conversation that Jeremiah and God are having about the coming day of judgment.  The prophet of God finds himself a part of this coming judgment and then asks the Lord to remember Him in the midst of all of this, to which the Lord does what is completely natural and normal for God’s nation, He forgives Jeremiah.  This forgiveness comes with a warning though.  God warns Jeremiah not to associate with people that are wicked because he too will be drawn into it.

God points out a fact that we don’t often think about I think.  My mom used to say about the friends that I chose, “if you jump in the mud with clean gloves on, the mud doesn’t get all glovey.”  This seems to be essentially what God is telling Jeremiah, an echo of a commandment to the Israelites not to intermarry with the people of the surrounding nations.  Yet they don’t listen and the final results are very clear… judgment is coming.  Why?  Because even in the midst of the many messengers and warnings that God sent, the people were so much a part of the sinful culture that they perpetuated that it was engraved on their hearts like iron engraved with an iron tool… AKA permanent, at least for them.  There was nothing that would have been able to remove an iron engraving except the destruction of the piece which would have meant melting it down and starting over.  An apt metaphor to be sure.

Jeremiah goes on, though, to show in some ways what the people should have been like.  A couple days ago we heard about the broken covenant.  Today Jeremiah goes through that again only this time he is taking quotes from other places in Scripture.  He would have been familiar with the writings of David and Solomon and as such he takes pieces from the Psalms and Proverbs and puts them in here as a way of pointing to the Word of God to show the people how it is that they should have lived.  In many ways, this would have pointed them all the way back to the Shema, the summary statement of the law on which, as Jesus points out in Matthew 22, all of the law and prophets hang on.  Jeremiah quotes Psalm 34 and Proverbs 16 in chapter 17 verse 7 and then Psalm 1 in verse 18.

I wonder if Jeremiah would have the same message for the Church of the 21st century?  Have we truly surrounded ourselves with Scripture?  Are we like a tree planted by streams of water?  Do we have God’s Word engraved on our hearts?  Or is something else taking that place?  Have we succumbed to the lure of culture and the false idols of technology, music, and individualism?  This is certainly a difficult question to have to answer, but most definitely one that we need to be aware of and asking ourselves often.



Day 196: Song of Solomon 5-8; Love Song of Love Songs (part 2)

So yesterday we talked about love in today’s culture.  There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about “love.”  Sadly, our culture does a great misuse to this word, infusing it with all the sexual innuendos and experiences that it has to offer.  We have traded true love for cheap lust, the gift of sex for meaningless pleasures, and the lasting covenant of marriage for a string of one-night stands and throw away relationships.  Everything seems to be turned on its head; culture has taken all that has been given to us by God and made it into a sinful abomination.

There is more to this book too though, more than just a love song between a man and the woman to which he is going to be married.  There is also more to this book than the appropriate modeling of what clean, pure, Biblical love looks like.  The standard that is set here is high; the standard of a man with eyes for the one that he loves, of a man who cannot wait to be married to his bride to be.  I see this as being so different from the idea of what marriage is, or how we are to be excited for it.  As I prepare to be married and seek advice from those already married, I’ve been encouraged to enjoy being single.  People describe marriage as a “Ball and Chain” or even relate it to like “being in prison.”  We are taught to see marriage as a hindrance to our individuality rather than an amazing addition to our lives much less something we are actually looking forward to.

More than that though, Song of Songs is about love… true love.  Love and marriage are things in our lives that help us to understand the love that God has for us as well.  Marriage is something that the Bible uses again and again to talk about the love that God holds in His heart for us.  In the New Testament, the Church is called the bride of Christ.  Some of the prophets relate the people of Israel as if the whole nation were God’s wife.  As we read through Song of Solomon and as we gather a much clearer view of the passion, feeling, and attraction that the husband and wife have for each other, we begin to see a picture of how Christ loves us.  This is a sacrificial, self giving, unconditional love with which He loves us.  Throughout Scripture this is a continuing motif and appears again and again.  Many times these Scripture verses are misinterpreted as ways that one spouse can get the other to do something or act a certain way, but this too is a gross misinterpretation.  The love that spouses have for each other is to be modeled after the love that God has for us.  This is the type of love we are called to as Christians… it is counter-cultural… but this is how we are loved by God and this is the love we are to pass on to our spouse, our children, and our neighbors.



Day 195: Song of Solomon 1-4; Love Song of Love Songs

I can honestly say that I do not remember learning about this book in Sunday School.  I’m sure most Sunday school attendees don’t.  I don’t believe I have ever heard it used as the topic for a sermon either.  Many times, though, I have been told to avoid this book, that it is the X rated part of the Bible that talks about all that dirty sex stuff.  Some people have even questioned the reason for having this particular book in the Bible.  What is the point?  Why is it here?  There is very little talk about God, and a whole slew of sexual references… clearly this doesn’t belong in the Bible…

Photo Credit: www.intelmin.org

Photo Credit: www.intelmin.org

That’s what some have said, I would beg to differ, largely due to the fact that the book is there, part of the Biblical Cannon, and therefore it is as Scripture says in 2 Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  I also think, that in a culture that is grossly over sexualized and the church disturbingly comfortable (or perhaps silent) in regards to the amount of sexual imagery and promiscuity that is present even within its walls, Song of Solomon (also know as Song of Songs) stands as a testimony not only to appropriate Love and Sex, but to God’s will for it as well.

Song of Solomon Photo Credit: www.religion.lilithezine.com

Song of Solomon
Photo Credit: www.religion.lilithezine.com

Solomon and his wife take turns complimenting and describing each other using metaphors that we most likely won’t understand without the socio-cultural context of the day.  It is enough to say that as they are describing each other they are using the most beautiful, strong, and meaningful words that they can think of, ones that do honor to the other.  Sometimes I think we tend to avoid this.  Our culture is overflowing with words that seek to objectify and even dehumanize the other for the sake of their sexual features.  It is not wrong to be attracted to someone, certainly we are designed for that, but the way that is modeled for us here in Song of Solomon is that of description that is motivated by LOVE, not lust.  Solomon and his bride to be are not saying these things to just any person on the street, they are committed to each other, they love each other, and in that they are free to express their love in the best ways that they know how.

We’ll talk more about this tomorrow including the relationship between a husband and a wife and how Christ’s love for the church is exhibited in this.  For now though, there is one repeated phrase that we read today that I think was very interesting:

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
    until it pleases.

The word “adjure” means to put a person on oath.  I think this phrase is interesting especially in the context of our culture today.  Maybe its because I’m getting older (I’m 29), but it seems like children getting involved in sexual things, even dating are getting younger and younger.  I guess I’ve noticed this in young girls especially, wearing more and more revealing, provocative clothing, going after older guys, feeling like they are’t complete unless they have some boy chasing after them.  My fiancee and I had this discussion just last weekend as we were walking the peer on lake Michigan and I observed that the girls that were running around out there didn’t look older than 15 (that might have been generous too) and were wearing some of the smallest, most revealing bathing suits I think I have ever seen.  But I wonder if this too isn’t a cultural thing, with more and more kids shows on The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon having a high level of sexual innuendos and having a great deal to do with dating.  As technology and access to everything increases, more and more our children are being taught the ‘normal’ way to live by the media rather than their parents (who seem to be increasingly absent as well).  Solomon’s wife-to-be here charges the women of Jerusalem to not do this.  I have to imagine that, in this day and age, she would charge our daughters to avoid these things, to find their true meaning in Christ and not the attention of a boy.

Maybe I’m just old fashioned… I hope not…



Day 193: Ecclesiastes 5-8; Life under the sun

Today’s reading has two parts to it, at least two that I noticed.  They are, however intricately linked together in the whole of this short book.  After yesterday’s talk of how everything under the sun is meaningless if it does not find its meaning in God, we find ourselves at the beginning of Ecclesiastes 5 reading that we are to stand in awe of God.  Solomon, as he has done in the book of Proverbs, encourages us to take time when we speak to God.  While I think that he is talking specifically about prayer here, I think that Solomon is also referencing the way that things find their meaning in God as well.  Too often we are very quick to say that something belongs to God.  This is taught in many a church classroom I bet: “All you have belongs to God; it is on loan from heaven so make sure you take care of it.”  There is indeed an air of truth in this statement, but I do wonder if we ever take the time to contemplate what exactly that means… what God’s desire is for the things we own or the relationships that we have… Are we so quick to ‘dedicate’ it to God that we don’t take the time to understand the implications of that in our lives?  I’d dare say we boarder on that often… at least I do.

The other thing that I noticed about today’s reading is actually more of a line of thought that started in yesterday’s reading and continues through today and into tomorrow’s as well.  Solomon continues to speak about the evil under the sun and the meaninglessness of the things that he has observed in his life.  He is making a point here that is too often misinterpreted to mean something that it doesn’t.  The point he is getting at isn’t the meaninglessness of different things like riches, pleasure, work, etc.  His point, as it has been throughout the book of Proverbs as well is that the pursuit of these things is meaningless, or folly as he calls it in Proverbs.  All that Solomon is saying here is his expounding upon the theme that everything in life is meaningless unless if finds its meaning in God.

King Solomon, Russian icon from first quarter ...

King Solomon, Russian icon from first quarter of 18th cen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What he is saying makes sense though too… like… common sense.  There are been countless movies made about people seeking after riches, power, and even immortality, none of which work out at all.  And really, if you think about it, what is the point of extravagant wealth?  Eventually we will all die… and then what?  Everything that we have done, all that we have worked for will be gone.  The same goes with power and even reputation.  Eventually we will pass away from this life and in time our memory will be lost.  I am reminded of the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 16 when he says,

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

Solomon’s point here is not that what we do in life is meaningless.  A wise man once said “It isn’t about what you do but about who you are doing it for that really matters.”  The testament here is being intentional about working for the Lord and living your life as a way of pleasing God.  We know that we cannot earn our salvation or any sort of merit with God for these things, but we can live in gratitude for the grace we have received.

As he draws towards a conclusion, Solomon points out that life is rough.  It seems that bad things happen to good people.  Work and toil is hard.  All eventually come to the same fate.  So then, what can we do?  Like I have said, and Solomon has said so much better, do all that you do before God, “in whom we live and move and have our being.”  More than that though, we need to learn to find joy and contentment in what it is that we are called to.  God has truly blessed us with many things, more than we can comprehend, much less handle well.  For these we should give thanks and indeed offer them to God that we may bring glory to Him with the days He has given us.



Day 192: Ecclesiastes 1-4; Meaningless? Meaningless?

We have come to the book of Ecclesiastes, the second of three books attributed to king Solomon.  Ecclesiastes is also a book about wisdom, however it is written from the other side of life.  The book of Proverbs is a book written by a wise king at the beginning of his reign.  Solomon was visited by God, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 1, and upon Solomon’s request God granted him all the wisdom of the world.  One of the results of that was the book of proverbs, a sort of collection of all the wise sayings of the king throughout his reign.  The book of Ecclesiastes comes from the opposite side of his reign, the waning years of his life when he evaluates all that he did.  It is almost like two books written by one person about being a particular career.  One he wrote fresh out of college with all the theory and book knowledge that his education had given him and the other after 40 years of working and toiling, a reflection on all that has happened.  You will notice that the thesis is the same, having to do with honoring and fearing the Lord, yet the perspective is notably different, which indicates a great deal of growth on Solomon’s part.

When you begin to read this book, you’ll probably notice that it seems as though the book is taking a decidedly negative tone.  Everything is vanity, or meaningless, and nothing really matters is the presumed theme that we encounter here.  However, I think that this gloomy outlook on life needs some perspective of its own so that we can better understand what Solomon is saying in this book.  You see, Solomon, those wiser than anyone ever, did not necessarily follow his own advice.  As we read in the beginning of 2 Chronicles, Solomon had extraordinary wealth and power, but was drawn to women so much so that he had hundreds of wives.  One would think that a man that can talk so well about wisdom and wives would have been rather wary of women, but instead Solomon allowed them to lead him astray.  At the time of this writing, Solomon was likely an old man and was looking back on his life and seeing what a fool he actually was.

The Theme and Purpose of Ecclesiastes Photo Credit: www.foundationsforfreedom.net

The Theme and Purpose of Ecclesiastes
Photo Credit: www.foundationsforfreedom.net

Ultimately though, what Solomon writes here also falls under Wisdom’s thesis statement in Proverbs 1, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  He comes back to this time and again in this book, pointing out that everything under the sun is meaningless unless it is done for the Lord to please him.  There is wisdom in the toil that we do here, even if it is left to another when we die.  Solomon realizes that no amount of wisdom or hard work will spare him the death that eventually comes to all, both wise and foolish.  So what’s the point then?  It seems like Solomon is on a mission to destroy our hope… actually some people ask this question a lot in Christian circles, just with a different spin on it.  “If we are saved, and our sins are forgiven, then why does it matter how I live my life?”  I think that question and the idea that Solomon is trying to destroy our hope is a misrepresentation of what is happening here.  Solomon is actually working to direct our hopes to the only One who can truly fulfill them.  He affirms the value of wisdom, knowledge, work, relationships, and even pleasure, but he affirms them only in their proper place.  Alone they are indeed meaningless, temporal things that will eventually fade into history.  However, we have hope in something greater than ourselves and our experience, and when these things are seen in light of the eternal, they find their true place in our lives and gain meaning beyond all that we could ever give on our own.

One final thought: Ecclesiastes is a book that build on itself.  One could be tempted to jump ahead to chapter 12 and just see Solomon’s summary and conclusions, but let me encourage you to read through the whole book… for it is not at all meaningless.



Day 191: Proverbs 29-31; Wisdom and Authority

Today I had planned on highlighting the wise sayings of other people, particularly that of Agur and King Lemuel, the two other major contributors to the book of Proverbs.  I made this decision, admittedly, before I read through today’s reading and now I am hear to tell you that we are going to change plans a little bit.  After reading through these chapters though, I noticed a specific theme that really came through as we end our journey through the book of Proverbs, the theme of having wisdom in places of authority (which also includes wisdom in dealing with those in authority over us.)

Now… this could easily turn into a governmental rant with political convictions spouting off political jargon and dogma towards one side or another, something I intend not to allow happen in my writing here.  These verses in Proverbs are not about whether we should be a democrat or a republican.  They also weren’t written for us to use as little darts to throw at a particular political philosophy, agenda, or bill as a way of proving oneself to be in the right while they are in the wrong.  While it is true that many of these and other proverbs speak of the foolish things that wicked and foolish rulers do, I would contend that one of the main thrusts of the Proverbs is to make sure that you are wise in your dealings with them.

In fact, if you really look at these proverbs, it isn’t at all about proving someone else is in the wrong, but more about making sure that you yourself are acting and being wise in the things that you do.  Solomon says again and again that foolish people will be caught in their own folly.  I think we can see this clearly as a great many governmental scandals continue to come into the light.  Whether or not these are pinned on President Obama is besides the point, it is abundantly clear that those in charge of these different sections were quite foolish in their actions and now have to operate within the brokenness of their credibility.

One particular verse that caught my attention, while we are on this subject, was Proverbs 29:4.  After the last presidential election there were a whole lot of accusations that the democratic party gave out gifts to people to get them to vote democrat.  Republicans, some of them at least, even went so far as to say that this was the reason that President Obama won again.  Whether or not this is true is not the point I am trying to make here at all.  But this verse does speak to that: “By justice a king builds up the land, but he who exacts gifts tears it down.”  In this same light I think of so many of the things that have happened during past presidencies: Obama Care, more entitlements, No Child Left Behind, the Patriot Act, etc. etc.  The list could go on and on… but perhaps we should be asking whether our government, whether local, state, or national is governing with justice in mind…  some would say “yes, it is unjust for people to suffer without some of these things.”  Others would say, “No, people need to work hard for what they have.”  Both sides, I think, would have Biblical support for their argument.

The question then is, are we being wise in what we do?  Are we being wise in how we govern?  Are we being wise in how we are governed?  Even this falls under Solomon’s Thesis statement: “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  Are we honoring God in what we do?  What we say?  How we lead?  How we follow?

The end of the book of Proverbs is very telling.  All throughout the book Solomon has been making the comparison between Lady Wisdom and lady folly.  He ends the book by telling the end of the story, the Son he spoke to chose wisdom and the result are as follows.  While  this too can be the ideal of a wife to live up to, it is just as much the description of one lives their life in the ways of wisdom, in the way of fearing and honor the Lord.  May it be so for us in all that we do.



Day 190: Proverbs 26-28; More Proverbs of Solomon

Reading through today’s Proverbs, a great deal of emphasis is placed on dealing with “foolish” people.  There are many analogies for what it is to talk to and deal with a foolish person, so many of which I feel like I encounter on a weekly basis.  I don’t know about you, but when I read these verses there are people in my life that come to mind right away.  As I read one proverbs after another talking about interacting with a foolish person I had to chuckle at the accuracy of the descriptions that were there.  So, here are some things that come to mind.  I’ll post the Scripture, and then some thoughts of something I encountered.

Proverbs 27:1-2
Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips.

Lebron James, Miami Heat are NBA Champs

Lebron James, Miami Heat are NBA Champs

A couple of weeks ago, the Miami Heat won the NBA national championship, something that was “guaranteed by Lebron James some time in the past couple years or something (admittedly, I don’t pay attention to it at all).  In post came interviews, Lebron compared his ‘moments of greatness’ with that of Michael Jordan a decade ago.  First of all, he looked like an idiot because practically no one agreed with him.  Second, he looks like a complete jerk because he feels the need to define his own moments and build himself up because no one really is.  Third, what about the rest of the team?  Lebron never mentioned a single one of his teammates in in speech.  While there isn’t a particular verse that mentions remembering one’s teammates, not thinking of oneself more highly than they ought is certainly a proverbial theme through all of this book.  Finally, and this I find most interesting, the new of the team’s win disappeared about as fast as the last game ended… which makes be think that there is something to Proverbs 26:1, “Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool.”  It is so unnatural for us to see and admire someone so self-absorbed… it just seems so out of place and unnatural.

Proverbs 26:11
Like a dog that returns to his vomit
is a fool who repeats his folly.

Cycle of Addiction Diagram

Cycle of Addiction Diagram

Before going into seminary, I worked in the Emergency Department of a hospital.  It was a truly transforming experience for me as I was able to take care of people when they were at the lowest of the low points in their lives, some by accident and some by virtue of poor choices.  What was truly sad were those people that we saw time and again in the department because they continued to make the wrong choices day after day after day.  We tend to call this addiction, but truly addiction starts with a bad choice repeated many times in a cycle until it seems that the body cannot live without it.  Alcohol, Drugs, the wrong friends, and many more will bring a person down into the dust.  Solomon is point to this as well.  Sometimes it happens because a person doesn’t know better.  Sometimes it happens because a person feels they have nowhere else to turn.  Sometimes it happens because a profound sense of self-loathing or a need to escape.  In any case, we tend to turn a blind eye to the addicts and stuff because they “did it to themselves.”  While that may in some sense be true, never in the wise sayings of Scripture does it tell us not to love them as God loves them.

Proverbs 26:20-23
For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.
Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
 are fervent lips with an evil heart.

I think this is one of the most self-explanatory, and also one of the hardest to go along with Proverbs in today’s reading.  My memories are drawn back to high school and middle school (though sadly adult life is not devoid of this either) and the abundant drama that exists within the lives of teenagers.  Someone said this about me, but I said that about her, and those people think that about him as well.  Everyone gets upset at someone because of something and at the end of the day, its just an overabundance of drama.  I tried to avoid this in high school as I do in adult life as well.  How?  By not being involved any more than need be, which usually means I am not involved at all.  Without wood a fire goes out and without people who are willing to talk, gossip evaporates into thin air.



Day 189: Proverbs 23-25; Thirty Sayings of the Wise

Today’s reading, though perhaps not marked in your Bible, covers over a section of Proverbs called “30 Wise Sayings.”  As I was doing a little research on this particular section, I came across a blog called “markcole.wordpress.com”  In March of 2008 the writer, whom I assume is named Mark, wrote an ‘annotated version’ of the thirty wise sayings.  I really enjoyed reading it so I am going to re-post it here.  I want to point out for the record that none of the follow is original to me and I assume no credit for any of it.  All credit for the following material goes to www.markcole.wordpress.com.  Enjoy!

30 wise sayings annotated

(the stuff in parenthesis are my comments which may not be as wise as the sayings themselves! They are there to promote thoughtful reflection on the wise saying. Comments are always welcome)

Proverbs 22:20-24:22 (Contemporary English Version)

20I have written thirty sayings

filled with sound advice.

21You can trust them completely

to give you the right words

for those in charge of you.

-1-

22 Don’t take advantage   of the poor

or cheat them in court.

23The LORD is their defender,

and what you do to them,

he will do to you.

(Walmart, homeless, Katrina)

-2-

24 Don’t make friends with anyone   who has a bad temper.

25You might turn out like them

and get caught in a trap.

(root of bitterness)

-3-

26 Don’t guarantee to pay   someone else’s debt.

27If you don’t have the money,

you might lose your bed.

(co-signing)

-4-

28 Don’t move a boundary marker [a] set up by your ancestors.

(respect for old standards and measurements, Jubilee principle)

-5-

29 If you do your job well,   you will work for a ruler

and never be a slave.

(work hard! work smart!)

PROVERBS 23

-6-

1 When you are invited   to eat with a king,

use your best manners.

2Don’t go and stuff yourself!

That would be just the same

as cutting your throat.

3Don’t be greedy for all

of that fancy food!

It may not be so tasty.

(good manners, others first, avoid gluttony)

-7-

4 Give up trying so hard   to get rich.

5Your money flies away

before you know it,

just like an eagle

suddenly taking off.

(You cannot serve both God and money)

-8-

6 Don’t accept an invitation   to eat a selfish person’s food,

no matter how good it is.

7People like that take note

of how much you eat. [b] They say, “Take all you want!”

But they don’t mean it.

8Each bite will come back up,

and all your kind words

will be wasted.

(no such thing as a free lunch)

-9-

9 Don’t talk to fools–   they will just make fun.

(foolish chatter)

-10-

10 Don’t move a boundary marker [c] or take the land   that belongs to orphans.

11God All-Powerful is there

to defend them against you.

(Jubilee principle again – God sides with the have-nots. The WSJ sides with the haves)

-11-

12 Listen to instruction   and do your best to learn.

(you never stop a learner – pay attention!)

-12-

13 Don’t fail to correct   your children.

You won’t kill them

by being firm,

14and it may even

save their lives.

(children are not hurt by firmness – and may be helped by it)

-13-

15 My children,   if you show good sense,

I will be happy,

16and if you are truthful,

I will really be glad.

(good sense is good – truthfulness is even better!)

-14-

17 Don’t be jealous of sinners,   but always honor the LORD.

18Then you will truly have hope

for the future.

(good life does not equal being a rich and famous sinner)

-15-

19 Listen to me, my children!   Be wise and have enough sense

to follow the right path.

20Don’t be a heavy drinker

or stuff yourself with food.

21It will make you feel drowsy,

and you will end up poor

with only rags to wear.

(don’t drink too much or eat too much!)

-16-

22 Pay attention to your father,   and don’t neglect your mother

when she grows old.

23Invest in truth and wisdom,

discipline and good sense,

and don’t part with them.

24Make your father truly happy

by living right

and showing

sound judgment.

25Make your parents proud,

especially your mother.

(mom’s are awesome!)

-17-

26 My son, pay close attention,   and gladly follow

my example.

27Bad women and unfaithful wives

are like a deep pit–

28they are waiting to attack you

like a gang of robbers

with victim after victim.

(avoid sexual temptations as well as falling into deep pits)

-18-

29 Who is always in trouble?   Who argues and fights?

Who has cuts and bruises?

Whose eyes are red?

30Everyone who stays up late,

having just one more drink.

31Don’t even look

at that colorful stuff

bubbling up in the glass!

It goes down so easily,

32but later it bites

like a poisonous snake.

33You will see weird things,

and your mind

will play tricks on you.

34You will feel tossed about

like someone trying to sleep

on a ship in a storm.

35You will be bruised all over,

without even remembering

how it all happened.

And you will lie awake asking,

”When will morning come,

so I can drink some more?”

(avoid alcoholism!)

PROVERBS 24

-19-

1 Don’t be jealous of crooks   or want to be their friends.

2All they think about

and talk about

is violence and cruelty.

(bad friends corrupt good morals)

-20-

3 Use wisdom and understanding   to establish your home;

4let good sense fill the rooms

with priceless treasures.

(Better Homes and Gardens)

-21-

5 Wisdom brings strength,   and knowledge gives power.

6Battles are won

by listening to advice

and making a lot of plans.

(strategize life. Make plans or plan to fail. Listen to advise)

-22-

7 Wisdom is too much for fools!   Their advice is no good.

(Ignore bad advise)

-23-

8 No one but troublemakers   think up trouble.

9Everyone hates senseless fools

who think up ways to sin.

(good sense)

-24-

10 Don’t give up and be helpless   in times of trouble.

(Never Give Up! Never Give Up! Never Give Up! – Winston Churchill)

-25-

11 Don’t fail to rescue those   who are doomed to die.

12Don’t say, “I didn’t know it!”

God can read your mind.

He watches each of us

and knows our thoughts.

And God will pay us back

for what we do.

(Burma, China, Katrina, abortion, Uganda, slavery and human trafficking)

-26-

13 Honey is good for you,   my children,

and it tastes sweet.

14Wisdom is like honey

for your life–

if you find it,

your future is bright.

(wisdom equals honey)

-27-

15 Don’t be a cruel person   who attacks good people

and hurts their families.

16Even if good people

fall seven times,

they will get back up.

But when trouble strikes

the wicked,

that’s the end of them.

(good people fail but they get right back up)

-28-

17 Don’t be happy   to see your enemies trip

and fall down.

18The LORD will find out

and be unhappy.

Then he will stop

being angry with them.

(Love your enemies)

-29-

19 Don’t let evil people   worry you

or make you jealous.

20They will soon be gone

like the flame of a lamp

that burns out.

(Don’t be overwhelmed by injustice.)

-30-

21 My children, you must respect   the LORD and the king,

and you must not make friends

with anyone

who rebels

against either of them.

22Who knows what sudden disaster

the LORD or a ruler

might bring?

(be careful of the temptation to side with the rebellious – it may backfire!)

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 22:28 marker: In ancient Israel boundary lines were sacred because all property was a gift from the Lord (see Deuteronomy 19.14).
  2. Proverbs 23:7 People. . . eat: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. Proverbs 23:10 marker: See the note at 22.28.


Day 188: Proverbs 20-22; More on Wisdom

I admit that the title of today’s blog is not overly inspiring, yet really that is what today is about… more wisdom.  As I was reading today I again asked the question of what in the world I am going to write about today.  I kind of felt like I was running out of things to say towards the end of the Psalms, and we’re a little over halfway through the Proverbs and I don’t feel like I have much more to contribute.  There are so many things that Solomon covers here, I don’t think that I could do any one of them real justice considering he was indeed the wisest person that ever lived.  So I guess today’s post will be a bit shorter than normal.

One thing that has struck me, that I mentioned a few days ago, is the nature of pursuing wisdom.  Solomon covers this time and again, which as we learned yesterday means that he is trying to emphasize it a great deal.  One of the major things that he repeats is the rewards of pursuing wisdom vs. the rewards of pursuing wealth.  This is clearly demonstrated in the Solomon’s life as well.  When the Lord comes to give Solomon whatever he asks for, Solomon could have chosen great wealth, power, strength, or even long life, yet instead he asked for wisdom and discernment.  God was pleased with this choice, the result of which actually brought to Solomon great wealth and power.  Ultimately though it wasn’t wealth or power that Solomon sought after; he didn’t choose wisdom so that he would get rich.  Solomon chose wisdom so that he would be a wise king.  His pursuit of wisdom though brought the rewards of great wealth and influence which Solomon used well… for a time.

This clarity of pursuit is covered time and again in the proverbs of Solomon and, as we’ll see in the coming days, in other’s proverbs as well.  The pursuit of riches will eventually bring one to ruin.  We see this time and again with people that spend so much time trying to get rich and then loose it all.  Just think of how many people have won the lottery and are filing for bankruptcy.  The numbers are staggering, and incredibly sad.  Yet there are many out there with extraordinary wealth that really haven’t made wealth their full pursuit.  Instead, they have slowly built their lives and laid them on the foundation of God, as Solomon has suggested.  These are wise people whose wealth is not found in money or things, though they surely have more than enough, but is found in relationships, giving, and glorifying God in their actions.  These are the people that we should look to.  They are happy and content with their lives, with all that God has given them, and are bringing honor and glory to Him with all that He has blessed them with.  They have taken the wisdom of Solomon to heart and recognized the true source of their blessings as we all should.



Day 187: Proverbs 17-19; The Wisdom in Repetition

As I was reading through today’s Proverbs I actually caught myself thinking that this reading was getting a bit monotonous.  I’m pretty sure that some of the things that we read today were things that we read yesterday, or multiple other days.  In fact, there are a great many of the proverbs in the three chapters that we read today that are somewhat repeated from yesterday and days past.  I started to think to myself “why would Solomon repeat things multiple times?”  I definitely had to catch myself here because I think that I was starting to get a bad attitude around them.  Suddenly though, I wast struck but the wisdom in repeating these wise sayings… it isn’t about the vast amount of different wise sayings as much as it is about the wisdom found in the sayings that are there.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Photo Credit: www.faclan.org

The Dead Sea Scrolls
Photo Credit: www.faclan.org

I also realized that there are many examples of repetition in the Bible as well.  There are also many reasons for the repetition we find in Scripture!  Part of it, probably the main reason actually, comes from the Hebrew culture and their writing.  Hebrew writing has no punctuation.  If you read it in the original writing, or look at the dead sea scrolls, there really is very little break in the lines of writing at all.  This means that there are no symbols for adding emphasis like the exclamation point… and certainly no little smiley/frown faces to communicate emotions.  What this means for us, is that when things are repeated, especially when they are repeated in succession, there is a great deal of emphasis that is meant to be heard in it.  Think in Isaiah 6 or Revelation 4 when the Angels are singing “Holy Holy Holy” about the Lord.  This isn’t because they are stuttering or something, neither is it because of some sort of a lack of creativity on the part of the writer.  It is the repetition of the words that makes them powerful in the Hebrew language!  If you were to put it in today’s texting language, God is HOLY! =)

We’ve actually encountered the this type of repetition in Scripture many times in the past.  Think all the way back to Genesis, with the 2 creation narratives that we read.  One was most specific towards the details while the other was more focused on the human aspect, yet both were very geared towards the point that it was indeed God that created all things.  If you think ahead towards Abraham and the many times that the covenant was reaffirmed, we see the emphasis on the covenantal relationship that defines Israel, all which begins with God as well.  We see this with Jacob, Joseph, Moses and the giving of the Law, Joshua, and many many more throughout the history of Israel.  I have written more about this in another blog that I occasionally write in  as well.  It is an article called ‘Pete and Repeat.’  Feel free to check it out!

So today, and in the coming days, as you are reading these proverbs and one sounds familiar, take a moment to think about where you heard it before.  Maybe go back and look for it in the previous days’ readings.  Solomon is repeating these for a reason, not simply because he can’t think of anything else to say.  Perhaps these repeated sections will touch you in a special way today… perhaps they are things that we all need to hear again and again that we may better live our lives bringing honor and glory to God.