Wednesday, 10 September 2014

(254) September 11: Proverbs 20-21 & 2 Corinthians 3

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­
As you read consider what lessons strike you most forcefully.

To ponder:
Some lessons from Proverbs 20: Alcohol leads people astray into mocking and fighting, which is not wise. As a ruler’s anger is like a lion’s roar, it is dangerous to anger him. It is honourable to avoid trouble, but fools are quick to get into arguments. Because the lazy don’t work when needed, they find themselves lacking when in need. People’s intentions are hard to fathom, but those with insight can drawn them out. Many people claim unfailing love, but it is hard to find truly faithful people. Because the righteous are blameless, their children are blessed, no doubt because they have been given wisdom, a godly example, and a well planned inheritance etc. In judgement rulers distinguish the evil from the good. No-one can say they are sinless. God hates the dishonesty that alters the price according to the buyer. Even small children are not pure as their actions show. God has given the means for us to listen to instruction and observe the ways of the world (the ear and eye), so wisdom is possible. If you love sleep you will be poor through laziness. In bartering, buyers lie that they don’t think the product good to knock down the price, and then boast of their buy. Those who speak wisdom are rarer than gold and rubies, and so more precious too. If a stranger you don’t know is honest owes you money and another puts up security for them, get something from the person putting up security as collateral, otherwise you may be left at a loss. Gain by deception can taste sweet to start with, but taste like gravel eventually because of the problems that can ensue. Seek guidance before entering on a risky venture. Avoid those who talk too much as they may gossip and tells others what you say. It is so serious to curse one’s parents, that such people face death in pitch darkness, perhaps looking to final judgement because they show no fear of God. To claim an inheritance too soon, presumably by dishonesty, will mean it will not bring joy in the end, perhaps because it will eventually be lost. Don’t pay back evil but wait for the LORD to avenge, even if on the last day. As God directs our steps, how can anyone understand how their life turns out? It’s a trap to rashly commit to something before God, as you will then have to keep that commitment. A wise king gets rid of the wicked like chaff from the harvest. The human spirit is like a lamp from God because it displays our true inner nature, no doubt by whether it desires and decides on good or evil. Love and faithfulness to one’s rulers keep their position secure, commending loyalty more broadly. Strength is the glory of the young, showing the physical wonder of how God has made them - perhaps also in Israel a sign of blessing for fearing God too. Grey hair is the splendour of the old, most probably because the long life suggests faithfulness to God. Physical discipline purges evil from the inner person. So mere instruction, exhortation and rebuke is not always enough.
            Some lessons from Proverbs 21: God is even able to channel the king’s heart as he wishes, and so to favour his people. We may think what we are doing is right, but God weighs our motives. Doing what’s right and just is more acceptable to God than going through the motions of worship. Arrogance, by which the wicked see everything, produces sin. Those who work hard and plan receive profit as certainly as those who act in haste end up in poverty. A fortune made through deception is fleeting and ensnaring, no doubt because of the trouble it can bring. The wicked will be dragged away by their violence, probably also because of the retaliation it brings. The guilty are devious and so not to be trusted; but the innocent are upright. Better to live on your own and in miniscule accommodation, or even in a desert, than with a quarrelsome wife! Because they crave evil, the wicked show no mercy. The simple gain knowledge by seeing that mockers are punished and watching what the wise do and how they fare.­ As the righteous one, God brings ruin on the wicked. So he will not answer the cries of people who have closed their own ears to the poor. Secret gifts and bribes can pacify anger. Justice brings joy to the righteous but terror to the wicked. Straying from prudence (caution) leads to death. Hedonism leads to poverty as money is wasted on drink, beauty and the like. The wicked prove a ransom for the righteous, probably because their punishment brings a greater freedom for the righteous to thrive. The wise store quality food and products, no doubt keeping them for the opportune time to enjoy them, and saving money by doing so. But fools consumer theirs. Those who seek to be righteous and display faithful love to others find life, prosperity and honour (or acknowledgement) by others, no doubt by God’s blessing, but in gaining the favour of others too. The wise can defeat the mighty. Guarding your speech keeps you from trouble. In his pride, the mocker behaves angrily. Laziness leads to death because it leads to poverty. Yet the righteous will give to such people without sparing. Here charity is not dependent on the recipient trying hard. The wicked at worship is detestable, particularly when they feign honouring God with their money. It is those who listen carefully to whatever events who will then be trustworthy in their testimony about them. The wicked portray a bold or blasé front, but the upright carefully think about what they are doing. No wisdom, insight or plan can succeed against the LORD. What he will do he will do. So although preparations are made for a venture, whether it succeeds rests with God.

Praying it home:       
Praise God for whatever he has most brought home to you. Pray that he would help you live according to that wisdom.

Thinking further:                             
None today.

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