Friday, 5 September 2014

(249) September 6: Proverbs 10-11 & 1 Corinthians 15:1-32

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

To discover:­
As you read note how righteousness and wisdom benefits life.

To ponder:
The difficulty in finding any discernable structure to the proverbs from chapter 10 suggests there probably is none, other than groupings according to author and occasional clusters that may have been placed together because of common theme or written one after the other. Yet this itself is instructive. It teaches that each should be meditated on in its own right. However, this makes it particularly hard to summarise a section, and commenting on each proverb would make the posts too long. So we will attempt to briefly draw out some themes. This will be short so you have proper time to actually read and chew over the sense of each proverb. Throughout we must consider that Christ is the ultimate model of the wise and righteous man, so the proverbs portray life in him.
            Chapter 10 not only instructs in wisdom, but by affirming the consequences of wisdom/righteousness versus foolishness/wickedness it commends wisdom too. As before, the consequences are long life, wealth (ie. absence of poverty), benefits to others and joy to one’s parents for the righteous. By contrast, wickedness brings ruin, poverty, the leading of others astray, and parental grief. In this one’s attitude to work is key. The righteous benefit because they work hard but the wicked are lazy. Speech is also important. The righteous know when to speak and remain silent, and can benefit others with what they say. The wicked however miss what needs to be done for chattering, and get into problems with others by what they say.
            Chapter 11 develops the idea of consequences. The righteous are able to navigate life well, appreciating advice, not getting themselves into financial straits, knowing how to respond when opposed, and usually receiving blessing and good from others in response to the blessing and good they bring. By contrast, the wicked not only make decisions that could lead to their ruin, but that bring hostility from others. So righteousness leads to life not just directly under God’s hand, but through the practical benefits of being wise. Nevertheless, whatever happens in this life, it is certain that righteousness leads to the life to come, in trusting God not wealth and fearing him rather than pursuing sin. However, the wicked on that day will find their hopes and gains in this life crumble, facing only wrath.
            In these chapters we learn that wisdom in the Bible is not just about knowing God and his will, it is about understanding how it applies to the realities of life in a fallen world, with its many temptations, pitfalls and difficulties.
Praying it home:       
Praise God for the practical benefits of wisdom. Pray for wisdom as to how to navigate any difficult situation you are facing.

Thinking further:                             
None today.

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  1. Really appreciating these summaries in Proverbs, thank you. However, for today's reading, would you consider that these statements about the righteous and the wicked, which seem to draw very straightforward connections between living wisely and living foolishly and the consequences outlined, were truer in the context of Israel as a theocratic nation than for believers living as God's people but citizens of a world which does not apply his commandments and is full of injustice towards the poor and powerless? Because many people are in poverty or suffering consequences of others' sin; not because they are lazy or foolish but because of personal circumstances being broken due to the sin of others, and/or economic tyranny on a local, national and global scale. I ask because I have experienced and seen others experiencing such consequences and think we need that New Testament perspective that the righteous can and do go hungry, or suffer economic hardships, or be the victims of unjust laws in this life, yet with the comfort of God's love in Christ, and knowing that he, the righteous Judge, will put things right when his kingdom comes. Without this perspective there can be a burden of guilt on those whose lives are not going well and feeling it is due to their lack of faith in these 'promises' as those who teach a 'prosperity gospel' play on. Hope this makes sense. Sorry for the long comment!

  2. Hi Cora. Yes, agree with all this and made just this point on the Psalms. However, I don't think the difference is quite as absolute. It's very clear that the righteous often suffered under the old covenant, as Job, David, Daniel. Moreover, Paul can apply the fifth commandment to Christians as promising "long life on the earth" (Eph 6v3). The proverbs deal with generalizations which do to some extent apply beyond Israel because wisdom reflects the order of creation. What is different under the New Covenant is that God's people are scattered throughout the world and so more susceptible to its harsh realities, God is choosing to show how is power is made perfect in weakness in a special way after Christ, because this patterns him, and God's covenant looks primarily with its promises of life, health, prosperity etc to the new creation and not to a land in this one.